HE Policy Update


Postgraduate Loans

The Chancellor is expected to outline plans for government funded loans to cover the cost of one-year postgraduate degrees as part of the Autumn Statement. University fees: George Osborne plans new postgraduate loans (Telegraph).

Which? Report

A new report on HE by the consumer group, Which? has called for tougher regulations to encourage higher standards and to punish failings. The report also questions the workload of students with one in four undergraduates saying they get away with doing little private study. Universities that fail should be punished, says Which? (BBC),  Students gaining good degrees with ‘little or no work’, says Which? (Telegraph).


Extremism on campus

New powers for the home secretary to order universities to ban extremist speakers from their campuses are to be included in a new counter-terrorism bill. This comes as the government prepares for the publication on Tuesday morning of the official inquiry into the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby last year. Theresa May announced that the legislation would also place a statutory duty on; schools, colleges, prisons and local councils to help prevent people from being drawn into terrorism. Terror bill requires universities to ban extremist speakers (The Guardian), Universities could be forced to ban ‘extremists’ under new law (Times Higher Education).

Graduate Employability

A research study conducted by the IPPR on behalf of the jobs website totaljobs.com has found that Graduates and A-level students are three times more likely to be jobless a year after finishing their courses than apprentices. The report also finds that employers are increasingly struggling to fill entry-level jobs as graduates and school-leavers are often lacking key skills with one in seven firms having been unable to fill an entry-level vacancy in the past three years. One in seven jobless after graduation, says IPPR (The Times).


Degree Apprenticeships

The government is to unveil a range of courses allowing young people to complete a full honours degree while working, without having to pay fees. Two-thirds of the course costs of the “degree apprenticeships” will be covered by the government, up to a maximum cap which has yet to be decided. Employers will cover the rest, while also paying the apprentice a wage. The first degree apprenticeships will start in September 2015, and will be co-designed by a range of employers and universities. Degree apprenticeships to offer ‘no-fee HE’  (Times Higher Education).


Postgraduate Loans

The government may seek to limit a new postgraduate loans system to students in; science, technology, engineering and mathematics subjects as it prepares for an announcement in next week’s Autumn Statement. However, some in the sector believe that Mr Osborne is likely to express an ambition for a loans scheme rather than outline a specific system, and to state that details will be finalised only after further rounds of discussion and possibly not until after the general election in May. Postgraduate loans may be limited to students in STEM fields (Times Higher Education).


Student Numbers

Having been constrained for so long by government quotas, the lifting of the cap on student numbers next year will offer British universities the opportunity to expand rapidly if they wish, and to compete more aggressively with other institutions for the brightest and the best – as well as for tuition fee income. This article examines arguments for and against expansion. Is bigger better for universities? (Times Higher Education).

Greg Clark- Universities Minister

An opinion piece by The Independent discusses Greg Clark’s lack of presence amid talks around tuition fees and student protests. The article compares his presence with that of his predecessor, David Willetts and suggests that Greg Clark needs to start a public dialogue about what education can realistically achieve. Amid tuition fees, strikes and protests, where is Universities Minister Greg Clark?  (The Independent).