HE Policy Update


Immigration policy

The head of the Institute of International Education has warned that the UK government must be clearer in articulating its immigration policy or risk facing a decline in the number of overseas students. UK risks closing door on overseas student growth, warns IIE head (THE).


Degree overhaul

More than 20 universities have been testing the use of a grade point average (GPA), which sees students given a points score on completion of their degree. The two-year pilot, ordered by the government, follows fears that the traditional honours classification is outdated. The report from the pilot, to be published by the Higher Education Academy (HEA), will recommend a national GPA system, giving students a score on a 13-point scale. Several universities, including Oxford Brookes and University College London, already run the GPA alongside the traditional degree classification. UK degree system in ‘need of overhaul’ (The Telegraph).


Queen’s speech

The Queen’s speech which sets out the Government’s priorities for the coming Parliament did not specifically reference higher education, however, apparently BIS officials have been in contact with University Alliance to say that in the longer term, they do recognise the need for an HE Bill but are not making any promises (although that doesn’t mean it is off the table).

The speech announced the planned introduction of 25 new Bills, as well as one draft Bill. Amongst others, headline legislation included: an income tax, VAT and national insurance freeze, the referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU, measures to reduce regulations on small businesses, plans to increase energy security, free childcare for three and four year-olds, legislation to proceed with HS2, a cut to household benefits claims, plans for devolution, 500 more free schools and plans to turn failing schools into academies, and a ban for ‘legal highs’.

For those of you that are interested, please find attached an in-depth briefing on each of the Bills which includes a likely legislative timetable. If you’re short on time and only interested in the HE aspects, the UUK blog provides a good summary.


Studying abroad

Studying overseas has become more popular, with half of those considering a university course in another country wishing to study at undergraduate level, a new survey by the British Council shows. UK students continuing to look overseas (British Council).


Senior leadership diversity

Oxford has appointed its first female Vice-Chancellor – Professor Louise Richardson. She is currently the principal and vice-chancellor of St Andrews University.  Oxford appoints its first female vice chancellor (The Guardian).

Degree ratings

The Higher Education Academy has published a report Grade Point Average: Report of the GPA pilot project 2013-14. With 70 per cent of students leaving university with at least a 2:1, employers are finding traditional classifications obsolete, and many use A level results to differentiate between candidates. This report is the product of a pilot involving 21 higher education providers designed to test the use of various GPA scales and to explore implementation issues.  Points system to replace old degree grades (The Times).