Nowadays in Higher Education we are increasingly being asked to respond to Government priorities, the needs of society, and changing attitudes towards the role of universities.
To help us navigate this increasingly dense minefield of ‘external context’ I have been collating the key policy indicators from the press at the end of each week – please find below the summary from last week for your information / personal amusement.
If you’d like any further information or have trouble accessing any of the articles please just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The government’s new immigration minister, James Brokenshire MP, is trying to make a name for himself by threatening to make it tougher for education institutions to keep their student visa licences. He warned that he has “considerable concerns” about some education institutions; rejected fears that immigration policy is harming “world-class” universities as a “ludicrous fiction”; and dismissed anger from academics about the immigration checks they must mount on students.
Today’s pick is an interview with Nicola Dandridge (CEO of UUK) in which she says that she hopes student fees and university funding will not be election issues. She also warns that UUK will not support any Labour pledges for £6,000 fees or a graduate tax. Fees ‘amnesty’ tops UUK’s pre-election wish list (THE)
Universities may need to cut their spending per student next year because teaching funds will have to cover up to 30,000 extra students, sector figures have warned. More students will stretch unit of resource, some fear (THE)
Also, institutions could be inspected if they take on “unusual” numbers of “unplanned” extra students when the cap on undergraduate recruitment is lifted in 2015-16, according to David Willetts. ‘Unusual’ growth in student numbers will be reviewed (THE)
Home Office officials often make “poor quality” decisions when they reject student visa extension applications, UUK argues, making it vital that the government does not scrap the right to appeal. Vice-chancellors urge retention of right to appeal on visas (THE)
Also, open warfare has broken out between Vince Cable and his cabinet colleague, Theresa May, over immigration with the Liberal Democrat business secretary saying that every time he puts his head “above the parapet” by talking positively about migrants he feels he needs “a reinforced tin hat”. Coalition war breaks out as Vince Cable attacks Tory immigration target (Guardian)
The THE have released their World Reputation Rankings today which ranks institutions by “reputation”. The table is based on academic votes with 10 UK institutions featuring (Cambridge – 4, Oxford – 5, Imperial – 13, LSE – 24, UCL – 25, KCL – 43, Edinburgh – 46, Manchester – 51/60, London Business School – 91/100, School of Hygiene and Trop Medicine – 91/100).
A report from OFFA finds that some £1.3bn spent on bursaries over a five-year period had “no effect” on students’ chances of dropping out of university.
Undergraduates at UCL could be helping academics to conduct research from day one of their degree courses, according to plans unveiled by Michael Arthur aimed at boosting the student experience. Research to start on day one of degree course (THE)
A look at Poland – Student numbers
Dwindling student numbers are causing a problem for universities in Poland. After growing rapidly for two decades, higher education enrolments peaked in 2009, having risen fivefold to almost 2 million. This year, the numbers have tailed off and are set to fall further, even though Poland’s university enrolment rate is the fourth highest among OECD nations. Poland: growth stalls in an academy overdue for reform (THE)
The vice-chancellor of Durham University is to step down from his position later this year. Chris Higgins to step down as Durham v-c (THE)
Three universities which research brain tumours have been named as centres of excellence, two of which are Alliance universities. The University of Portsmouth, Plymouth University and Queen Mary University of London will be part of a national network of scientists. The aim is to revolutionise research into the tumours, which kill more people under 40 than any other cancer, a spokesman said. Universities named centre of excellence for brain tumours (BBC)
Several UK universities have seen the number of Indian students plummet by more than 50 per cent in recent years. The figures came to light during a series of evidence sessions for the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee, which is investigating the effects of immigration controls on international student numbers in STEM subjects. Universities detail hit to Indian demand (THE)
Regent’s University London has become the second private institution to be admitted to UUK, following the University of Buckingham. For-profit institutions BPP University and the University of Law are other potential candidates that could seek to join UUK. Regent’s University London joins UUK (THE)
There is a damaging “apartheid’’ at the heart of England’s education system that is dividing academic qualifications from the pursuit of vocational skills, Michael Gove has warned. In a speech at the McLaren technology centre in Surrey, Gove said it was vital that school pupils should have access to both types of learning to ensure they are prepared for the changing labour market, which increasingly values technological ability and innovation. Michael Gove warns of UK education’s damaging ‘apartheid’ (FT)
Katie Allen, writing in the Guardian, looks at the growing attraction of apprenticeships. She says, “with half of new graduates trapped in low-paid, low-skilled work, the appeal of on-the-job training is growing fast.” Financial: Meet the white collar apprentices – no milk round, no tuition fees and no dirty overalls (Guardian)
Step 1 of the government’s plan was George Osborne removing the cap on student numbers. Step 2 will remove ‘red tape’. And step 3? An end to the £9,000 cap on fees, says Peter Scott. Education: End to cap on university student numbers clears path for private equity (Guardian)
Gravity, the space thriller starring Sandra Bullock, won seven Oscars this year. 40-50 graduates from Bournemouth University worked behind the scenes and played a key part in the process. The Gravity graduates: experience that’s out of this world (Guardian)
Michael Gove will make political history as the first Conservative education secretary to send his child to a state secondary after his daughter won a place at the comprehensive school of her choice. Michael Gove’s daughter wins place at state school (Telegraph)
More than 160 academics have written to the Guardian to protest at being used as an extension of the UK border police, after universities have come under more pressure to check the immigration details of students.
While a fight is raging between the Tories and Liberal Democrats after Vince Cable suggested the recent increase in immigration figures was a “good thing”. Responding in the Mail on Sunday, Theresa May said that “we need boundaries” as there is “an overwhelming incentive for people to move from poorer nations to richer states.” While Liam Fox has said that the Tories must change their policy to win back voters from the UK Independence Party
However the Guardian has come to the defence of Vince Cable by arguing that pulling up the drawbridge in the face of global economic change and the digital era is simply not possible. Beyond the blame game (Guardian)
Labour education policy
All teenagers will have to study maths and English up to the age of 18 under a Labour government, the party will announce today as it unveils plans for a “national baccalaureate” to better equip young people for the workplace. All children to study maths and English to age 18, says Labour (Observer)
Harry Mount, writing in the Sunday Times, “argues that people in the Middle Ages had more chance of improving their station than we do”. He says this is, “bad news for the Tory toffs trying to rebrand themselves as the party for aspirational workers.” If you want to improve social mobility Mr Cameron, dish out new genes (Sunday Times)