If you are a registered HEi-know user, please log in to continue.
You must be a registered HEi-know user to access Briefing Reports, stories and other information and services. Please click on the link below to find out more about HEi-know.
Uncertainty was the dominant theme in last week's HE news, and it looks like the sector can expect more of the same into the New Year, says Ross Renton, Pro Vice-Chancellor for students at the University of Worcester, in the third of our weekly HE news reviews.
Universities leaders in Scotland have criticised a real terms budget cut for higher education.
More women are rising to top posts in UK universities, but turbulence in the sector means turnover remains high among HE leaders, a new HEi-know survey has found.
Mike Ratcliffe, Academic Registrar at Nottingham Trent University, reviews HE sector news in a week when T levels, educational “snobbery”, Oxbridge admissions, and a new universities minister made the headlines.
Nursing degree apprenticeships as a successful and sustainable route into the profession will forever be a mirage unless barriers to delivery are torn down, MPs have warned.
Students who enter university with alternative qualifications to A level such as BTECs can benefit from better support to tackle barriers in their transition into higher education, a study led by the University of Sheffield has found.
The findings mark the end of an 18-month collaborative project aimed at challenging preconceptions and breaking down the barriers faced by high achieving BTEC students who go on to study in courses with competitive levels of entry at university.
Launched in response to changing trends in students' entry qualifications and recent government reviews into tertiary education, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) funded project highlighted a growth in the number of students entering university with equivalent qualifications such as BTECs. It is expected T-levels and apprenticeships are likely to increase this trend towards a greater mix of pre-entry level qualifications further.
However, the findings suggest equivalent qualifications can still often be seen as a second class qualification.
The study involved schools and colleges working with the University of Sheffield to undertake a practical set of activities to understand better, and potentially support students, with the top grades in equivalent qualifications to A-levels in their transition to studying at university. A report on the findings says it is expected that the Sheffield-focussed results are reflective of the issues faced nationwide by students entering university with equivalent qualifications.
The report also highlighted that students entering university courses with equivalent qualifications tended to suffer poorer degree outcomes compared with A-level only students and at times faced different assumptions and perceptions than those entering with traditional A-level qualifications. The study aimed to find out more about the reasons why and suggest ideas to ensure universities, schools and colleges can better prepare high achieving students with alternative qualifications for success in higher education.
Other findings included:
The project provides recommendations for UK universities to better support BTEC students entering higher education. These include universities and schools or colleges working more closely with one another to help break down myths around BTECs. This would in turn enable admissions and academic staff to make informed decisions about the appropriate match between students' prior qualifications and their chosen university courses.
The report also outlines the importance of universities supporting an inclusive teaching and learning environment, with greater awareness about how negative, pre-conceived views on equivalent qualifications may impact on students. As part of this, activity to support transition into higher education for students with equivalent qualifications – such as summer schools – would be beneficial.
It suggests universities make their admissions criteria clearer to ensure equivalent qualifications including BTECs are clearly highlighted by discipline as suitable entry requirements within university prospectuses.
Professor Wyn Morgan, Vice-President for Education at the University of Sheffield, said: "Challenging misconceptions about students who come to university via equivalent BTEC qualifications compared to those on the traditional academic route of A-level is crucial, as higher education should be open to all those with talent and ability.
"The findings have helped us develop greater awareness and understanding of equivalent qualifications, as well as provided universities with recommendations to further develop their own teaching and support in order to continue to offer students the best possible experience at university.
"At a crucial time in which the government is reviewing tertiary education, we hope the findings can help inform universities across the country to ensure that students do not feel we place barriers to success in their way."
© 2013 Media FHE, all rights reserved