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University leaders commit to pension talks as strikes begin

University leaders have written to the University and College Union to formally outline their commitment to continuing to work with UCU to deliver long-term reform of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. The move comes as UCU members at 60 universities begin strike action in disputes over both pensions and pay.

Gateway to university expertise now provides 'smart match' with business

A platform providing a single access point for businesses to university expertise and funding opportunities has been further developed by the National Centre for Universities and Business, Research England, and UK Research and Innovation, to help 'smart match' business and industry with higher education institutions, in a bid to boost R&D collaboration. Shivaun Meehan, Head of Communications at the NCUB, outlines the latest features of Konfer.

Survey pinpoints ways to make postgraduates even more satisfied

Eight out of 10 postgraduate students taking a taught course in the UK report continued satisfaction with the experience over a five-year period.But a survey of more than 70,000 postgraduates across 85 higher education institutions who responded to the Advance HE Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) highlights for the first time areas where institutions could do better still to boost satisfaction levels.

Disadvantaged more likely to apply to university after receiving student letters

Sending personalised letters from student role models to teenagers from poor backgrounds increases the likelihood of them applying to selective universities, a government trial has shown.

Letters from current students from similar backgrounds who are studying at Russell Group institutions had a “substantial effect” on encouraging sixth formers to consider higher ranking institutions. It lead to an estimated additional 222 students accepting places at Russell Group universities, compared to had the trial not taken place, according to the study.

The large-scale randomised-controlled trial undertaken by the government’s Behavioural Insights Team and the Department for Education was prompted by academic research from the UK and the United States.

The letters were sent to high achieving young people (students who scored more than 367 points on their best 8 GCSEs and went to schools which typically sent more than 20 per cent of their best students to their nearest university) during their first year in sixth form, encouraging them to “aim higher in life”.

Some 11,104 young people, across 300 schools were part of the study. Pupils either received a letter from a male former student, sent to their school in November, or a letter from a female former student, sent to their home in April, or both letters, or neither letter.

Outcomes are tracked through UCAS applications up to two years later, to allow students to apply during a gap year.

There were no statistically significant effects on students’ likelihood of applying to university overall but the study found that receiving both letters significantly increases the chance of applying to a Russell Group University, from 19.9 per cent to 23.2 per cent.

Receiving both letters also significantly increased the chance of receiving and accepting an offer from a Russell Group University, from 8.5 per cent to 11.4 per cent.

The study concluded that: “Overall, it seems reasonable to conclude that these letters are effective both at boosting aspiration, and getting students to act on this aspiration.

“Our results have shown that a simple intervention, targeted at high achieving students from low income families, can substantially increase the rate at which these students apply to selective universities, are made offers by those universities, and accept those offers once the receive them.”

The total cost of administering the letters at £10,000. In total, 11,489 letters were sent, at an average cost of 87p per letter. An estimated 222 additional young people attended a selective university as a result of the trial, putting the cost at £45.05 per additional student.

 

 

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