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Research England launches £4m fund to boost international collaboration

Research England has launched a new, competitive, £4 million fund designed to help higher education institutions (HEIs) expand their existing research collaborations with universities and research organisations outside of the UK.

Public positive about universities but question graduate work skills and value for money

A national poll of the public on their perceptions of universities has produced mixed results.

HE experts' views on the decade's most influential HE reports

HEi-know asked 12 higher education experts to name what they see as the most influential HE reports of the past decade. Here are their views.

Browne review is the most influential HE report of the last decade, say experts

The votes are in and the result is unequivocal. The most influential higher education report of the last decade is the October 2010 Browne report: higher education funding and student finance , according to a range of experts.

Employer-sponsored degrees deserve more support, says report

Employer-sponsored degrees should be given the same support as higher-level apprenticeships according to a new report.

The Higher Education Policy Institute says this kind of study has great benefits for employers, the country’s economy and for individuals – who “earn as they learn” and gain a degree without getting into debt.

But the report's author, Professor Dave Phoenix, Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University and Chair of the Million+ group, has also warned that if employer-sponsored degrees are not supported by the new £3 billion-a-year apprenticeship levy, there is a risk employers will switch their support from degrees to apprenticeships.

One in ten students in higher education is currently sponsored by an employer. Typically, someone doing such a degree will study one-day a week and work for the rest of it, while also receiving on-the-job training.

The report argues that degree and higher-level apprenticeships enjoy substantial subsidies from the government, and that the playing field between these and employer-sponsored degrees should be levelled.

It says employer-sponsored degrees are around six times cheaper for taxpayers than a typical three-year undergraduate degree – a figure based on new analysis by London Economics for this report.

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said more people could benefit from being sponsored to do a degree.

“Employer sponsored degrees are a great way to provide job-ready skills alongside an academic qualification. They deliver higher productivity for employers and higher wages for individuals. They are nearly six times cheaper than regular degrees for taxpayers and the students can emerge with no debt.”

The report calls for parity between the way that apprenticeships and employer sponsored degrees are funded, “allowing the schemes to compete on an equal footing” and for employer sponsored degrees to be promoted in schools and through the media.

It also says the government should look at the impact of policy in this area on social mobility and consider bringing in a “Higher Education Salary Sacrifice Scheme”.  This would involve an employer paying universities upfront and the student paying the employer back through their before-tax salary.

Professor Phoenix (whose own university, London South Bank, has nearly 7,000 sponsored students), said he supported the government’s new degree apprenticeships, as a “welcome addition to professional and technical education”.

But he added: “Ministers must ensure they complement rather than disrupt existing employer  sponsored degrees. This report shines a light on the huge value of employer-sponsored degrees and shows how a good policy could become a great one.”

 

 

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