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Major international HE conference considers impact of the digital revolution

A major international conference considered the digital revolution and its transformation of higher education, society, and the way technology affects the creation and use of knowledge.

Rule out variable fees and minimum entry requirements, says new report

The government should rule out variable fees and restricting university access for lower grade students, according to a new report.

UK universities' fundraising success helps sooth financial uncertainty

Fundraising added more than £1 billion to the coffers of universities in the UK and Ireland last year, new research shows. Sue Cunningham, President and CEO of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) argues that the findings point to the growing importance of philanthropy for the future health and vitality of the sector.

Conceptions of what is excellent in higher education are starting to change

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, outlines strategies adopted by NTU that are boosting social mobility and which helped it win the inaugural Guardian University of the Year award, a gong he believes shows how notions of excellence in HE are changing.

A house divided? Growing divisions and inequalities in HE

Mike Boxall, who has thirty years' experience as a consultant and commentator on strategic developments in higher and further education, finds evidence in recent news of growing and worrying divisions within UK higher education.

UK HE must put its house in order to maintain global excellence

News on higher education over the past week highlights an urgent need for the sector to get to grips with ethical issues that have a bearing on the way it is managed and governed, argues Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations at Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (CHEAD).

Rising staff costs putting universities under greater pressure, warns Moody's

UK universities will face greater financial pressure over the next three years due to rising staff costs as they accommodate more students, retain talent and negotiate pay rises,  Moody's has warned.

Government rejects call for Brexit “no deal” contingency plan for HE

The government has rejected MPs demands that it publish a “contingency plan for higher education” to prepare for a “no deal” situation in the Brexit negotiations.

It has also reiterated its intention to continue to include international students in the net migration targets, despite acknowledging new evidence that the numbers of over-stayers has been overestimated.

The government’s response to the House of Commons Education Committee’s report Exiting the EU: challenges and opportunities for higher education, has been published, seven months after the original inquiry report.

It turns down the committee’s request that it publish its “no-deal” Brexit plan for higher education, saying it “would not be appropriate while negotiations are ongoing”.

The government also refused to budge on the controversial policy of counting international students in net migration figures. It argued that as international students “consume public services”, local authorities need to know the numbers “so that they can accurately plan their resources”.

The report adds: “Including students in the net migration target does not act to students’ detriment or to the detriment of the education sector.”

This is despite the report noting the findings of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) research, that the International Passenger Survey may be undercounting emigration after study, as well as the evidence provided by exit checks data. It concludes that while work is ongoing to better understand and improve the data, “the International Passenger Survey continues to be the most robust estimate of overall net migration”.

On the status of EU students, the government outlined previous announcements that EU nationals and their family members who are starting higher education courses in the 2018/19 academic year will continue to be eligible for home fee status and for undergraduate, master’s, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support for the duration of their course.

It also highlighted its request to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to assess the impact that EU and non-EU students have on the UK. The report, to be published in September next year, will look at the impact of tuition fees and other spending by international students on the national, regional, and local economy and on the education sector, in addition to the impact their recruitment has on the provision and quality of education provided to domestic students.

In response to MPs demands that the status of EU higher education staff be guaranteed, unilaterally if necessary, the government said a “reciprocal agreement on EU citizen” would be reached as soon as possible.

It pointed out recently announced arrangements for EU citizens who have been continuously resident in the UK for five years, to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’ and other arrangements.

On immigration arrangements post-Brexit, the government suggested that current rules for non-EU university employees could apply.

“Immigration reforms for non-EU nationals since 2010 have explicitly taken account of the needs of the academic and research sectors, even while tightening controls on migration in other spheres.

“The Government has consistently protected and enhanced the treatment of these sectors in the immigration system,” the response report said.

Science and innovation has been identified as one of the Prime Minister’s 12 key objectives for the negotiations with the EU.

In response to a demand from the committee that contingency plans are made for investing the same level of funding that the UK received from the EU in a scenario where access cannot be negotiated, the government reiterated its commitment to underwrite the payment of Horizon 2020 and other EU funds, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.

 

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