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Behind the HE headlines is one key question – the purpose of universities

The past week’s higher education news demonstrates that there are certain expectations of universities that policymakers, HE leaders and the Augar review are expected to address, says Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of the Engineering Professors’ Council and Chief Executive of outreach organisation Push .

30 VCs sign new Civic University Agreement

Leaders of thirty universities have signed a Civic University Agreement, reaffirming their institution's commitment to their local communities by pledging to put the economy and quality of life in their home towns and cities at the top of their list of priorities.

How to improve the student experience -- ask the students themselves

Jenny Shaw , Student Experience Director at Unite Students, draws lessons on the higher education sector's efforts to improve the student experience from a week of HE news and views.

HE Insight Paper - The rise of degree apprenticeships

Engineering degree apprenticeships in Sheffield

As the Higher Education Funding Council for England announces that thousands of new degree apprenticeships are to be created through a new £4.5 million development fund, HEi-know examines the rise of the degree apprenticeship and its significance for higher education and students.

 

Earning while learning is high on the government’s agenda, and as concern over graduate debt and career prospects increases there has been growing interest in degree apprenticeships.

The government hopes these will help plug the country’s skills gap, while providing a “ladder of learning” to people who might not otherwise have entered higher education and thereby boost social mobility too.

It has been investing – via the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) – in helping universities, FE colleges and businesses to develop degree apprenticeships under various models.

Hefce has just announced that it is funding a total of 18 projects to develop 5,200 new opportunities for apprentices and their employers in preparation for the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017. According Nicola Turner, Hefce’s head of skills, the response from universities to the invitation for project bids was bigger than expected.

She said: “Degree apprenticeships for this funding round had to be live and active for September 2017, so institutions would already have needed to be talking to employers.  A total of 68 bids were received and of these, 18 will be funded.

“The response and the quality of the bids was so strong that we requested extra funding for this round. We had £3m to give away in this, the first round, but managed to get extra funds, lifting this to £4.5m.”

In the academic year 2016-17, a total of 40 universities are committed to delivering an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 apprenticeship “starts”, and this number is expected to increase significantly over the coming years.

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