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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.

HEFCE launches new learning gain pilot

Ten universities are to take part in the first pilot of a project design to measure how well student learn and what support their institutions provide.

The Higher Education Funding Council for England project will pilot a combination of methodological approaches to measuring learning gain, with the help of undergraduate students at Anglia Ruskin University, Bishop Grosseteste University, the University of Greenwich, the University of Hertfordshire, the University of Hull, the University of Kent, the University of Leicester, the University of Liverpool, the University of St Mark and St John, and the University of Wolverhampton.

In each year of their studies from 2016-17 to 2019-20, participating students will be invited to complete an assessment, which will explore their critical thinking and problem-solving skills, attitudes towards their study experience, and engagement with their studies.

As part of the wider programme of work on learning gain, HEFCE has already funded 13 institutionally led pilot projects. This programme of work is contributing to ongoing debates about the quality and impact of higher education, and how to evidence students’ wider learning.

A detailed overview of the NMMLGP will be presented alongside findings from the first year of work within the learning gain pilot projects on Thursday 10 November at the HEFCE National Conference on Learning Gain.

wavebreakmediamicro / 123RF
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