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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.

Hinds urges OfS to take “ambitious” measures to protect HE standards

Education Secretary Damian Hinds has urged the Office for Students to adopt “ambitious” new measures “in order to tackle risks to the world class quality of higher education” in the UK.

In supplementary guidance to priorities for the 2019-20 financial year he originally set out in February, Hinds calls on the OfS to make additional efforts to address concerns over degree grade inflation, essay mills, unconditional offers, degree apprenticeships, and university admissions more broadly.

The OfS should be prepared to “directly challenge” institutions where it finds clear evidence of grade inflation, using “the full range of its powers to address any disregard of sector-recognised standards”, he says in the guidance letter, adding that the OfS should make the target for new key performance indicators in this area “ambitious”.

The OfS should also take a “visible lead” in challenging the sector to eliminate the use of essay mills, working with the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) to ensure institutions have the support they need to take “firm and robust action”.

The education secretary refers again to a “disturbing” rise in the number of unconditional offers being made, and says he expects the OfS to keep him informed of progress on work to address this. The growth in unconditional offers “may be symptomatic of wider issues within university admissions processes”, he adds, welcoming the OfS’s stated intention to conduct a review of admissions.

On degree apprenticeships, Hinds encourages the OfS to work closely with Ofsted to produce quality assessment reviews of apprenticeships delivered by non-registered providers, to identify any that are not meeting expected standards.

 

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