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HEi News Roundup live

Live higher education news roundup

MPs to probe value for money in higher education

The House of Commons education select committee has launched an inquiry into value for money in higher education.

Writing off graduate debt would cost £80bn less than claimed, but only high earners would gain, says IFS

The long term cost of writing off graduate debt after a general election in five years would be up to £80 billion lower than some politicians and commentators have claimed, an analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies.

MillionPlus paper calls for defence of student mobility in Brexit talks

A new policy briefing from MillionPlus, highlights the key issues that the UK’s representatives need to negotiate to ensure that UK and EU students can continue to study in each other’s countries and that the UK’s universities can continue to trade in Europe post-Brexit.

Leicester opens new international campus in China

The University of Leicester is preparing to open its first international Institute in China this month. The Institute, which will offer duel degree in STEM subjects to both Chinese and UK students, is the result of a partnership between Leicester and leading Chinese University - Dalian University of Technology.

Johnson seeks to calm sector fears over Brexit

Universities Minister Jo Johnson has sought to reassure the higher education sector over the implications of Britain’s referendum vote to leave the European Union.

The government “is determined to ensure that the UK continues to play a leading role in European and international research”, he said in a statement.

The minister said the many questions about how the vote would affect higher education and research would “need to be considered as part of wider discussions about the UK’s future relationship with the EU”.

But he added: “The UK remains a member of the EU, and we continue to meet our obligations and receive relevant funding.”

As the UK university sector weighs up the likely impact of the vote, the message from Mr Johnson was that although there was much to be decided, it was also business as usual.

The government would continue, he said, to “take forward” the Higher Education and Research Bill and its programme would carry on.

The minister – who is the brother of chief Brexiteer Boris Johnson – said in a speech to scientists in Westminster that it was even more important that the government worked with the HE community on the Bill.

The statement echoed the announcement made yesterday that EU students currently studying in the UK or those due to begin courses this autumn would keep their entitlement to tuition fee loans for the duration of their courses.

It also says there will be “no immediate changes” for students and staff from the EU here, nor for  Britons in other EU states.

On the Erasmus programme, Mr Johnson says: “The referendum result does not affect students studying in the EU, beneficiaries of Erasmus+ or those considering applying in 2017.”

But he added that the UK’s future access to the Erasmus+ programme would “be determined as a part of wider discussions with the EU”.

With £1.2 billion a year at stake in EU research grants, the issue of funding looms large for British universities, together with that of international collaborations. In the run-up to the referendum, “Leave” campaigners had said that those receiving money from the EU “would continue to do so”, with funding being covered by the government.

In terms of future direct funding from the EU though, experts are suggesting that access to this would depend on the government agreeing to free movement of EU citizens.

Mr Johnson said the referendum result would have “no immediate effect on those applying to or participating in Horizon 2020” and that “the future of UK access to European science funding will be a matter for future discussions”.

Jo Johnson
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