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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.

HEi-think: Why universities should support two year degrees

From this September, students will be able to opt to study an accelerated two year degree, as opposed to a traditional three year course. Professor Malcolm Todd, Provost (Academic) at the University of Derby, discusses why universities should consider the change in legislation and look to offer accelerated degrees.

Liverpool VC Janet Beer elected next UUK President

Universities UK has announced that Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, will be  its next president. 

Professor Beer was elected following a ballot of Universities UK members. She will succeed the current President, Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, in August next year and will hold the post for two years until July 2019.

Professor Beer has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool since 2015, following seven years as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University. She is currently Vice-President of Universities UK (England and Northern Ireland), Chair of the Board of the Equality Challenge Unit and was a member of the recent taskforce on dealing with violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students. She is also a board member of UCAS, a board member of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) and a trustee of the British Council. 

Professor Beer has an established record of research and scholarship in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American literature and culture and most recently completed a study of the late writing of Edith Wharton.

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Janet is widely respected throughout the university sector. With ten years’ experience as the head of two universities, and having chaired and served on the boards of some of the sector’s main bodies, Janet will bring considerable experience and leadership to the role of UUK President.

“The Brexit negotiations will have considerable implications for UK universities in the coming years. On top of this, the Teaching Excellence Framework, Higher Education Bill and more debates about international student visas means we have our work cut out.”

Professor Beer said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been elected President of Universities UK. These are challenging times for our sector and I look forward to working closely with members to ensure that UK higher education grows stronger than ever. That means attracting the best talent, producing well-rounded graduates and cutting-edge research, and making a major contribution to our social and economic development. I welcome the opportunities we will have to build upon the already outstanding work that universities do.”

Professor Janet Beer
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