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HEi-think: Tertiary review must untangle some knotty problems facing HE

The review of post-18 education launched by the Prime Minister faces some knotty problems to untangle over higher education funding and student finance, but in itself adds another thread to the tapestry of changes woven around the sector, says Diana Beech, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Higher Education Policy Institute.

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Live higher education news roundup

Former universities minister Lord Willetts to be Leicester University Chancellor

The University of Leicester has announced that former Universities and Science Minister David Willetts is to be installed as its new Chancellor.

HEi-think: Latest UCAS data shows student market competition is hotting up

Mike Ratcliffe, Oxford-based university administrator and Director of More Means Better, examines the latest UCAS data, and finds competition for mobile students is on the rise.

HEi-think: Staffordshire's new £17m hub is a vote of confidence in apprenticeships

Staffordshire University is aiming for significant growth in apprenticeships with the launch of £17m digital apprenticeships and skills hub that offers a model for the rest of the sector, says its Pro Vice Chancellor ( Partnerships and Region), Professor Ieuan Ellis.

MPs most interested in what universities can do for the UK economy

MPs and prospective MPs are more interested in what universities can do for the UK’s economy than in the teaching they provide for 2.5 million students a year, a survey has shown.

A poll of MPs and politicians hoping to win a seat in the forthcoming general election commissioned by Universities UK found that they were most interested in hearing about universities’ engagement with business and enterprise and the employability of their graduates.

Very few – just 14 per cent of MPs and 16 per cent of “future MPs” – wanted information about one of the core purposes of universities: providing good teaching and a high quality learning environment for their students.

The proportion of those polled who wanted to know about where universities stand on immigration – a hot topic for institutions ahead of the election – was also relatively low (16 per cent among MPs and 13 per cent among would-be MPs).

The survey conducted by ComRes found that by contract 43 per cent of MPs were interested in universities’ engagement with business and 42 per cent in graduate employability. Prospective MPs were equally interested in graduate employability (48 per cent) and what universities were doing to widen participation in HE and boost social mobility.

Asked what they thought universities are good at, the most popular answer among respondents was conducting world class research – supported by 78 per cent of MPs and 75 per cent of prospective MPs. Most also thought British universities were strong on competing internationally with other HE sectors, producing highly skilled and employable graduates, and contributing to local employment and local economies.

But there was far less confidence in universities using their funding efficiently – with just 38 per cent of MPs and 30 per cent of future MPs thinking this was the case.

The area where respondents felt universities were weakest, though, was in engaging with MPs and other policymakers. Only just under a quarter of MPs and 13 per cent of future MPs thought universities were strong in this area.

Source: Universities UK
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