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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 .
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.
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.
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.
The House of Commons education select committee has launched an inquiry into value for money in higher education.
The inquiry will examine the use of graduate outcomes data, social justice and progression of disadvantaged students in higher education, and the quality of teaching across institutions, it said.
The move comes after the annual Higher Education Policy Unit and the Higher Education Academy student experience study this year found that just 35 per cent of studemts believed their HE experience represented "good" or "very good" value for money. The number of students saying their university was "poor" or "very poor" value has almost doubled in five years.
The Committee added that it would also look into the variations in quality of teaching in higher education institutions and the effectiveness of the Teaching Excellence Framework in recognising this.
Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Select Committee, said:
"Over recent months there has been increasing public attention on the costs to students and to the taxpayer of higher education. The public scrutiny of vice-chancellor pay has raised wider questions about value for money.
"In our inquiry we want to examine to what extent the individual student and the taxpayer receives value for money for this considerable financial investment. Do we benefit from increased productivity from successful graduates? Do students see a greater dividend throughout their careers as a consequence of their degree?
"Social justice and the goal of improving young people’s lives and help them progress on the ladder of opportunity should be fundamental to the mission of our universities. We want to explore how far our universities are delivering a good quality service for their students and the extent to which the high salaries of vice-chancellors are linked to positive student outcomes."
The Committee has invited written submissions to the review by 23 October 2017
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