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With calls for a post-qualification admissions system, greater transparency around unconditional university offers, and the need for a more ambitious contextual admissions strategy – is the current admissions process fit for purpose or is it ready for a refresh? June Hughes, University of Derby Secretary and Registrar, discusses the complexity of the university system.
As the latest Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) results are published, Sue Reece, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Student Experience) at Staffordshire University, says the efforts her institution made to move up from a Silver to a Gold award were worth it, despite flaws in the TEF methodology.
Universities awarded funding as part of a large-scale programme to tackle hate crime and sexual harassment on campus have made good progress, an evaluation of the scheme has concluded.
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.
The passage of the Higher Education and Research Bill through parliament should be paused and its proposals re-considered in light of the impact of Brexit on the sector, the chair of the House of Commons Business Innovation and Skills Committee has said.
Concerns over how the referendum result will affect UK higher education are so great that the BIS Committee is launching an inquiry into it.
The Committee’s chair Iain Wright, the MP for Hartlepool, warned that universities business models will face significant challenges in the run up to Brexit.
With the second reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill currently postponed, it is time to “pause and reflect on whether the proposals contained in the Bill address the post-Brexit challenges Britain’s universities face”, he said.
Writing for the Politics Home website, Wright pointed out that UK universities are already being excluded from some pan-European bids for research funding.
“With this uncertainty, the government needs to act clearly and decisively, providing as much clarity as possible to ensure universities do not miss out on research funding,” he said.
There is also “huge uncertainty” over whether staff and students from the EU can continue to work and study in Britain.
The government should “send out an early and clear signal that the openness and quality of our higher education sector will not be compromised by any restrictions in the freedom of movement”.
He added that ministers should also take the opportunity to take international students out of net migration targets, and revisit post-study visa arrangements to make it easier for overseas students to work in the UK for a period after graduating.
Concerns over the uncertain status of EU staff and students have also been expressed by Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, who has has called for clarity from the government, after Home Secretary and Conservative leader candidate Theresa May raised questions over the right of EU citizen workers and students to stay in Britain following Brexit.
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