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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.

School-based trainee teachers most likely to enter profession, says report

School-based teacher training is rated higher than university-led training for quality by both students and Ofsted, according to a new report.

Universities are more likely to attract highly-qualified trainees but those on school-based routes are more likely to go on to become teachers, the study concludes.

The government wants more teacher training to be school-based and has been switching funding in that direction. However, university routes still account for 53 per cent of the total of trainees and for nearly 64 per cent of the post-graduate provision, data for the 2013-14 intake shows.

The research, called Good Teacher Training Guide 2015, is by Professor Alan Smithers and Mandy-Diana Coughlan from the University of Buckingham.

It found that all of the top 10 of training provision for quality were school-led, with the top place taken by the Billericay Educational Consortium SCITT (post-graduate primary), North East Partnership SCITT (secondary) and  The King Edward’s Consortium, Birmingham (School Direct and salaried routes).

Among universities, the top performers on quality for postgraduate studies were Cambridge University, Birmingham University and Oxford University.

The top three for undergraduate teacher training were Huddersfield University, Durham University and Derby University.

Overall, trainee numbers were down 6.3 per cent on two years ago “probably arising in part from turbulence in the ITT system” says Professor Smithers, but retention was up 6 per cent - likely to be due to “both government’s incentives and the moves to school-led and postgraduate training”.

In total, 86 per cent of school-based trainees went on to become teachers, compared with 80 per cent of post-graduate trainees in universities.  Trainees on under-graduate programmes were the least likely to go on to teach – 74 per of final year undergraduate trainees did so.

The universities with the best record for trainees taking up teaching posts were Buckingham University (in 24th position overall), followed by the University of East Anglia (37th) and Cambridge University (43rd).

Universities fared better in terms of entry qualifications.  Six were in the top 10 for entrants with good degrees, with Durham, Cambridge, Chester, Oxford, Exeter and York all featuring. However, the top three spots were taken by the Royal Academy of Dance, South West Teacher Training (a consortium of schools) and the North East Partnership, which have much smaller intakes.

Professor Smithers said: “These findings are promising for the Government as it seeks to move, as it said in its White Paper last week, ‘to an increasingly school-led ITT system’.  The quality of teacher training in schools emerges as higher in both inspectors’ grades and recent trainees’ ratings.   More of the trainees also became teachers.”

 

 

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