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Conceptions of what is excellent in higher education are starting to change

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, outlines strategies adopted by NTU that are boosting social mobility and which helped it win the inaugural Guardian University of the Year award, a gong he believes shows how notions of excellence in HE are changing.

A house divided? Growing divisions and inequalities in HE

Mike Boxall, who has thirty years' experience as a consultant and commentator on strategic developments in higher and further education, finds evidence in recent news of growing and worrying divisions within UK higher education.

UK HE must put its house in order to maintain global excellence

News on higher education over the past week highlights an urgent need for the sector to get to grips with ethical issues that have a bearing on the way it is managed and governed, argues Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations at Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (CHEAD).

Rising staff costs putting universities under greater pressure, warns Moody's

UK universities will face greater financial pressure over the next three years due to rising staff costs as they accommodate more students, retain talent and negotiate pay rises,  Moody's has warned.

South Asia cannot wait for the UK, British Council warns

UK higher education must reach out to South Asia or be left behind by its competitors, the British Council has warned.

The ‘build it and they will come’ ethos of the last few decades is no longer fit for purpose if the UK is serious about creating long term, sustainable and mutually beneficial education links with South Asia, Michelle Potts, the British Council’s Regional Director of Education in South Asia, will tell educations leaders gathered at a forum in London.

New research to be presented at the forum will show that the demographics of South Asia coupled with its geopolitical and financial limitations suggests that conventional models of higher education delivery and economics cannot meet the scale of the challenges faced by countries in the region.

“Replicating the current models of provision and building more universities cannot be the solution”, Ms Potts will tell delegates. “It now requires a much larger and collegiate approach from the UK and engagement at a systemic level to make even a dent in the numbers in South Asia.

“Large scale structural reform is required in areas of quality, leadership, skills and employability, and the UK ‘offer’ has to be elaborated and go beyond a reliance on student mobility, or the UK risks being left behind as competition from overseas hones in on the new educational frontier that is South Asia.”

The new research, commissioned by the British Council from the Economist Intelligence Unit, will recommend that innovation in service provision and equity of access to opportunity are now a prerequisite to make the connection between quality education, developing relevant skills and prosperous stable societies. International providers have a key role to play in these reforms, but with the mind-set that they now need to offer the full package and deliver good outcomes and not necessarily 'sell' degrees to ambitious wealthy students.

The London event, in partnership with the British Academy and SOAS, University of London is part of a series of British Council workshops that have been held across South Asia in 2013/14 bringing regional education leaders together with their UK counterparts to address the significant challenges in the region. For the first time, a representative of the Iranian Government will also be travelling to London, and speaking as a panellist at the event.

Ms Potts said: “With India’s successful Mars mission, Afghanistan and Pakistan’s relatively peaceful transitions of democratic government, and Malala’s Nobel peace prize for championing girls’ education, 2014 had many significant positives for South Asia.

“There are palpable signs for optimism and real breakthroughs which present huge opportunities for the region and globally. India, for example, has the world’s fourth-largest gross domestic product (GDP), yet dedicates just one per cent of its GDP to research and development. Imagine what could be achieved by just doubling this and the role that UK world class research intensive universities can play and benefit from in this endeavour.”

Mattiaath 123RF
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