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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.

Higher vocational STEM education can lead to better earnings than degrees, study finds

Earnings of people achieving higher-level vocational qualifications in STEM subjects can exceed those of people who pursued the same subjects at a university level, a study has concluded.

Student well-being plays key role in satisfaction, study finds

A study of student well-being has found that social and emotional factors play a strong role in the overall student experience and satisfaction levels.

Students who are satisfied with life are more likely to be satisfied with a broad range of university services and less likely to think about leaving university early, a survey carried out by YouGov and Youthsight for Unite Students found.

The survey, which looked at non-academic elements of student life and involved 6,504 students and 2,169 applicants, found that three quarters of students (73 per cent) were satisfied with their life at the moment, while around one in ten (13 per cent) were not satisfied. Researchers found correlations between satisfaction and a number of university services and facilities, with retention and with mental health.

About one in eight (12 per cent) said they had a named mental health condition, while more than half had experienced stress, worry or strain over the four weeks leading up to the survey. In total, 16 per cent of students scored low on well-being.

Emotional resilience (defined broadly as a positive mental attitude) was linked both to retention and life satisfaction among students, authors of a report on the findings say.

The areas of student life examined included accommodation, wellbeing and life quality, financial management and employability.

Researchers identified social integration as an important factor for students. Unite Students, which is a provider of university accommodation, says satisfaction with accommodation and a sense of integration with others in a university home were linked to overall happiness and to retention.

It says a major finding was the “interconnectedness of student life” – that “students having a positive experience in one area are much more likely to be having a positive experience in others”. The report says flat-mates play a significant role, and students who are satisfied with the communal areas in their accommodation are more likely to feel integrated. Seventy per cent of students who felt satisfied with their lives were integrated with their flatmates, whereas only 40 per cent who were very dissatisfied with their lives felt integrated.

The study showed students from less wealthy homes were more likely to consider dropping out of their course (43 per cent compared with 34 per cent) and less likely to be happy with where they were living and to feel integrated there.

Unite Students Chief Executive, Richard Smith, said: “The report highlights some significant differences in experience and outcome, particularly for students from lower socioeconomic groups and for those with mental health issues.

“This research has brought home to me just how influential student accommodation, and what takes place within it, can be on student wellbeing and success.”

andresr / 123RF
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