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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.

Studying abroad gives students greater confidence, says report

An increase in empathy towards international students and enhanced confidence are some of the most positive impacts of study abroad, according to a British Council report that surveyed a sample of UK students in higher education.

Broadening Horizons 2016: Maximising the impact of study abroad, examines how UK students perceived the overseas study experience, particularly its impact on their employability, institutional engagement and global awareness.

The report concludes that returned students can be a valuable resource to promote overseas study, with returned home students largely believing they are more employable than those who had not studied abroad and many identifying other benefits of the experience, including improved communication skills and increased confidence.

Returned home students can further enhance the UK international student experience, with 91 per cent of respondents saying after study abroad they feel more strongly that domestic students should welcome and include international students.

The report also identified a welcome and largely unexpected result of study abroad is a new self-confidence that may permeate students’ social and academic lives.

“Our research shows that, after study abroad, UK home students are eager to share their wisdom and worldview with their peers,” says Education Intelligence Research Director Zainab Malik. “By inspiring returned students to unpack the lessons learned while overseas and to be advocates for study abroad and for international students, the life-changing effects of the experience are maximised and shared.”

Key findings from the report:

• Ninety-one per cent of returned students said study abroad made them more inclusive and welcoming to international students, citing greater empathy towards international students and the challenges they may face;

• Eighty-three per cent of students believed that study abroad had strengthened their job prospects; returned home students largely believed they are more employable than those who had not studied abroad;

• The vast majority of respondents - ninety-one per cent - were likely to recommend study abroad to other students and would emphasise positive value to their social, personal and professional lives;

• Eighty-one per cent of students who had studied abroad were more interested in global issues after studying abroad while 69 per cent said they had become more interested in national political issues after study abroad;

• There is a positive relationship between study abroad during higher education and the desire to go abroad again, for academic or professional reasons. Almost one third of respondents would ‘definitely’ apply for job abroad and 54 per cent stated they were now more open to the option.

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