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Research England invites bids for £4m fund

Research England is launching a new fund in autumn 2018 to support the scaling up of existing, strategically-significant, internationally-collaborative research relationships between English Higher Education Institutions and universities and research organisations outside of the UK.

Graduate unemployment rate lowest in 39 years

The graduate unemployment rate is at its lowest level in 39 years, a new analysis has revealed. report by Prospects, the graduate careers advice charity, shows that the unemployment rate for graduates six months after leaving university fell to 5.1 per cent this year – the lowest since 1979 when it was 4.9 per cent.

Universities ready to respond to new ethnic pay gap reporting rules

Universities will be “willing contributors” in the drive to publish ethnic minority pay differentials and some already make the data public, according to an equality think tank.

Growth in degree apprenticeships should be a priority, MPs say

A big expansion of degree apprenticeships “is crucial” to create a high-quality system that can plug the skills gap, according to MPs.

Think tank report calls for fees to be capped as low as £5,000

Tuition fees should be capped at as low as £5,000 and the interest rate on student loans lowered to match inflation levels, according to a report published by the free-market think tank the Centre for Policy Studies.

The report by the former investment banker Michael Johnson who ran David Cameron’s Economic Competitiveness Policy Group accuses the government of missing a chance to take more radical action on tuition fees by deciding to freeze them at £9,250.

The fees freeze was announced at the Conservative Party conference by Prime Minister Theresa May, along with an increase in the salary threshold at which students have to start repaying their loans from £21,000 to £25,000.  She also announced a major review of university funding, looking at issues such as how to vary the fees charged for each course.

Although the rise in the loans repayment threshold is “an acknowledgement that a fairer funding split between students and the state is required”, it could in practice see student debt write-offs sky-rocket and create a financial time bomb for future taxpayers, according to Johnson, a CPS fellow.

While the Government estimates that one-third of student loans will have to be written off, Johnson calculates the figure at more like 60 per cent or even possibly 75 per cent.

His report, Tuition Fees: A Fairer Fomula, adds: “Cutting the interest rate and the fee cap would lower students’ headline debt burden, and cause expected write-offs to plummet. This would be greatly appreciated by prospective students, and would simplify the student loan framework.”

The current repayment threshold should be maintained, says the report. A lower fees cap of £7,500, or even £5,000, together with a reduced loans interest rate,  would lower the debt burden for graduates and ensure that the Government gets more of its money back.

The proposals would create a funding gap for universities, Johnson acknowledges, which would need to be filled by central government. He recommends mitigating the costs by separating teaching from research, and treating research as investment rather than expenditure.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Theresa May "missed opportunity"
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