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University leaders commit to pension talks as strikes begin

University leaders have written to the University and College Union to formally outline their commitment to continuing to work with UCU to deliver long-term reform of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. The move comes as UCU members at 60 universities begin strike action in disputes over both pensions and pay.

Gateway to university expertise now provides 'smart match' with business

A platform providing a single access point for businesses to university expertise and funding opportunities has been further developed by the National Centre for Universities and Business, Research England, and UK Research and Innovation, to help 'smart match' business and industry with higher education institutions, in a bid to boost R&D collaboration. Shivaun Meehan, Head of Communications at the NCUB, outlines the latest features of Konfer.

Thousands of new degree apprenticeships to be developed, HEFCE announces

Universities and colleges across England have been awarded a total of £4.5 million to develop thousands of new degree apprenticeships for students starting in September 2017.

The new degree apprenticeships are set to open the door to careers in everything from nursing to construction and food manufacturing, according to the Higher Education Funding Council for England, which announced the funding.

Working in partnership with leading employers, the universities and colleges will offer 5,200 new opportunities for apprentices and their employers in preparation for the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017.

Designed by employers, universities and professional bodies, degree apprenticeships deliver high-tech and high level skills and offer an alternative to a traditional degree course. Bringing together university study with paid work, degree apprentices spend part of their time at university and part with their employer.

The eighteen successful projects have been awarded funding from HEFCE in the first round of a two-year programme.

Skills and Apprenticeships Minister Robert Halfon said: “Apprenticeships work, that’s why we’ve launched degree apprenticeships that give people a real chance to earn while you learn putting you on the fast-track to a top career.

“This multi-million pound fund will allow universities and colleges to work with top employers to design high quality degree apprenticeships that give people a ladder of opportunity, more choice and help shape Britain to become an apprentice nation.”

Almost 70 bids were submitted for the fund, showing the ambition and appetite from the higher education sector to get behind degree apprenticeships.

Madeleine Atkins, HEFCE Chief Executive, said: "The development of degree apprenticeships will provide more people with the chance to study in higher education and work at the same time, and in doing so to fulfil their educational and career ambitions. Employers will be able to use their apprenticeship levy funds to access degree apprenticeships from a range of higher education providers, and the fund will support institutions in preparing for the increased demand that will follow the levy’s introduction from April 2017."

The Government funding has been awarded by HEFCE to projects focused on boosting the number of degree apprenticeships available. It forms a key part of the drive to strengthen the reputation of on-the-job training by raising standards and creating more high-quality opportunities for young people and adults from all backgrounds.

Provisional figures released on 6 October show an increase in the numbers of people starting higher and degree apprenticeships, with more than 27,000 higher and degree apprenticeships started so far in 2015 to 2016 academic year.

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