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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.

Survey pinpoints ways to make postgraduates even more satisfied

Eight out of 10 postgraduate students taking a taught course in the UK report continued satisfaction with the experience over a five-year period.But a survey of more than 70,000 postgraduates across 85 higher education institutions who responded to the Advance HE Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) highlights for the first time areas where institutions could do better still to boost satisfaction levels.

Government should listen to employers on graduate employment

The next government should adopt policies on graduate employment that reflect a less simplistic outlook than the current regime, argues Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Student Employers, which has just published its manifesto wish list.

Postgraduate researchers report high anxiety levels

Postgraduate researchers are suffering high levels of anxiety and many want more support, according to new research.

Town and gown united can reach out to the world, study finds

Town and gown is working together in Amsterdam. Image: tykhyi / 123RF

The “ivory tower” is a tired label that fails to capture the complex and deep relationship between universities and the cities where they are based, according to a British Council study.

Universities can work effectively with cities to build on their mutual strengths and identities and reach out to the world through a strategic internationalism, an analysis of four medium sized European cities has concluded.  But effective internationalisation is not inevitable and needs work to find and nurture the areas where collaboration can be most effective.

Although cities can learn much from one another, models for collaboration should be developed locally by university and city leaders rather than imported from “best practice”, says a report on the findings, Mutual influence: Universities, cities and the future of internationalisation, launched at the British Council's Going Global conference. The make-up of institutions and priorities will differ markedly from one city to another.

Each of the four cities featured in the report – Amsterdam, Hannover, Dublin and Glasgow - has built a model of working together with universities that is tailored to the nature of the place and environment in which they are based.  Though they differ, there are certain factors that have helped progress, such as a dedicated member of staff in the city office to coordinate relations with universities or an informal network of key figures to co-ordinate activity.

Cities should recognise the diverse characters and strengths of their universities, while universities should work together to co-ordinate conversations with City Hall rather than working in isolation, the report suggests.   Where there is little or no existing mechanism for university-city collaboration, the British Council may wish to convene an initial meeting and play and active role in promoting links, it says.

The process could start with shared interests, such as marketing to promote the city as an attractive place to live and campaigns to build on its national and international reputation.  Successful collaborations can also focus on “infrastructure bottlenecks” such as housing which is a common theme in the four cities surveyed.  Other initiatives include transport, joint trade delegations, attracting inward investment, branding of place and study destinations, and working together to improve marginalised pockets of the area or the joint running of integration programmes for visitors and refugees.

However, the report stresses that internationalism is fragile and cities can find themselves at the mercy of visa regimes and pressures on public finances.

“The positive collaborations outlined in this report are replicable in cities all over the world but they are just as easily swept away by destructive forces,” it says. In particular, globalisation is vulnerable in the face of populism and the rise of nationalism and isolationism at the expense of openness and free movement.

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