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HEi News Roundup live

Live higher education news roundup

Universities must publish evidence to back ads claims, says new guidance

Universities which use terms like “number 1” or “leading” in advertisements need to include evidence to substantiate the claims, according to new advice.

Government fee “top-ups” and student vouchers needed to solve part-time study crisis

Tuition fee “top-ups” paid to universities by the government and vouchers for students to help cover the cost of fees should be introduced to help reverse the crisis in part-time study, according to a new report.

HEi-think: Student funding proposals expose tensions over social mobility aims

The latest proposals for making the student funding system fairer, in a new report from the Sutton Trust, show how contradictory policies can arise out of social mobility objectives, warns Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute.

The implications of organisational change for UK HE

As UK higher education faces a period of exceptional change, the prospect of more mergers and acquisitions may arise. Ewan Ferlie and Susan Trenholm from King’s Business School have examined the implications and identified issues the sector may need to consider, following a research report for the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education .

HEi-think: Study shows value for money is not students' top priority

Ross Renton, Pro Vice Chancellor Students, and Sophie Williams, Students' Union Chief Executive, both at the University of Worcester, consider the implications of the findings of a new survey on students' views on the Teaching Excellence Framework.

HEi-think: Why the UK needs more globally mobile students

Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, explains why her organisation has launched a campaign to double the percentage of UK students who are studying or working abroad.

HEi-think: The UK needs an HE review – but not one steered by politicians

Professor Sir Keith Burnett, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Sheffield, explains why his university and its students’ union has decided to host an independent Commission on Higher Education.

Universities to be required to sponsor a school in Prime Minister’s education revolution

Universities charging higher level fees will be required to establish a new school or sponsor an existing under-performing school, as part of an overhaul of the English education system announced by Prime Minister Theresa May.

In her first major speech on domestic policy since becoming Prime Minister, she will say the move is part of a plan to boost social mobility and “create a true meritocracy”.

The government is to publish a green paper outlining plans to allow comprehensive schools to select the brightest pupils and turn away under-achievers as part of the most radical reform of the education system in 50 years.

In a speech at the British Academy, the Prime Minister will insist that the new grammar schools must accept a proportion of pupils from lower income households, while also requiring them to either establish a new, non-selective free school in their area or sponsor an under-performing academy.

She will say: "For too long we have tolerated a system that contains an arbitrary rule preventing selective schools from being established - sacrificing children’s potential because of dogma and ideology. The truth is that we already have selection in our school system – and it’s selection by house price, selection by wealth. That is simply unfair.

“That is why I am announcing an ambitious package of education reforms to ensure that every child has the chance to go to a good school. As well as allowing new selective schools we will bring forward a new requirement that means universities who want to charge higher fees will be required to establish a new school or sponsor an existing unde-performing school.

"This is about being unapologetic for our belief in social mobility and making this country a true meritocracy – a country that works for everyone."

Responding to the proposals in the Prime Minister's speech, Dame Julia Goodfellow, President of Universities UK and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, said: “Universities already work closely with schools and colleges to raise aspirations and attainment. This ranges from outreach programmes and summer schools, to curriculum improvement, working with teachers, and providing information on progression to higher education. 

“Many universities have been sponsoring academies and involved in the establishment of new schools for some years now. Around half of universities in England sponsor a school.

“How this is done will vary enormously and depend on the university and on different local circumstances. It is important that any new proposals allow universities the flexibility to consider the evidence and target funding in a way that works best for the school and students to help raise attainment.

“We agree that prior school attainment is vital in terms of improving social mobility and there is more that universities can do in this area. This will be reflected in the recommendations of Universities UK's Social Mobility Advisory Group which is due to report later this month.”

Commenting on the plans, Sir Peter Lampl, chairman of the Sutton Trust and Education Endowment Foundation said: "The Prime Minister is right to want to improve outreach by universities, and more support of state schools may help. But the government should as a matter of urgency revisit the scrapping of maintenance grants and consider means-testing fees if they want to improve social mobility.”

Pam Tatlow, Chief Executive of MillionPlus, commented:

“We fully support the Prime Minister’s ambitions to improve social mobility, but the road map she has outlined today needs to be subject to full scrutiny.

“Modern universities have an excellent track record in working with schools and are agents of social mobility in their own right. Universities already work with academies and university technical colleges, and it is wrong to suggest that universities give nothing back.

“Given that access agreements have just been announced and fees for the majority of universities, having achieved TEF1, set at £9,250, the timing of this this announcement raises questions over the future direction of travel. It is also likely that students and graduates will have number of questions about these proposals as they will effectively be asked to pay higher fees in order to support the school sector.”

Director General of the Russell Group Dr Wendy Piatt commented:

“We share the Government’s commitment to widening participation and social mobility. Ensuring our doors are wide open to talented and able students from all backgrounds really matters to Russell Group universities.

“Many Russell Group Universities already sponsor academies, free schools and University Technical Colleges and all of our universities work in close partnership with many more schools. These partnerships include direct interventions focussed on giving extra academic support to highly able students from disadvantaged backgrounds, as well as sharing facilities and giving advice and guidance to students on applying to university.

"This year Russell Group universities hosted conferences for teachers at schools in disadvantaged areas or with low rates of progression to higher education. These materials will soon be available to a wider audience via an online resource providing information, advice and guidance for teachers to help students progress to leading universities.

“It will take time, commitment, and sustained action from a range of agencies to raise pupils' aspirations, increase attainment and improve the advice and guidance offered. We will study the Government’s proposals closely and respond in detail in due course.”


Theresa May