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Conceptions of what is excellent in higher education are starting to change

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, outlines strategies adopted by NTU that are boosting social mobility and which helped it win the inaugural Guardian University of the Year award, a gong he believes shows how notions of excellence in HE are changing.

A house divided? Growing divisions and inequalities in HE

Mike Boxall, who has thirty years' experience as a consultant and commentator on strategic developments in higher and further education, finds evidence in recent news of growing and worrying divisions within UK higher education.

UK HE must put its house in order to maintain global excellence

News on higher education over the past week highlights an urgent need for the sector to get to grips with ethical issues that have a bearing on the way it is managed and governed, argues Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations at Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (CHEAD).

Rising staff costs putting universities under greater pressure, warns Moody's

UK universities will face greater financial pressure over the next three years due to rising staff costs as they accommodate more students, retain talent and negotiate pay rises,  Moody's has warned.

Higher vocational STEM education can lead to better earnings than degrees, study finds

Earnings of people achieving higher-level vocational qualifications in STEM subjects can exceed those of people who pursued the same subjects at a university level, a study has concluded.

UUK calls for government and universities to prepare for “no deal” Brexit

In the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, the Government must unilaterally secure EU citizens rights and strengthen its pledge to underwrite UK participation in EU research programmes, according to new guidance from Universities UK.

In a paper, the organisation sets out the range of implications and mitigations for universities associated with a possible ‘no deal’ Brexit outcome, while making it clear that such a scenario is “highly undesirable”.

A ‘no-deal’ situation would create immediate uncertainty for EU nationals in UK universities, prospective students and staff from across the EU, and for those participating in any of the Horizon 2020, Structural Funds or Erasmus+ programmes.

Alistair Jarvis, chief executive of UUK, said: "A 'no deal' Brexit would have huge implications for universities in all corners of the UK, and prove enormously damaging for regional jobs, growth and skills. EU staff and students at British universities, and UK staff and students at European universities, would be left facing huge uncertainty."

Universities UK has called on the government to build on the “stability measures” it has already put in place to minimise disruption.

This includes government guaranteeing EU citizens’ rights, making no substantive changes to rules governing EU migration until 1 January 2021, strengthening and clarifying its existing pledge to underwrite participation in EU programmes and establishing back-up structures to mirror Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ where required.

The paper also sets out the challenges that universities will face if the Brexit negotiations end without a deal in place.

Reaching the March 2019 exit date without an agreement would mean the residency and work rights of EU nationals already working in universities would be unclear and EU nationals entering the UK could be treated as third country nationals, subject to non-EEA immigration rules and requirements.

The UK’s ability to participate in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ could cease, because there would be no legal obligation for the UK to pay any financial settlement on exit, while the continued mutual recognition of professional qualifications covered by the current EU Directive would be uncertain.

UUK has called on the government to ensure that any substantive changes to rules governing EU migration are preceded by a period of two years to allow universities and prospective staff and students to prepare for any new system.

The Government should also set out its contingency plans for replacing access to single beneficiary Horizon 2020 funds and access to Erasmus+.

Universities are also advised to take certain actions, including encouraging EU staff to secure pre-settled or settled status under the current pilot of the settlement scheme which runs from 15th November until 21st December 2018.

Institutions need to be mindful of how courses are described to prospective students in terms of fee/loan status and qualifications recognition and think about their communication to this group around the publication of the EU Settlement Scheme, the paper says.

Liaising with European partners regularly to share understanding of the impact of no deal and collaboratively plan for such an outcome, is also suggested.

Other issues that universities bear must in mind around the exit date include travel arrangements between the UK and EU; health insurance for students and staff; energy / participation in Euratom and other programmes; trade /customs arrangements; as well as procurement and contracts held by universities.

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