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Statements from ministers this week have made it clear that higher education in England is facing significant reforms, re-setting its focus towards helping to plug the UK's skills gaps and rebuilding the economy. Fariba Soetan, Policy Lead for Research and Innovation at the National Centre for Universities and Business, argues that the proposed changes bring a welcome focus on graduate outcomes and supporting the careers of young people.
Universities UK and GuildHE have commissioned the Quality Assurance Agency to develop a new approach to reviewing and enhancing the quality of UK TNE. QAA will consult on a new review method later this year and will launch a programme of in-country enhancement activity in 2021.
After a week of largely disappointing news for UK higher education, Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University, fears that gloomy forecasts for the future of the sector may prove to be uncomfortably accurate.
Loughborough University has been named University of the Year for the second time in three years in the latest Whatuni Student Choice Awards .
An open letter calling for an end to the “managerial micro-management” of higher education forcing academics to function as a “small business” has been signed by 121 university professors.
The letter, published by the Guardian, says forces of “marketisation” are leading institutions to turn to “out-dated” models of competitiveness and efficiency that subjects academics to “continuous pressures to standardise, conform, obey and duplicate in order to be ‘transparent’ to measurement”.
It says “highly paid” university managers and even more highly paid management consultants are driving the process, “with little regard for, or understanding of, the teaching and research process in higher education”.
Unprecedented levels of anxiety and stress among both academics and academic-related staff and students abound, it warns, with “obedient” students demanding “hoop-jumping, box ticking and bean counting” and managerial surveys measuring consumer satisfaction.
“Such are the low ambitions of today’s universities, locked into a conservative status quo mentality; for what is there left to learn, when you already know it in order to demand it?” it adds.
The letter, signed by some leading figures across a wide spectrum of institutions, calls upon parliament’s newly election education committee to conduct an urgent investigation into “these grave matters”.
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