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Emerging HE policies highlight new political landscape

Interventionism is suddenly all the rage with the Westminster Conservative government, and higher education is feeling the impact as new policies and legislation are brought to bear on the sector, writes Johnny Rich, Chief Executive of Push and of the Engineering Professors’ Council.

Rethinking universities from the outside in

Mike Boxall, an independent researcher and consultant on higher education policies and strategies, and a senior adviser to PA Consulting, considers the emerging post-COVID world and its implications for the future of universities. His blog is based on a paper published recently by PA Consulting, and co-authored with its HE lead, Ian Matthias.

Is the government missing the real 'levelling up' value of HE?

The Westminster government should wake up to the full potential of higher education to help it meet its ‘levelling up’ goals, argues Professor Martin Jones, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Staffordshire University.

After a week of 'people power' it is time to listen to students

Jonathan Baldwin, managing director of higher education at Jisc, reflects on a week that’s felt the force of people power – and says it’s time for university leaders to respond to students’ calls for change.

Degree apprenticeships can fill skills gaps, says UUK report

New degree apprenticeships have the potential to help fill skills gaps and meet employers’ needs, according to a new report from Universities UK.

Whilst degree apprenticeships are relatively new, numbers are growing at a positive rate, with an estimated 1,500-2,000 starts for 2016 across 40 universities. UUK’s report The future growth of degree apprenticeships  identifies the factors that will impact on the potential growth and success of degree apprenticeships.

Research by UUK has concluded that degree apprenticeships can be particularly attractive to non-traditional students, providing an opportunity for degree apprenticeships to support widening participation goals.

The report also says apprenticeships offer a way for universities to diversify their offer and develop alternatives to traditional full-time on-campus study.

But it adds that there is a need to raise awareness among potential apprentices, their parents and those who support them, such as careers advisers.

Apprentices have full-time employment status – rather than student status – and do not pay for training costs or tuition fees. The government has pledged to create 3 million new apprenticeships in England by 2020. Last year, the coalition government announced nine new industry-designed degree apprenticeships.  

Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Universities have been actively involved in the development and delivery of these new, industry-designed degree apprenticeships.

“Combining a full degree, with the real, practical skills gained in work, make degree apprentices highly employable. They benefit from several years of workplace experience, alongside studying a course tailored specifically to employers' needs.

“They have the potential to help fill specific skills gaps and meet employers’ needs. Universities have the facilities and the innovative links with employers that help give UK companies a genuine competitive edge and create high value jobs for employees."

Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills, the Rt Hon Sajid Javid MP, said: “Degree apprenticeships give young people the opportunity to succeed like never before.

“We launched them to help employers find the talent they need to grow and innovate their workforces. As part of our offer of high quality apprenticeships at all levels, meeting employers' needs and driving up productivity, I want young people across the country to benefit from the life-changing opportunities that a degree apprenticeship can unlock.”

Tom Banham, Head of Academy Talent Acquisition at Nestlé, who collaborate with Sheffield Hallam University on degree apprenticeships, said: “We have found that the combination of practical, commercial experience at Nestlé and academic excellence at Sheffield Hallam is giving young people the skills that they need to become successful. It’s a great way for us to grow and develop our future business leaders.”

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