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Higher education is not broken - it just needs to fix its diversity problem

Reviewing the past week's higher education news, Rachel Hewitt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute, takes issue with claims that UK higher education is "broken" and sees encouraging signs that it is addressing issues over diversity.

New year presents HE sector with fresh challenges

Professor Malcolm Todd, Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Provost (academic and student experience) at the University of Derby, comments on what he sees as the most significant higher education news and opinions making headlines in the first week of 2020.

Universities UK International calls on employers to back study abroad campaign

Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, introduces the launch of Year Three of UUKi's Go International: Stand Out campaign, calling on employers to promote the value of international experience.

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.

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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