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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.

Erasmus+ students face potential "no deal" Brexit upheaval, UUK warns

Thousands of students could be denied government funding to study abroad if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal, Universities UK has warned.

A new government technical notice says that British students currently in Europe on Erasmus+ placements should continue to receive funding for the duration of their time abroad. However, excluding the grants that have already been agreed, the UK government has not committed to providing any further funding for students planning to study in Europe in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

In 2016-17, 16,561 British students studied on Erasmus+ placements, and a similar number is expected to be planning to be aiming for placements this coming year. Students from disadvantaged backgrounds would suffer particularly if grants are axed as they are less likely to be able to find an alternative form of funding to help pay their living and travel costs while in Europe, UUK said.

As part of its no-deal Brexit contingency planning, UUK is updating its guidance to universities on the impact of no-deal, to help them minimise the impact on students.

Alistair Jarvis, UUK Chief Executive, said the government must urgently reconsider its position: "Today's news from government provides welcome clarity for British students currently in Europe on Erasmus+ placements, as they should continue to receive funding for the duration of their time abroad. However, excluding any grants that may have already been agreed, government has not committed to new funding for study abroad placements beyond this.

"This means thousands of British students could miss out on the life-changing opportunity to take on placements at European universities on the Erasmus+ scheme. Students find themselves caught up in this political turmoil through no fault of their own. In particular, this decision will affect students from poorer backgrounds and disabled students, many of whom rely on financial help to meet the extra costs of studying abroad.

"As a matter of urgency, the UK government must reconsider its decision and commit to fund 2019/20 study abroad placements in the event of no deal. Research shows that studying abroad boosts academic performance, and helps students from a range of backgrounds develop the skills and global networks they need to secure jobs in a successful global trading nation," he said.

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