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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.
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 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.
A platform providing a single access point for businesses to university expertise and funding opportunities has been further developed by the National Centre for Universities and Business, Research England, and UK Research and Innovation, to help 'smart match' business and industry with higher education institutions, in a bid to boost R&D collaboration. Shivaun Meehan, Head of Communications at the NCUB, outlines the latest features of Konfer.
Eight out of 10 postgraduate students taking a taught course in the UK report continued satisfaction with the experience over a five-year period.But a survey of more than 70,000 postgraduates across 85 higher education institutions who responded to the Advance HE Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) highlights for the first time areas where institutions could do better still to boost satisfaction levels.
The next government should adopt policies on graduate employment that reflect a less simplistic outlook than the current regime, argues Tristram Hooley, Chief Research Officer at the Institute of Student Employers, which has just published its manifesto wish list.
Postgraduate researchers are suffering high levels of anxiety and many want more support, according to new research.
The government has rejected MPs demands that it publish a “contingency plan for higher education” to prepare for a “no deal” situation in the Brexit negotiations.
It has also reiterated its intention to continue to include international students in the net migration targets, despite acknowledging new evidence that the numbers of over-stayers has been overestimated.
The government’s response to the House of Commons Education Committee’s report Exiting the EU: challenges and opportunities for higher education, has been published, seven months after the original inquiry report.
It turns down the committee’s request that it publish its “no-deal” Brexit plan for higher education, saying it “would not be appropriate while negotiations are ongoing”.
The government also refused to budge on the controversial policy of counting international students in net migration figures. It argued that as international students “consume public services”, local authorities need to know the numbers “so that they can accurately plan their resources”.
The report adds: “Including students in the net migration target does not act to students’ detriment or to the detriment of the education sector.”
This is despite the report noting the findings of the Office for National Statistics (ONS) research, that the International Passenger Survey may be undercounting emigration after study, as well as the evidence provided by exit checks data. It concludes that while work is ongoing to better understand and improve the data, “the International Passenger Survey continues to be the most robust estimate of overall net migration”.
On the status of EU students, the government outlined previous announcements that EU nationals and their family members who are starting higher education courses in the 2018/19 academic year will continue to be eligible for home fee status and for undergraduate, master’s, postgraduate and advanced learner financial support for the duration of their course.
It also highlighted its request to the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to assess the impact that EU and non-EU students have on the UK. The report, to be published in September next year, will look at the impact of tuition fees and other spending by international students on the national, regional, and local economy and on the education sector, in addition to the impact their recruitment has on the provision and quality of education provided to domestic students.
In response to MPs demands that the status of EU higher education staff be guaranteed, unilaterally if necessary, the government said a “reciprocal agreement on EU citizen” would be reached as soon as possible.
It pointed out recently announced arrangements for EU citizens who have been continuously resident in the UK for five years, to stay indefinitely by getting ‘settled status’ and other arrangements.
On immigration arrangements post-Brexit, the government suggested that current rules for non-EU university employees could apply.
“Immigration reforms for non-EU nationals since 2010 have explicitly taken account of the needs of the academic and research sectors, even while tightening controls on migration in other spheres.
“The Government has consistently protected and enhanced the treatment of these sectors in the immigration system,” the response report said.
Science and innovation has been identified as one of the Prime Minister’s 12 key objectives for the negotiations with the EU.
In response to a demand from the committee that contingency plans are made for investing the same level of funding that the UK received from the EU in a scenario where access cannot be negotiated, the government reiterated its commitment to underwrite the payment of Horizon 2020 and other EU funds, even when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
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