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Many issues await the attention of the new universities minister

In a week when the government reshuffled its cabinet, HE issues that made headlines gave the newly-appointed universities minister a taste of things to come, says Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Institute of Student Employers .

Storm clouds are gathering over UK universities

The past week’s events and news are a sign of turbulent times for UK universities, warns Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University.

The UK must look after its global talent

Mike Ratcliffe, academic registrar at Nottingham Trent University, reflects on issues emerging from a packed week of higher education news.

Graduate employers lower entry criteria to boost diversity

Graduate employers setting no minimum entry grades have more than doubled in five years as they search for more diverse recruits, reports the Institute of Student Employers.

In 2014, 7 per cent of ISE members set no minimum entry requirements for their graduate recruits, but this year that has increased to 22 per cent, a survey found.

In the same period, the proportion of employers requiring a 2:1 degree has dropped from 76 per cent to 57 per cent. The requirement for minimum A level grades (or UCAS points) has also declined, from 40 per cent of employers to 16 per cent.

ISE Inside Student Recruitment 2019 also found that the majority of companies (86 per cent) do not look for a qualification in a particular subject and just 2 per cent use postgraduate degrees as a minimum requirement.

Social mobility, the desire to create more diverse workforces and advances in recruiting technology are driving the trend. This year, firms were giving a higher priority to all diversity issues namely gender, ethnicity, social mobility, disability. LGBTQ+ and neurodiversity.

The majority of employers had also changed attraction and recruitment processes with 38 per cent changing the universities they visit and 36 per cent undertaking blind recruitment by removing the applicant's name or/and university.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of ISE said: "Over the last five years, we've seen the beginnings of a major shift in employers using grades to determine the best people for their organisations. Academic criteria are a crude measure of potential. Companies are becoming more sophisticated in how they use data and they have more tools to predict success.

"It's important not to overstate this trend though. With more than half of employers still using 2:1s as an entry requirement, qualifications remain important. But there are concerns that relying on grades alone raises diversity issues as well as a sense that they may be too broad a brush to successfully identify the people that employers are actually looking for."

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