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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.

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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