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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.

Student complaints rise by nearly 21% in a year

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for higher education has reported almost a 21 per cent rise in the number of complaints it received from students last year – rising to their highest ever level at 2,371.

Graduate recruitment slows as businesses hire 25% more apprentices

Large employers have slowed their recruitment of graduates while significantly increasing their intake of apprentices, a survey has found.

Businesses scaled up their apprenticeship opportunities this year by 24 per cent, while graduate vacancies increased just 2 per cent, the latest Pulse Survey by the Association of Graduate Recruiters shows.

 It marks a slowdown for graduate programmes compared to last year, when employers increased their graduate intake by 13 per cent. The number of internship vacancies has also increased this year, up 8 per cent.

 The AGR survey gauged the recruitment ambitions of 86 large employers, representing more than 22,000 early talent vacancies. It showed that engaging with students at a younger age is on the rise, providing alternative routes into some of the UK’s leading businesses.

While businesses are scaling up their apprenticeships, the AGR said graduates remain valuable and make up the highest volume of early talent hires. The employers surveyed are looking to fill more than 14,000 graduate positions this year as well as nearly 5,000 internships and over 3,000 apprenticeships. 

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the AGR, said: “Apprentice policy is driving many employers to ramp-up their apprenticeships on a much larger scale than we’d anticipated. We don’t know what the long-term effects will be, but this isn’t a case of employers’ cannibalising their graduate schemes.

“We’re hearing that businesses view the two groups very separately and that they are complementary. Employers are engaging earlier and opening their doors to a wider group of people by presenting alternative options.”     

 More than half of the 22,000 early talent vacancies are still to be filled. The top three types of roles with vacancies are IT, law and financial management.  

 Isherwood added: “It’s a candidate market at the moment and employers are finding it increasingly difficult to fill roles. We’re seeing nearly one in ten offers reneged as candidates pull out at the last minute for alternative positions. It’s not too late to apply for an intern, apprentice or graduate scheme, as there are still thousands of roles available.”

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