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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.
A big expansion of degree apprenticeships “is crucial” to create a high-quality system that can plug the skills gap, according to MPs.
The government should make clear to the Institute for Apprenticeships (IfA), the body tasked with helping employers develop apprenticeships and overseeing quality, that the growth of higher degrees is a strategic priority, according to a new report from the House of Commons Education Committee.
Degree apprenticeships are essential for apprentices to progress and “to create a cascade of prestige for apprenticeships and address our skill deficit”, says the report, The apprenticeships ladder of opportunity: quality not quantity.
It warns that a much stronger focus on progression through the various levels is needed, and calls for a UCAS-style portal for technical education to be launched to simplify the application process and encourage further training at higher levels.
Universities have raised concerns that delays in the approval of degree level standards, and the lack of consistency in the advice provided by the IfA, have led to some universities questioning whether they should risk investing in supporting employers to develop a programme.
In its evidence to the committee, the University Alliance said there was a “lack of understanding” on the part of the IfA about existing HE quality mechanisms, and the incorporation of these procedures into IfA processes.
More generally the report warns that too many apprentices are not getting the high-quality training they deserve and that disadvantaged young people in particular do not receive the support they need to pursue an apprenticeship.
While it recognises the good work being done by many FE colleges and independent training providers, it calls for clearer oversight of apprenticeship training and assessment and a tougher approach to poor quality training.
MPs also say “the opaque world of subcontracting” in apprenticeship provision needs to be given far greater scrutiny. Amid a tripling in the number of approved providers, the report recommends an expanded role for Ofsted inspections and a cap on the amount of training that new providers can offer until they have proved their provision is of sufficient quality.
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