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After a week of largely disappointing news for UK higher education, Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University, fears that gloomy forecasts for the future of the sector may prove to be uncomfortably accurate.
Loughborough University has been named University of the Year for the second time in three years in the latest Whatuni Student Choice Awards .
UK higher education had more than its fair share of ups and downs over the past week. Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence at Prospects, charts the highs and lows.
As the Higher Education Funding Council for England announces that thousands of new degree apprenticeships are to be created through a new £4.5 million development fund, HEi-know examines the rise of the degree apprenticeship and its significance for higher education and students.
Earning while learning is high on the government’s agenda, and as concern over graduate debt and career prospects increases there has been growing interest in degree apprenticeships.
The government hopes these will help plug the country’s skills gap, while providing a “ladder of learning” to people who might not otherwise have entered higher education and thereby boost social mobility too.
It has been investing – via the Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) – in helping universities, FE colleges and businesses to develop degree apprenticeships under various models.
Hefce has just announced that it is funding a total of 18 projects to develop 5,200 new opportunities for apprentices and their employers in preparation for the introduction of the apprenticeship levy in April 2017. According Nicola Turner, Hefce’s head of skills, the response from universities to the invitation for project bids was bigger than expected.
She said: “Degree apprenticeships for this funding round had to be live and active for September 2017, so institutions would already have needed to be talking to employers. A total of 68 bids were received and of these, 18 will be funded.
“The response and the quality of the bids was so strong that we requested extra funding for this round. We had £3m to give away in this, the first round, but managed to get extra funds, lifting this to £4.5m.”
In the academic year 2016-17, a total of 40 universities are committed to delivering an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 apprenticeship “starts”, and this number is expected to increase significantly over the coming years.
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