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UK universities face deficits next year - but are likely to bounce back, predicts Moody's

The coronavirus outbreak will lead to temporary budget deterioration and operating deficits for some UK universities next year, but the sector's finances are likely to bounce back in two to three years, according to a new report from the ratings agency Moody's.

Uncertainty over re-opening plans for HE leaves universities and students in limbo

Another week of pandemic-dominated HE news has highlighted the dilemmas facing universities and students over what to expect in the coming academic year says, Mike Ratcliffe, academic registrar at Nottingham Trent University.

How to make online learning a dynamic experience rather than like a ‘Netflix binge’

As HEi-know publishes a Good Practice Briefing on the transition to online delivery of HE, James Clay, head of higher education and student experience at Jisc, who provides an overview in the Briefing, offers some tips on overcoming the challenges of making the shift to online teaching.

HE reforms have hampered flexible study and innovative teaching, says paper

The Government’s higher education reforms may have led to a decline in more flexible forms of study and hampered innovation in teaching, according to responses to a Universities UK inquiry.

A paper that updates the findings and conclusions of evidence gathered by a Student Funding Panel chaired by UUK President Professor Sir Christopher Snowden says the increasing dominance of full-time three year degrees spells inflexibility for students.

At the same time, respondents have suggested that the reforms have given universities little incentive to try out innovative teaching methods – such as using new technology and experimenting with ways in which teachers interact with students.

Higher fees have led to a greater awareness among institutions of factors that demonstrate value for money, such as graduate employment and better teaching and learning facilities and student accommodation, the paper says.

But many respondents felt that while the new fees and loans system is progressive, the total amounts to be repaid by students is “very significant”, and some suggested the loans repayment period is too long.

The Panel, which launched its inquiry in August last year and is still taking evidence for a full report in the Spring ahead of the general election in May, is urging policy makers and stakeholders to consider whether the level of tuition fees and repayment periods could be cut down to improve students’ sense of value for money while meeting the Government’s needs for financial stability.

Professor Snowden said: “There has been a lot of commentary recently about the long-term financial sustainability of the current funding and fees system in England.

“We need more evidence on how the system can best deliver value for money for students, encourage greater participation of part-time and mature students and provide a stable funding environment for all universities.”

Further views and evidence can be submitted to the Panel by emailing: student-funding@universitiesuk.ac.uk

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