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Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations for the Council for Higher Education in Art & Design (CHEAD), reviews a week of higher education news in which concerns emerged over universities’ financial stability due to Covid-19 and the impact of the crisis on students.
A growing number of higher education conferences and events are being postponed or moved online in response to the Coronavirus restrictions.
Amid predictions that higher education will be changed forever by the current pandemic, Professor James Miller, Deputy Vice-Chancellor at Glasgow Caledonian University, suggests the innovative ways the sector is responding to the crisis will make it even more valued in the future.
The current crisis has underlined the critical role played by the UK’s experts and researchers and the institutions supporting them, as well as the need for collaboration between them, says Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of the National Centre for Universities and Business.
Universities UK has announced that Professor Janet Beer, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool, will be its next president.
Professor Beer was elected following a ballot of Universities UK members. She will succeed the current President, Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, in August next year and will hold the post for two years until July 2019.
Professor Beer has been Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liverpool since 2015, following seven years as Vice-Chancellor of Oxford Brookes University. She is currently Vice-President of Universities UK (England and Northern Ireland), Chair of the Board of the Equality Challenge Unit and was a member of the recent taskforce on dealing with violence against women, harassment and hate crime affecting university students. She is also a board member of UCAS, a board member of the National Centre for Universities and Business (NCUB) and a trustee of the British Council.
Professor Beer has an established record of research and scholarship in late nineteenth and early twentieth century American literature and culture and most recently completed a study of the late writing of Edith Wharton.
Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said: “Janet is widely respected throughout the university sector. With ten years’ experience as the head of two universities, and having chaired and served on the boards of some of the sector’s main bodies, Janet will bring considerable experience and leadership to the role of UUK President.
“The Brexit negotiations will have considerable implications for UK universities in the coming years. On top of this, the Teaching Excellence Framework, Higher Education Bill and more debates about international student visas means we have our work cut out.”
Professor Beer said: “I am delighted and honoured to have been elected President of Universities UK. These are challenging times for our sector and I look forward to working closely with members to ensure that UK higher education grows stronger than ever. That means attracting the best talent, producing well-rounded graduates and cutting-edge research, and making a major contribution to our social and economic development. I welcome the opportunities we will have to build upon the already outstanding work that universities do.”
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