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The government's announcement of a major review of the National Student Survey signals a worrying shift in the HE regulatory landscape, warns Jon Scott, higher education consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester.
Statements from ministers this week have made it clear that higher education in England is facing significant reforms, re-setting its focus towards helping to plug the UK's skills gaps and rebuilding the economy. Fariba Soetan, Policy Lead for Research and Innovation at the National Centre for Universities and Business, argues that the proposed changes bring a welcome focus on graduate outcomes and supporting the careers of young people.
Universities UK and GuildHE have commissioned the Quality Assurance Agency to develop a new approach to reviewing and enhancing the quality of UK TNE. QAA will consult on a new review method later this year and will launch a programme of in-country enhancement activity in 2021.
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.
A new policy briefing from MillionPlus, highlights the key issues that the UK’s representatives need to negotiate to ensure that UK and EU students can continue to study in each other’s countries and that the UK’s universities can continue to trade in Europe post-Brexit.
The briefing paper, Brexit - what's best for our universities and students?, points out that future engagement in European science and research programmes is only one area in which a deal needs to be struck and that student mobility, the rights and status of EU citizens, and continued support for regions and localities which have benefitted from European funding, are equally important.
The paper, circulated to MPs, Peers and officials, says that leaving the European Union will have powerful and long-lasting implications for the UK’s universities and future students and graduates and for the different regions and countries of the UK. MillionPlus says that it will be critical for the UK to strike a deal which builds on what UK universities have already achieved.
It states that the ‘best Brexit’ deal would:
Professor Dave Phoenix, Chair of MillionPlus and Vice-Chancellor of London South Bank University, said:
“While the EU Withdrawal Bill has passed its first major parliamentary hurdle, the clock is ticking on the time left for the UK to strike a deal with the 27 countries which will remain in the EU. Brexit has major implications for the UK’s universities and there are concerns that statements from different Ministers do not always align either with each other, or with the position papers that the government has published.
“The government’s paper on continued scientific collaboration with European partners is welcome. However, this will not be achieved without the UK negotiating associate status of some kind. This will require much greater clarity and agreement on the UK’s negotiating position with respect to future staff and student mobility, the adoption of regulations and an alternative arbitration mechanism if Ministers insist on withdrawing completely from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice. A deal on these issues is essential if UK universities are to continue to trade in Europe.
“The UK has also been allocated €16.42bn (£14.8bn) from European Structural and Investment Funds for the 2014-20 period. This supports 17 national and regional programmes in which universities are key players. These funds will disappear when the UK leaves the EU. While the government has committed to create a new Social Prosperity Fund, it is vital that it works with key stakeholders and the devolved administrations to develop an infrastructure to oversee the effective utilisation of the SPF if it wants to realise its ambitions to support regional growth and the role of universities as anchor institutions in their localities and regions.”
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