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Universities across the UK have rapidly moved their learning, teaching and assessment online in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The unprecedented overhaul of traditional teaching practices has presented a major challenge to institutions, staff and students. In this Good Practice Briefing, HEi-know shows how some universities have responded to the situation.
Sutton Trust associate director of media and communications Hilary Cornwell and research and policy assistant Maariyah Dawood comment on equality and widening access issues that have emerged in a week of higher education news.
Reviewing a week of higher education news, Action on Access Director Andrew Rawson celebrates positive action on equality and social inclusivity taken in the HE sector and calls for matching support from the government and employers.
The universities minister has strongly criticised the renaming of university buildings and the removal of statues prompted by the Black Lives Matter movement as “short sighted” and an attempt to censor the past.
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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