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Government plans mark a seismic shift in higher education policy

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.

OfS launches competition to help graduates work locally

The Office for Students has launched a new competition for funding of up to £500,000 for universities and colleges looking for innovative ways to help students find graduate-level employment close to home.

Current evidence shows that students who move away from home to study or work are more likely to find highly skilled employment than those who stay at home. But the OfS says that many students, through choice or circumstance, study and then pursue careers in the area where they have grown up. The new funding competition will seek bids for workable programmes which help broaden choice for those graduates.

Higher education providers are being invited to propose innovative projects which test ways of improving transition into highly skilled employment for graduates and students who seek work in their home region. Between £100,000 and £300,000 per project is available, or up to £500,000 for collaborative bids involving providers working with strategic partners. The OfS suggested that projects could include, for example, those that aim  to help particular  groups of graduates work with partners to bring about change in the local labour market, or investigate and address the factors that influence decisions on where to work after graduation.

Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said: "We are increasingly aware that many graduates have to, or choose to, stay in their home towns after they graduate. But, in some areas there are fewer graduate opportunities.

"The graduate labour market itself is unevenly distributed, with larger cities offering more varied jobs than smaller ones and rural areas. This competition will enable universities and colleges, working with students, local employers, and careers organisations, to identify the barriers to local graduate employment, and to find new solutions. This will help ensure graduates can use their degrees fully, supporting local and regional productivity, prosperity and social mobility."

Proposals must be emailed to localgradsCC@officeforstudents.org.uk by 1700 on Monday 26 November 2018.

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