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Alison Johns, Chief Executive of Advance HE, reviews another week in which higher education found itself in the spotlight, even when a royal funeral dominated the headlines.
Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence for Prospects at Jisc, reviews a week of higher education news which felt much like every other since lockdown, as new research on graduate earnings and university admissions was published.
Stephen Isherwood, chief executive of the Institute of Students Employers, reviews a week of HE news in which student accommodation, fee refunds, graduate jobs, and research funding surfaced as key issues.
Reviewing a week in which issues affecting women’s lives were in the spotlight, Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations at the Council for Higher Education Art and Design (CHEAD), sees hopeful signs of moves to address gender equality in higher education.
The class of 2020 will be less prepared for work and face fewer career opportunities because of the pandemic, according to new research.
A survey of nearly 5,000 students and graduates by Prospects, the graduate careers and employability service that is now part of Jisc, showed that 29 per cent of final year students have lost their jobs and 26 per cent have lost their internships while 28 per cent have had their graduate job offer deferred or rescinded.
The poll also found that job losses and fewer opportunities have left almost half (47 per cent) of finalists now contemplating a postgraduate course and 29 per cent are considering a career change.
Almost two-thirds of final year students now feel negative about their future careers. The majority reported that they are lacking in motivation (83 per cent) and feel disconnected from employers (82 per cent). Their biggest concerns are that there will be fewer jobs, internships or apprenticeship opportunities in their chosen industries.
Conversely, 18 per cent of university finalists are feeling positive about their career prospects, which was more evident in men (29 per cent) than women (14 per cent). Respondents commonly reported that the pandemic had given them more time to research their options and make plans.
The research also showed that final year students would like more information from employers, particularly around job opportunities or changes to the recruitment process as well as information on working from home.
While research by the Institute of Student Employers reported that the majority of its members have moved to online recruitment methods, 60 per cent of finalists said they were worried about virtual interviews and assessment centres and 72 per cent wanted help and advice.
Executive director of student services at Jisc, Jayne Rowley, who manages Prospects' services, said: "There is a serious problem brewing for this year's graduates. This is a critical time for finalists who should be developing their skills in part-time jobs and internships and we need to do everything we can to support them.
"Graduating in this pandemic may have taken many important opportunities away, but getting a career started is not insurmountable.
"We are all adapting to extraordinary circumstances and I think students would be amazed at how many valuable skills they are developing during lockdown, such as organisation, communication and resilience. Students may be supporting vulnerable people, shopping for neighbours, setting up a virtual group or sharing their talents online. My advice to students is to reflect on all of the positive things they are doing and use them to demonstrate their skills to employers.
"There is lots of advice and guidance for students and graduates on our website and don't forget university careers services, which are doing everything possible to support students and graduates during this difficult time."
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