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Reviewing the past week's higher education news, Rachel Hewitt, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute, takes issue with claims that UK higher education is "broken" and sees encouraging signs that it is addressing issues over diversity.
Professor Malcolm Todd, Deputy Vice-Chancellor/Provost (academic and student experience) at the University of Derby, comments on what he sees as the most significant higher education news and opinions making headlines in the first week of 2020.
Vivienne Stern, Director of Universities UK International, introduces the launch of Year Three of UUKi's Go International: Stand Out campaign, calling on employers to promote the value of international experience.
University leaders have written to the University and College Union to formally outline their commitment to continuing to work with UCU to deliver long-term reform of the Universities Superannuation Scheme. The move comes as UCU members at 60 universities begin strike action in disputes over both pensions and pay.
The passage of the Higher Education and Research Bill through parliament should be paused and its proposals re-considered in light of the impact of Brexit on the sector, the chair of the House of Commons Business Innovation and Skills Committee has said.
Concerns over how the referendum result will affect UK higher education are so great that the BIS Committee is launching an inquiry into it.
The Committee’s chair Iain Wright, the MP for Hartlepool, warned that universities business models will face significant challenges in the run up to Brexit.
With the second reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill currently postponed, it is time to “pause and reflect on whether the proposals contained in the Bill address the post-Brexit challenges Britain’s universities face”, he said.
Writing for the Politics Home website, Wright pointed out that UK universities are already being excluded from some pan-European bids for research funding.
“With this uncertainty, the government needs to act clearly and decisively, providing as much clarity as possible to ensure universities do not miss out on research funding,” he said.
There is also “huge uncertainty” over whether staff and students from the EU can continue to work and study in Britain.
The government should “send out an early and clear signal that the openness and quality of our higher education sector will not be compromised by any restrictions in the freedom of movement”.
He added that ministers should also take the opportunity to take international students out of net migration targets, and revisit post-study visa arrangements to make it easier for overseas students to work in the UK for a period after graduating.
Concerns over the uncertain status of EU staff and students have also been expressed by Cambridge University Vice-Chancellor Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz, who has has called for clarity from the government, after Home Secretary and Conservative leader candidate Theresa May raised questions over the right of EU citizen workers and students to stay in Britain following Brexit.
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