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Welcome to the higher education rollercoaster

UK higher education had more than its fair share of ups and downs over the past week. Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence at Prospects, charts the highs and lows.

Universities must re-think recruitment strategies as rules change on unconditional offers

As the Office for Students places a moratorium on ‘conditional unconditional offers’, Jon Scott, HE consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester, reviews the context of the decision and considers its implications.

HEi-know Good Practice Briefing: UK universities describe "amazing" shift to online delivery

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.

World events highlight stark inequalities in HE

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.

Postgraduate numbers up despite higher undergraduate debt

Students graduating with higher fee debt are not being put off going on to postgraduate study, new data suggests.

Annual HE in England figures, published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England, are the first to look at postgraduate numbers for students affected by the undergraduate fee reforms in 2012-13.

The report shows record numbers of students – 15,300 - started full-time postgraduate research courses in 2015/16.

Numbers grew by 5.1 per cent in 2015-16 (around 700 entrants) compared with the previous year, following increases of 4.6 per cent in 2014-15 and 4 per cent in 2013-14. It means that numbers are almost 50 per cent higher in 2015-16 than they were in the early 2000s.

The number of UK and other EU students starting part-time postgraduate research courses also increased by 3.7 per cent in 2015-16.

There was a slight decrease in the numbers starting full-time postgraduate taught courses of 0.8 per cent in 2015-16, but numbers have been broadly stable for the past four years. Entry to part-time postgraduate programmes increased for the first time in five years in 2015-16, by 5.7 per cent.

Universities had expressed concerns that students graduating with a big undergraduate debt could be less likely to sign up to further study, and more debt.

But the report said: “The data indicates that these reforms have not so far had a large impact on postgraduate entry.”

The number of international students, who make up almost half of all full-time entrants to postgraduate programmes, fell slightly in 2014-15 by 0.9 per cent to 83,765.

They remain, however, 4.9 per cent (or 3,915 students) higher than in 2010-11.

China remains the single largest market for international postgraduate entry, comprising 25 per cent of entrants into full-time postgraduate taught masters programmes. Numbers increased by 2.4 per cent in 2014/15.

Indian entrants were down by 11 per cent, however, to 5,380 in 2014-15. There were also decreases in the numbers of entrants from Bangladesh (down by 25.8 per cent or 225 students), Pakistan (down by 14.0 per cent or 190 students) and Nigeria (down by 8.1 per cent or 390 students).

belchonock / 123RF
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