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New year presents HE sector with fresh challenges

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.

Universities UK International calls on employers to back study abroad campaign

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 commit to pension talks as strikes begin

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.

Gateway to university expertise now provides 'smart match' with business

A platform providing a single access point for businesses to university expertise and funding opportunities has been further developed by the National Centre for Universities and Business, Research England, and UK Research and Innovation, to help 'smart match' business and industry with higher education institutions, in a bid to boost R&D collaboration. Shivaun Meehan, Head of Communications at the NCUB, outlines the latest features of Konfer.

"Resilient" graduate jobs market grows by 10%

An annual survey by the Institute of Student Employers' has reported a "resilient" graduate labour market with 10 per cent more jobs than the previous year.

Nearly 22,000 new graduate jobs have been created in the past year - mainly driven by significant increases in finance and professional services as well as public sector employers who recruited 35 per cent more graduates, particularly in policing and education.

Since the 2008 recession graduate jobs have grown 10 per cent or above on just two other occasions - in 2013 and 2014. While this suggests a buoyant market, employers are cautious: the short-term and temporary hire of graduates through internships or work placements has dropped by 4 per cent and 7 per cent respectively. Employers also anticipate that Brexit and/or a recession will reduce hiring over the next five years.

The energy and engineering, and legal industries were the only sectors to make small reductions in the number of graduates they recruited, down 1 per cent and 3 per cent respectively.

Employers had challenges recruiting graduates for engineering, IT programming and development, and technical and analytical roles. Actuaries, electronic engineers, prison officers and quantity surveyors were also highlighted as shortage areas.

The average graduate starting salary offered by ISE members remains competitive at £29,000. This was up £750 on last year, however, when indexed to the Consumer Price Index, salaries have not recovered to pre-recession levels in real terms. Graduates entering law, finance or IT are the most highly paid.

Employers have also increased hires onto school leaver programmes to more than 6,000 - up by 7 per cent on the previous year.

The average ISE member is paying £1.225 million annually to the government through the apprenticeship levy. They reported starting 11,224 apprentices this year of whom 52 per cent were non-graduates, 25 per cent graduates and 23 per cent existing staff.

Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of ISE said: "Although the drop in temporary opportunities is concerning as this offers students the opportunity to gain valuable work experience, employers are mainly resisting the urge to dial down their recruitment in the face of current and future challenges.

"Hiring is up, employers are receiving a healthy volume of applications and they are paying more. We hope that this continues and will do everything that we can to support firms as they manage the uncertainty that lies ahead."

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