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Universities face the challenge of balancing local and global needs

Professor Liz Barnes CBE, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of Staffordshire University, reflects on how universities can focus on responding to local needs while striving also to be a force for good nationally and globally.

Many issues await the attention of the new universities minister

In a week when the government reshuffled its cabinet, HE issues that made headlines gave the newly-appointed universities minister a taste of things to come, says Stephen Isherwood, Chief Executive of the Institute of Student Employers .

Student complaints rise by nearly 21% in a year

The Office of the Independent Adjudicator for higher education has reported almost a 21 per cent rise in the number of complaints it received from students last year – rising to their highest ever level at 2,371.

The OIA says in its annual operating report that it is the second consecutive year of significant rises in the number of complaints, which also rose by 20 per cent in 2018. It means the number of cases received by the OIA rose by 45 per cent from 2017 to 2019.

The report says that in 2019 the OIA also closed 2,185 cases - 27 per cent more than in the previous year. But it adds that while the OIA has continued to meet its key performance indicators for handling cases, "there are challenges in managing such a significant and sustained increase".

"We have continued to listen to students to better understand their needs and concerns. We have gathered more feedback than ever before from students who use our service, and used it to inform improvements to what we do," it adds.