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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.
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.
Eight out of 10 postgraduate students taking a taught course in the UK report continued satisfaction with the experience over a five-year period.But a survey of more than 70,000 postgraduates across 85 higher education institutions who responded to the Advance HE Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) highlights for the first time areas where institutions could do better still to boost satisfaction levels.
A study of student well-being has found that social and emotional factors play a strong role in the overall student experience and satisfaction levels.
Students who are satisfied with life are more likely to be satisfied with a broad range of university services and less likely to think about leaving university early, a survey carried out by YouGov and Youthsight for Unite Students found.
The survey, which looked at non-academic elements of student life and involved 6,504 students and 2,169 applicants, found that three quarters of students (73 per cent) were satisfied with their life at the moment, while around one in ten (13 per cent) were not satisfied. Researchers found correlations between satisfaction and a number of university services and facilities, with retention and with mental health.
About one in eight (12 per cent) said they had a named mental health condition, while more than half had experienced stress, worry or strain over the four weeks leading up to the survey. In total, 16 per cent of students scored low on well-being.
Emotional resilience (defined broadly as a positive mental attitude) was linked both to retention and life satisfaction among students, authors of a report on the findings say.
The areas of student life examined included accommodation, wellbeing and life quality, financial management and employability.
Researchers identified social integration as an important factor for students. Unite Students, which is a provider of university accommodation, says satisfaction with accommodation and a sense of integration with others in a university home were linked to overall happiness and to retention.
It says a major finding was the “interconnectedness of student life” – that “students having a positive experience in one area are much more likely to be having a positive experience in others”. The report says flat-mates play a significant role, and students who are satisfied with the communal areas in their accommodation are more likely to feel integrated. Seventy per cent of students who felt satisfied with their lives were integrated with their flatmates, whereas only 40 per cent who were very dissatisfied with their lives felt integrated.
The study showed students from less wealthy homes were more likely to consider dropping out of their course (43 per cent compared with 34 per cent) and less likely to be happy with where they were living and to feel integrated there.
Unite Students Chief Executive, Richard Smith, said: “The report highlights some significant differences in experience and outcome, particularly for students from lower socioeconomic groups and for those with mental health issues.
“This research has brought home to me just how influential student accommodation, and what takes place within it, can be on student wellbeing and success.”
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