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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 .
The past week’s events and news are a sign of turbulent times for UK universities, warns Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University.
Mike Ratcliffe, academic registrar at Nottingham Trent University, reflects on issues emerging from a packed week of higher education news.
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 European Commission’s Erasmus scheme has seen a slight closing of the large gap between the number of students coming to and going from the UK.
Historically, the UK has received roughly double the number of scholars supported by Erasmus than it has sent to other countries.
But the latest figures for Erasmus in 2013-14, the last year before a bigger version of the programme with a budget of €2 billion (£1.5 billion) was introduced, show a rise in the number of students leaving the UK to study abroad was greater than an increase in the number coming in – narrowing the gap.
According to a new report on the scheme, the number of out-going Erasmus students from the UK rose by just over 1,000 between 2012-13 and 2013-14, to 15,610. At the same time, the numbers coming in rose by 254, to 27,401.
The countries which sent most students in 2013-14 were Spain (37,235) France (36,759), Germany (36,257) and Italy (26,331), with the UK in fifth place.
The top countries for receiving the most students were the same – but in a slightly different order. Spain was the most popular, taking 39,277 Erasmus students in 2013-14, followed by Germany with 30,964, while the UK was in fourth place.
The number of university staff from other countries coming to the UK on Erasmus exchanges in 2013-14 was also much higher than the number from the UK going overseas - 3,597 compared with 2,327.
The UK universities which send the most students via the Erasmus programme are Nottingham, Leeds, Exeter, Sheffield and Manchester. The institutions receiving the most Erasmus students are Edinburgh, Glasgow, Sheffield, Cardiff and Leeds.
Internationally, the institutions which take the most Erasmus students are in Spain.
The Erasmus programme was launched in 1987 and in 2012-13 reached a milestone in that the number of students who have gone abroad with it reached 3 million.
A report on the expanded Erasmus+ says that in 2014, the programme offered about 650.000 individual mobility grants for people to study, train, work or volunteer abroad. These included 400.000 higher education and vocational students' exchanges, 100,000 volunteers and young people undertaking youth work abroad, as well as 150,000 teachers, youth trainers and other staff who gained mobility grants for their professional development.
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