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Jonathan Baldwin, managing director of higher education at Jisc, looks at the changing role of post-Covid university leadership and the enduring need for collaboration.
The government's announcement of a major review of the National Student Survey signals a worrying shift in the HE regulatory landscape, warns Jon Scott, higher education consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester.
Statements from ministers this week have made it clear that higher education in England is facing significant reforms, re-setting its focus towards helping to plug the UK's skills gaps and rebuilding the economy. Fariba Soetan, Policy Lead for Research and Innovation at the National Centre for Universities and Business, argues that the proposed changes bring a welcome focus on graduate outcomes and supporting the careers of young people.
Universities UK and GuildHE have commissioned the Quality Assurance Agency to develop a new approach to reviewing and enhancing the quality of UK TNE. QAA will consult on a new review method later this year and will launch a programme of in-country enhancement activity in 2021.
After a week of largely disappointing news for UK higher education, Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University, fears that gloomy forecasts for the future of the sector may prove to be uncomfortably accurate.
Research published by sustainability consultancy Brite Green shows English universities have achieved their best year-on-year reduction in carbon emissions to date - but the sector is still not on track to meet targets for 2020 set by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
Emissions from institutions in England fell by 7 per cent in 2015-16, compared to a total reduction of 10 per cent over the previous 10 years, says a report on the findings.
Yet on current trends the sector still stands to fall 20 percentage points below its 2020 carbon reduction target of 43 per cent. Of the 127 higher education institutions analysed, only 52 are projected to meet or exceed their target emissions.
The 20 Russell Group universities account for more than half of total sector emissions, with just two on track to meet their targets, the report says. Members of the group face unique challenges in reducing their emissions partly due to their energy intensive research facilities and the number of listed buildings across their estates.
London Metropolitan University topped this year’s league table, having reduced their absolute emissions by an impressive 57 per cent since 2005. Many smaller institutions, however, are identified as among the worst performers, with some seeing significant increases rather than reductions in their emissions.
Darren Chadwick, Managing Partner at Brite Green, said: “Universities across the country are demonstrating the benefits of implementing carbon management programmes, with some delivering incredible reductions."
But he added: “Many Universities are behind the curve and there are still some significant challenges for the sector to overcome to achieve their targets. Sustainability is a key strategic issue for Universities and leading institutions recognise that it needs to be managed across all aspects of university life - from teaching and research to investment strategy and estates management.”
Ian Patton, Chief Executive of the Environmental Association for Universities and Colleges (EAUC) commented, “Reports like this one don’t always make for easy reading. But it is through collaborations with sector partners such as Brite Green that we build a new understanding and case for building campuses and courses which will produce the graduates our future needs.”
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