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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.
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.
We know from our research that graduates who go abroad during their studies are 11 per cent more likely to achieve First class or 2:1 degrees and earn 5 per cent more than their non- mobile counterparts.
With this is mind, the Go International: Stand Out campaign was launched by Universities UK International (UUKi) in 2017 to create a generation of globally-skilled and internationally-minded graduates with the experience to succeed in the rapidly changing working world. The campaign supports the delivery of the UK strategy for outward student mobility, which aims to double the percentage of UK students who study, work or volunteer abroad during their degrees by 2020.
In the first two years of the campaign, we have seen a fantastic response from the higher education sector and beyond, with 99 universities and 15 organisations pledging activities to help achieve the ambitious mobility goal. However, a joint effort is required to up-skill graduates, and employers are a key piece in that puzzle. In the third year of the campaign, we are urging employers to acknowledge the value of international placements by signing our value statement.
The Confederation of British Industry (CBI), the Institute of Student Employers (ISE) and Santander are among the first organisations to back this stage of the campaign. We hope others will follow in their footsteps, showing the growing demand for graduates with the language skills, as well as resilience, flexibility, intercultural and problem-solving skills that come with time spent in an unfamiliar environment.
In 2017, 39 per cent of employers identified intercultural awareness as a weakness for graduate job seekers. Only by directly addressing this skills gap through promoting and providing more international opportunities can we better prepare our graduates for employment. And spreading the message to students that employers value graduates who have these kinds of skills and competencies will really help.
In addition to offering a platform for employers to highlight skills gaps and emphasise the value of international experience, the campaign is also an opportunity for employers to collaborate with the higher education sector to identify and provide the opportunities that will help our graduates succeed. The launch of the campaign's third year is part of UUKi's push to move the graduate employability of both UK and international students up the agenda of universities. In January 2020, UUKi will hold a full-day conference focusing on supporting the graduate success of the UK's international students, bringing together employers and universities to tackle this common challenge.
Graduate outcomes are a big factor in student decision making, so it is time for employers to join universities in promoting the value of transferable skills, such as those that can be gained through international experience. As the UK navigates uncertain terrain in the coming years, it has never been more important for us to have a generation of young people with the skills and the confidence to act on the world stage.
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