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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 have set out the case for investment in higher education in the run up to the budget.
A report from Universities UK lists nine key reasons why the government should support the sector when it reveals its spending plans on July 8.
The report, Why Invest in Universities?, argues that as well as being a major contributor to the UK economy, generating £73 billion of output in 2011 alone, universities play a vital role in ensuring the UK remains competitive in a global market.
UK university research is academically world leading and more cost effective than anywhere else in the world, providing the ideas and inventions on which future prosperity will be founded, UUK says.
It also points to the transformative nature of going to university and the role institutions play in creating businesses and jobs, enriching society and stimulating culture.
“The UK has a university sector that many other countries aspire to emulate. Our academics are world leaders in research and innovation, our graduates are in demand worldwide, and our universities attract business and investment to all regions of the UK,” the report adds.
UUK also points out that the UK invests significantly less in research as a proportion of GDP than many other countries. The UK’s total research and development expenditure was 1.72 per cent of GDP in 2012 and has been around 1.8 per cent of GDP since the early 1990s. In comparison, in 2012 the EU-28 provisional estimate was 2.06 per cent of GDP and the OECD average was 2.4 per cent.
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