Today, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has published the most recent results of its annual Business and Community Interaction Survey which provides information about the volume and value of knowledge exchange activity across UK universities. Or put another way, how well universities are working with business and industry in terms of the innovation process.
MPs from all three major parties have come together to secure a debate in the House of Commons on international students on 6th June. The motion points out that five parliamentary select committees have recommended that international students be removed from the government’s net migration target. It invites the government to ‘further consider’ the recommendations of these committees.
Remarkably, on the same day, the House of Lords will be debating the same issue. This debate will be led by Lord Hannay of Chiswick, a former UN Ambassador, who was one of five select committee chairs to write to the Prime Minister on this subject in January this year.
This coincidence underlines the breadth and scale of support that international students have received in parliament. Continue reading
Today, Universities UK launches its report Massive open online courses: higher education’s digital moment?. We hope it will be a valuable contribution to the evolving debate about the role that massive open online courses (MOOCs) might play in higher education.
The report looks at the drivers that are propelling recent rapid developments in online learning. It also explores what lessons can be learnt from experiences of digital transitions in other sectors and the wider implications that these developments may have for higher education.
The announcement that Udacity and Georgia Tech will be offering an online master of science based on MOOC courses adds to the sense that this model of online learning is here to stay. Furthermore, Coursera’s announcement that it has entered into translation partnerships will help to extend its already significant international reach.
As part of our Learning and Teaching Strategy, The University of Sheffield affirms a list of attributes and qualities to be found in the Sheffield Graduate. These goals for the best educational experience we could offer to our students included the characteristics of being ‘an active citizen who respects diversity’ and an educated person who is ‘culturally agile and able to work in multinational settings’.
It is the University’s conviction that being part of an international community is itself an education, and that when students make the most of opportunities to learn from those who are different to themselves, they gain insights they would not experience any other way. For us, diversity is an asset. We cite the number of countries on campus – over 130 at the last count – as a source of pride.
The big news from this Queen’s Speech is the Immigration Bill. There isn’t much detail yet but the Bill will contain measures to regulate and restrict access to services, including the NHS, and to limit rights of appeal – both of which could potentially have an impact on international students and staff.
There is no doubt, after last week’s elections, that tough immigration policy is even more important to the Government. But I was really struck by the way they presented this Bill. The Queen said: “The Bill will ensure that this country attracts people who will contribute and deters those who will not”.
And of course we know that international students contribute more to this country’s coffers than they take out. They tend to come here, study and leave and while they are here they place far less burden on public services than other migrants – they tend to be younger and are therefore less likely to use the health service. They generally live in shared accommodation and are less likely to have dependents. International students quite clearly fit the Government’s description of “people who will contribute”. Continue reading
Government departments have to make their opening bids for the Spending Review to Treasury next Monday. The stakes are high. Commentators have likened the cabinet in-fighting over how to share the inevitable pain to a circular firing squad. This Tuesday the Times (£) reported gripes that Vince Cable was getting more than his fair share of protection from the bullets in this battle. Personally, I can’t imagine a better Secretary of State to have right now. Continue reading
Every year we see an abundance of stories in the press about graduate employment and today is no different with this piece in the Daily Telegraph which uses some interesting statistics from the US to extrapolate the future skills needs of the UK economy.
It is certainly true that graduates leaving university today have to work harder to find employment, everyone does – we’re in a recession! But that aside it still holds true that having a university degreeon average makes you far less likely to be unemployed. According to data from the ONS, graduates typically have higher employment rates than non-graduates; in the final quarter of 2011 86% of all graduates were in work compared with 72% for non-graduates. Continue reading
It is a truism to say that international education today faces many challenges. At the heart of these challenges, however, is one key problem: we have a crisis of identity. Politicians and most of the civil servants do not understand who we are, what we do, or where we fit in. Consequently, this makes it difficult to gain traction in trying to make ourselves better understood, better positioned and better championed by the body politic.
While I regret to say there is no magic bullet to fix this problem, I would now like to share with you four key initiatives to address this that have recently been put in place in Australia. Continue reading
Anyone using the power of CTRL + F will have discovered that the only direct mention of universities in this week’s Budget speech was the Chancellor’s assertion that the Government’s reforms to schools, universities and apprenticeships was “probably the single most important long-term economic policy we’re pursuing”.
It is perhaps odd, in a statement which was all about aspiration and stimulating growth, that the Chancellor didn’t make more of the power of higher education to support these things. But from our point of view the red box wasn’t empty by any means. Continue reading