University provision at risk

Year after year, universities play a fundamental – but perhaps overlooked – part in ensuring there is an adequate supply of high-quality teachers entering schools across England. The higher education sector as a whole recruits to high levels of all the places allocated for initial teacher training (ITT), and has an impressive track record when it comes to trainee satisfaction.

However, recent reforms to teaching training has resulted in three successive years of cuts in training places allocated directly to universities. Whilst the government’s new School Direct training route has expanded significantly; part of a drive towards a ‘school-led’ ITT system. A new report published today by Universities UK details the impact of such reforms to ITT on universities, schools and prospective teachers.

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EU reform and its impact on higher education

The vexed question of the UK’s membership of the European Union is once again taking centre stage. The election of UKIP’s first Member of Parliament dominated recent news headlines, and comments this week from the outgoing European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso about the UK’s continued membership of the EU also sparked debate.

While the UK government stresses that it is still looking at options in relation to the UK’s future relationship with the EU, and no decision has yet been taken, such public debates are already causing concern for many sectors – including higher education. Continue reading

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Why higher education wasn’t invited to the party (conferences)

As the political parties gathered for their last set of conferences before what is expected to be a tight election in 2015, higher education was largely absent in the major speeches taking place, but for rather separate reasons for each of the parties.

The Conservatives have been the dominant party of a government that has only recently overhauled the system of funding higher education. For them, the reforms fall into the category of ‘unpopular, but not so unpopular as to need to be addressed’. There are few votes to be won in reminding people of the new fee regime, but it hasn’t for them been a policy that has caused major political headaches. Continue reading

Posted in General election 2015, International | Tagged | 1 Comment

The importance of international students

International students are not only of great importance to our higher education sector but also to our country more widely. Their presence internationalises the academic environment and life on campus and they also contribute a staggering £7 billion to the UK economy. A new report published today by Universities UK analyses recent trends in non-EU student recruitment within the growing and increasingly competitive international market. Continue reading

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Building higher level skills through university and employer collaboration

This week the UK Commission for Employment and Skills and Universities UK launch a joint report on how universities are working with employers to develop bespoke and innovative pathways to high level skills. The report demonstrates the strength and diversity of this collaboration. There are benefits to employers and universities, but most importantly, however, it shows how this is enhancing people’s lives and prospects by developing talented people, new career opportunities and creating new jobs. A new cooperative ‘norm’ is emerging. Continue reading

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Telling stories for fundraising success

Storytelling is not something academics are supposed to do. They pride themselves on objectivity, rationality and use of evidence. Yet storytelling is central to our mental processes for understanding, remembering, and communicating. Stories are an effective tool for conveying messages and there are some stories that just seem to stick, while others of equal value and importance struggle to gain traction. Continue reading

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Notes from the UUK Annual Conference

This time last year UUK’s President, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, addressed the Members’ Annual Conference as the new man in post. This year the newcomer is Greg Clark, new Minister of State for Universities and Science, and here in Leeds this evening Sir Christopher and UUK members welcomed him warmly to the conference.

The UUK Annual Conference is the largest annual gathering of university vice-chancellors, and the president took the opportunity to outline to them the pre-General Election priorities that UUK is promoting through its Back Universities campaign. Continue reading

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The public does not see international students as immigrants – our new report

Yesterday we launched a new report – with the think-tank British Future – looking at the voting public’s views towards international students and immigration more generally. It was picked up widely in the media, resulting in responses from a number of politicians and other high-profile figures. The report forms part of our wider General Election 2015 campaign (, which calls on an incoming government to work with universities to attract qualified international students and staff to the UK.

The report draws on a nationally representative poll by ICM of 2,111 people, together with evidence from six workshops held in York, Bristol and Nottingham. Continue reading

Posted in European and international, Students | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Clearing 2014: Daily visualisation overview

It’s that exciting and nerve-wracking time of year again. For most who have applied to UCAS to get a place at university, they will know today which institution they are going to attend. For tens of thousands however, the letter will bring less welcome news, but it is important to keep in mind the options and to keep calm and use clearing.

Looking at an overview of Clearing figures from 2013, this should give applicants some hope. Last year, those who did not apply to the main scheme, which closed on 30 June, but applied directly to Clearing, had an excellent chance of getting a place at university. Of 21,950 who applied to Clearing directly in 2013, 15,000 got a place. Overall, 57,000 students in 2013 got their place through Clearing, which was 12% of all acceptances. Continue reading

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Keep calm and use clearing

Think Clearing is a ‘second-best’ option? Think again, says The Student Room community editor Nik Taylor

Clearing comes with its own myth. Some see it as an academic failure; a route that would-be undergrads take if they’ve bombed their exams. That’s an untruth that is being eroded, but perhaps not quickly enough.

What is true is that a lot of students use Clearing: more than 57,000 students found their place at university this way in 2013. What’s also true is that almost all UK universities use it to offer places on at least some of their courses. Continue reading

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