University-business collaboration – what the latest HE-BCI release tells us (and what it doesn’t)

The recent release of HE-BCI data for 2012–13 brought some very good news for universities.

The HE-BCI (higher education business and community interaction) survey collects information about the volume and value of knowledge exchange activity across the higher education sector. The new data shows that in 2012–13 universities’ contribution to the economy through services to business and the community (as measured by their knowledge exchange income) was worth well over £3.5 billion, a remarkable increase of 4.4% in cash terms compared to 2011–12. Also, as Mark Holmes highlighted at Universities UK’s recent conference on the contribution of universities to economic growth, in the last five years the UK rose from 11th to 2nd place in global rankings for university-business research collaboration. This is further testament to the strength of these interactions and the sustained progress our universities continue to demonstrate on this front. Continue reading

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International higher education: The ground is shifting

Simon Marginson spoke at Universities UK’s recent International Higher Education Forum. This blog reflects his opening remarks to the conference.

Since World War Two international higher education has been led by the English-speaking countries. The global ground is now shifting rapidly.

Up till now British universities have enjoyed profound global advantages and functioned as stellar attractors. English is the one global language. Careful resource harbouring maintains UK research performance. At the level of the system as a whole (though not in every institution) the supply of places rather than demand—above all visa policy—has shaped international student numbers.

But nothing lasts forever. Though English remains the one global language, for now, the old neo-imperial reach is giving way to a more plural world in which pull is exerted by a larger number of regions, nations and cities. The East is rising, and capacity in higher education and research is more widely distributed. Continue reading

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Study highlights value of international students to the UK

International students contribute significantly to the UK’s universities. Not only does their presence diversify campus life – to offer students a truly international learning experience – they support the provision of several strategically-important subjects, such as engineering and computer science.  In addition to this, a study published this week by Universities UK on the value of universities to UK plc captures the major contribution international students now make to the country’s economy.

Continue reading

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Better news for international students during passage of Immigration Bill

The government’s Immigration Bill – which includes a number of proposals relating to international students – is currently proceeding through the House of Lords.

Several amendments have been tabled to the bill, including a number of new and significant amendments from government itself. One, in particular, will result in most international students no longer being subject to measures in the bill that force landlords to carry out checks on the immigration status of potential tenants. Continue reading

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Get involved with Universities Week 2014 events

This year’s Universities Week is taking place in June and will feature a whole range of events for the public hosted by universities up and down the country.

You can check out what’s happening on the Universities Week 2014 website and read about upcoming events such as Exploring Glasgow’s sub surface, stand-up comedy by researchers in Manchester and Festival of Learning in Dorset.

Share your events for Universities Week 2014 via the website

Share your events for Universities Week 2014 via the website

Let people know about your events during Universities Week 2014

Universities Week is designed to help promote what’s important to you and your institution. If your university is planning on joining in during the week and you would like to feature on the Universities Week 2014 website all you need to do is upload your event. We have also teamed up with BBC Learning to get maximum publicity for you via local BBC TV and radio network.

To add your event simply register on the Universities Week website.

If you have any issues, please refer to our ‘how to’ guide on the website for uploading events or you can email

You may also wish to refer to our toolkit and resources section to help support your event planning. There is a range of free downloadable resources, including logos, icons and various templates for Facebook, the website, pull up banners and lots more.

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Universities’ economic impact – new research revealed soon

The campaign leading up to the next general election in 2015 has unofficially kicked off. In response, Universities UK has set a challenge to all of the parties – to explain how they will back universities on student funding, research investment and international students. In an article in Times Higher Education, Professor Sir Christopher Snowden, Universities UK’s president, set out why it is essential that an incoming government supports universities to reach their full potential, to best serve the UK’s national interests.

The benefits that universities generate are wide-ranging. Next month, Universities UK will add to the evidence base by publishing new research that demonstrates universities’ substantial economic impact. Continue reading

Posted in About Higher Education, About Universities UK, Business, industry and employability, Fees and funding, General election 2015, Government and parliament, Research | Tagged | Leave a comment

OFT report: higher education is a market, but the student-university relationship remains unique

The Office of Fair Trading (OFT) today published its report following the call for information on undergraduate higher education in England. The 88-page document will be pored over for the detail, but overall it has one message which comes across clearly: our higher education sector is world-class, but in their opinion some of its structures and practices belong to an era that has now passed. Continue reading

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International students are good for the UK – let’s say so

Yesterday I took part in a really interesting panel debate on the upcoming General Election at the NUS International Students’ conference in sunny Milton Keynes. All the panellists, ultimately, stood for international students coming to the UK and fostering a positive environment in which they could be welcomed.

What became apparent to me is that the old scenario of one side versus the other may not always be the most effective campaign tool. Yes, we have to hold those who make certain proclamations about international students to account, but by concentrating on labelling sections of a political party ‘nasty’, as one delegate did, we potentially undermine our joint goal of making our stand for international students. By taking this approach, it also misses the point that the overwhelming majority of the public is actually in favour of international students coming to study here. Continue reading

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How well are universities engaging with Local Enterprise Partnerships?

The coalition government very much sees localism as a major conduit for delivering economic growth in England. This shift in policy thinking broadly endorses Michael Heseltine’s bold calls for decentralisation in his 2012 Review, and places local growth as a central policy pillar for achieving sustainable growth. It also presents real opportunities for universities – who are often regarded as ‘anchor institutions’ in their local area.

The architecture for delivering this growth is a set of 39 Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs): business-led bodies spread across England. LEPs vary greatly in size and resources, but nevertheless the rewards for universities successfully engaging with their local LEP are significant. Universities can strengthen their ties with local businesses and communities, and help boost economic growth. Furthermore, each LEP has recently submitted a strategy on how to spend over five billion pounds allocated to England by the European Union.

So how well are universities engaging with local enterprise partnerships? Continue reading

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Universities and business: both are stronger when they work together

Policy makers are famously fond of analogies. Universities have been likened to both ‘anchors’ (in the 2012 Wilson Review) and ‘arrows’ (in the recent Witty Review). At first these appear quite opposed to each other – one imagines an imposing building drawing all who surround it into its influence, or a lithe institution soaring into space. But the two reviews make the same point about universities and business – that both are stronger when they work together, and the benefits are wide reaching when they do.

To demonstrate, let’s take an imaginary university – The University of X – who, among other things, is a leader in technology Y. A nearby small business (Business Z) is growing fast, but growing much further will require testing some new materials using technology Y. Continue reading

Posted in About Higher Education, Business, industry and employability, Community and society, Research | Tagged , | 4 Comments