Universities and employer sponsored study – potential for growth

High-quality, work-related education has existed for many years in the form of employer sponsored qualifications – including diplomas and degrees – at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Indeed, across UK universities, 10 per cent of students are already on employer sponsored programmes, a total of 235,000 students. This appears to be a far higher number than any published ambition for the new Higher or Degree Apprenticeships.

I believe both routes – apprenticeships and sponsored degrees – are valuable components of workforce development plans.  We need to ensure, however, that both continue to be supported if we are not to damage the good practice that currently exists and has been built up over a long period. Continue reading

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How universities are tackling sexual violence

Sexual crime in society is significantly under-reported. Within criminal justice services this is widely understood to be a fundamental public health problem. We know this to be a global problem with concerns raised in North American universities about sexual violence as documented in the film ‘The Hunting Ground’.

The Universities UK conference held in London earlier this week addressed this challenging issue. A number of themes emerged. One such theme was around the question of why universities should engage in this area of work. It is surely axiomatic that we would take steps to ensure the health and well-being of our students. Given that we know of marked under-reporting we have a civic duty to ensure that any students who are survivors receive support and are empowered to work with us in coming to decisions that are best for them. Continue reading

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The apprenticeship levy is coming – what it means for universities

As our recent report the future growth of degree apprenticeships shows – in a relatively short space of time – a large number of universities have become involved with the new degree apprenticeships that are part of the government’s apprenticeship drive.

From a standing start – just over a year and a half ago – we now have seventy universities registered with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) as training organisations that can deliver degree apprenticeships.

The next apprenticeship-related consideration for universities will be how they deal with the government’s proposed apprenticeship levy. Continue reading

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Graduate earnings – the only measure of student success?

The Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has published a major study today comparing graduate earnings. The report has generated a fair amount of media coverage and comment (£).

The research involves a large amount of data and has been a few years in the making.

It tracks student loan borrowers’ income up to ten years after graduation and allows us to compare how much they have earned according to their social background, the subject they studied and the university they attended. In doing so, we learn, not just about the returns to studying one particular subject (or at one particular university) over another, but also, more about the returns to attending university as opposed to not. Continue reading

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How many future jobs will require higher level skills?

Yesterday, the UK Commission on Employment and Skills published the latest report in their Working Futures series, projecting occupational trends from 2014 to 2024. And, despite recent economic challenges, UKCES project steady employment growth: in the ten years to 2024 we can expect to see over 14 million job openings, 13 million of which are due to retirements (what UKCES dub ‘replacement demand) and 1.8 million of which are expected to be newly created jobs (‘expansion demand’).

How many of these jobs will require higher level skills and qualifications? According to UKCES, by 2024, 46% of all UK employment will exist within highly skilled occupations, defined as those that fall within the Standard Occupational Classification (SOC) categories 1-3. High-skilled occupations will comprise more than half (7.6 million) of the 14 million additional openings and account for over 70% of all newly created jobs in the UK economy.  Continue reading

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How the University of Exeter is embracing Degree Apprenticeships

The University of Exeter is proud to be a Russell Group university committed to Degree Apprenticeships as an innovative new approach to higher education.

In our regular engagement with government it has been made clear that Degree Apprenticeships are a key part of the Government’s social mobility agenda. The Government is also keen to see higher and vocational education brought together in order to provide new and attractive routes to work, thereby equipping the UK workforce with the high-level technical skills needed to support the prosperity and productivity of the UK economy. Continue reading

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Sheffield in Europe

I have no hesitation in declaring which way I will vote in June. I was one of more than 100 vice-chancellors who wrote to the Sunday Times, supporting British membership of the EU. Being a member of the EU delivers powerful benefits for universities, who are founded on the free flow of ideas and innovation. We can access EU research funding, worth some €8.8 billion to the UK over 2007-13, and we can work efficiently with partners across the continent. In the twenty-first century, research and ideas are no respecters of national boundaries. The really big questions – population health, global environmental degradation, technological change, the challenges of economic and cultural diversity – demand big research and development programmes at scale between institutions.

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The Schools White Paper: what does it mean for university ITT providers?

Last week was quite a big week for England’s school system, politically speaking. Not only did the Chancellor announce that all schools are to become academies by 2022 in the Budget, the government also published its White Paper, Educational Excellence Everywhere, a 120+-page paper touching on everything from improving school performance and inspections to empowering pupils, parents and communities.

For universities, there is also a fairly substantial chapter setting out the future direction of travel for initial teacher training (ITT).

The ITT system in England has been going through a period of upheaval for the past five years now, as new School Direct training routes have expanded while university-recruiting routes have been curtailed. Now, in 2016, the White Paper confirms a continued government commitment to move towards an increasingly school-led ITT system.

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What to make of the new doctoral loans?

It is a well-known fact that a healthy pipeline of research talent is the fuel of the UK’s continued research excellence, and an important driver of innovation and organisational performance in the wider economy and society (as well as remaining a good investment for the students themselves). And it is good to see this recognised and acted upon by government in last Wednesday’s Budget Red book – especially at a time when the UK badly needs to address its productivity gap with other advanced nations, but has seen its chances of doing so dampened by lower productivity growth prospects.

In the 2016 budget, government gave PhD students, and the universities that train them, a big vote of confidence by confirming the introduction of doctoral loans of up to £25,000 (with a 9% repayment rate, or combined 9% for masters and doctoral loans where applicable) from 2018-19. Many details of the loan design still need to be worked out (and will be soon, through a ‘technical consultation’ which UUK will engage with), but what has been announced so far makes us optimistic about how the scheme is shaping up.

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Investing in apprenticeships

National Apprenticeship Week is a key opportunity to showcase the benefits that apprenticeships offer individuals, employers and the UK economy. The Prime Minister’s target of 3 million apprentices by 2020 and the Apprenticeship Levy has continued to heighten the awareness of this agenda and, as a result, employers, schools, students and parents now more than ever want to understand, why choose an apprenticeship?

At Capgemini, we have long been committed to nurturing our talent pipeline and apprenticeships have been firmly on our agenda since 2011, when we began investing in our programmes. We are very proud to have 354 apprentices working with us, across our UK business and in 2016 we are continuing to grow our apprentice community with 100 opportunities available across the UK with several intakes throughout the year.

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