Nearly a Third of University Academics Originate From Outside the UK

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Date released by the Higher Education Statistics Agency has revealed that nearly a third of university academics in the UK are from outside of the country.

Almost one in five university academics are from a country within the European Union, which has caused concerns for university leaders worried about retaining and recruiting staff.

Universities have warned they depend on be able to recruit highly-mobile international staff and students, with the latest figures from UCAS showing a decline in applications from the EU.

The data from HESA shows that 29% of academic staff are from outside the UK and in some cases, such as engineering and technology, non-UK academics account for 42% of staff.

In maths, physics and biology, 38% of staff are non-UK, with the majority of these coming from other EU countries, while the percentage of non-UK staff in the humanities was recorded at 35%.

When the education select committee took evidence from universities about the possible impact of Brexit, they heard concerns that talented and sought-after mathematicians from the EU could move elsewhere.

The University of Cambridge professor, Catherine Barnard, told MPs the university had seen a 14% decline in applications this year from EU students and raised concerns about a risk of perceived anti-immigrant sentiment.

Fast-Track University Courses Proposed by Government

Posted by Richard Ward in , , ,

The government is to introduce fast-track university degrees with higher annual fees.

Under the plans, the two-year degrees will cost the same as a traditional three-year course, meaning annual fees will be higher.

Ministers are expected to put forward a bill to lift the current £9,000 cap on tuition fees so universities can charge higher annual rates associated with courses with a reduced length.

The Department for Education stressed the fast-track degrees will carry the same weight as the current undergraduate model.

Under the proposals, universities will be able to charge more than £13,000 a-year for those courses that are cut down to two years and will only apply to institutions in England. Annual fees for four-year courses being delivered in three years could rise to £12,000 a year.

The increased fees will be limited to those courses being accelerated and delivered in fewer years, with universities having to prove they're investing the same resources into the fast-track students.

Education ministers have suggested the reduced course time-frame will appeal to those looking to get into, or return to, the workplace or those looking to cut down on living and accommodation costs.

Those partaking in the new system will forgo the long summer and winter breaks in exchange for the shorter course duration.

The proposal to lift the cap on tuition fees for fast-track students is part of a range of changes set to be included into the higher education and research bill.

According to University minister Jo Johnson, the new bill will provide students with new and flexible ways of learning.

Commenting on the plans, he said: "Students are crying out for more flexible courses, modes of study which they can fit around work and life, shorter courses that enable them to get into and back into work more quickly and courses that equip them with the skills that the modern workplace needs."

Plagiarising Students Could Face a Criminal Record under Proposed Plans

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Under plans being proposed by the government, those university students who purchase essays online could face fines and a criminal record.

To combat the growing essay writing industry, the government is looking to introduce tough new rules amid concerns the quality of a British university degree is under threat.

Recent reports suggest as many as 20,000 students enrolled at British universities are paying thousands of pounds for bespoke essays in order to obtain degrees.

The Department of Education has announced it is in consultation with universities over how to crackdown on cheating students.

The DfE is currently consulting on a variety of proposals with higher education bodies, ranging from fines, academic blacklists and even criminal records for students found submitting professionally written essays.

Commenting on the matter, a spokeswoman for DfE said a change in the law was something that could be considered in the future.

The new guidance is due to be implemented in September so it coincides with the start of the next academic year.

Commenting on the announcement, Universities Minister Jo Johnson said: "This form of cheating is unacceptable and every university should have strong policies and sanctions in place to detect and deal with it.

"Essay mill websites threaten to undermine the high-quality reputation of a UK degree so it is vital that the sector work together to address this in a consistent and robust way."

Although universities use anti-plagiarism software to detect when academic texts have been copied, students submitting bespoke essays as their own can circumvent the software in place, meaning examiners are powerless to prevent foul play.

Paris Attempts to Lure British Universities Overseas

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Oxford University has denied claims it is to open an overseas campus in response to Brexit.

The statement was released after reports emerged that French officials had spoken to senior staff at Oxford to propose a new 'satellite' base in Paris, with construction beginning as early as 2018.

However, Oxford University has dismissed the claims and a spokesman from the university said: "The university has received several constructive and helpful proposals from European colleagues since the Brexit vote. We are not, however, pursuing the model of a campus overseas."

It's understood informal talks have been held with several other UK universities, including Cambridge and Warwick, as part of an active campaign to lure British jobs to Paris.

The talks are said to have taken place in response to the UK's decision to leave the EU, as a campus in Paris, with French legal status, would allow a university to continue to benefit from EU funding.

The proposals suggest the creation of joint research laboratories and degree courses between British and French universities, on top of plans to relocate existing degrees and study programmes.

In addition, French officials are supposedly offering several institutions the chance to open a campus on the site of a development at the University of Paris-Seine to the north of Paris. The land would therefore effectively be free, although they would need to cover the costs associated with building labs and lecture theatres.

Jean-Michel Blanquer, a former director-general of the French ministry of education and now managing director of the highly regarded Essec Business School, confirmed that talks between a number of universities and the French government were taking place.

Mr Blanquer also suggested that although the UK government has said it will try to strike a deal to ensure British universities continue to participate in EU research projects, in the medium term they will inevitably be squeezed out.

Cambridge University Could Ditch Class List Tradition

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Cambridge University may have to drop its long-standing tradition of posting students' exam results outside Senate House under new data protection laws.

The 250-year old tradition has been taking place in Cambridge since 1748, but in May 2018, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) will come into effect, hardening existing data protection laws.

The GDPR may make it illegal for the university to continue publishing details of its students under its current scheme and the university has confirmed they are considering other options, such as an opt-in arrangement.

A spokesman for the university said: "Under new Data Protection legislation, which is due to come into force in May 2018, greater emphasis is placed on an individual's right to choose how their data is collected and used, and on an organisation's responsibility to reflect this in its policies and procedures.

"The University is currently considering the potential effects of this legislation - including the possibility that the public display of class lists may change to an opt-in system - but not decisions have yet been made."

At the end of last year, university students voted to retain the traditional class lists, with university fellows voting the same way the following month.

University of Edinburgh Confirm Their New Vice Chancellor

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

The University of Edinburgh have confirmed that Professor Peter Mathieson will become the next Principal and Vice Chancellor of the university.

Professor Mathieson will move from his current role as President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Hong Kong, which he has held since April 2014.

Before moving to Hong Kong, he worked as the Dean of the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Bristol. He also served as Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences as well as chairing the Research Grant Committee of Kidney Research UK.

Commenting on his appointment Professor Mathieson said: "I now look forward to leading the University of Edinburgh forward into its next chapter. Like Hong Kong, Edinburgh is a truly global institution with a great reputation for excellence in teaching and research.

"Working together with students, staff and supporters, I am confident we can build on that reputation in the future – during what are exciting and challenging times in the world of Higher Education."

Professor Mathieson will take over from Professor Timothy O'Shea who has held the position as Principal and Vice-Chancellor for 15 years. Mr Mathieson is expected to take over the role in late 2017 or early 2018, although the University have yet to confirm his exact start date.

Manchester's National Science Institute Approved

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Plans to build a new £235 million national science institute at Manchester University have been approved by the council.

The Sir Henry Royce Institute will be situated on the university's campus on Upper Brook Street, between the Alan Turing building and a multi-storey car park.

The centre was granted funding by the former chancellor George Osborne in 2014 and is intended to become an international flagship centre for high-tech research. In particular, it will focus on developing new substances in relation to Manchester's ground breaking research into graphene.

Over 500 scientists will be based in the 10-storey building and university bosses hope it will reinforce Manchester's status as a centre of excellence for advanced materials science.

The university also argue the development will make use of a vacant site on a main travel route into the city, while complementing the rest of the campus, which itself is undergoing a £1bn ten-year revamp.

Two additional advanced materials centres have been developed nearby following the university's graphene discovery. Situated on Booth Street West, the £61m National Graphene Institute opened in 2015, while the £60m Graphene Engineering and Innovation Centre on Sackville Street should be complete by the end of this year.

Stockton to Receive Boost from New International Centre

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

A new international study centre for the area of Stockton has been dubbed as a "great boost" for the region by the council's leader.

The ISC, which is based at Durham University's Queen's campus in Thornaby, will be managed by private education provider Study Group.

Due to open in September and accepting students from around the world, those attending the ISC will be in the area year-round.

Commenting on the study centre, council leader Bob Crook said: "The Durham University name carries enormous worldwide prestige and while the arrival of international students will raise the borough's profile overseas, it will be a great boost for Stockton town centre too."

In particular, councillors suggest that the ISC's global focus will make it a perfect fit for the ambitions of the town centre. Businesses are also likely to welcome the additional students to the region, who will bring added trade to those offering places to eat, shop and drink.

Another beneficiary will be purpose-built student accommodation providers and developers such as those looking to convert the former Swallow Hotel into student housing.

Professor Antony Long, Deputy Vice-Chancellor of Durham University, added: "Durham University is fully committed to Queen's Campus and to delivering high quality education at Stockton-on-Tees and Teesside. The ISC will bring many hundreds of students from around the world to Stockton each year and we look forward to welcoming the first to Queens Campus in September."

There were concerns the number of students on-site would fall to only 200 this year, but it is has since emerged that the number of students on campus will reach 1,700, and the number of ISC students attending will grow as the scheme develops.

UCAS Data Highlights Struggling Universities

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

Data released by UCAS has revealed that some universities are losing students at a significant rate.

In an increasingly competitive market, universities including Sunderland, Southampton Solent, London Metropolitan, Cumbria and Wolverhampton have suffered from a substantial decline in the number of acceptances from 18-year-old UK students in the past four years.

University vice-chancellors say that since the removal of the cap on student numbers, competition for students has never been so fierce.

According to UCAS, Sunderland University reported a decline of 26% in the number of 18-year-old UK students who accepted places, and 32% since 2012, when the cap was removed.

Both Sunderland and Southampton Solent were hit the hardest last year, however London Metropolitan University was also down, with a 14% reduction in 18-year-old UK acceptances. However, since 2012 when the cap was lifted the number of 18-year-old UK acceptances have fallen by 45%.

Other big losers included Cumbria University, down 13% and Wolverhampton University, which reported a 12% fall.

Sunderland University has indicated its prepared for the reduction in 18-year-old acceptances and has worked hard to increase its intake of mature students to help compensate the fall.

Meanwhile Prof Graham Baldwin, Southampton Solent University's vice chancellor, said of the figures: "This is the most competitive student market I can ever remember. There is much more use of unconditional offers, institutions offering financial incentives and other tactics. Everyone is going to extreme lengths to engage students and pull them in. Things have changed very, very quickly."

Jo Johnson, the minister for universities, has indicated in the past that there must be room for "market exit" in the system, however the question of whether a university would be allowed to go bankrupt is open for debate.

Student Loan Debt Put up for Sale

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

The UK government has begun the process of selling more student loan debt to the private financial sector.

Loans made to students in England between 2002 and 2006 will be included in the sale, which will be followed by other pre-2012 loans, with the aim to raise £12bn.

Although Universities Minister Jo Johnson said the sale would have no impact to those with student loans, the National Union of Students said it was an "ugly move on students".

The government has always aimed to sell the student loan book to private investors and over the next four years it will dispose of the loans from before 2012, when tuition fees in England were increased to £9,000 a year.

The new tranche of loans being put up for sale, dating from 2002 to 2006, come with a face value of £4bn and the government has promised that despite the sale there will be no changes to the terms and conditions for borrowers, ensuring the rate of repayment for former students remains the same.

Although Universities Minister Jo Johnson said the sale is part of the drive to bring public finances under control, the National Union of Students have warned it could begin a process in which loans are made more attractive to private buyers, at the expense of students.

Both Labour and the Liberal Democrats also condemned the plans.

Labour's shadow education secretary, Angela Rayner, said: "This government never learn any lessons, this sale will do nothing to ease the burden of debt piled on students by the Tories who have trebled tuition fees and scrapped maintenance grants."

However, Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, suggested there was plenty of misinformation about the sale of student loans and the main issue was ensuring good value for the taxpayer.