Paris Attempts to Lure British Universities Overseas

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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

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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.


Council to Decide on Cambridge Student Accommodation Policy

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Student accommodation in Cambridge is to be discussed this week with Cambridge City Council to decide on whether to allow proposed changes to the emerging Local Plan.

A report commissioned for the city council has suggested an increasing need for student accommodation in the city.

Although the report revealed that the University of Cambridge accommodates much of its students in university-owned housing, Anglia Ruskin University and other institutions have very little directly-owned accommodation. As a result, students are more likely to live in privately owned halls, shared housing or the family home.

The council's assessment of the study's findings is that the current strategy for student accommodation is largely appropriate but could be improved to address the need for market and social housing, as well as student accommodation.

The report said: "It is recognised that this is a fluid situation, and that there is likely to be a continuing strong supply of new student housing in the city, prompted by the financial attractiveness of this form of development.

However, in part this attractiveness arises out of the level of unsatisfied demand for such accommodation. At this stage, the evidence falls short of proving that there does not remain a need for purpose-built student housing, especially to improve the choice and opportunities for ARU students."

Due to the study, the council will propose some changes to the Local Plan, including the need to confirm that all student accommodation schemes are formally tied to a particular educational institution, which has specific accommodation needs.

The report also proposes the creation of a working group made up from council officers and representatives of higher education institutions, in order to monitor student accommodation and work together.


University of Edinburgh Confirm Their New Vice Chancellor

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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

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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

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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

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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.


500-bed Cardiff Development Set for Approval

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Plans to build a 500-bed student development in Cardiff are set to be given the green light this week.

Cardiff Metropolitan University submitted plans last year to develop the site on the former caretaker's bungalow on its Cyncoed Campus.

Under the plans a seven-storey building would be constructed, comprising of 56 cluster flats with a total of 518 beds.

In addition to the student accommodation, the plans also call for the construction of a two-storey building to be dubbed as 'The Forum', which will feature student support services, social space and a coffee shop as well as first floor conference facilities able to host 150 people.

After a period of consultation with the council, the scheme was amended to reduce its height and increase variation.

A report prepared prior to Cardiff City Council's planning committee meeting, has recommended the plans are approved subject to the signing of a Section 106 agreement. This is despite numerous objections being raised.

The report said: "It is considered that the amended proposals will result in high-quality accommodation and student facilities on the university campus, which have been subject to design improvements that will ensure the continued protection of the Queens Wood, an ancient woodland and Site of Importance for Nature Conservation."

The report suggested that despite concerns of residents in regards to the building's height and scale, the development will be largely screened by existing woodland and vegetation.

In total 250 objections were submitted by nearby residents, as well as three separate petitions.


Work Begins on £17m Derby Student Accommodation

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Construction work has begun on a £17 million student accommodation block in Agard Street, Derby.

The nine-storey, 244-bed student accommodation block is situated next to the existing copper-clad University of Derby law department on the corner of Ford Street and Agard Street.

Plans for the development were approved in November 2015 and developers Jenso Ltd have also secured planning permission for a stair connection to nearby Friar Gate Bridge, which will be developed into a community space.

Speaking at the planning meeting in 2015, Jensco development manager Nigel Bobroff said the new student development would sit harmoniously within the local context.

He added: "This carefully considered proposal has the support of your planning officers and responses to feedback received from extensive consultation with the conservation area advisory committee, Friends of Friar Gate Bridge and Historic England."

Mr Bobroff also argued the completion of the building in combination with the new stair to Friar Gate Bridge would act as a catalyst for the restoration of a heritage asset.

At the time six members of the planning control committee voted in favour and five voted against. Those who voted against included councillor Robin Wood, who argued the existing copper-clad building was "embarrassing" and the new development would make the site even worse.

Despite the objections, the plans were passed thanks to the votes of Labour councillors.


Imperial Announces Plans for 700-bed Development

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A newly purchased site in North Acton has been earmarked for student accommodation for students attending Imperial College London.

Subject to appropriate planning permission, the site will be able to accommodate up to 700 students and is due for completion by September 2020.

Located on Wales Farm Road, the site is just a five minute walk from the College's existing accommodation at Woodward Buildings, two minutes from North Acton Underground Station and 11 minutes from the new Crossrail station due to open in 2018.

Imperial College London say the new hall represents a substantial investment in the student experience and helps to support its commitment to offer accommodation to all eligible first year undergraduates.

The development will build on the College's growing presence in the area, adding to the existing student community of around 900 living in the College's Woodward Buildings as well as the nearby Costume Store development.

Imperial's Provost Professor James Stirling, said: "At Imperial, we're committed to enriching the wider student experience, as well as providing a world class education experience. We know that students based in Woodward Buildings are enjoying the facilities on offer, and I'm pleased we will be able to offer that experience to more of our students in the future."

The College expects to work closely with students to develop the look and feel of the communal spaces for the new halls as the project develops and hopes it will help to meet the demand for single en-suite rooms in purpose built student accommodation.