National Union of Students Appoint New President

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

The National Union of Students have elected a new head after Malia Bouattia was overthrown.

Describing herself as a "mother from a working-class family", Shakira Martin received 56% of the votes at the NUS conference in Brighton.

Previously working as vice-president, she will take over the role of Malia Bouattia who was elected in 2016. Ms Bouattia came under pressure after an article she co-wrote in 2011 described Birmingham university as a "Zionist outpost".

Ms Martin is a former student at Lewisham and Southwark College and has promised a union which is "united and fighting for free education for everyone".

Commenting on her appointment, she said: "I am honoured and humbled to have been elected as NUS national president.

"I take this as a vote of trust that our members believe I can lead our national movement to be the fighting and campaigning organisation we need it to be, representing the breadth of our diverse membership.

"Further education made me who I am today and I look forward to sharing stories of just how powerful all forms of education can be when we're all given access to it.

"During my term in office I want to spend my time listening, learning and leading."

Past NUS presidents include Jack Straw, Charles Clarke, Liam Burns and Trevor Phillips and its long been believed the role suits those seeking political office.

Ms Martin beat the former president by 402 votes to 272.

New Hereford University to Provide College Accommodation

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Purpose-built colleges will provide accommodation for students attending Hereford's new university, due to open in September 2019.

The New Model in Technology & Engineering (NMiTE) is due to welcome its first batch of 300 students at its city centre campus in Hereford in September 2019.

The scheme recently received £8 million in funding from the government and leaders are secure in the knowledge that additional funding is coming.

Students attending the new university will be required to live in colleges for the entirety of their course, rather than renting from the private housing sector.

Commenting on the accommodation, Karen Usher, co-project leader, said: "All will be purpose-built at this point to ensure that they will meet the standards of students and their parents.

"There are one or two existing buildings that could possibly house accommodation, but we are looking to build in colleges of 350 beds, so there are not many buildings that are big enough to convert."

The decision to build their own purpose-built accommodation was based on the limited rental space in the Hereford city area. It's also believed parents prefer university provided housing, as it's easier to find, monitor and is usually safer.

With an already crowded rental market in the area, Karen did suggest they would welcome approaches from anyone interested in investing approved NMiTE student accommodation.

Mass Exodus of Staff Threatens UK Universities

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

The government is being urged to act quickly or risk a post-Brexit brain drain, which could detrimentally impact the international competitiveness of the UK's university sector.

A new report by the Commons education committee calls for the working rights of 32,000 university staff from EU countries to be guaranteed as a matter of urgency.

The report suggests government should be willing to unilaterally agree the rights of EU nationals in the UK before the end of the year, even without a reciprocal deal in place.

Without such a guarantee, there are concerns they may be a mass exodus of talented EU staff leaving the UK for competitor countries.

Initiating the report, Neil Carmichael, the Conservative chairman of the committee, said: "Higher education in the UK is a world leader, but Brexit risks damaging our international competitiveness and the long-term success of our universities."

Published on Tuesday, the report highlights a survey undertaken by the University and College Union (UCU), which indicated 76% of European academics in UK universities said they were more likely to consider leaving the sector because of the referendum.

A separate poll found 53% of non-UK nationals were actively seeking to leave the UK altogether, whilst reports suggest staff from the EU were rejecting job offers due to the uncertainty about Brexit.

In addition to guaranteeing EU workers' rights, the report calls for overseas students to be removed from net migration targets and reform of the immigration system to promote movement to and from UK higher-education.

They've also urged the government to ensure funding for research associated with EU's Horizon 2020 project is matched, in case access to the scheme and other frameworks stops.

Commenting on the report, Sally Hunt, the UCU general secretary, said: "Along with international students, overseas staff make a huge contribution to UK society and I call on the government to end their uncertainty or risk damaging the UK's ability to attract staff and students from around the world."

Decision Expected This Week on Major Accommodation Scheme in Exeter

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

A decision on the University of Exeter's major student accommodation park will be given this week.

Plans to build student housing for University of Exeter students were recommended for approval by planning officers, but only after the scheme was deferred in February to allow for a planning revision.

Following the plans alterations, the University say the site will now contain a minimum of 1,200 student beds in buildings, which are 11 percent smaller and situated further away from residents.

Three of the tower blocks have been reduced in height, making them all three storeys tall, and two additional blocks have been entirely removed from the plans.

The amendments ensure the green space on the proposed site is now 73 percent larger than originally planned.

Despite the changes and the project being scaled back, the application saw a huge number of objections being submitted. In total 408 separate objections were raised, with members of the public still not satisfied with the revision.

Commenting on application Deputy Lord Mayor, Cllr Peter Hollland, said: "I was frustrated the meeting was so restricted and invitation only. I feel residents have been let down.

"I was also frustrated that at the previous planning meeting in which it was considered, the plans were 30 seconds away from being declined but for the intervention of Cllr's Phil Bialyk and Peter Edwards who proposed the decision be deferred instead."

It's understood residents had asked for a 40 percent reduction in scale of the site, with the university only providing a 11 percent reduction in their revised plans.

Although Mr Holland agreed the additional purpose-built student beds would ease the pressure on houses of multiple occupancy, there are concerns over what will happen when these students move out of university halls in years two and three.

If approved the new accommodation is scheduled for completion by September 2021.

Work Begins on Shrewsbury Student Housing

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

Work is due to begin on the construction of a new student accommodation scheme in St Austin's Street Shrewsbury.

Shropshire Council announced this week the Tanney car park in St Austin's Street will close on Sunday as work begins on creating the next phase of the town's student housing.

Plans for the student accommodation were approved last year and will result in the former study centre situated on the site being demolished to make way for the scheme.

The building will be delivered in phases and Shropshire Council, who currently own the site, will take lead in the development with its construction partner Morris Property.

The new site will sit alongside the existing student housing at Mardol House in Shrewsbury town centre and will be occupied by University Centre Shrewsbury students.

Commenting on the development, Tim Smith, head of business, enterprise and commercial services at Shropshire Council, said: "This new accommodation will support the redevelopment of the west end of Shrewsbury town centre and will be a significant improvement for the area."

Once all phases of the development are complete the site will be able to house over 200 students.

The plans were originally scheduled for completion in time for the 2016/17 academic year, but were subsequently pushed back while the council and University Centre Shrewsbury assessed the expected demand for bed spaces.

The University of Hertfordshire Nominated for Accommodation Award

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

The University of Hertfordshire in Hatfield has been shortlisted for the Best Student Housing award at the 2017 College and University Business Officers Awards.

Run in association with University Business, the CUBO Awards is a yearly event which aims to recognise the achievements of those working in higher education.

Chosen by a panel of CUBO members, the College Lane campus in Hatfield was one of three to be shortlisted for the Best Student Housing award.

The campus has benefited from significant investment over the last three years and its transformation forms part of the University's Estates Strategy.

A university spokesperson said of the accommodation: "Now home to around 3,000 students, the university wanted to create a genuine campus experience with students at the heart of the development.

"This includes creating community living which has been achieved by breaking down the accommodation into colleges of 500 bedrooms.

"There are also various social and communal areas across the residences with each having a large common room.

"Kitchens have also been built to cook and entertain, as well as a central social space, multi-use games area and 3G sports facilities."

The accommodation focuses on promoting social interaction, with its townhouses sharing a large open plan living, kitchen and dining area.

CUBO members will vote for the winners of the award, which will be announced at The CUBO Awards ceremony on June 28.

St Andrews Begins University Halls Expansion

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

The University of St Andrews has got the ball rolling on its £70 million student accommodation project.

The university has submitted two separate applications to expand its halls of residences to increase the number of available student bed spaces.

Planning applications were put forward to extend the Agnes Blackadder Hall and the University Hall. Once complete the extended accommodation will provide a further 360 student beds.

The plans fall within the university's wider ambition to provide 900 extra beds for students, which once complete would increase the amount of accommodation to 4,900 beds.

Construction work is expected to start in August of this year, with the project due for completion in time for the 2018/19 academic term.

Commenting on the development, the university said: "St Andrews has always been a small university, and intends to stay relatively small. The intimacy of the town, the closeness of the community and the interaction of town and gown are key elements of the St Andrews experience.

"However, we do plan managed, moderate student growth over the next 10 years."

The university suggested the aforementioned growth will allow the institution to resist inflationary pressures on its cost base, but does require additional investment into student housing.

Part of the plans also include the refurbishment of Gregory Place, Old Wing University Hall, and Andrew Melville Hall.

St Andrews Community Council have welcomed the development and at a recent planning meeting no objections were raised.

University of Bath's Student Union Supports Cut the Rent Campaign

Posted by Richard Ward in , ,

The University of Bath has endorsed a 'Cut the Rent' campaign aimed at fighting the increasing costs of student housing.

The announcement comes as the University of Bath seeks to raise additional income from student accommodation and other areas to counter cuts in public funding.

According to campaigners, the university has increased the proportion of luxury student accommodation while at the same time admitting more students. As a result, demand for student housing has increased while the supply of affordable bed spaces has fallen. Luxury accommodation on the University campus now costs over £150 per person per week to rent.

Since 2001, when the current Vice Chancellor came to office, university-owned accommodation rent has reportedly increased 150%. Due to these increases, just two student halls, namely Osbourne House and Eastwood, provide students with beds which cost lower than 50% of the maximum maintenance loan a student can receive.

The National Union of Students are worried that higher rents, along with the rise of private purpose-built student accommodation, will lead to more financial pressure on students.

The Cut the Rent Campaign is arguing the University of Bath has exceeded its target operating surplus each year since 2012, meaning it could reduce rents in University managed accommodation.

The student union has now adopted the policy and the campaign has demanded the union becomes active in seeking reduced rents.

Carillion Chosen for 1,122-bed Manchester Student Village Project

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

The University of Manchester has selected Carillion as the preferred bidder for phase 1 of its Fallowfield student village project.

The University was forced back to the drawing board after its original plans resulted in tenders being proposed that were way over budget for the 3,000-bed student village.

The scheme represents one of the University's largest planned projects in its 10-year building programme and is to be built in three phases over several years.

Carillion will now design and build phase one which is estimated to cost around £75m.

The project will consist of 1,122 bedrooms split across eight student accommodation blocks, together with an energy centre, student amenity hub and associated landscaping provision.

The four storey cluster blocks will consist predominantly of 10 bedrooms and a kitchen area on each floor.

Carillion will develop the final design and construction proposals before signing the contract. Construction of the scheme is due to start in August and is expected to be complete in the summer of 2019.

University of Leicester Opens Chinese Campus

Posted by Richard Ward in ,

The University of Leicester is set to open a new Chinese campus in September this year.

Situated on the Panjin campus of Dalian University of Technology, the Leicester International Institute, Dalian University of Technology has been formally approved by the Chinese Ministry of Education.

Students attending the institution will study for dual degrees in Maths, Chemistry and Mechanical Engineering from University of Leicester and Dalian University of Technology. The University will also offer dual degrees for UK students spending one year in China as well as for Chinese students studying in Dalian.

Recruitment is already underway for its September 2017 launch and its expected that as numbers grow more than 10% of Leicester's undergraduates will be educated in Dalian.

Commenting on the partnership, President Guo from Dalian University of Technology, said: "This initiative will succeed because we will only recruit the very brightest students. We chose to work with Leicester because of their research reputation - our partnership will be strong because it is based on powerful research collaboration."

Meanwhile Pro-Vice-Chancellor International at The University of Leicester, Professor Sarah Dixon, said: "We are at the vanguard of institutions looking for collaboration beyond Europe which will be key to our future success. We no longer think of a Leicester education necessarily being taught in the UK. Our brand is strong overseas and we expect to extend our footprint further in the coming years. In addition, we want more and more of our UK students to become more internationalised by spending at least part of their education overseas".