Office for Students

Universities must do more for black students, warns watchdog | Education

Universities in England have been warned they need to improve their treatment of students, after new data revealed stark gaps in achievement for black students and higher drop-out rates for students with mental health difficulties or from disadvantaged backgrounds. The figures released by the Office for Students, the higher education regulator for England, marks a shift towards a new focus on how students from different backgrounds cope with university life, what class of degree they emerge with and what they…

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Oxford Brookes doing worse than University of Oxford on state school admissions | Education

An Oxford university is struggling to meet targets for widening participation, according to the latest set of official statistics – but it’s not the university you might think. Figures published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency reveal that Oxford Brookes University admitted a higher proportion of privately educated undergraduates than most other UK universities, and more than some highly selective institutions such as the London School of Economics. Oxford Brookes – founded in 1865 and now with 18,000 full and…

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Private schools criticise plans to get more poor students into university | Education

Leading private schools have challenged plans to widen access to the most selective universities in England, warning they could lead to discrimination against young people “on the basis of the class they were born into”. The intervention by the Headmasters’ & Headmistresses’ Conference (HMC), which represents many of the country’s most expensive independent schools, reflects members’ concerns that new measures to improve access for the most disadvantaged students could lead to discrimination against students from elite private schools. The HMC…

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Thousands of UK academics ‘treated as second-class citizens’ | Education

Thousands of academic staff at British universities are being treated as second-class citizens on precarious contracts, says a report highlighting the “alarming rise of mass casualised labour” in higher education. The report by the University and College Union claims institutions have created a pool of low-paid staff to teach undergraduates, conduct research and work in libraries, despite having advanced postgraduate or other academic qualifications. It calls on the Office for Students, the higher education regulator in England, to require each…

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Universities could lose funding if they fail to tackle harassment | Education

Universities could face losing their status, including public funding, if they fail to improve how they tackle harassment and sexual misconduct, under proposals from the higher education watchdog for England. New sanctions being put forward by the Office for Students would allow the regulator to explicitly require a university to address harassment and sexual misconduct as a condition of its registration. Any university in breach of that condition would face being deregistered, meaning they would lose state funding, barred from…

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Don’t mislead applicants, regulator warns universities | Education

England’s higher education regulator is urging universities to avoid using misleading adverts and financial inducements to attract students, saying it could encourage applicants to make choices that are not in their best interests. The Office for Students said offering inducements such as last-minute bursaries to fill up undergraduate courses risked students being swayed by “a sales pitch with questionable incentives” rather than academic criteria. “There are concerns about the use of financial offers and inducements being made to prospective students…

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Students who have unconditional offers more likely to quit | Education

Students who go to university after receiving an unconditional offer before their A-level results are more likely to drop out in their first year, research shows. Analysis by the Office for Students (OfS), the universities regulator, found that the dropout rate was 10% higher for students who accepted unconditional offers than would be expected had they received conditional offers. Traditionally, universities offer places subject to the applicant achieving the required A-level results. In recent years, however, there has been a…

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Grade inflation fears prompt new voluntary code for UK degrees | Education

Students will need to “consistently demonstrate” exceptional initiative and problem-solving skills to be awarded first-class honours in their undergraduate degrees, according to a new framework to be adopted by UK universities. The framework is part of a new voluntary code on degree classifications, designed to address fears that universities have been guilty of inflating grades. The code also calls for universities to display detailed figures on the degree classes awarded, and explain any changes in the proportions awarded. While students…

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Education secretary backs review of university admissions | Education

The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, has backed a review into university admissions, including a fresh look at whether school leavers should only apply for places after receiving their A-level results. Williamson said recent developments, such as the steep rise in unconditional offers to sixth-formers, reopened questions over the admissions system and its calendar, as part of a review being carried out by the Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator for England. “I recognise that we need to review…

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Black academics bear brunt of university work on race equality | Education

Earlier this year, Maxine Thomas-Asante asked her university if she could pause her work supporting black, Asian and minority ethnic students. She was running for office at her students’ union, finishing coursework and preparing for her final exams. “I had to say I’m going to take a break.” For the past two years, Thomas-Asante, co-president for democracy and education at Soas University of London student union, has attended meetings, panel discussions and focus groups, created mentoring schemes, organised events, listened…

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University vice-chancellor given £270k payoff after resigning | Education

The vice-chancellor of De Montfort University, who resigned earlier this year in advance of an investigation that has since identified “significant and systemic” failings in governance, was awarded £270,000 on his departure, it has been confirmed. Dominic Shellard left his £350,000-a-year post in February, just before the universities regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), launched a formal investigation into the Leicester institution. Revealing its decision on Monday, the OfS said: “We found weaknesses and failings in the university’s management and…

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Universities urged to hire staff to investigate sexual harassment | Education

Universities should hire specialist staff to investigate hate crimes and sexual harassment against their students, according to a report commissioned by the higher education regulator for England. The institutions were also urged to encourage greater levels of reporting of such incidents, and hold sessions on consent for undergraduates and postgraduates, along with “bystander training” for students and staff to encourage prevention. The report by Advance HE evaluated more than 100 pilot schemes funded by the Office for Students (OfS) and…

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