UK language students prepare for virtual year abroad in their bedrooms | Higher education

What is a virtual year abroad – and is there any point in it? That is the question Reece Jack, of Troon, South Ayrshire, is asking, along with thousands of other languages students whose year abroad has been cancelled or is in doubt. Jack, a second-year student of business and French at Strathclyde University, thinks the idea of shared “virtual year abroad” resources across universities, being offered as a partial replacement for the real experience, is “delusional”. “Students will not…

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If universities struggle financially, BAME academics will lose their jobs first | Winston Morgan | Education

One of universities’ chief successes over the past 20 years has been the increase in black, Asian and minority ethnic students (BAME) enrolling. Yet with university budgets tightening as a result of projected declines in student numbers due to the coronavirus pandemic, there is a risk this progress could be reversed. The same structural racism which has generated the inequalities that have resulted in the disproportionate number of BAME people suffering and dying from the impact of Covid-19 are at…

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‘I can’t afford my student housing during lockdown, so I’m striking’ | Education

I was working in a pub before the coronavirus outbreak, which was enough to cover my rent at Dinwiddy House in King’s Cross during my first year studying social anthropology at Soas University of London. I was also getting some money from my family back in Poland, to help with food and other basics. But I was put on furlough when the coronavirus lockdown started at the end of March, and I returned home. I rented from the student housing…

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UK universities suffer worst-ever rankings in world league table | Education

A triple threat of Brexit, tightening budgets and unchecked expansion has seen the rankings of UK universities in an international league table slump for the fourth year in a row. Nearly three-quarters of the country’s universities slipped down the rankings in the UK’s worst-ever performance in the table compiled by data and research group QS.  Imperial College London climbed one spot to reach eighth, making it the only UK university in the top 20 to improve. Oxford University slipped from…

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Lecturer and student relationships matter even more online than on campus | Kate Roll and Marc Ventresca | Education

In a matter of weeks, universities have changed how we teach in at least one important way: we’re now online. It is now becoming clear that this shift may last at least into the new academic year and likely longer. As lecturers, this is not necessarily something to be afraid of: it’s an unparalleled opportunity to rethink teaching and to refocus on relationships with students. In the early days of teaching online, the focus was on recreating the familiar set-up of…

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Universities face £460m loss from expected drop in east Asian students | International students

UK universities have been told to expect a sharp fall in the number of new international students coming next year, including a loss of up to £460m in income from students from east Asia. A new survey of international students by the British Council has found that nearly 14,000 fewer students from eight countries – including China, Singapore and Malaysia – are likely to come to the UK in 2020/21 in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic. The decline of…

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Oxford students to get anti-bias training after George Floyd ‘joke’ at hustings | University of Oxford

An Oxford college has ordered staff and students to undergo training to combat racial bias after an undergraduate made a “joke” drawing a comparison between protests over the killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis and flour shortages. The comments, described as racist and trivialising by witnesses, were made during a virtual hustings event by a candidate for the position of “cake rep” – a welfare position on the junior common room committee at Christ Church college. The student, who has…

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‘I feel like a number’: unhappy UK students blocked from deferring studies | Education

Freya Saddler, a first-year musical theatre student, fell in love with Goldsmiths, University of London, when she auditioned for her course. Now, after trying to adapt to studying drama alone on a laptop in her bedroom during lockdown, she is stressed and unhappy. Like many students across the country, she is ready for a break from her studies – but her university says the coronavirus is not a valid reason to defer. “Emotionally it has been a big struggle,” says…

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UK universities plan to create ‘social bubbles’ when campuses reopen | Education

University students may have to live in halls of residence with others on their course and keep within physically distanced social bubbles when campuses reopen in September. Under plans being discussed at a number of universities, students would mix only with others on certain courses and year groups to minimise the infection risk from coronavirus. On campus, students and staff would move around in a one-way system. Liz Barnes, the vice-chancellor of Staffordshire University, said the bubbles would allow students…

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Packed lecture halls won’t return soon, but students can still go to university | Julia Buckingham | Education

The UK’s universities haven’t gone anywhere – we are still teaching, supporting students remaining on campus, and running essential research projects, including to help us beat Covid-19. Universities are also starting to be ready to share more on their thinking about what next term will look like – and for most it will be a blended teaching approach: in-person when it can be done safely for both students and staff, with interactive online alternatives also available. Providing digital learning tools…

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Students shouldn’t pay tuition fees next year – the government should | Universities

T he Covid-19 crisis has put universities in an impossible position: on the one hand, they need students to enrol in order to keep the doors open, staff paid and the nation’s research infrastructure going. On the other, no one knows what September will look like when students arrive back on campus.  As Universities UK’s latest proposals outline, many universities will endeavour to open, possibly by introducing small “social bubbles”. Meanwhile, online and blended learning will be developed rapidly to give…

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Plan to cap numbers at UK universities to go ahead | Education

The UK government is going ahead with controversial plans to limit the number of students from England who can enrol at universities in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, rejecting opposition from the devolved administrations. Education ministers from Scotland and Wales angrily denounced the move, which they said was designed to stop damaging competition for students among English universities but could instead destabilise their own institutions. Michelle Donelan, the higher education minister for England, held meetings throughout the day with her…

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Michael Bloomberg donates £1m to fund online UK summer schools | Education

Michael Bloomberg, the US billionaire, is to donate more than £1m to fund a replacement for residential university summer schools for British disadvantaged pupils, the Sutton Trust has announced. Bloomberg, a former mayor of New York and presidential candidate, said the new online platform to be called Sutton Trust is intended to help the sixth-formers who would have been eligible for a place on the trust’s face-to-face programmes cancelled because of coronavirus. “The coronavirus crisis has presented a whole new…

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‘I’m worried I’m not going to get a job’: meet the corona class of 2020 | Education

Maisie Marston, 20, will graduate this year into the worst recession in centuries. “I’ve been job hunting and it’s difficult to find things,” she says. “There’s a lot of uncertainty.” As a result of the pandemic, Marston has decided to delay the journalism master’s she had planned, so she can save money first. “It would also be good to get work experience, as I’ll miss out on doing it this summer.” The “corona class of 2020” will be the most…

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Scottish and Welsh universities criticise UK cap on student numbers | Education

University leaders have reacted angrily to the UK government’s plan to control the number of students from England who can study in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, saying that it was punishing them for problems caused by the coronavirus outbreak in England. The Department for Education in England is expected to confirm a cap on the number of undergraduates each university can recruit this autumn – limiting institutions to an increase of no more than 6.5% in the number of…

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We can’t yet say what’s on offer in September, UK universities tell freshers | Education

Anxious sixth-formers trying to decide which university offer to accept are finding little clear information to steer them, with vice-chancellors saying they are still not able to promise anything like the usual experience of lectures, seminars, nightlife – or even shared kitchen and dining spaces in halls. Would-be freshers who have received offers will be asked to confirm a firm first choice by 18 June. Last week Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, told MPs that before…

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