Universities

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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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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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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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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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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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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‘Students like the flexibility’: why online universities are here to stay | Education

The coronavirus pandemic has forced UK universities to rapidly shift online, and no date has been confirmed for campuses to reopen. With the second coronavirus peak projected to take place in autumn, many institutions are already planning to move at least their first semester online. Whatever happens, universities are not going to look how their students expect for some time. So if universities are online, will students still come? New research suggests that 20% of students are reconsidering plans to…

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UK universities facing £760m hit as one in five students plan to defer | Universities

British universities face a potential £760m blow to their funding after about one in five students said they would not enrol in the next academic year if classes were delivered online and other activities curtailed. A survey of students applying for undergraduate places found that more than 20% said they were willing to delay starting their courses if universities were not operating as normal due to the coronavirus pandemic, which would mean there would be 120,000 fewer students when the…

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No sex, no booze: how the move online will take all the fun out of university | Universities

Name: Student life. Age: Ongoing since the first university opened 1,161 years ago. Appearance: People sitting around in their parents’ house, nodding at a webcam. That doesn’t sound right. Well, times have changed. But why? For the same reason that you’re suddenly afraid of deliverymen and haven’t worn socks for three months. It’s because of coronavirus, silly. Explain yourself. The University of Cambridge has announced that it is going online-only for the full 2020-2021 academic year, with no face-to-face lectures,…

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Universities beware: shifting classes online so quickly is a double-edged sword | Shreya Atrey | Education

When lockdown began, universities had to shut up shop like any other non-essential service. But something extraordinary happened: universities around the world went online almost overnight, showing remarkable determination to continue providing their students with lectures, seminars and tutorials. But can this rapid shift to online teaching and learning actually work in the long term? Several problems have already emerged. Online teaching needs more than just the basics. Lecturers need access to a computer that supports teaching software and a…

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Government refuses multi-billion pound bailout for universities | Education

Universities’ hopes of a long-term government bailout in England have been dashed, though £2.6bn in tuition fees will be paid early and ministers pledged to allow full fees to be charged even if students were unable to return to lecture theatres. Michelle Donelan, the universities minister, said institutions could continue to charge the full £9,250 annual tuition fee for undergraduates while campuses remained closed and face-to-face classes were suspended as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, as long high standards…

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Covid-19 has made universities’ financial forecasts redundant. Good luck to us all | Jonathan Wolff | Education

I’m a man of simple pleasures. One of the ways I keep myself amused is chuckling at financial forecasts. HS2 is going to cost £106bn. Really? Are you sure it isn’t £107bn? Or £105bn? Or something completely different? A recent study suggests that the UK university sector is going to take a £2.472bn hit next year in lost fees. Oddly, my normal instinct to giggle at the bogus precision didn’t kick in this time. That is a lot of money,…

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Covid-19 shows up UK universities’ shameful employment practices | Stefan Collini | Education

One byproduct of the coronavirus pandemic has been to focus attention on the precariousness of so many people’s economic circumstances: working long hours, yet one step away from destitution. This should, in truth, not be news to any of us, but there is so much from which we avert our gaze. And in universities, that gaze has in recent years been averted, above all, from the plight of temporary and part-time academic staff. According to recent figures, 54% of university…

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Ministers split over bailout package for universities | Education

Ministers are split over a bailout package for universities, as vice-chancellors warn of bankruptcies in the Midlands and north of England and new figures reinforce fears that international students will avoid the UK during the coronavirus outbreak. Discussions over extra support are said to have run into an impasse between the Treasury, led by the chancellor Rishi Sunak, and the Department for Education. The education secretary, Gavin Williamson, is arguing for a stabilisation package that would offset the enormous losses…

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