Newswire

Senior figures in the higher education sector have expressed grave concerns after the net migration data showed a sharp fall in the headline figure had been driven largely by fewer overseas students coming to the UK. Net migration has fallen by a quarter to 183,000 in the year to March 2012, down from 242,000 previously. Edward Acton, vice-chairman of the University of East Anglia, suggested that this proved the sector’s long-held fears that the Home Office drive to crack down on bogus colleges and those abusing the student visa route was also deterring legitimate students from coming to Britain. Financial Times Daily Mail The Daily Telegraph

Published: November 30, 2012

Teenagers are being entered for two separate English qualifications at the same time in an attempt to boost schools’ league table rankings, it has emerged. Hundreds of schools are forcing pupils to sit GCSEs and alternative International GCSEs at the end of secondary education to improve their grades, it was revealed. In many cases, schools are able to wait for the results and then use the best grade in performance tables. The strategy is being promoted by a group called the Performance in Excellence Club (PiXL) which aims to dramatically improve GCSE results among its members. The Daily Telegraph The Independent

Published: November 30, 2012

Britain’s top companies are failing to recruit enough skilled engineers because of a dire shortage of highly-trained graduates, Sir James Dyson has warned. Up to 217,000 engineers will be needed within the next five years to plug gaps in the workforce and help drive the economy, it was claimed. Sir James warned that his own company had “struggled to fill” 200 vacancies this year. In a letter to The Daily Telegraph, the inventor and entrepreneur called on the Government to ease restrictions on the number of overseas students remaining in the country after their courses had ended, insisting bright foreigners were needed to “develop technology for export and relieve our skills shortage”. The Daily Telegraph

Published: November 30, 2012

The number of applicants to UK universities for entry next year is 8 per cent lower than at this time last time around, raising fears that the recent rises in fees might have reduced demand for places at the country’s well-regarded universities. Applications will continue coming in for months to come, but 145,000 candidates have applied for places – down from 158,000 last year, when the maximum tuition fee rose from £3,375 to £9,000 as part of a market-led reform. Financial Times The Independent Daily Mail The Times

Published: November 29, 2012

Chris Cook at the FT writes on the jobs market facing graduates. “The odds for new workers leaving university are formidable. In 2011, 3,800 people applied for 150 graduate jobs at BP, the energy company. In 2012, BP increased posts on offer to 250 – and applications almost doubled. Graduates are still less likely to be unemployed than other young people: the Higher Education Statistics Agency suggests that the unemployment rate six months after graduation is 8 per cent – well below the 19 per cent for those aged 18-24 as a whole.” Financial Times

Published: November 29, 2012

The UK Border Agency ignored more than 150,000 warnings in three years from universities and colleges concerned that their foreign students were bogus, a damning report reveals. Staff failed to check tens of thousands of tips-offs about overseas students including worries that some had not even enrolled at the start of term. The blunder meant 23,000 bogus students were allowed to remain in Britain when they should have been sent home, many of whom have still not been traced. The Daily Telegraph The Guardian

Published: November 29, 2012

England’s weak college system is a major reason why businesses struggle to find the skilled employees they need, according to Sir Michael Wilshaw, chief education inspector, who has called for more pressure on colleges to improve. Presenting the annual report for Ofsted, the education inspectorate, Sir Michael said: “For the second year running, Ofsted did not judge a single college outstanding [the highest category available] for teaching and learning.” Financial Times The Daily Telegraph

Published: November 28, 2012

Parents living in affluent areas will now be able to check online how their schools compare with those in similar locations after the publication of data by Ofsted that aims to put pressure on underperforming councils. The Times The Guardian The Daily Telegraph

Published: November 28, 2012

Ten smaller higher education colleges in England, including three specialist arts institutions and the venerable Royal Agricultural College, are to become full universities, the government has announced in the biggest shakeup to the sector in 20 years. David Willetts, the universities minister, will recommend the move to the Privy Council, the body that grants university status, the Department for Business, Innovation & Skills said. The Guardian The Independent

Published: November 28, 2012

Britain has the second-best education system in Europe, trailing only Finland, thanks to its strong science teaching and its high literacy, school completion and university graduation rates, according to a global review. The table puts the UK sixth in the world. The only large countries to beat it were South Korea and Japan. Such a strong performance will shock politicians. In the 2009 “Pisa” tests, given to 15-year-olds in the OECD, the association of developed nations, Britain finished 23rd, scoring below the OECD average. Financial Times The Times

Published: November 27, 2012

The apprenticeship system should be radically redesigned so that employers are paid by the state to buy whatever training they think works best, according to a government-commissioned review. Doug Richard, a technology entrepreneur, proposes that the budget for training “must lie firmly in the hands of employers”. Under the current system, in which nearly half a million learners started training last year, subsidies for training are paid directly to any external training providers. Financial Times The Guardian

Published: November 27, 2012

Education Secretary Michael Gove’s flagship free school programme was rejected as ‘problematic’ by the Catholic Church yesterday. Greg Pope, deputy director of the Catholic Education Service (CES) for England and Wales, said there was a ‘perverse disincentive’ for the church to launch free schools. Free schools are state schools set up by parents, teachers, charities, faith groups and other organisations. Daily Mail The Daily Telegraph

Published: November 27, 2012

Students’ grades are being inflated as coursework replaces exams at universities across Britain, with some higher education institutions abandoning them entirely. A study has found that grades are rising as the use of coursework to assess learning increases, sparking fears that students are increasingly downloading essays and plagiarising academic work they find online. The research, conducted by the Sunday Telegraph using data published by universities, shows that coursework is increasingly replacing traditional exams and many courses in history, English, psychology and media are now 90 to 100 per cent coursework, especially at former polytechnics and new universities. Daily Mail

Published: November 26, 2012

Plans to increase the number of graduates from top universities recruited to become teachers by 2,000 will be confirmed by the Government today. The Times

Published: November 26, 2012

Head teachers of top schools should receive “substantial” bonuses to take on additional pupils amid fears too many children are being rejected from their first-choice comprehensive, according to Government research. Payments worth tens of thousands of pounds should be made to heads of high-performing schools who oversee a sustained increase in pupil numbers without harming exam results, it was claimed in a study commissioned by the Department for Education. The Daily Telegraph

Published: November 26, 2012

Schoolchildren should ignore the “dreadful snobbery” that puts pressure on them to push for places at elite universities, the Government higher education access watchdog has warned. Pupils should be encouraged to pursue the “most appropriate route” into the workplace, including taking up vocational courses and apprenticeships, said Professor Les Ebdon. In an interview, he warned that the Government’s decision to publish information about what pupils do after leaving school risks putting “undue pressure” on teenagers to select unsuitable courses. The Daily Telegraph Times Higher Education The Guardian The Times

Published: November 23, 2012

The College of Law is to become Britain’s first “for-profit” university, opening a new chapter in the Government’s higher education reforms. The college will be the first private sector education provider to be granted the status since government relaxed its rules. The Times Times Higher Education

Published: November 23, 2012

A private equity company has won approval for Britain’s first for-profit university as part of government efforts to open the higher education sector to more competition. Montagu Private Equity, the former buyout division of HSBC, has been cleared by ministers to turn The College of Law, a London based law school it is buying for £200m, into a fully fledged university. Financial Times

Published: November 23, 2012