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Showing posts from July, 2019

The Johnson brothers set sail: ' It’s Déjà vu all over again'

The title is from a well-known quotation   of the late US baseball player and coach, Lawrence Peter (Yogi) Berra . As far as universities are concerned, it appears that everything has come full circle and we slip back to enter another dimension. This time with Brexit sinking in the background. We ask what this might mean in promoting fairness and access to our universities. Or what it means for funding and the debt burden on students. The answer is likely to be ‘nothing changes’. The new administration formed by Boris Johnson this week has been hailed as a bold and radical ‘changing of the guard’ in some quarters. Its crude objective was to kick out most of those opposed to Brexit, or even a ‘no deal’ Brexit, and replace them with a ‘come what may’ team of supporters. But beneath the choppy waters there are many less obvious dangerous currents and forces hiding. The consolidation of power in the hands of a few Johnson supporters will horrify many. The government has sailed a lon

Students working in term-time: Overall pattern across the UK

Analysis of the underlying data from the AdvanceHE / Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) Student Academic Experience Survey reports from 2012 to 2019 provides a valuable insight into the patterns of working by UK students during term time. It comes as no surprise that the majority of students do not work during the term. However, the minority that do work divert many hours away from studying. This is the first of a series of analyses of the data and looks initially at the overall pattern of hours worked across the various jurisdictions in the UK. The AdvanceHE/HEPI reports on the Student Academic Experience surveys have for the last thirteen years provided the most valuable and comprehensive view of how students interact with the higher education provision across the whole of the UK. The survey involves a large number of students each year (14,072 in 2019) and covers a very wide range of questions. The foundation of the survey is the large panel of students provided through

Student Living Index 2019: Hiding a two-tier ‘student experience’ in the UK

The release today of the annual Natwest student living index for 2019 added further evidence to the idea that there is a two-tier ‘student experience’ in UK universities. Whilst 62% of students surveyed had no employment in the term time, the rest are not so fortunate. As for many such surveys conducted in the UK, the liberal use of averages without presenting the distributions obscures the dilemma faced by the minority of students under financial pressure. Recent surveys of students in Australia were more open in revealing a similar working dilemma for their students and we would do well to learn from their example of greater openness. TEFS presented a view of student finance in Australia last Friday to illustrate the dilemma that the majority of students there have in balancing part-time work and time to study (see TEFS 12th July 2019 ‘Do you come from the land down under? Australian students under pressure’ . The two surveys of students in Australia reveal a shocking finan

Do you come from the land down under? Australian students under pressure

Coming in at number ten of the official ‘Move to Australia’ top ten reasons to move there is ‘Great opportunities for study’. But recent surveys of student finance and problems with food security and accommodation tell a very different story for Australia’s students. The shocking results might seem a long way from the UK situation; but there are parallels. We don’t have equivalent data about this aspect of the ‘student experience’ so it remains largely hidden. It is time that we looked more closely at the predicament of many of our students. Apart from the UK perhaps harbouring many more privileged families, Australia is not so different for the rest. The release of a student survey report from The Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia this week brought into sharp focus the challenges that Australian University students face. It came to the attention of those in the UK through a report by Times Higher Education, ‘Study or work? Students struggling ei

Advance HE annual meeting: Excellence without Inclusivity?

The annual Advance HE meeting in Newcastle this week highlighted many innovations and challenges in Higher Education. But the events added to a sense of social myopia. The idea of ‘Excellence without inclusivity is not excellence’ is a sound one. But at times when looking around the room it looked like the ‘socially blind’ leading the ‘socially blind’. Add to this a pervasive feeling that many university teachers do not consider any of the valid points and concerns raised in this limited forum and there is a sense that there is a very long way to go. The last few days has seen that annual Advance HE Teaching and Learning Conference at the impressive Northumbria University Business and Law School in Newcastle. The main theme of the conference was ‘Teaching in the Spotlight: Innovation for teaching excellence’. Indeed, it lived up to this billing with three packed days of parallel sessions covering teaching innovations from Arts and Humanities, Social Sciences to STEM and Health an