Today’s news review covers a Sunday Times story about university admissions. It also looks at the benefits of degree apprenticeships for universities, employers and students.
Yesterday, 6 August, the Sunday Times ran a front page story suggesting that top universities are choosing to accept foreign students over their British counterparts in order to benefits from the higher fees that international students generate.
An investigation by the paper claims that many of the Russell Group universities have cut their British undergraduate intake since 2008, while the number of non-EU students (who pay significantly higher fees) has risen.
It also criticised private companies which they say are helping overseas students to secure a place at British universities by completing short foundation courses instead of A-levels.
Admissions policies are a matter for individual universities, which are autonomous of government. However, our data shows that more young British students are going to university than ever before, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
New measures in the Higher Education & Research Act will also require universities to publish their admissions, attainment, and retention rates. This will highlight where more needs to be done to tackle bias or inequality.
Finally, it is also important to recognise the benefits that international students bring to the UK, not only for the local economy but also in the social and cultural value they bring.
A recent UUK report estimates that in 2014-15 international student spending generated £25.8bn in gross output for the UK economy. This is a combination of university payments, off-campus spending and the spending of their visitors.
A Department for Education spokesperson said:
Student admissions are a matter for individual universities as they are autonomous of Government.
In 2016, young people in the UK were more likely to go to university than ever before, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds. All universities must demonstrate how they are widening access before they can raise their fees above £6000 and we will also require universities to publish their admissions, attainment, and retention rates so we can see where more must be done to tackle bias or inequality.
International students play a valuable role in our higher education sector. As well as generating billions every year for the UK economy, they also enable valuable social and cultural exchange.
On Saturday 5 August, the Times Higher Education published an opinion piece from Dawn Morle, a lecturer in higher education at the University of Surrey, about the benefits of the degree apprenticeships scheme.
Degree apprenticeships are degree courses developed by groups of businesses, universities and colleges.
They allow people to combine the academic study from a traditional university degree and the practical experience and skills needed in the workplace.
For students, it means they can study for the equivalent of one day a week, pay no tuition fees and graduate with several years of experience that is directly transferable to other jobs or industries.
For employers, it allows them to fill skills shortages by designing courses that are tailored specifically to their needs. Anglia Ruskin University, for example, is using its proximity to the businesses in the Cambridge Science Park by offering a degree apprenticeship in digital technology solutions.
For universities, it provides a valuable opportunity to work with local industry, widen its pool of students and play an important role in improving their local communities.
To find out more about doing a degree apprenticeship please see here.