https://dfemedia.blog.gov.uk/2018/02/05/education-in-the-media-monday-5-february-2018/

Education in the media: Monday 5 February 2018

Today’s Education in the Media looks at the report by UCAS on university applications and the continued coverage around uniform policies in schools.

UCAS

Today, Monday 5 February, UCAS published a report about the 2018 university application cycle. The report reflects the number of undergraduate applications ahead of the 15 January deadline for students starting their courses this autumn.

The findings show that 5,000 fewer people applied by 15 January to start university courses this autumn compared with a year earlier – representing a decline of 0.9 per cent. This has been reported in today’s papers by The Sun, I News, Daily Mirror and Daily Express.

This morning, BBC Radio 4’s Today programme ran an interview with Clare Marchant of UCAS who pointed out that she did not believe the drop was down to fees and is in fact due to there being fewer 18 year olds.

The UCAS report also showed that there has been a rise in applications from EU students for courses starting in autumn 2018 of 3.4 per cent, and an 11.1 per cent rise in non-EU student applications. This key finding was picked up by Guardian, The Times, I, and Daily Telegraph. The Times’ editorial today stated that it is good news that British universities are still very popular abroad.

We’re pleased to see this rise as international and EU students make an important financial and cultural contribution to our universities, so it is encouraging to see a rise in the number of both EU and international applicants. The UK is highly competitive in the global student market, second only to the US in the number of international students we attract.

Today’s report also shows that application rates from disadvantaged students continues to be at a record high.

This morning, Robert Halfon MP made a speech at the Centre for Social Justice and made a number of recommendations for the government on further and higher education. These include reviewing the apprenticeship sector, calls for more degree apprenticeships and recommendations that further education should play a more central role in offering individuals functional skills courses to improve basic numeracy and literacy skills, as reported by The Daily Mail and BBC Online.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

University application rates for 18-year-olds remain at record levels, including those from disadvantaged areas. This shows that they continue to see the value of higher education.

We are also clear that we do not want university to be seen as the only option for school leavers. That is why we are investing in apprenticeships and technical qualifications to allow people to choose a route that is right for them.

School uniform

Over the weekend, there has been continued coverage of the discussion about the uniform policies in schools, and reports of St. Stephen’s Primary School, which implemented and then reversed a ban on hijabs being worn by girls under 8 at the school.

The pieces follow comments made last week by Chief Inspector at Ofsted, Amanda Spielman, where she said that schools should be free to drive out extremism where they can.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Extremism has no place in our society – that’s why we changed the law and the requirements on schools so that they have to actively promote the Fundamental British Values of democracy, the rule of law, individual liberty, and the mutual respect and tolerance of those with different faiths and beliefs. If there are any allegations of schools promoting ideologies or discrimination in the classroom, we will not hesitate to take action.

Intimidation or bullying of any kind towards school staff is also completely unacceptable and anyone who feels they are facing such behaviour should report it to their employer or the police, if necessary. We back individual schools to set uniform policies but we would expect them to consider the needs of their pupils, and to listen to the views of local parents. This is made clear in the guidance we publish to help schools understand their responsibilities.

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