TIGA, the trade association representing the video games industry, has today published a Parliamentary activity update for the higher education sector.
Higher education: reopening buildings and campuses
Department for Education
17 July 2020
17 July 2020: Performing arts, transport and international students and self-isolation sections updated.
The updated guidance can be read in full here.
UK points-based immigration system: EU student information
14 July 2020
Information to prepare EU students who want to study in the UK from 2021.
Link to the guidance can be found here.
Department for Education
14 July 2020
Lord Storey: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what assessment they have made of the ‘no detriment’ policies adopted by some universities as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Lord Parkinson of Whitley Bay: Notwithstanding the disruption of the COVID-19 outbreak to the higher education sector, students deserve appropriate support and recognition for their hard work and dedication. Many universities and colleges have moved adeptly to develop new ways of delivering courses through online teaching and alternatives to their usual end-of-course exams.
As higher education providers are autonomous institutions, they are responsible for determining the way their courses are taught, supervised, and assessed. The government expects providers to make all reasonable efforts for student achievement to be reliably assessed and for qualifications to be awarded appropriately. The Office for Students (OfS), the higher education regulator in England, has issued guidance to the sector that sets out expectations about providers’ approaches to teaching and assessment during this time.
Some universities have put in place policies stating that students should not be awarded a degree classification below their level of academic performance prior to the COVID-19 outbreak. This is intended by providers as a safety net for students to ensure that they are not unfairly affected by these challenging circumstances.
The guidance from the OfS is clear that standards must be maintained but that changes to assessments may be required in some circumstances. If changes are needed, students’ achievements must be ‘reliably assessed’. If a provider is absolutely confident that they already have enough evidence to make a reliable assessment of a student’s achievements, it will sometimes be appropriate to use that evidence to award and classify a degree award.
More often, however, we expect that providers will need to continue with assessment and follow the OfS’s guidance on the practical next steps. It may not be appropriate to operate a ‘no detriment’ approach for all courses if, for example, essential pieces of assessment cannot be completed.
The Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education has also published a series of guides and information to support providers to maintain academic standards and to support student achievement during the COVID-19 outbreak. This includes a paper published in April, attached, which provides an overview of what ‘no detriment’ policies aim to achieve. The paper also provides an overview of some of the measures that providers can put in place to ensure that the academic standards of awards remain robust while also recognising the challenging circumstances for students.
We expect providers to develop solutions appropriate to each course, considering the needs of individual students. We also expect them to ensure that continuing and prospective students receive the clear, accurate, and timely information they need to make informed decisions. If students have concerns, there is a process in place. They should first raise their concerns with their university; if their concerns remain unresolved, students at providers in England or Wales can ask the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education to consider their complaint.
Providers selected to deliver T Levels and providers planning to deliver the T Level Transition Programme
Education and Skills Funding Agency
22 July 2020
Providers who have been selected to deliver T Levels in academic years 2020 to 2021, 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023 and providers planning to deliver the T Level Transition Programme in 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022 academic years.
This document contains a list of providers who have been selected to deliver T Levels from the 2020 to 2021, 2021 to 2022 and 2022 to 2023 academic years and the T Level routes they intend to deliver and the providers delivering the Transition Programme in the 2020 to 2021 and 2021 to 2022 academic years.
You can also find the exact location of 2020 T Levels using the Find a T Level map.
Link to the full guidance can be found here.
Details of successful applications for free schools and university technical colleges (UTCs) in the pre-opening stage
Department for Education
22 July 2020
23 July 2020: Updated the list of free schools and UTCs in the pre-opening stage for July 2020.
The data can be viewed in full here.
Over £50 million to support Welsh universities, colleges and students
Department for Education
21 July 2020
The Welsh Government has today ( Wednesday 22 July) announced additional funding of more than £50 million for universities and colleges.
The support is part of the Welsh Government’s actions to support students and Wales’ major education institutions and provide the skills and learning in response to the economic impact of the coronavirus.
£27 million will be provided to higher education institutions, with £23 million to support students in FE colleges and sixth forms.
£27 million will be provided to universities through a Higher Education Investment and Recovery Fund for Wales, to maintain teaching and research in the 2020 to 2021 academic year.
The Recovery Fund will be established to support universities to maintain jobs in teaching, research and student services, invest in projects to support the wider economic recovery, and support students suffering from financial hardship.
Although the latest UCAS figures on university applications showed an increase in applications to Welsh universities from 18 year olds, the coronavirus may lead to some students deferring their applications until next year.
A number of Welsh universities also have concerns over a potential decline in international students and a fall in revenues from student accommodation, as well as a potential fall in research investment from private and charitable sources.
Further education and sixth forms
Over £15 million will be provided for learners beginning their A level or vocational course at an FE college or sixth form, to increase teaching support following their time away from their education setting earlier this year and to help with their transition to post-16 learning. The funding will be provided for all full-time learners between 16 and 19 years and represents a 5 per cent increase to funding-per-student.
Up to £5 million will be provided to support vocational learners to return to college to help them achieve their licence-to-practice qualifications, without needing to re-sit the full year.
An extra £3.2 million will be used to provide digital equipment such as laptops for FE students. An additional £466,000 will be provided to support students undertaking Independent Living Skills programmes, to enable them to complete their transition from college into employment and independence. £100,000 will also be provided to support regional mental health and wellbeing projects and professional development in Local Authority Community Learning.
Kirsty Williams, the Education Minister, said:
“Our universities and colleges here in Wales are world-class, both for their research and for student life. The most recent student survey, published last week, showed yet again that Welsh universities poll ahead of the UK for student satisfaction.
Our colleges and universities are stewards of place. Each one across the nation, and working together, will be important in our recovery as they work with schools, business, international partners and public services.
So we are supporting these major institutions in Welsh life, so that they can support students of all ages, and keep playing their part in our recovery.
We will not have a full picture of the pandemic’s impact on universities until next term, but this funding will provide a vital support to our institutions in their preparations for the autumn.
Our support for 16-19 age students aims to ensure students beginning courses in September are not disadvantaged by the disruption they faced earlier this year, and is part of our wider measures to ensure we have a skilled workforce that will drive forward the economic recovery from the coronavirus.
We will consider the situation and needs again in the autumn, to continue our support for the economic and social recovery from COVID-19.”
The Minister for Finance and Trefnydd, Rebecca Evans, said:
“Our universities and colleges are major employers within their communities, and provide the skills and knowledge which are vital for economic growth.
This support is part of the Welsh Government’s action to support students and enable Wales’ major education institutions to deliver employability and skills, which will be so important in the reconstruction phase.
This package of measures will enable institutions to support young people to complete and continue learning that may have been disrupted by Covid-19, and support those who may have otherwise sought employment to stay in education to further improve their employability and skills.”
Research and Analysis: Higher technical education: consultation analysis
Department for Education
14 July 2020
An independent analysis by York Consulting of responses to the Department for Education’s (DfE) consultation on higher technical education.
This document should be read in conjunction with the government’s response to the consultation on Improving higher technical education, held in 2019, for anyone with an interest in technical education and training for young people and adults in England.
Further details on what DfE will do following the consultation is available at Higher technical education reforms.
Universities Minister speech at Festival of Higher Education
Department for Education
21 July 2020
Minister Donelan addresses the fifth Festival of Higher Education hosted by The University of Buckingham.
Good morning, I am delighted by this opportunity to speak at this celebration of higher education.
We have so much to celebrate, especially now. Over the last few months we have seen our HE sector really step up and innovate in the face of adversity. Putting students’ wellbeing at the heart of their plans and acting quickly with innovative solutions to support learning.
In fact we have seen some fantastic examples including in practical and creative subjects. I was very impressed for example by my virtual visit of the Royal College of Music especially the staff and student feedback.
Whilst The University of Essex created a virtual residency for a theatre director, sending Virtual Reality headsets to students (some as far away as Singapore) to allow them to watch her production as if they were in the theatre.
Where as Petroleum Geoscience masters students at Imperial College, replaced their cancelled trip to the Pyreenees with a simulated overseas field trip, carrying out a regimented schedule of virtual field work. The field trip took place in an entirely new format in what is thought to be a first in a UK university setting at masters level. In fact, there have been so many fantastic examples of innovation across the board.
I have also highlighted before the sterling effort Universities have made in the community fight back against Covid 19 from making and donating PPE to offering up equipment and accommodation.
And we certainly should celebrate that our world class scientists and researchers at the University of Oxford are at the forefront of vaccine development.
I want you to know that I understand how hard this time has been for both University leaders and staff. This period has been hard for everyone but having to make such fundamental changes in course delivery almost overnight has been no mean feat!
Nor has it been easy to ensure students have all the support they need – but you have risen to the challenge. And I understand that financial uncertainty has added to those pressures. Which is why we announced our 4th May stabilisation package, the university research support package in June, and why we announced extra support in the form of the Restructuring Regime.
In doing so, we will be acting to support students, to protect our world-class research base and in recognition of the critical role that universities play in their local regions and economies.
Today I thought I would share a little about my journey. I entered politics to create opportunities and unlock potential. I was the first in my family to go to university. So, I know directly the power of university to open up opportunities and to transform lives.
However, we must always keep in mind that it is not the only path. As I have said before, there should be no one size fits all policy – for some FE will support their goals more or an apprenticeship will catapult their ambitions whilst for others HE will be transformative.
Let us however remember that we should rightly be proud of our Universities. Our Universities do play an instrumental role in their local communities and regions and with 4 of the world’s top 10 universities we are leading the way in terms of academic knowledge and research.
I have seen the power of opportunities and I was blessed to be granted them myself. I also know what it is like for doors to shut and my mission is to enable them to open for those with the grades to unlock them.
Now is the time for a new era in which our world leading sector will go from strength to strength. One with a focus on the individual, on skills, on rigorous academic standards and on outcomes to fill our productivity gap, fuel our economy and create opportunities.
I must say that I was delighted the Office for Students took firm action in early July to stamp out conditional unconditional offers. The registration condition is of course only temporary – but I want to see the practice ending for good. Because again I don’t want to see students making decisions that are not in their best interests. There is no justification for such practices.
Of course, this was only on a minority of courses. And I want to stress this point and it is exactly why we continue to be world leading: the majority of students get a good outcome from their studies and gaining real benefit from their degree.
We all know, and I certainly do, our academics want what’s best for their students. Our attention to student wellbeing as well as learning is one of the reasons why we attract students from around the globe. We have seen that very clearly over recent months, when time and again our higher education sector has stepped forward to play a vital role in the response to COVID-19, whether that is moving courses online or enhancing their support for the disadvantaged.
I also want to celebrate the fantastic reputation that our higher education sector has internationally. It is quite right that the UK is increasingly a destination of choice for top students from across the world. And I am determined to build on that and have thrown my full support behind the sector. In fact, in recognition of the impact COVID-19 is having on international students, I have made the case across Government to ensure we are as flexible as we can be.
These flexibilities include enabling international students to complete blended learning for the upcoming academic year. We have also confirmed that undergraduate and master’s graduates, will benefit from two years of leave in the UK to work, or look for work, under the new, globally competitive, Graduate route, when it is introduced in Summer 2021. And on 1st July we announced that PhD graduates will benefit from three years of leave.
I am also delighted to have announced Sir Steve Smith as the new International Education Champion, delivering on a key action in Government’s 2019 International Education Strategy. Sir Steve will assist with opening up opportunities and tackling challenges to attract international students, support export growth and make new global connections.
I want to do two things in the remainder of my time here today. Firstly, I want to continue to make clear the passionate importance I place on achieving genuine social mobility. And secondly how I believe now is the time to build on the recent innovations that universities have been developing.
I truly believe we need to focus on genuine social mobility. True social mobility is when we put students and their needs and career ambitions first – be that in higher education, further education or apprenticeships.
University was always my dream and it transformed my career options – and I want this option to be open to all those qualified by ability and attainment. Ethnicity, parental affluence or where a student is from should not be a barrier or even a factor.
Nuffield foundation research shows that high ability disadvantaged students are less likely to attend the most selective courses than more advantaged peers with similar grades. We must ensure that all those who have the ability, attainment and desire to pursue higher education are given high quality options that will lead to the good graduate jobs that will transform their lives.
But we need to remember that the focus isn’t just about getting young people to university, but about making sure they are on good quality courses that lead to graduate jobs.
To take an example, black children are more likely to go to higher education than white children. By age 19,59.9% have entered from black ethnic groups, compared to 38.2% from white ethnic groups .
But they are less likely to progress through their course, obtain upper class degrees, and go on to get a graduate job.
Only 85% of undergraduate entrants in England in 2017/18 from black ethnic groups had continued in higher education a year later, compared with 91% of white entrants.
Only 60% of qualifiers in 2018/19 from black ethnic groups obtained a 2:1 or above in their degree, compared with 82% of white qualifiers .
Only 69% of graduates in 2016/17 from black ethnic groups were in highly skilled employment or higher further study six months after graduating, compared with 74% of white graduates .
So it’s too simplistic to just look at the numbers of a group going to university. True social mobility is not getting them to the door, it’s getting them to the finish line of a high quality course that will lead them to a graduate job.
And as I’ve said before, that’s why I want to see universities doing even more to raise standards and aspiration in schools. That can be sponsoring schools, supporting a robust curriculum, running summer camps, or appointing student ambassadors to act as role models: universities have the potential here to make a tremendous difference in opening up opportunities.
And while I’m thrilled by the number who are already doing so, I’d like even more high tariff universities to be coming forward to open maths schools.
There are plenty of outstanding organisations that support the sector to support disadvantaged students to achieve. For example, Generating Genius, equips students with STEM knowledge and skills, to support talented students from BAME backgrounds to secure places at top universities and in top businesses. Another excellent example is Zero Gravity, a digital platform which connects state school students from low income backgrounds with undergraduate mentors. The mentors support those students in their journey to highly selective universities by encouraging them and helping them through the university application process. And although it launched only a month ago, thousands of undergraduate mentors have already signed up.
And we can get there because as have such a dynamic, innovative and student-focused HE sector here in the UK.
This is a festival of higher education, and I celebrate the fact we have some of the best universities in the world. We are an international leader for research and development.
I have no hesitation in praising the dedication of higher education teaching and research staff across all four nations of the United Kingdom.
They have responded to the challenges of COVID with astonishing innovation. I’m inspired by some of the initiatives I’ve seen to support mental health, such as universities offering additional student check-in services, where staff have volunteered to provide direct support to students. Others have enhanced their feedback and online wellbeing services.
Now is the time for the sector to build on these innovations. This event is hosted by Buckingham, the home of the two-year degree, I also want the sector to think more about how it delivers learning differently. Sadly, the three-year bachelor’s degree has increasingly become the predominant mode of study. But that doesn’t suit all students. Many young people would like to earn while they learn.
This fits into my wider message here today – that now is the time to innovate. If COVID has taught us one thing in reference to the HE sector it is how flexible it is – lets utilise this flexibility. Now is the time to build on the recent innovation we have seen.
With degree apprenticeships that meet employer demand, accelerated degrees, more emphasis on part time learning that links with labour market needs and skills gaps, building on online offerings designed during COVID and also more provision at Levels 4 and 5 offering Higher Technical Education or apprenticeships.
The economy and labour market needs have dramatically changed over the last few decades and it is now the norm for people to have multiple careers. Now is the time and the opportunity for the HE sector to upscale its flexible offering to support upskilling and reskilling.
I want to look at how we can support our universities to become more flexible to this – and more accessible. And rest assured, I want to support you in this mission.
One thing that I’m determined to look at is how we can do more as a Government to enable universities to offer more modular provision.
We know this can be tremendously desirable to adult learners looking to upskill, and it is likely to be more important than ever as the economy recovers from coronavirus.
I will work with you to make this happen because now is the time – the time for innovation and change – change that will safeguard our universities’ world leading reputation, continue to raise the quality bar and also feed our economy to tackle our productivity gap and most importantly create opportunities.
So to conclude, our universities have so much to offer this country. They play a critical role in transforming the lives of students, in producing outstanding scientific research and in their local economies and communities. All this is why I care deeply about higher education.
I will continue to champion the sector – Whether that’s making sure that the UK is a welcoming and readily accessible destination for international students, or extolling the virtues of our high quality courses. Now really is the time for true social mobility and innovation.