Tag: UK

Implementing the Augar report would help democratise education

“While the Augar report may be flawed, it does make some really important recommendations”

The Augar report was overdue. Not since 1963 had the Government ordered an examination into further and higher education. And while not all of Augar’s recommendations have been universally welcomed, the report does propose measures that aim to democratise education and transform access to learning for all adults.

Beyond the headline recommendations of lowering student fees and extending the period in which graduates repay them, the Augar’s report should be admired for offering a holistic approach to the challenges in adult education and exploring alternatives to traditional university qualifications that can meet the needs of the economy.

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The instrumental impact of EU funding on Swansea University

“As a research-led University with a strong sense of civic mission, regional economic and social development are a major priority”

As Wales braces for what could be a perfect economic storm in the months ahead, Ceri D. Jones, director of Swansea University’s Research, Engagement and Innovation Services looks at the impact of EU funding on regional development, and some of the seeds of hope in the pipeline.

Recently Ford announced its engine plant in Bridgend is set to close in autumn 2020, with the loss of 1,700 jobs.  Just weeks ago, British Steel was put into compulsory liquidation – re-igniting major concerns about an industry that employs thousands in Wales.  With the UK set to leave the European Union on the 31 October, Wales is set to lose out on hundreds of millions of pounds each year in EU funding that has been driving economic and social regeneration in recent years.

Swansea University is located within the ‘West Wales and the Valleys’ region, which has been identified as one of the most deprived regions within Northern Europe, and as such, is a net beneficiary of EU funding.

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Feedback matters: how can universities truly capture the student voice?

“For too long student evaluation data has been underutilised”

Policy changes mean that universities around the world are having to take a more robust and strategic approach to course and module evaluation. 

I have been helping universities to improve teaching and learning through the way they capture, analyse and respond to student feedback for the past 10 years. At Explorance we find that what UK universities really value is an insight into how other countries are approaching the issues, challenges and opportunities around capturing student feedback. Working in Australia, Canada, China, Spain, Mexico, UAE and USA give us a compelling insight into what ‘good’ student engagement looks like.

But the UK is also an interesting case study for international universities. Here, the National Student Survey (NSS) poses questions on how students have the opportunity to give feedback and how their feedback is acted on – and the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), which provides a resource for students to judge teaching quality in universities, draws on data from the NSS. All this points to student engagement rising higher up UK universities’ priority list than ever before.

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The challenges of providing high quality pastoral care in boarding schools

“The UK’s pastoral care of international students is widely regarded overseas as being one of the major strengths of the UK boarding school… however there are concerns that loopholes still do exist”

The UK’s boarding school system is world class, and attracts students from around the world, writes UK Education Guide director and co-founder, Pat Moores. But with concerns over the lack of agreed guardianship structures, could the reputation be under threat?

The UK’s pastoral care of international students is widely regarded overseas as being one of the major strengths of the UK boarding school system and one that schools and guardians work hard to maintain.

“UK schools are distinctive in the strength of their commitment to pastoral care – they care about this almost as much as they do about academic matters. We hear that it is this ‘holistic’ approach that is so appreciated by overseas families,” said Diana Stewart Brown, Head of Operations at Keystone Tutors Singapore.

However, there are concerns that certain loopholes still do exist and this then relies on the professionalism and conscientiousness of both schools and guardians to make sure, on a case by case basis, all the gaps are filled.

The legal position according to Matthew Burgess from solicitors Veale Wasbrough Vizard is that the school never loses the overall ‘duty of care’ in the case of full time boarding pupils and in the case of day students the ‘duty of care’ rests more heavily on the guardian as the child is effectively being privately fostered and, if under 16, the family the child is living with has to be registered with social services as a foster family.

“As there is no legally defined guardian role, the provision of non-accredited services is open to interpretation”

There is a recognition that getting pastoral support right, from the very moment a child arrives in the UK, can set the tone for a child’s future happiness. Excellent continuity of communication between admissions teams, houseparents, parents and guardians is critical from day one; “the most successful handover of information from admissions to boarding staff is always achieved through conversation as well as information on file,” said Gareth Collier, principal of Cardiff Sixth Form College.

Regarding ongoing care, there seems to be some consensus from schools where challenges still exist.

“The biggest loophole is the approach that we have to school holidays. Houseparents are often the key pastoral lead in most schools but when the holidays come, and these hard working staff take a well-deserved break, [and] there is little school back up to provide often essential information to parents, students and guardians,” adds Gareth Collier.

“Strong partnerships between schools and guardians are essential to providing excellent care to each young person studying in the UK”

During holiday and exeat weekends when schools close, the role of the guardian therefore becomes even more critical. However, as Caroline Nixon, general secretary of BAISIS, pointed out: “currently neither EU nor non-EU students of any age legally have to have a guardian, although BAISIS believes it is best practice for those under 18”.

Additionally, ensuring high quality guardianship provision is a significant challenge as there is no legal framework as to what services a guardian must provide and their role also depends on the pastoral provision of each individual school.

“The guardian role can cover everything from arranging dental appointments, registering with a doctor to dealing with a child who is potentially about to be excluded from school,” said Julia Evans, Director of Cambridge Guardian Angels.

For this reason, BAISIS has recently created a template for an agreement between individual BAISIS schools and their students’ guardians which outlines the school’s expectations of a guardian’s responsibilities.

AEGIS, The Association for the Education and Guardianship of International Students, has also gone a long way to adding structure to the guardianship role. AEGIS accredits UK guardianship organisations through a rigorous inspection process and Yasemin Wigglesworth, executive officer at AEGIS, said: “more schools are now insisting that an international student has an AEGIS accredited guardian or close family member in the UK as a condition of admission.”

Currently there are approximately 27,000 International students in the UK aged 18 and under with parents living abroad, but only around 5,000 are in the care of AEGIS registered guardians. This is not to suggest that the care provided by non-AEGIS members is sub-standard but, as there is no legally defined guardian role, the provision of non-accredited services is open to interpretation by each provider and many of these students will not have a guardian at all.

As acknowledged, high quality pastoral care is something that sets UK education providers ahead of international competitors but, in the absence of legal frameworks, strong partnerships between schools and guardians are essential to both maintaining this competitive advantage and providing excellent care to each young person studying in the UK.

Can the international education sector do more to welcome refugees?

“Supporting vulnerable groups such as refugees is one way we can contribute… to the wider community”

Working in education we are uniquely placed to respond to a range of societal challenges, writes IDP  UK and US director Arlene Griffiths.  At times it can seem daunting to know where to begin in order to make a difference. Over the past two years IDP has developed a corporate social responsibility strategy, and after a few “false starts”, the aim to support refugees in south Wales led IDP to the Welsh Refugee Council. This experience shows the value of CSR, both to our sector and the wider community we operate in. 

We knew we wanted to support local refugees, and we had some ideas, but how to reach them? Then a colleague on his daily commute happened to walk passed the Welsh Refugee Council offices. This sparked a thought, which then led to tentative conversations with the WRC about their needs and where we might be able to support their work by drawing upon the employability skills within our team. A year on, and the impact that we have been able to make through our collaboration with the WRC has been life changing for myself, my team, but most importantly, the people we have been able to help.

We began small; piloting some initial workshops on CV writing and job applications, before progressing onto lessons in business English, personal branding tips and the use of LinkedIn as a vehicle to connect and build a professional network. We had some amazing participants that were fully committed to re-building their lives in the UK. They were well-qualified people with good English, hungry to learn new skills that make them ready for the workplace and attractive to UK employers or, in a number of cases, prepare them for UK universities to undertake further study.

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A perfect storm is massing against British universities

“This tempest massing against British universities will create financial damage and reduce the UK soft power in the world”

A leaked document putting forward proposals for more stringent controls on workers and students from the EU has dashed hopes that the UK government might be considering a more liberal approach to international student visas. Aldwyn Cooper, vice chancellor at Regent’s University London, says the higher education sector is already at breaking point.

The latest proposal by the government in a leaked document – stating that the Home Office wants to introduce a crackdown on overseas students from the European Union following Brexit – is another example of what appears to be the systematic demolition of the attraction, stability and international reputation of UK higher education.

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Creative thinking in the UK boarding schools market: the key to survival

“Schools that stick rigidly to their systems suffer untold reputational damage, which could take a generation to dilute”

Pat Moores, director of UK Education Guide, looks at some of the challenges facing the boarding schools sector in the UK, and how schools are adapting by opening up new markets.

Under increasing international competition, many schools are looking at new, emerging markets to benefit all pupils and school finances.

“Smart schools celebrate high levels of diversity in their international population and know their British students have much to gain from living and learning side by side with a broad range of nationalities,” says Maura Power, international student recruitment manager at Culford School.
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No one saw the UK’s election upset coming. What now for higher education?

“Our European colleagues have told me they see this as a very good result. It will make it impossible for the government to force through a hard Brexit”

Following the UK’s shock election result, which saw the Conservatives fall short of a majority, Aldwyn Cooper, vice chancellor and chief executive of Regent’s University London, considers what the upset and a resulting alliance with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party could mean for the higher education sector.

No one in government saw this result coming. Only yesterday, one senior Conservative suggested that they were expecting to achieve a majority over Labour of over 100.
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Professor Aldwyn Cooper is vice chancellor at Regent’s University London.

London-Paris: Building a post-Brexit future in higher education

“London and Paris, and other global cities, can deliver positive global impact at scale, if we work together to address shared challenges”

As Brexit draws closer, Nicola Brewer, UCL Vice-Provost International, and Tim Gore, CEO, University of London Institute in Paris, write about how universities in the UK can continue to engage with institutions in Paris and other global cities, even after the UK leaves the EU.

London and Paris are truly global cities. With their diverse populations of close to nine and 12 million respectively, world-leading culture, media, innovation and business quarters, they both play a big role in the world economy. Higher education is an integral part of driving economic prosperity.
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What will Brexit mean for teaching in the UK?

“One side of this debate that has gathered less fanfare has been how leaving the EU will affect the UK’s teacher shortage”

With the Brexit gears in motion, teachers from the EU currently teaching in the UK – and vice versa – are currently in limbo, not knowing how they will be affected by the UK’s impending exit from the union. And the UK’s teacher shortage won’t be solved any time soon, writes Rob Grays, managing director of the Prospero Group Ltd and CEO of the Prospero Teaching recruitment agency.

For the past 20 years, the UK’s membership of the EU has been at the forefront of the political debate, whether it be parliamentary sovereignty, open borders or bendy bananas. However, one side of this debate that has gathered less fanfare has been how leaving the EU will affect the teacher shortage and as a result how education recruitment agencies will evolve their businesses and business practice.

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Rob Grays is managing director of the Prospero Group Ltd. Established in 2000, the Prospero Group continues to achieve award winning success across a variety of sectors, namely education, technical, IT, engineering and health & social.