Business Intelligence: A round-up of the week in HE: 3rd April 2020

Business Intelligence: A round-up of the week in HE: 3rd April 2020

HE Policy

The government must protect universities in this crisis or job cuts will follow (Guardian, 03/04/2020)

Staff in universities and colleges are already losing their jobs due to coronavirus – that’s why we need funding guarantees

UCU calls on government to end ‘huge financial uncertainty’ for universities (UB, 02/04/2020)

In a letter to Gavin Williamson, the union outlines its seven-point plan for staff and institutions in higher education

Students need strong leadership and practical solutions from Government (WonkHE, 02/04/2020)

Right now universities are being asked to do much too much, much too soon – and student wellbeing is suffering.

If the risks have changed, then so should the protections (WonkHE, 31/03/2020)

SPPs have set out any “risks to continuation of study”, but there’s always been a nagging doubt that the risks on display weren’t necessarily an honest assessment of a given provider’s situation – and so the mitigations looked weak

Assessing student rights and provider conditions after Covid-19 (WonkHE, 30/03/2020)

The current public health emergency has led to institutions having to make significant changes to their teaching, assessment and other student services. As last week’s OfS letter to providers, setting out its approach to regulation during the Covid-19 crisis made clear, the requirements of consumer protection law are not suspended over this period.

Student Numbers, Admissions, and UCAS

University admissions could face emergency controls (BBC, 30/03/2020)

Universities in England could face fixed limits on how many students they each recruit, in a bid to create more stability and reduce financial threats.

Further Comment: Government set to cap university admissions amid Covid-19 chaos (Guardian, 29/03/2020)

Bring back student number controls, VC says (THE, 30/03/2020)

If a student numbers cap is to return, then the sector needs to demonstrate that it was the last resort (HEPI, 03/04/2020)

To show leadership, some decisions need to be made quickly. To show responsibility and thought, others need to be made slowly. Any decision on a student number control falls into the latter category.

Students appealing against A-level grades may have no choice but to take gap year (Telegraph, 03/04/2020)

Regulator says there is no guarantee universities will take pupils who resit exams, cancelled due to coronavirus, in September

Concern for A-level students over cap on university admissions (Guardian, 30/03/2020)

Government urged to ensure those who had exams cancelled do not lose places in England

A-level students not put off by coronavirus crisis, says Ucas (UB, 03/04/2020)

Survey reveals nine out of 10 A-level students still want to go to university

See also: THE

Forget freshers’ week: universities prepare to teach new first years online (Guardian, 03/04/2020)

Sixth formers may have to start degrees in September from their home bedrooms

Soft skills as important as A-levels, says university admissions expert (UB, 01/04/2020)

UEA’s Richard Harvey says A-level students should use their time to get university-ready

Is it in students’ interests to enrol in September? (WonkHE, 29/03/2020)

By September, a fair guess is that we’ll be lurching in and out of social distancing measures that would make moving house to “go to university” highly unwise, both personally and publicly – and pretty risky, both personally and publicly.

Predicted or calculated – getting grades without exams (WonkHE, 03/04/2020)

With new guidance available on the calculation of A level results in 2020 following the cancellation of summer exams, David Kernohan puts it in context with the wider practice of predicting grades.

How to… reinstate number controls in English HE (WonkHE, 30/03/2020)

The new argument about number controls has been heavy on principle and light on policy. How might such controls be implemented, and what would be the likely impact? David Kernohan runs through the options.

University Funding and University Status

University finance concerns amid rising deficits and collapse in overseas student numbers (Telegraph, 02/04/2020)

Universities are anticipating a drop in the number of international students this year, meaning they face a significant financial blackhole

International Students, VISAs and UKVI

Flexible starts, new test rules: UK HEIs address financial risks of Covid-19 (PIE, 02/04/2020)

UK universities are aiming to mitigate the impact of coronavirus on international enrolments by focusing on pre-sessional English provision, as fears of huge financial difficulties mount. But visa application and student anxiety concerns remain.

86% Chinese students want to return home (PIE, 01/04/2020)

86% of Chinese international students wish to return to China, with two-thirds not satisfied with the actions of their host countries against coronavirus.

Students with non-UK university offers are being kept in the dark about what the new A-Level system means for their futures (HEPI, 01/04/2020)

For one group of students – those holding university offers at universities outside the UK – no guidance has yet been forthcoming.

Which providers are exposed to a downturn in international recruitment? (WonkHE, 02/04/2020)

HESA Spring returns with a look at the 2018-19 finance data, with a particular emphasis on income from international student recruitment.

Most prospective overseas students ‘not shifting plans’ (THE, 03/04/2020)

But data suggest that students’ views on study abroad are changing by the week as a result of pandemic

Widening Participation

How to square widening participation with student number caps (HEPI, 02/04/2020)

Covid-19 is creating a snowballing set of policy challenges across every part of national life.

A golden thread or hanging by a thread? (HEPI, 30/03/2020)

Care-leavers in HE

New Office for Students (OfS) data shows slight progress in widening participation (UB, 02/04/2020)

Gaps between most represented and least represented students reducing gradually

Student Experience and Standards

Maintain good courses and credible qualifications for students during pandemic, says regulator (OfS, 03/04/2020)

Universities and colleges should continue to do all they can to maintain the quality of courses and the credibility of qualifications during the pandemic, the Office for Students (OfS) said today.

Doing the Right Thing: Securing Standards in Challenging Times (QAA, 01/03/2020)

As the sector adapts, the integrity of assessment needs to be at the front of everyone’s minds. How do institutions: ensure that remote assessment is secure; verify the identity of candidates for assessment; and ensure that they are not making illicit use of reference materials?

UK students’ union calls on universities to cancel summer exams (Guardian, 31/03/2020)

NUS says some students could be disadvantaged if exams go ahead during coronavirus

Virtual Student Life (Inside Higher Ed, 01/04/2020)

Moving extracurricular engagement online.

Can universities safely implement “no detriment” assessment policies? (WonkHE, 01/04/2020)

This summer’s exams are going to be tricky.

Universities, PSRBs and Covid-19 (WonkHE, 02/04/2020)

With the outbreak causing many universities to rethink how they assess and progress their students, a flexible response from PSRBs is going to be crucial in the coming months.

Teaching and Learning

As Times and Students Change, Can Faculty Change, Too? (Inside Higher Ed, 03/04/2020)

As demographics shift, the experiences of more and more students resemble those of faculty members less and less. How can faculty adapt to ensure these students succeed in a suddenly changing world, and how can institutions help?

Moving Classes Online Is Hard. Online Discussion Can Help. (Inside Higher Ed, 01/04/2020)

To achieve better success rates in online learning, we need to cultivate the sort of student engagement that’s often the hallmark of great teaching and learning environments, writes Kathleen Ives.

Rethinking Your Assignments for Online Learning (Inside Higher Ed, 02/04/2020)

Some options.

Designing learning and teaching online: the role of discussion forums (Advance HE, 01/04/2020)

Slobodan Tomic, Ellen Roberts and Jane Lund of the University of York discuss the need for universities to redesign their teaching practices for the shift online during the Covid-19 pandemic and offers tips on how this can be done effectively.

When the Tide Goes Out: Identifying and Supporting Struggling Students in Online Courses (Faculty Focus, 30/03/2020)

Once an online course begins, students can quickly become overwhelmed to the point where they are treading water in an attempt to stay afloat. It is only when the first grades are posted that the tide goes out and students realize they are in danger.

Pastoral Concerns

How to listen to students in the middle of a crisis (WonkHE, 01/04/2020)

All over the country, student reps are crying out for an approach to Covid-19 that genuinely holds students at its heart

Are universities encouraging students to believe hard study is bad for their mental health? (THE, 02/04/2020)

It is widely acknowledged that universities need to do more to support student mental health. Yet many academics and service staff are worried that well-intentioned initiatives pathologise ordinary anxieties

I’ve got autism and I feel abandoned by my university during this crisis (THE, 01/04/2020)

Without the structure of campus routine, a student with autism says it’s impossible to complete assignments


David Willetts: We must stop young people losing out from the Covid-19 crisis (HEPI, 31/03/2020)

Covid-19 is creating an economic crisis which is at least as severe as the Crash of 2008/09. One of the groups worst hit by this will be those who graduate into a shrinking economy this summer.

Economy and Skills

How will Covid-19 shape the UK skills landscape? (NCUB, 30/03/2020)

Workforce ability and resilience play a key role in how the nation weathers the coronavirus crisis and in the immediate term, medical skills are vital.

IT in HE

‘Zoombies’ Take Over Online Classrooms (Inside Higher Ed, 03/04/2020)

Digital disruptors sharing racist, sexist and pornographic content in Zoom videoconferences show no sign of slowing down as “Zoombombing” trend grows.

Ethical debt and the great online pivot (Wonkhe, 31/03/2020)

In our rush to deploy technical solutions in response to the online pivot are we employing due diligence? Why should we care?

How to administer the digital migration (THE, 31/03/2020)

Swift decisions are needed on contact hours, attendance and assessment, says Benjamin Tak Yuen Chan


Toads, embryos, and the selfish benefit of good research data management (JISC, 01/04/2020)

In this time of crises the importance of research data management (RDM) in research has never been more pressing.

Coronavirus: UK PhD students urge automatic funding extensions (THE, 03/04/2020)

Funding bodies should reconsider case-by-case assessments to minimise bureaucracy and student distress, say researchers

Research intelligence: how to run a research team remotely (THE, 31/03/2020)

As campuses and labs close amid the coronavirus crisis, Jack Grove hears how senior scientists are managing

Administration and Governance

Hundreds of university staff to be made redundant due to coronavirus (Guardian, 02/04/2020)

Lecturers, researchers and support staff with insecure contracts at three universities will lose their jobs

Further Comment: Reacting to Covid-19 by slashing fixed-term staff would be a disaster (THE, 03/04/2020)

‘Grim situation’ for UK’s fixed-term staff in virus crisis (THE, 30/03/2020)

Call for universities to extend casual contracts to protect staff and stop them losing job

Estates and Infrastructure

Right on time: delivering HE infrastructure projects (UB, 02/04/2020)

When infrastructure projects go wrong, a university can be left with financial deficit, unhappy students and reputational damage. Charley Rogers investigates how disasters can be avoided and how universities and suppliers deal with the fallout

Trends, Developments and Opinions

Covid-19 is our best chance to change universities for good (Guardian, 31/03/2020)

Competition and casualisation now have to give way to fairness and social responsibility

Universities are responding magnificently to Covid-19 (WonkHE, 29/03/2020)

At a time of national crisis, universities are stepping up to play a major role in responding to the significant challenges caused by the coronavirus outbreak.

#UniSupport: ten things to consider in working with partners (WonkHE, 29/03/2020)

Universities are stepping up to the plate to help with local and national efforts to tackle Covid-19. Alex Favier has ten suggestions to help get the best from partnerships.

Building a truly civic response to the pandemic (WonkHE, 30/03/2020)

Once the immediate priorities have been progressed, many universities will be actively working to support their local communities overcome the long-term social and economic challenges that will result from this crisis.

Covid-19 could be a curse for graduates but a boon for universities (THE, 02/04/2020)

A post-coronavirus recession could drive higher university enrolment and enhance human capital, says Nick Hillman

It’s now or never for universities to be civic (THE, 29/03/2020)

Universities are facing immediate challenges, but they’d be short-sighted to not prioritise civic activity,