HE News Round up 31st July 2020

HE News Round up 31st July 2020

HE Policy

Registration decisions (July 2020) (27/07/2020)

The Office for Students has refused the registration applications of AWA Business School Limited, Azores Properties Ltd (trading as Xcel College), ForMission Ltd and UK Advanced Technical Academy following a rigorous process of assessment and evaluation.

OfS plans new regulations on free speech and grade inflation (THE, 31/07/2020)

English regulator also says it wants to reduce overall burden on providers

Further CommentLittle changes to regulation could have a big impact (WonkHE, 31/07/2020)

Sector leaders predict TEF will be scaled down and pushed back (THE, 27/07/2020)

Long-awaited publication of Pearce review expected in autumn, but lack of time and changes in government priorities make 2021 awards unlikely

Next Term

Students back at uni – but with masks and no bars (BBC, 27/07/2020)

The first students are beginning to return for face-to-face teaching on UK university campuses – with a new term of compulsory masks and closed bars.

University students risk spreading virus during holidays, experts warn (Independent, 25/07/2020)

Institutions could ‘act as amplifiers’, advisers say

Universities accused of ignoring local residents’ fears over students returning en masse for Freshers’ Week (Telegraph, 28/07/2020)

Residents claim that universities have paid little attention to their concerns about the influx of youngsters

If mass testing is one of the answers, who will pay for it? (WonkHE, 30/07/2020)

Some quick updates on students, coronavirus testing and developments in Scotland

Would student social bubbles cut deaths from Covid-19? (WonkHE, 28/07/2020)

Jim Dickinson looks at a working paper on bubbling and virus transmission – and isn’t very reassured

Student Numbers, Admissions, and UCAS

Who got the government’s 10,000 extra student numbers? (WonkHE, 30/07/2020)

The government has announced, with some fanfare, allocations of the up to 5,000 additional healthcare places and up to 5,000 places for courses of “strategic importance”.

International Students, VISAs and UKVI

International students turn to food banks in lockdown (BBC, 29/07/2020)

Hundreds of international students in the UK have turned to food banks after part-time work and funding from families dried up during lockdown. Some have been unable to pay their course fees and have been threatened with suspension by their universities which would result in their visas being cancelled.

UK: one month visa “grace period” announced (PIE, 31/07/2020)

International students in the UK whose visas are due to run out by July 31 will be given a one month “grace period” for them to organise travel.

Trading Places reminds us about the excesses of Theresa May’s Home Office (WonkHE, 27/07/2020)

The latest report from Onward reminds Tom Bailey of the not too distant past – when the Home Office worked aggressively against the interests of students and universities

Widening Participation

Proportion of black school leavers going to university in England falls (Guardian, 30/07/2020)

Latest figures show first drop in a decade of university enrolment among black British students

Access all areas? An overview of life for disabled students in HE (UB, 31/07/2020)

Why, a decade on from the Equality Act 2010, is the provision for – and attainment of – disabled students still lagging behind their non-impaired peers?

That 50% target is a pipe dream for some student groups (WonkHE, 30/07/2020)

The Department for Education (DfE) has published its annual statistics on young peoples’ participation in higher education by student characteristics – and there’s not much for the sector to be proud of.

Redirecting the disadvantaged into FE will further stunt UK social mobility (THE, 29/07/2020)

Higher education is no panacea, but critical thinking is the best antidote to inequality, say Chris Cunningham and Colin Samson

Student Experience and Standards

Outrage at Open University as exam marks given out are based on former students’ results (Telegraph, 26/07/2020)

The university cancelled half of final assignments and calculated grades using a statistical model which students have called a ‘disgrace’

Handling complaints and appeals during the COVID-19 pandemic (QAA, 31/07/2020)

QAA has published a paper exploring how the UK higher education sector is handling complaints and appeals during the pandemic.

‘On Your Marks…’ – a new Advance HE publication on feedback in higher education (Advance HE, 28/07/2020)

A diverse resource for higher education professionals involved in assessment and feedback in higher education

Training external examiners: an import and export business? (Advance HE, 27/07/2020)

We often talk about our ‘external examining team’ but I wonder how much a part of a university its EEs actually feel?

Learning and Teaching

Innovating for learning (OfS, 28/07/2020)

An independent report, published today, highlights the benefits of student engagement in learning and teaching design.

Source Text: Final evaluation of programme for innovations in learning and teaching projects (OfS, 28/07/2020)

Further Comment: Innovation in teaching needn’t be in the pursuit of excellence (WonkHE, 28/07/2020)

Rethinking Effective Student Learning Experiences (Inside Higher Ed, 29/07/2020)

Patrick T. Terenzini describes six characteristics that, based on decades of research, have been found to cultivate and promote student learning.

Enhancing Online Course Discussions through Conference Roles and Blogs (Faculty Focus, 31/07/2020)

The discussion forum plays a central role in our online graduate-level, advanced research methods course

Recording and/or Writing? Weighing the Benefits of Reflective Practices (Faculty Focus, 29/07/2020)

For both teachers and students, reflecting is an important practice to make sense of what one has been doing and/or learning.

Giving Students an Individualized Experience in Online Learning: Staying Connected while Disconnected (Faculty Focus, 27/07/2020)

Some thoughts on how instructors can incorporate aspects of individualized instruction into their online courses to increase student engagement.

Universities must seize the opportunity to improve their online teaching (THE, 28/07/2020)

Stilted and unengaging Zoom lectures must not be allowed to become the new normal

Pastoral Concerns

What students need is to know that someone is looking out for them (WonkHE, 30/07/2020)

Gurbaaz Gill argues that considerations of staff and student mental health will need to underpin new approaches to the fundamentals of a university.

Covid-19, domestic abuse and what universities can do for students (WonkHE, 29/07/2020)

When we restrict access to campuses, for many we remove escape or sanctuary from domestic abuse. Chris Magill and colleagues from London South Bank discuss what we can do as a result.


University graduates face jobs catastrophe as over a third of employers reveal they will hire fewer or none at all this year (Telegraph, 29/07/2020)

The survey found that 39 per cent graduate employers report said they are likely to hire fewer graduates or none at all over the next year

Majority of UK employers have had to cancel work experience due to Covid-19 (Guardian, 29/07/2020)

Three fifths (61%) say they have had to scrap some or all placements for students and graduates, according to poll

Graduate hiring outlook ‘brighter in continental Europe’ (THE, 31/07/2020)

Early results from annual graduate employability survey suggest wide variations in views among firms due to pandemic

Universities in the Community

Richard Brabner responds to Nick Hillman: Can universities be local, national and global? (HEPI, 31/07/2020)

“Like my three-year-old using a fluorescent marker pen, Covid-19 has vigorously and indiscriminately highlighted our nation’s strengths, our frailties, and what really matters to society.”

Why regional networks in higher education are more important than ever (HEPI, 27/07/2020)

Universities in the north east support more jobs than car industry, report warns government (UB, 31/07/2020)

Report commissioned by University and College Union warns many cities are dependent on HE employers

Further CommentThe country really can’t afford for universities to contract (WonkHE, 31/07/2020)

UCU: letting universities fail will mean towns and cities fail (THE, 31/07/2020)

IT in HE

How universities can avoid another mis-selling scandal (WonkHE, 28/07/2020)

There’s a secret force on student choice that might not be as “authentic” as it looks.

Beyond Zoom: can virtual reality replace the classroom experience? (THE, 29/07/2020)

The virtual reality technology market is booming thanks to the coronavirus pandemic. Jack Grove asks whether it might finally catch on in higher education


PhDs and value: why we need to re-think the ‘leaky pipeline’ (HEPI, 30/07/2020)

I have often been asked whether or not the ‘leaky pipeline’, which describes the large numbers of PhD students and early career researchers who leave academia, is really a bad thing.

Covid-related exceptions from REF submission rules announced (THE, 31/07/2020)

Some staff whose work has been disrupted by pandemic can be excluded, and leeway on publication deadlines also introduced

Inclusion of support for research careers in next REF welcomed (THE, 30/07/2020)

UKRI says research organisations will have ‘greater financial incentive’ to invest in supporting scholars

UK plans tougher rules on clinical trial transparency (THE, 30/07/2020)

Medical researchers who fail to publish their results could be denied approval for future experiments


EU and UK student and education sector groups call on negotiators to remember student interest lies at heart of Erasmus+ (UUKi, 27/07/2020)

UK and EU student groups alongside the UK higher and further education sectors have called on negotiators to compromise on the terms of the UK’s participation in Erasmus+

Equality and Diversity

UK’s white female academics are being privileged above women – and men – of colour (Guardian, 28/07/2020)

Universities take the easy route by addressing gender inequality while sidestepping awkward issue of race

Inclusive teaching is harder then it looks – but there is a way (WonkHE, 30/07/2020)

It doesn’t take a PhD to know that Black Lives Matter, but Nick Cartwright’s might help us understand how education has its part to play.

Disabled university staff ‘made to feel like misfits’ (THE, 28/07/2020)

Research reveals that focus on ‘individual excellence’ in academia isolates disabled staff

Administration and Governance

Around 30,000 jobs may be on the line at universities. We have to fight back (Gurdian, 28/07/2020)

Universities employ armies of casualised staff, who are seen as disposable when a crisis hits. This isn’t fair

Effective professionals are central to change in our sector (WonkHE, 29/07/2020)

Andrew West rounds up findings from a project for the AUA on the future of professional services staff in higher education.

Trends, Developments and Opinions

Learning about learning: why universities, knowledge and learning are so important in our current era (HEPI, 28/07/2020)

Intelligence always gets trumped by the process of learning

What have nurseries got to do with student requests for fee refunds? (WonkHE, 29/07/2020)

Jim Dickinson looks at new advice for the nurseries and early years sectors and asks if there are parallels for students and universities.