HE News Round-up: lite edition 4th September 2020

HE News Round-up: lite edition 4th September 2020

Student Recruitment

The time is now for Higher Education to evolve student recruitment (UB, 3rd September 2020)

The global pandemic has introduced new challenges for recruitment and admissions leaders in higher education. Even before the onset of COVID-19, higher education institutions across the UK and Europe were evolving in response to major changes in the student recruitment landscape, including shifting demographics, increased competition, demand for digital first experiences, and building inclusive and diverse student cohorts.

Should we abandon algorithms in Education? (WONKHE, 4th September 2020)

Universities are about to meet a cohort of students for whom algorithms and data-driven decision-making is potent and personal. Let’s make this a turning point, says Chris Thomson

Fellows “booted out” of college offices to make way for extra Cambridge freshers (Telegraph, 3rd September 2020)

Cambridge University has confirmed that all A-level students who met their offer will be able to attend this year with fellows “booted out” of their offices to make space for them.

An additional 400 school-leavers qualified for a place at the university following the Government’s U-turn on grading which meant that teachers’ predicted grades would be awarded rather than those calculated by an algorithm.

Staff wellbeing

English Universities are in a depressing state (The Guardian, 2 Sept 2020)

Stefan Collini’s piece (English universities are in peril because of 10 years of calamitous reform, 31 August) is an expression of the immense collective frustration of UK academics. Many would add their own voices, were it not for a fear of drawing attention to oneself and ending up on the chopping block in our hire-and-fire job market.


Coronavirus: University return ‘could spark Covid avalanche’ (BBC,  30 August 2020)

Universities in the UK are being urged to scrap plans for face-to-face teaching until Christmas in order to prevent a second wave of coronavirus.

Academics’ union UCU said more than a million students moving around the country was “a recipe for disaster”.

See also:

Coronavirus: Universities risk becoming ground zero for second wave, union warns (The Independent, 31 August 2020)

NUS President Larissa Kennedy: ‘I worry Universities won’t put students and staff safety first’ (The Guardian, 31st August 2020)

The education system reproduces inequality, says the new president of the National Union of Students, and Covid-19 has made this clearer than ever

Covid-19 researchers live and work in lonely bubbles  (THE, 3rd September 2020)

Scholars working on medical research related to Covid-19 have revealed how their academic lives are being affected by the need to protect their personal health, from cancelling conferences to training colleagues to take over vaccine trials.

Students prepare for the unknown as they start university amid coronavirus (The Independent, 1st September 2020)

Many students applied to university before coronavirus and social distancing had entered the UK’s day-to-day vocabulary. Now, they are preparing to start courses as universities adapt to become as safe as possible during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Student accommodation and Covid-19: CUBO issues advice to providers (UB, 2nd September 2020)

College of University Business Officers releases guidelines for student accommodation providers on minimising the risk of Covid-19 outbreaks when term begins

See also:

CUBO releases guidance for student accommodation providers ahead of new term start (CUBO, 28th August 2020)

Safety First: universities doing the right thing for the start of session (WONKHE, 4th September 2020)

Universities are having to grapple with huge challenges in responding to the pandemic and preparing for the new academic session but in a context of significant uncertainty and turbulence around domestic and international student recruitment as well as major financial concerns.

International Students, VISAs and UKVI

UK campuses ‘particularly vulnerable’ to student mobility drop (THE, 3rd September 2020)

Many of the world’s top higher education institutions are especially vulnerable to a downturn in international student mobility, according to data from the latest Times Higher Education World University Rankings.

League Tables

Oxford ranked world’s best University (The Independent, 2nd September 2020)

The University of Oxford has been ranked first in an international league table for the fifth year in a row.

A number of UK universities have slipped down the Times Higher Education (THE) world rankings — with Cambridge dropping from third to sixth place and Imperial College London falling out of the top 10.

Student Support

Is academic guidance sustainable at a distance? (THE, 3 September 2020)

Seeking out students for personal tutoring in socially distanced times is the labour-intensive but necessary task that may defeat universities, says Michael Wynn-Williams

A-Level news: Government-backed gap years for students who missed University Places this year (The Independent, 2nd September 2020)

The government is to set up schemes for students who have to defer their university place following this year’s chaotic awarding of A-level grades.

The universities minister Michelle Donelan said she had been working to “make available a range of opportunities for development” for those who end up having to take a gap year.

See also:

Government backed gap year schemes to be set up for students forced to defer (Telegraph, 1st September 2020)


Harnessing the power of technology can help vulnerable students (THE, 4th September 2020)

Having dropped out of university because of loneliness and depression, Hayley Mulenda argues that effective use of data analytics and greater diversity of academic staff are crucial

Poor broadband hampers academic in developing world (THE, 4th September 2020)

Poor access to broadband and the internet has already been something identified as hampering the ability of students and universities in the developing world to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘Digital poverty’ risks leaving students behind (OfS, 3 September 2020)

The ability of students to participate in higher education from home is being disrupted by a lack of access to core digital infrastructure, new survey data published by the Office for Students (OfS) shows today, as a major new review into digital teaching and learning is launched.

See also:

More than half of students lacked access to online materials during lockdown, OfS survey suggests (UB, 3 September 2020)

Can OfS help universities bridge the digital divide? (WONKHE, 3rd September 2020)


Beefed-up TEF and new regulator powers ‘mulled by ministers’ (THE, 3rd September 2020)

The Department for Education is said to see England’s teaching excellence framework and existing higher education laws as inadequate for advancing its agenda against “low-value” courses, and to be aiming to create new powers for the Office for Students via legislation.