News round-up: Critics attack recommendation to keep international students in the net migration statistics

The Migration Advisory Committee publishes its report on the impact of overseas students in the UK, while an expert says that we should do away with degree classifications


Universities should end grading system to end pressure on students, Kings College expert suggests

Daily Telegraph, 14/09/2019, Henry Bodkin

Universities should consider changing the system of traditional degree classifications in order to ease mental pressure on students, psychologists have suggested.

The expectation to achieve at least a 2.1 is driving up anxiety levels and deprives most students of the opportunity to differentiate their achievement from those of their peers, according to preliminary research.


UK urged to set international student recruitment target

Times Higher Education, 13/09/2018, Ellie Bothwell

The UK government should introduce a target for growing international student numbers and ease student visa rules at universities that focus recruitment on important markets, according to a report.

The recommendations from the Higher Education Commission, an independent body made up of leaders from the education and business sectors and MPs, came days after the long-awaited Migration Advisory Committee report on the impact of overseas students in the UK was published.


Standardised tests measuring learning gain fail to make the grade

Times Higher Education, 13/09/2018, Anna McKie

A project to measure the learning gain of students at English universities using standardised tests has been scrapped after it failed to persuade enough students to participate.

The early closure of the National Mixed Methodology Learning Gain project by the Office for Students is the latest in a series of global attempts to use a cross-disciplinary exam to measure undergraduate progress that have failed to get off the ground.


Prisoners to get bursaries to study at Cambridge

Times Higher Education, 13/09/2018, Anna McKie

The University of Cambridge is to launch its first bursaries for prisoners to study at the institution, under an initiative that could ultimately lead to degrees being delivered behind bars.

The four £5,000 bursaries, provided by Cambridge’s Institute of Continuing Education in partnership with the Longford Trust charity, will support serving or former prisoners to join other students on courses that involve spending 14 days at the institute.


Almost one in three graduates are overqualified for their job, major report finds

Daily Telegraph, 12/09/2018, Camilla Turner

The value of a university education has been called into question by a new international study which found that almost one in three graduates are overqualified for their jobs.

In England, 28 per cent of graduates have jobs which do not require a degree, according to a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).


Relax rules on foreign students staying to find work in UK, report says

The Guardian, 11/09/2018, Jamie Grierson

British universities and business have criticised the government’s chief migration advisers for “missed opportunities” in a long-awaited report on international students.

The independent migration advisory committee (MAC) has recommended keeping foreign students in the net migration statistics and, while it calls for the government to make it easier for some foreign students to access work after study, it stopped short of recommending a post-study work visa.


Tuition fees review to wait on loans decision

BBC, 10/09/2018, Sean Coughlan

The review of tuition fees in England will have to wait until a decision is taken on whether tens of billions of pounds of student loans should appear in the government’s deficit figures.

The review of post-18 education funding was commissioned by the prime minister after worries about excessive fees and interest rates.


Bonus bonanza at university campus in strip-club scandal

The Guardian, 09/09/2018, Nazia Parveen

Senior managers at a university that recently hit the headlines after staff spent thousands of pounds at a lapdancing club have received more than £600,000 in bonuses over the past four years.

Bonus payments to Northumbria University’s senior leadership averaged more than £9,000 each last year. These payments were made despite huge cuts in administration and teaching staff at the university in Newcastle.


Minister rebukes Toby Young: universities are not ‘leftwing madrassas’

The Guardian, 05/09/2018, Richard Adams

British universities are “not leftwing madrassas”, the higher education minister Sam Gyimah said in riposte to Toby Young, during a speech to vice-chancellors that was markedly gentler than the government’s recent rhetoric.

Gyimah, addressing the annual meeting of the Universities UK group in Sheffield, rebutted Young’s comments last month that students were being put off studying because universities were now “leftwing madrassas”.