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Local and national student issue round-up

We base our campaigning and representation work on evidence we gather here at Sussex and by following national developments affecting students here.

Our staff team collate a report every two weeks of relevant information including statistics from our support & advocacy team to show which issues are having an impact on our members.

This report is circulated to staff and officers and now we’re sharing it so you can follow things here at Sussex and nationally.

Content note for this edition: sexual harassment, sexual violence, r*pe, bereavement
 

Contents

1. Local developments and trends

1. Sussex University Freedom of Information (FoI) requests

2. Cases from our Support and Advocacy team

3. University of Sussex drops 41 places in 2018 QS World Rankings

4. New East Slope rooms will cost £155.56 per week

2. National developments and trends

1. UUK and UCU continue to negotiate, while more strikes are planned by UCU

2. Office for Students release New Regulatory Framework

3. Investigation into the Office for Students appointment process released

4. Prime Minister announces year-long review of post-18 education and funding

5. Sutton Trust research finds that disadvantaged students are more likely to commute from home

6. Study finds that three in five students have been sexually assaulted or harassed at university

7. Student loan repayments will be a ‘drag on living standards growth’

8. Vice-Chancellors attend Parliament Select Committee on Value for Money in Higher Education

9. FoI reveals that only 22% of universities have a mental health strategy

10. Senior Conservative MPs plan visits to universities to show they won’t be ‘scared away’ by activist students

11. German universities are likely to benefit from the UK’s funding and researchers after Brexit

12. News presenter accuses university of insensitivity over woman’s bereavement of her mother

13. Comment and opinion pieces

1.1. Sussex University Freedom of Information (FoI) requests

We track publicly submitted requests for information from the University as they may reveal information we want to respond to.

The most notable recent FoI request asked how many EU (not including UK) academic staff had joined and left the University over the past year.

The University’s response revealed that 31 non-UK EU academic staff left the university between 01-08-16 and 31-07-17, while 65 non-UK EU academic staff joined the University from 01-08-17 to 24-01-18 (date of receiving request).

An FoI request on gender neutral toilets revealed that the University has 72 gender neutral toilets as of May 2016. These account for around 10% of all toilets on campus. They did not specify whether there were any plans to build any more in the future.

We are waiting on a response from the University on an FoI request about Prevent. This includes questions about the monitoring of student and staff email content, whether the university has filters or blocks on certain content on University internet, and policy guidance on the University’s Prevent duty.

1.2. Cases from our Support and Advocacy team

The following graph shows the case types over the past month (2nd February to 2nd March inclusive).

There were 31 new cases logged this month. The largest section was for non-academic complaints, followed by academic appeals and academic conduct cases. Students were also supported on a handful of exceptional circumstances and disciplinary cases. All of the academic misconduct cases were for students’ first offences, but these included collusion between two students, exam cheating, major and minor route. Non-academic complaints included complaints against the Housing Office (which made up the majority of this category) and Student Accounts, and a discrimination allegation.
 

1.3. University of Sussex drops 41 places in 2018 QS World Rankings

The University of Sussex has dropped 41 places (from #117 to #228) in this year’s QS World University Rankings. The measures used to determine the rankings include student-academic ratios, measures of staff and student diversity, measures of research impact and graduate employment. The current ranking of #228 in the world is the lowest score Sussex has seen since the rankings were established in 2012.

The University did, however, retain its subject-level place at number one in the world for Development Studies. The University also ranks between #51-100 in the world for a number of humanities and social sciences, including Anthropology, Politics and History. The University’s weakest rankings are for Life Sciences and Medicine, for which the University is between #401-450 in the world.

See the University’s full stats and the full world rankings.
 

1.4. New East Slope rooms will cost £155.56 per week

An exclusive story in The Badger revealed that the new East Slope accommodation will cost £6,048 a year to live in, making it the most expensive accommodation on campus. It will house more than 2,000 students. This follows rent cuts to a number of other accommodations, announced in August 2017, which resulted from Students’ Union and Cut the Rent lobbying efforts.

Exclusive: New East Slope £156.55 per week, The Badger
 

2.1. UUK and UCU continue to negotiate, while more strikes are planned by UCU

University and College Union’s (UCU) strikes over lecturers’ pensions (as explained in the last report) have completed nine days of strikes in total so far, with five more due this week. The Union also announced on 8th March, a further 14 days of strike action over the exam period (between April and June) if the dispute is not resolved to their satisfaction. Sussex UCU will need to vote again on this new suggestion in order to agree any further strike action.

The first two weeks of strike action brought Universities UK (UUK) back to the negotiating table and both sides have been in ‘arbitration’ talks through the conciliation service Acas over the past week. These talks continue this week, with the substance of UUK’s new proposal (and the underlying assumptions around risk and valuation) now being discussed. This proposal means employers accept a ‘small amount of increased risk’ through a return to the risk level USS proposed in September 2017, and the annual accrual rate would reduced from 1/75th to 1/80th. For employees, contributions would increase by just 4.1% (split 65/35 between employers and employees).

Our Vice-Chancellor, Adam Tickell, is the only Vice Chancellor on the Universities UK negotiating team, and is the lead negotiator for UUK. A national demo will be held at Sussex this week (on Thursday starting at 1pm), which aims to ‘put Tickell under pressure’.

Also at Sussex, senior management announced last week that ‘action short of a strike’ (ASOS) (i.e. where academics work to their basic contract - which means not covering for absent colleagues, not rescheduling lectures or classes cancelled due to strike action and not undertaking any voluntary activities), would not be docked at all from staff wages. The deductions were dropped from 20% originally. This is quite different to what has happened in a number of other striking institutions, where they have threatened to deduct between 25% and 100% of staff pay for ASOS.

Commentators have claimed that this is the ‘worst industrial action at universities in modern times’, with as many as 42,000 staff at 64 institutions walking out, and up to a million students affected. Despite the fact that no ‘make up’ classes will be arranged for missed teaching hours, a poll conducted by YouGov the day before the strikes began showed that three in five students support the action.

Sam Gyimah, Universities Minister, has said publicly that he expects universities to refund students for missed contact hours during the strikes. He also tweeted that universities should use the unpaid wages of striking lecturers to go towards ‘student benefit’, including giving students compensation.

UCU’s general secretary, Sally Hunt, and Alistair Jarvis, the Chief Executive of UUK, have both written comment pieces in the Telegraph, outlining their positions. While Hunt stressed the support strikers have received across the political spectrum, Jarvis focussed on the legal obligations of UUK as a pensions provider to be ‘prudent’ and manage risk. In another statement on the strikes, UUK claim that opposition to the proposed changes is a direct attack on future students, who - UUK claim - will suffer as employers are forced to find cuts in order to fund staff pensions.

Hunt said in this statement:

Action short of a strike highlights just how much universities rely on the goodwill of their staff who go the extra mile. Universities will need that goodwill when this dispute is all over, so it seems foolish to find ways now to maximise the punishment of their staff.

The following strike dates are yet to come:

Week four - Monday 12th, Tuesday 13th, Wednesday 14th, Thursday 15th and Friday 16th March (five days)

Read an analysis of the technical and legal position of universities and students in accessing fee refunds.

University exams could be hit by new strike action, BBC News

University lecturers begin strike action over pensions, The Guardian

University staff pension dispute moves to Acas, The Guardian

University strikes: Further talks agreed in dispute over staff pensions, Independent

University bosses seek fresh solutions to pensions row as strikes continue, The Times

Compensation v solidarity: Students argue for and against university strikes, Sky News

Students urged to join lecturers on the picket lines, despite fears that walk out will harm exams, The Telegraph
 

2.2. Office for Students release New Regulatory Framework

Following consultation with universities, students’ unions and other stakeholders, the Office for Students have released the final iteration of its New Regulatory Framework for Higher Education.

The main changes since the version we responded to last year include:

  • The removal of a ‘basic’ registration category

  • A stronger role for students in regulation

  • Compulsory TEF for larger institutions

Basic registration: The basic registration category has been removed. This originally would have encompassed institutions that do not gain access to government funding or the ability to recruit international students and their students would not be able to access student support (i.e. tuition fee loans). Commentators have expressed concern that this will leave more unregulated than regulated higher education institutions in England, claiming that abolishing the category does not solved the problems of effectively regulating ‘basic’ providers of higher education. This is estimated to leave 602 providers unregulated and 532 regulated. MillionPlus, the Association for Modern Universities, however, have said they ‘welcome confirmation that the basic level of registration with the OfS has been scrapped’, claiming that  the lower level of scrutiny and oversight that would have been afforded them would not have been sufficient to protect the interests of students.

Registration fees and university title: The removal of basic registration has also forced an increase in the cost of registration for middle-sized and large institutions to make up for the loss in registration fees from this group. For instance, the framework details an increase of around £30,000 a year from the original proposal for universities with over 20,000 students. 17 universities will be paying 50% more than initially proposed. To class an institution as a ‘university’, the number of full-time equivalent higher education students (level 6 or above) must exceed 55%. Overall, registration with the OfS will cost more than universities currently pay to the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), even though the research brief has been passed over to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI).

Engagement of students in governance: In direct response to consultation feedback, the OfS has introduced that ‘all students have opportunities to engage with the governance of the provider, and that this allows for a range of perspectives to have influence’. However, it does not look as though it will be enforcing student membership on governing bodies where it isn’t already an institutions’ policy. Similarly, the OfS will now also consider those things that relate to the ‘non-academic’ experience of students, as opposed to just the academic. This was one of the primary concerns of ours outlined in our consultation response.

Senior staff pay: The framework states that providers are required to comply with the OfS ‘accounts direction’ and are responsible for adhering to the principle of ‘value for money’. Disclosure of senior staff pay within the accounts direction, to include pay over £100,000, full remuneration packages, justifications and relationship with remuneration committees must be provided, but it is unclear what would be deemed inappropriate or unjustified pay, or what sanctions could or would be placed on institutions. It does, however, ensure transparency and support scrutiny by taxpayers and students.

Future fee cap rises: After 1st April, all future fee-cap rises will need to be passed by a vote in both Houses, rather than the old 2004 act process.

Template policies: The OfS has also published new templates for student protection policies, self-assessment documents for consumer protection law, self-assessment on management and governance, and access and participation plans.

Sam Gyimah’s speech at the launch event also saw the minister wade into a number of other topical areas. The minister claimed that universities should stop making unconditional offers and warned against ‘decolonising’ the curriculum to avoid learning about ‘unfashionable’ subjects.

Gyimah also provided a written statement on 28th February, titled ‘Guidance to the Office for Students’, which outlines the body’s priorities for its first year.

Read the full OfS framework, or utilise WonkHE’s handy summary of the key changes. Read our original consultation response from December 2017.

The office a bit more for students, WonkHE (comment)
 

2.3. Investigation into the Office for Students appointment process released

The Minister for Universities, Sam Gyimah, has had to respond to a report from the Commissioner for Public Appointments on the appointment process for OfS Board members. The report claims that the OfS, Department for Education officials, Jo Johnson and Number 10 all have some culpability for an ‘inconsistent’ and ‘mishandled’ process that resulted in the brief appointment of Toby Young. While concerns regarding insufficient background checks on Young, and his personal invitation to apply from Jo Johnson (who is a close friend of his) were highlighted, greater concerns were highlighted regarding the appointment of the student member of the board. Two applicants from the open recruitment process were deemed suitable by OfS and DfE, before being rejected by Number 10 because of involvement with student politics. Correspondence seen by the commissioner suggests that Number 10 actively sought a panel member without NUS links.

Ruth Carlson, who originally applied to be on the student panel, and was then asked to be an interim member for the OfS board. Carlson’s interim appointment has been shortened from a year, to nine months and now six. The report concluded that ‘the successful candidate was not well handled by the department in being given conflicting information’.

Peter Riddell, the Commissioner for Public Appointments, said in a statement:

My investigation uncovered a number of areas where important principles in the Governance Code were breached or compromised in the appointments to the board of the Office for Students. In my experience, this episode is unrepresentative of the hundreds of public appointments that take place each year, but it is important that lessons are learned – not least so that talented people from a wide range of backgrounds are willing to put themselves forward to serve on the boards of public bodies.

A Guardian comment piece noted:

Unlike the poor saps responding cold to a job advert, Young was privately invited to apply by the universities minister, Jo Johnson, brother of his good friend Boris. When he did so, nobody seems to have delved deeply enough into his background to reveal the tweets that would later get everyone into so much trouble, although the social media accounts of student activists applying for the student representative position were naturally raked over with a fine-tooth comb by so-called No 10 Googlers.

Commentators have been critical of the all male appointment panel, personal recommendations from ministers, no written comment claiming that involvement with the National Union of Students would make a candidate unsuitable, and the fact that it was not made clear that Ruth Carlson’s appointment would be interim. Gyimah defended the decision not to appoint candidates from the National Union of Students (NUS) to the board. He also claimed that the reputation of the OfS has not been damaged by the Toby Young controversy.

The full Commons and Lords debates can be read on TheyWorkForYou.

Read the Commissioner for Public Appointments’ full report.

Toby Young's OfS appointment was questionable – minister, The Guardian

Ministers meddled in Toby Young getting OfS role, report finds, The Guardian
 

2.4. Prime Minister announces year-long review of post-18 education and funding

Last month the Prime Minister launched a review of post-18 education and funding. In her speech announcing the review, Theresa May said that the UK’s post-18 educations system was ‘one of the most expensive in the world’.

The review, which will be chaired by Philip Augar, aims to focus on four areas:

  1. Access to tertiary education for all, including maintenance support for disadvantaged students

  2. More informed choice (and competition) between the options available

  3. Delivering the skills that the economy needs, to support the industrial strategy

  4. Value for money - for students, graduates and taxpayers

WonkHE helpfully collated what they felt were the top ten interesting facts about the review in this handy list:

  1. As a principle, students should contribute to the cost of their studies

  2. The review will not look at pre-2012 loans, free tuition, any overall increase in costs, or a graduate tax

  3. There should be no cap on the number of students that ‘can benefit’ from post-18 education

  4. The current post-18 system, ‘one of most expensive in the world’, is not working as well as it could be

  5. There should be an end to ‘outdated attitudes’ that favour university over technical education, so the review will look at ‘the whole post-18 education sector, breaking down false boundaries’

  6. The current technical level 4 and 5 review will ‘feed into’ this review

  7. There should be more variation in price and delivery

  8. This review should look at lifelong learning, including flexible and distance learning

  9. As per Theresa May’s conference speech, it is expected that the 2018/19 fee cap freeze will continue until the review is complete

  10. A final report is expected from the government in Spring 2019, with an interim report from the panel before then (expected around Autumn this year)

The terms of reference for the review clearly state that the panel’s recommendations ‘must be consistent with the Government's fiscal policies to reduce the deficit and have debt falling as a percentage of GDP’.

May said in her speech:
All but a handful of universities charge the maximum possible fees for undergraduate courses. Three-year courses remain the norm. And the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course. We now have one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world.

It is worth noting a few other things:

  • This is an ‘expert advised’ government review, headed by the Department for Education, as opposed to one undertaken ‘independently’. There has been no attempt at cross-party support.

  • Students don’t have official membership on the review panel, although Auguar has claimed that they will be consulting with all relevant stakeholders. The government have confirmed that there will be ‘specific opportunities made for the diverse population of students and graduates to be heard’

The National Union of Students have responded by welcoming the ‘long-overdue review’, but highlighting a concern that the narrow remit and terms of reference appear to ‘rule out the possibility of a serious overhaul of the current system’. The NUS statement says that ‘the Prime Minister is choosing to move the deckchairs around a ship she already acknowledges to be sinking’, without sufficiently exploring more options for change. The statement also references the fact that there is no student representation on the review, and calls for ‘meaningful engagement’ with students throughout the process.

Students’ opinions about fees might also have an influence on the outcome of the review. New research by the Higher Education Policy Institute found that two-thirds of students think that  full-time undergraduate courses should all have the same fees, rejecting the idea of a ‘differential’ fee regime.

Other key findings of this research include:

  • Most students in all parts of the UK think the Government (or taxpayers) should pay all or more than half of the costs of Higher Education

  • When pushed for a preference, students would rather pay higher fees for ‘courses that cost more to teach’ (57%) than ‘courses that lead to higher earnings’ (17%) or ‘courses at more famous universities’ (7%)

  • Students were also more likely to agree with higher fees for course such as Medicine (52%), but less likely to agree that fees should be higher for Arts or Modern Languages

  • Most students (59%) disagreed with a means-tested fee regime, although a substantial minority (38%) back the idea

The authors of the report claim that what is most clear from the research is the fact that only ‘tiny numbers of students’ think they should cover all of the costs themselves, and in general students seem overwhelmingly to back mixed-funding models.

A recent article by the independent fact-checking website Full Fact shows the impact of higher tuition fees on access to university for disadvantaged students based on location, a ‘Multi Equality Measure (which includes ethnicity, gender and school-type) and receipt of free school meals. The analysis finds that, while the difference in entry rates between those from the most advantaged backgrounds and those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds had been narrowing since 2006, in the last few years this trend has stalled, and the gap has even begun to increase again on some metrics. For instance, the gap between pupils receiving free school meals and those not going to university has increased in the past two years. The findings also show that the least advantaged students are increasingly more likely than the most advantaged students to drop out of their degree.

Read May’s full speech and the government’s news story. Read the National Union of Students’ briefing and watch National President, Shakira Martin’s response.

How do English university fees compare to the rest of the world?, ITV News

Theresa May announces review into funding of university courses, Evening Standard
Theresa May's university fees review risks 'imploding at birth' amid mounting criticism, Independent
May admits education is failing children but offers no extra cash, The Guardian
Theresa May's university review will not scrap fees, BBC News
The terms of the post-18 education and funding review digested, WonkHE
Would subject-based fees stem arts provision?, WonkHE

2.5. Sutton Trust research finds that disadvantaged students are more likely to commute from home

A study published by social mobility charity, The Sutton Trust, finds that commuting is a significant ‘dimension of inequality’ in Higher Education. The findings showed that over half of students stay local for university, and that social class plays a role in this decision, with the most disadvantaged students less likely to leave home. Students from the lowest social class group are over three times more likely to commute from home than those from the highest group (44.9% compared with 13.1%). State school students are 2.6 times more likely to stay at home for study than their privately-educated counterparts. The report also states that ‘British Pakistani and British Bangladeshi students are over six times more likely than White students to stay living at home and study locally – with the chances increasing substantially since the increase in fees to £9,000’. The report recommends greater financial support for disadvantaged students to move away from home, and lower fees for lower income students. Read the full report.

Poorer students three times more likely to live at home while at university, study says, Independent
Unequal mobilities, WonkHE

2.6. Study finds that three in five students have been sexually assaulted or harassed at university

Research undertaken by a campaign called Revolt Sexual Assault, run by recent graduates fighting back against sexual violence at universities, have today released the full findings of a survey undertaken in partnership with The Student Room. 4,500 students and recent graduates from across 153 UK institutions participated in the the survey.

The key findings include:

  • More than three in five students (62%) were sexually assaulted or harassed while at university

  • Nearly half of women respondents had experienced sexual assault, and one in six men

  • In the majority of cases (57%) the perpetrator was known to the student

  • Only 2% those experiencing sexual violence felt both able to report it to their university and were then satisfied with the reporting process

  • According to the survey, only one in ten people reported their experiences to the university or the police. When the other 90% were asked why they had not reported their experiences, 56% of students were convinced it ‘wasn’t serious enough’. 35% felt too ashamed. 29% did not even know how to make a report to the university

 

 

  • A third of respondents (31%) felt pressurised to do something sexual while at university

  • The most commonly experienced form of sexual assault was groping and unnecessary touching in a sexual manner

  • The most common locations on campus where students experience sexual violence are halls of residence (28%), social events (24%) and university social spaces like bars, refectories and shops (23%)

  • Just 51% of respondents believed there was an understanding of what constitutes consent at their university

The authors claim that the findings of the research makes a strong case to suggest there is an increased prevalence of sexual violences at universities than among the general population.

For instance, the report states:

The Office for National Statistics estimates 4% of females have experienced rape – the estimation from this consultation doubles, where 8% of female respondents report having been raped at university. Notwithstanding differences in methodology, this a strong indication that the incidence of rape is far more likely amongst the student population than the general population in England and Wales.

Mhairi Underwood, Head of Community at The Student Room, said:

This consultation has shown there’s a lack of confidence about what consent means, and on The Student Room, we see young people asking ‘was this rape?’ almost everyday

The report recommends universities introduce accessible reporting systems, specially trained staff, specific policies for sexual violence on campus and early education on consent, sexual assault and harassment.

These findings largely mirror similar research undertaken at Sussex three years ago, where 61% of respondents had experienced sexual harassment and 53% of respondents had experienced sexual assault.

Three in five students sexually assaulted or harassed at university, survey finds, Independent

Nearly two thirds of students sexually assaulted or harassed at university, study finds, Evening Standard

Shocking scale of sexual violence at universities exposed, ITV News

#TimesUp on sexual harassment in higher education: #PressforProgress on #IWD2018, Higher Education Policy Institute
 

2.7. Student loan repayments will be a ‘drag on living standards growth’

The Resolution Foundation has predicted that student loan repayments will have a small negative effect on graduates’ disposable incomes. The organisation reported this in its 2018 Living Standards Outlook, which explores the prospects for household incomes and inequalities over the next five years. It estimated that repayments will grow from 0.01% of GDP in 2016-17 to around 0.6% of GDP by 2050-51. The report says that, on the whole, student loan repayments will be a “drag on living standards growth” in future.
 

2.8. Vice-Chancellors attend Parliament Select Committee on Value for Money in Higher Education

Some Vice-Chancellors gave evidence to the House of Commons Education Committee on value for money in higher education. During the select committee, VCs were quizzed by MPs who asked them to justify their pay, and called for greater regulation on this.

The Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University, Professor Louise Richardson, rejected suggestions that her pay should be based on performance.  Robert Halfon, the Chair of the Committee, suggested that her pay could be linked to Oxford’s admissions of disadvantaged students. On Twitter, David Lammy criticised Richardson’s response on numbers of black applicants.


WonkHE summarised the discussions as follows:
Janet Beer [President of Universities UK] argued that longitudinal data is more indicative of graduate-level careers than DLHE [Destination of Leavers in Higher Education] data. Peter Horrocks [Vice-Chancellor of the Open University] said TEF metrics were not relevant to the type of flexible study offered at his institution. Edward Peck [Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent] said institutions “should be judged by what they do for the students they teach”, including employability. Chris Husbands [Chair of the Teaching Excellence Framework panel] said the sector had not experienced significant issues from austerity compared to the public sector, and argued for a move away from entry tariffs measuring institutional effectiveness. Louise Richardson [Vice-Chancellor of Oxford University] said her institution’s strengths were not in apprenticeships, but in research.

Watch the proceedings in full.

Vice-chancellors told high pay is immoral amid rising student debt, The Guardian
 

2.9. FoI reveals that only 22% of universities have a mental health strategy

Universities nationally celebrated University Mental Health Day on 1st March. NUS VP Welfare, Izzy Lenga, published a blog for the day, highlighting their recent FoI request which found that only 22% of universities have a mental health strategy in place, and releasing a new campaigns guide for lobbying your university. Rachel O’Brien, NUS Disabled Students’ Officer, also wrote a blog about their experience campaigning over the past year.
 

2.10. Senior Conservative MPs plan visits to universities to show they won’t be ‘scared away’ by activist students

Politics Home reported that Conservative Chairman, Brandon Lewis, is leading a campaign to visit universities to show their support to Conservative students. Referencing the incident where Jacob Rees-Mogg was interrupted by masked protesters at a talk at the University of the West of England last month, Lewis stated that Conservatives shouldn’t ‘shy away because some people want to put people off having their say on politics’.

EXCL Senior Tory MPs to visit universities to show they won’t be ‘scared away’ by hard-left activists, Politics Home


2.11. German universities are likely to benefit from the UK’s funding and researchers after Brexit

New research published by the Centre for Global Higher Education suggested that German universities are likely to benefit, while UK universities ma lose out, from Brexit. The report finds that since the referendum result, European academics were less likely to seek UK partners as leaders on collaborative research bids.

Currently, the UK relies largely on the EU for research funding (as the second largest recipient of this) and for staff and student numbers. Nearly half of academic papers produced by the UK are written in collaboration with at least one international partner – and among the top 20 countries UK academics cooperate the most with, 13 are in the EU.

Interviews with academics across a number of EU countries revealed potential possibilities for the UK’s Higher Education sector. These suggested that Ireland, Denmark and the Netherlands are likely to ‘poach’ prospective students from both inside and outside of the EU. Academics at universities in both northern and eastern Europe were planning to reinforce their existing partnerships with German institutions ahead of Brexit. Plans were also made to reinforce non-EU collaborations. However, a number of respondents were eager to continue collaborating with their UK-based colleagues, no matter the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

On the theme of EU student recruitment, it is worth noting that Universities Minister, Sam Gyimah, answered a written question about how the Department for Education planned to assess the impact of Brexit on attracting sufficient numbers of EU students. His answer noted that the government has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to provide an objective assessment of the impact of EU and international students by September 2018, which will help inform the decisions on future migration system.

Brexit: German universities among those poised to benefit if researchers and funding shift, The Conversation
 

2.12. News presenter accuses university of insensitivity over woman’s bereavement of her mother

Sky News presenter Colin Brazier accused staff at Royal Holloway, University of London, of being insensitive when his eldest daughter Edith, 18, temporarily withdrew from her undergraduate degree on learning that her mother had been diagnosed with terminal breast cancer.

Brazier said that:

The college authorities were blunt to the point of insensitivity. They wanted to see proof of her mother’s illness and insisted that she leave her hall of residence room within a matter of days.

A student at Oxford University, whose mother had died just before she started her degree, was also quoted in the Times article. She said that, after having a breakdown during her first year exams, the university told her that ‘bereavement was taken into account only if it had occurred within a week of the exams’.

Royal Holloway ‘made girl choose studies or dying mother’, The Times
 

2.13. Comment and opinion pieces

On Free Speech


On the UCU strikes


On the Office for Students


On tuition fees and the post-18 education funding review


Miscellaneous

 

Contact us

Got a comment/criticism about anything discussed in this article? Let us know on our social media channels!

facebook.com/thestudentsunion

twitter.com/ussu

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