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Universities enrich communities, as well as educating students – new research

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 October 2020

Gorodenkoff/Shutterstock

Elaine Unterhalter.

Education helps us share knowledge, develop understanding, and supports our connection with each other. As the COVID-19 pandemic has continued, governments have been preoccupied with how to re-open schools.

However, there has been more doubt about universities. Discussions about the rise in COVID-19 infections in student populations have often raised the question as to why students are at university at all, running risks for themselves and local populations. These questions often link with views of universities as expensive, elitist – and perhaps not worth it at all.

Together with colleagues, I have conducted research commissioned by the British Council to assess the value provided by higher education. We reviewed 170 research studies published since 2010 (more…)

The First World War prompted an expansion of HE after devastating destruction. Can we draw lessons 100 years on?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital24 July 2020

Georgina Brewis.

Students coming to UK universities in September 2020 are facing a unique year: virtual freshers’ fairs, online lectures, social distancing and compulsory face coverings on campuses. Yet as lockdown eases, there is a renewed enthusiasm for continuing higher education – UCAS applications from UK school leavers are at an all time high.

A hundred years ago, there was a similar rush to the universities and colleges after the devastating disruption and loss of the First World War. A new open access article in the journal History, co-written with Sarah Hellawell and Daniel Laqua, is the first to examine an innovative government scholarship scheme for ex-service students. Between 1918 and 1923, the ‘Scheme for the Higher Education of Ex-Service Students’ broadened the social class base of UK universities and colleges, and marked a significant development in the provision of state funding for students’ higher education.

UCL Cloisters in the early 1920s showing photographs of the fallen and the roll of honour. Source: UCL Special Collections.

Immediately after the Armistice in November 1918, young people began planning their return to the universities and colleges they had left for military or civilian service. Many institutions, including University College London, ran an emergency year from January to August 1919, teaching through the vacation to enable students to complete their studies. A pressing shortage of school teachers drove a surge in demand for teacher training. At the London Day Training College (more…)

Better together: why teacher education needs universities as well as schools

Blog Editor, IOE Digital5 February 2020

By Clare Brooks and Jo McIntyre.

For a decade, national teacher education policy has focused on increasing the number of teacher training places in school-led programmes and diversifying the range of providers, and decreasing the involvement of universities.  The idea that universities have too much influence on new teachers and that courses are overly theoretical is not new. Ministers from across the political spectrum have been making these criticisms for generations.

We would like to challenge such dichotomous thinking, which is unique to the English context. It is self-evident that universities and schools work together in initial teacher education (ITE) partnerships and that each have a unique role within this. What has been silenced in the prioritisation of school-led provision in English teacher education policy has been the significant contributions that universities and academic research make as a result of their engagement with ITE. We highlight these below.

(more…)

Fair access: are comprehensive universities the answer?

Blog Editor, IOE Digital2 May 2019

IOE Events.

For our latest debate we moved further down the education pipeline, to higher education. We wanted to look at why the pace of progress in widening access across our universities has felt so slow.

We were inspired by a pamphlet published by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) entitled The Comprehensive University. In place of our current system of selective university admissions, the pamphlet argued for mechanisms that would distribute applicants with different levels of prior attainment more evenly across the higher education system, in the same spirit as comprehensive schooling. To assess the case for such a move we were joined (more…)

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

Blog Editor, IOE Digital23 February 2018

File 20180221 132680 1dx523a.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Humboldt University in Berlin. German universities may emerge as ‘winners’ from Brexit. Tilemahos Efthimiadis, CC BY
Aline Courtois
The UK is currently the second-largest recipient of competitive research funding from the EU: 6% of students and 17% of staff in UK universities are from other EU countries. 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.
While collaboration is important, countries also compete with each other for funding and students. Our new research has found that academics and institutions across Europe, and particularly in Germany, could make significant gains as Brexit shakes (more…)

Universities have a crucial post-Brexit role in working across borders

Blog Editor, IOE Digital8 October 2016

Simon Marginson

At first, after the June referendum, it was unclear what ‘Brexit’ meant, but the post-Brexit landscape is now emerging. Theresa May will table the complex bill to leave the EU in the House of Commons in March 2017, but the two most important decisions have already been made. First, the Government will give priority to ending free people movement from Europe. Second, as confirmed by Home Secretary Amber Rudd this week, total net migration will fall. The referendum was decided because people opposed migration and it seems that for the Prime Minister both measures have become politically essential.

These decisions are truly momentous as they trigger both a harder Brexit and a tough medium term prospect for higher education and research. In the universities, where relations with Europe have been unambiguously positive and productive, the (more…)

Brexit: UK universities face new world order

Blog Editor, IOE Digital29 June 2016

Peter Scott.

The UK’s decision to abandon Europe, which is what leaving the European Union amounts to, has come as a shock – not least in the UK where many people who voted ‘out’ never expected to win. Essentially this was a protest vote against immigration, tinged with nationalism and even racism, and austerity, a long delayed but inevitable reaction against the inequalities generated by neoliberal capitalism. The details of the UK’s relationship with the EU as a member state were not particularly important in what was a bad-tempered and nasty referendum campaign. In effect the EU became a whipping boy for larger discontents.
But the die is now cast, even though all the evidence suggests that the great majority of staff and students in universities voted to remain in the EU. There is probably no way back – for England; Scotland is now likely to seek independence and to stay in the EU so breaking up a 300-year-old Union (which paradoxically created the ‘Great Britain’ of which nationalists are so proud). The consequences for UK higher education will be very significant – and almost entirely damaging. One of the most damaging is that the ‘market’ (more…)