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What's going on in Higher Education?

Anglia Ruskin receives TEF Silver Award as some of the Russell Group struggle

The TEF results are finally here and, as expected, many modern universities and specialist institutions won Gold and Silver awards at the expense of some of the traditionally high-performing Russell Group. Participating in the framework is ‘not a well-liked exercise among universities, but its creation and implementation provide an opportunity’ according to Wonkhe, ‘to set the status of teaching alongside that of research’.

The TEF panel awarded Anglia Ruskin a Silver rating, following consideration of various metrics and a written submission. These metrics were analysed with the demography of ARU students in mind, meaning that they reflect the ‘value added’ by higher education more so than most league tables. It is this feature of the TEF rankings which has made headlines in the mainstream media, as world-class universities like the London School of Economics only achieved a Bronze award. Southampton also received a Bronze award, and will be appealing the decision. Oxbridge won Gold awards but, of the 22 other higher education institutions which belong of the Russell Group, only six more also achieved the highest available accolade.  

The full tables of results are available here, and the Wonkhe and Times Higher Education websites are full of analyses and opinion pieces. There is also a visualisation of how universities performed in both the TEF and the Research Excellence Framework (REF) here.


Student leaders voice concern over Brexit and higher education in Ireland

Presidents of the National Union of Students for the UK, for Northern Ireland and for the Republic of Ireland have released a joint statement, expressing their concerns over Brexit and reaffirming their commitment to protect students’ interests on either side of the border. The potential impact of Brexit upon the island of Ireland has been the subject of much speculation since last year’s referendum, largely in relation to fears that the delicate peace which has held since the Good Friday Agreement of 1997 would be jeopardised by the reintroduction of a border between north and south. This statement, however, was specifically written to convey that ‘the three unions will work closely in the months ahead to protect the rights of students throughout any Brexit process’.

According to the document, the Presidents ‘agreed we must protect students and apprentices’ with regards to the following: students’ mobility across the border; their access to EU funding and travel programmes; any changes to university fees which result from Brexit negotiations; any ‘watering down’ of Human Rights, Workers’ Rights or Equality legislation; and ‘right to remain’ criteria for EU nationals already residing in Ireland.

As it stands, university fees in Northern Ireland are capped at £3,925. Tuition is technically free in the Republic for home students undertaking their first undergraduate degree, although most institutions have opted-in to charging an annual Student Contribution of $3,000.


Highlights from the week’s papers

Learning Styles: A Misguided Approach This blog post discusses the limitations of rigidly assigning dominant learning styles to students, and presents a more nuanced alternative

Working class students less likely to graduate Widening participation in ‘a very unequal, hierarchical field’ requires a more nuanced approach, according to a Professor of Education at Cambridge University



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