Latest Educational News

University Clearing: let's remove the stigma and rebrand

by The Guardian, July 31, 2015

Classified as General.

Clearing is a vital part of the student recruitment cycle. It gives prospective students a chance to revisit application choices in light of their A-level results, or because they have changed their mind about the course they wish to study.

But with more students taking professional courses such as Btecs, many school and college leavers opting to go into higher education at the last minute, and others not following the traditional Ucas cycle (such as mature students) it may be time to question again whether the cycle as we know it needs revising, and perhaps rebrand Clearing altogether.

The lifting of the student number cap and the increase in unconditional offers from some institutions are just two factors that are changing the way in which universities recruit students. As a result many prospective students are thinking in very different terms about their course and institution choices, and are using Clearing differently.

Student gender gap in UK universities growing at an 'inexorable' rate, says latest Independent Commission on Fees report

by The Independent, July 30, 2015

Classified as General.

The gender gap in UK universities is growing at an ‘inexorable’ rate, according to a new report, as more young women continue to be accepted over men.

Set up to investigate the impact of changes to university tuition fees and loans in England three years ago, the Independent Commission on Fees (ICF) found that, within the UCAS system, there are now more females being accepted into universities than there are men applying.

Results showed how 331,210 women applied for a place in the academic year 2014-15, with 250,030 being accepted.

In contrast, 247,080 men applied over the same period, with just 197,420 gaining a university place.

The 18-year-old entry rate for women for the year was just over 34 per cent, compared to almost 26 per cent for men.

Describing the findings as an area of ‘possible concern’, the ICF said the issue was the particularly high difference in less advantaged areas, where a female school leaver is 48 per cent more likely to gain entry to a university than her male equivalent.

The report says this also points to pockets of the country where there is a cultural challenge to males in particular that could lead to the entrenchment of low income and lack of opportunity.

Tuition fees: UK universities set to charge £10,000 by end of the decade, says major report

by The Independent, July 30, 2015

Classified as General.

UK universities are set to charge £10,000 a year for student fees by the end of the decade, according to a newly-published major report.

This is the conclusion of an independent inquiry into the student loans system in the wake of Chancellor George Osborne’s budget decision to allow universities with “good quality” teaching to raise their fees in line with inflation every year.

Academics were predicting this - coupled with the decision to axe maintenance grants and replace them with loans - could be the last straw for young people from disadvantaged backgrounds fearful of debt in deciding whether to apply to university.

Will Hutton, economics expert and chairman of the Independent Commission on Fees - set up by education charity the Sutton Trust, said: “Debt is likely to become a bigger issue.

“Under the current system, nearly three-quarters of students will fail to clear their student loans before they are written off after 30 years and the large majority will still be paying off their debts into their forties - figures that will increase with the abolition of grants and increase in fees.

Higher debts may deter poor students from university, says report

by BBC News, July 30, 2015

Classified as General.

Poorer students in England may be put off university by funding changes that could leave them with higher debts than middle-class graduates helped by their parents, a report says.
The Sutton Trust's commission on fees looked at Budget changes such as replacing means-tested grants with loans and tying fees to inflation.
It also calls for a full investigation of the student finance system.
Ministers say students will have more cash for living costs under the plan.
The trust - which advocates social mobility through education - set up the Independent Commission on Fees in 2012 to monitor the effect of higher tuition fees.
This report comes after Chancellor George Osborne announced he was scrapping means-tested maintenance loans for poorer students and allowing universities to increase fees in line with inflation - if they demonstrate excellent teaching.
The commission contends that linking tuition fees to inflation could see them rise to £10,000 a year by 2020.
It examines the higher education finance system for England, which allows universities to charge maximum yearly tuition fees of £9,000.
These are paid through upfront, government-backed loans with repayments beginning once the graduate starts earning £21,000 a year.

Schools can't seem to be able to give up levels, leaked report finds

by TES Connect, July 28, 2015

Classified as General.

Schools are recreating the old system of assessing pupils by national curriculum levels, a leaked draft of a government-commissioned report on assessment has found.

The document from the Commission on Assessment without Levels has found that a "culture" of levels is still in place in many schools. John McIntosh, chair of the commission and former headteacher of the London Oratory School, writes in the foreword that the old system is effectively continuing under a new name.

“We have been concerned by evidence that some schools are trying to recreate levels based on the new national curriculum,” he says, arguing that there is “overwhelming evidence” that levels need to go and that changing the culture would not only lead to better learning for pupils but help teachers to make better use of their time and skills.

“This is an opportunity the profession cannot afford to miss,” Mr McIntosh adds.

Levels were devised as a national system to assess children’s attainment. Each level had a broad range of criteria, linked to the national curriculum, against which pupils were assessed. Students were expected to progress by roughly one level every two years; the expected standard at age 7 was level 2 and at age 11 it was level 4.

The leaked report outlines some of the problems with the system. It points out that it uses a "best fit" model, meaning pupils can be graded at a certain level despite having "serious gaps" in their knowledge. There is also concern that the old system led to pupils feeling their ability was fixed at a certain standard.

The old system was scrapped in June 2013. The Commission on Assessment without Levels was announced by schools minister Nick Gibb in February 2015 after evidence emerged that most schools were still using levels while working out a new method of assessment.

Mr Gibb said that national standards would be measured only at the end of key stages and it was up to schools to choose their own steps towards meeting them in the intervening years. But a Department for Education survey, published earlier this month, shows that more than a third of schools were still using the national curriculum levels in November 2014.

The commission was due to report at the end of July but publication has now been delayed until September. The DfE said it would not comment on leaked reports.

OU students' progress to be monitored by algorithms

by BBC News, July 28, 2015

Classified as General.

Students at the Open University are going to have their progress monitored by a set of algorithms to spot if they need any extra support.
The scheme, developed by the OU, has been designed to observe students' paths through courses and engagement with online learning modules.
The OU's Prof John Domingue told the BBC: "This has been developed as a tool for tutors to help students.
"We are planning to use this data for students studying in 2015-16."
The programme, called OU Analyse, was developed at the university during the 2013-14 academic year.
It uses a variety of data sets held by the OU and assesses the likelihood of a student submitting their next assignment by using information gathered from four different algorithms.
The more algorithms that indicate the student will not send in their work - the higher the chance of that happening.
Prof Domingue added: "We take advantage of the fact that modules are presented many times. One can use the experience of previous students to benefit future students. An interesting fact is that the data of the interactions before the course actually starts, like reading the material available and engaging with forums, is extremely valuable.
"Currently it is deployed on 13 modules, mostly level one modules in order to try to provide timely indicators that students may be struggling.

Value of education: UK and US parents in top-ten countries that think university offers poor value for money, HSBC survey finds

by The Independent, July 27, 2015

Classified as General.

The value of further education is not just being thrust into the spotlight here in the UK, but across the globe too.

Parents are slowly coming to the realisation their children are having more of tough time than they did – particularly here in the UK where tuition fees across England look set to rise and the maintenance grant will be no more as of September 2016.

An increasingly competitive job market means a standard undergraduate degree is being seen, by some, as not sufficient enough; young people are having to do more than ever, compared to their peers, if they want to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by prospective employers.

Postgraduate qualifications and studying abroad are ways to do this, but they can be costly and require intensive planning beforehand.

HSBC conducted a thorough survey into the true value of education across the world by gathering the views of 5,500 parents from 16 countries in its latest report into life-long learning.

Universities throw weight behind case for keeping Britain in European Union

by The Guardian, July 27, 2015

Classified as General.

University chiefs are to back Britain’s membership of the EU ahead of the in/out referendum. Vice-chancellors will hail the “overwhelmingly positive impact” of the union as they launch a campaign alongside the shadow business secretary, Chuka Umunna, and pro-European Conservative MP Damian Green. The move comes amid reports that David Cameron is planning to hold the decisive poll in June next year.

Dame Julia Goodfellow, president of the Universities UK group of more than 130 educational institutions, is expected to tell the event in London on Monday that they must “stand up and be counted”. “It is abundantly clear that the UK’s membership of the European Union has an overwhelmingly positive impact on our world-leading universities, enhancing university research and teaching,” Goodfellow will say.

Three out of four academy chains have schools that are 'coasting', says new research

by The Independent, July 24, 2015

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Three out of four academy chains have schools that are “coasting”, new research by The Sutton Trust has found.

Nearly half of the individual academies analysed in the Sutton Trust study would be classified as “coasting” under the Government’s new clampdown on schools. Twenty-six of the 34 chains had at least one coasting school.

Education Secretary Nicky Morgan has defined ‘coasting’ schools as those that consistently fail to ensure 60 per cent of pupils achieve five good GCSEs, including English and Maths. Coasting schools will be converted into academies, schools run by charities or businesses, she said.

But the report by The Sutton Trust, which aims to improve social mobility through education, found that while some academy chains were out-performing the average for all state-funded schools, others performed poorly for disadvantaged pupils. Sir Peter Lampl, the charity’s chairman, said: “Many chain sponsors, despite several years in charge of their schools, continue to struggle to improve the outcomes of their most disadvantaged students.”

Mixed results in study of disadvantaged pupils in academy chains

by BBC News, July 24, 2015

Classified as General.

Many academy chains in England are struggling to improve the results of disadvantaged pupils, a report says.
The Sutton Trust study of 34 organisations which sponsor multiple academies says poor pupils in 22 of them performed significantly below the mainstream schools average in 2014.
But disadvantaged pupils in 11 chains outperformed those in mainstream schools at GCSE, the charity says.
Ministers said academies were transforming millions of pupils' lives.
In-depth analysis compared the results at 156 academies between 2012 and 2014 in 34 academy chains with those of mainstream state-funded schools.
The academies were chosen because they had been open and had GCSE results for the past three years.
'Harming prospects'
The report, Chain Effects 2015, highlights how a handful of top performing chains, such as Ark and Harris Federation, with a large number of schools, were leading performance in the academy sector.
Results for disadvantaged students in these academy chains were at least 15 percentage points higher than those in mainstream schools, the report said.
But in many more academies, disadvantaged pupils did worse than those in mainstream schools. One chain performed at the mainstream average for disadvantaged pupils.
The results are significant because the government sees its academies programme as its main engine of improvement.
"Academy sponsorship is not a panacea," the report said.

Female graduates find more jobs, while men win higher pay

by The Guardian, July 23, 2015

Classified as General.

Female graduates are more likely to find jobs after they leave university than their male peers, but those men who do find work enjoy higher starting salaries, the latest statistics on graduate employment show.

While nearly three-quarters of women who graduated last summer had found full- or part-time jobs within six months of leaving university, just 71% of men had done the same. Some 8% of male graduates said they were unemployed at the time of the survey, compared with just 6% of women.

But the survey found that men were more likely to be employed in professional jobs and on average received higher starting salaries: £21,000 for men, compared with £20,000 for women.

The gender pay disparity widened higher up the income scale: while more than 10% of male graduates earned annual salaries of £30,000 to £40,000 in their first jobs, only half the number of women earned the same amount. Nearly four times as many men earned more than £40,000.

The figures were collected by universities and published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency, recording responses from 424,000 students who graduated from undergraduate and postgraduate courses at British universities in summer 2014.

The data matches recent research on the persistent pay gap between men and women, even at the very start of their careers as graduates from prestigious universities.

Universities urged to work together to improve access

by BBC News, July 23, 2015

Classified as General.

Universities in England are being urged to work together to ensure young people from less advantaged homes succeed in their degree studies.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) says while there is isolated work going on in individual institutions, it is "fragmented".
As a result there is a lack of detailed evidence on which interventions achieve the best results for different groups.
However, access to university continues to improve for disadvantaged students.
Hefce analysis suggests the participation rate for these students was four percentage points higher than the results of GCSEs in 2009 would have predicted.
Also, the non-continuation rate for full-time students has improved from a rate of 14% in 2003-04 to 10% in 2013-14.
The number of disabled students going to university has increased from just over 16,700 in 2003-04 to just over 51,300 in 2012-13.

How to get a graduate job in market research

by The Guardian, July 23, 2015

Classified as General.

If you thought a job in market research meant spending all day in a call centre working through a list numbers in the phone directory, you might be surprised to learn that there is a lot more to it than cold calling.

So what do market researchers actually do? They collect data about specific markets for clients; data about what people like, dislike, want and don’t want – even how people behave. They often have an area of specialism, so they might work in fashion or banking, advertising or public policy, and they work in project teams, liaising with suppliers and clients.

If you are a recent graduate, the good news is the role uses skills already learned during your course: analytical thinking, persuasive writing and an ability to distil information.

So, how can graduates go about starting a career in market research?

A-levels, BTecs or an IB: which is right for you?

by The Guardian, July 23, 2015

Classified as General.

Jordan Harry, 18, left school with eight GCSEs. He could have stayed on to take A-levels, but instead opted to take a BTec level 3 extended diploma in sports science at West Suffolk college. Two years later, armed with a triple distinction* – equivalent to three A* A-levels – he’s preparing to study sport and social sciences at the University of Bath.

For Harry, it was an easy choice: he knew he wanted a career in sports marketing or sports management, and this was the best route to get there. The level 3 extended diploma, offered by BTec and other awarding bodies such as City and Guilds, is a vocational qualification, equivalent to three A-levels. With a strong emphasis on acquiring practical skills, the diploma offers a chance to study subjects as varied as performing arts, animal management and engineering in depth.

The focus on coursework was good preparation for university, says Harry: “While A-level students were doing tests and homework, we were doing coursework and assignments, and we had the opportunity in the second year to specialise – it really had breadth and depth.”

Lindsey Johnson, the vice-principal of West Suffolk, says that while the college has good relationships with employers, and many diploma students go straight into employment, a high proportion, like Harry, go on to university. If a student has a clear idea of the career they want, she says, a diploma can be a better option than A-levels: “If you want to go into games design, for example, do an extended diploma in computing, because you will be ahead of the game – you will have better vocational skills such as programming.”

Diplomas are less well-suited for students who want a traditional academic education or want to keep their options open. But there is an alternative to A-levels for students who don’t want to be pinned down to studying just three or four subjects. The International Baccalaureate (IB) diploma programme is an internationally-recognised qualification and is highly rigorous – 18-year old Freddie Swan, who has just completed his IB at Bilborough sixth form college in Nottingham and is hoping to study medicine at university, describes it as “gruelling”.

IB students take six subjects, three at higher level, and three at a standard level: these subjects must include maths, at least one science, one humanities subject, English language and literature (or the student’s own native language) and a foreign language. They also study theory of knowledge, write an extended, research-based, 4,000-word essay and carry out a series of activities relating to creativity, action and service, such as learning a musical instrument, teaching art to young children or designing a website for a campaign.

Rise in secondary school pupils over next decade

by The BBC, July 22, 2015

Classified as General.

The number of pupils attending England's secondary schools is set to rise by 20% over the course of the next decade, government figures show.
By 2024, nearly 3.3 million pupils are expected to be attending state-funded secondaries, compared with just over 2.7 million in 2015, a rise of 547,000.
The increase is mainly due to the upturn in the birth rate since 2002, the Department for Education says.
The rise follows years of falling rolls due to low birth rates in the 1990s.
State primary schools in England will also see a rise in pupil numbers, although not as great as in secondary schools due to lower birth rates in 2013.
The primary population is projected to be 4, 712,000 in 2024 - 336,000 higher than in 2015.

Number of secondary school pupils to rise by 20 per cent in next 10 years

by The independant, July 22, 2015

Classified as General.

The number of secondary school pupils is set to increase by 20 per cent during the next 10 years, according to the latest statistics.

The show the secondary school population will rise to 3.3 million by 2024 - the highest total for more than 20 years.

The increase is due to a rise in the birth rate since 2002 which is currently working its way through the primary sector. Overall pupil numbers will jump by 13 per cent to 8.2 million over the same period.
The number of secondary school pupils is set to increase by 20 per cent during the next 10 years, according to the latest statistics.

The show the secondary school population will rise to 3.3 million by 2024 - the highest total for more than 20 years.

The increase is due to a rise in the birth rate since 2002 which is currently working its way through the primary sector. Overall pupil numbers will jump by 13 per cent to 8.2 million over the same period.

The rise will pile more pressure on exam boards with more pupils taking GCSEs and A-levels - and create demand for extra school places.

However, the birth rate has been dropping off since 2013 which will eventually relieve the pressure for more primary school places.

Picture yourself in the creative industries? Take a BTec

by The Guardian, July 22, 2015

Classified as General.

Experience is key when it comes to working in the creative industries, but fighting off hordes of applicants to land work experience or an unpaid internship isn’t the only way to add skills to your CV.

Get off on the right foot by opting to study a BTec course, combining a compelling curriculum with hands on experience. Rather than endless exams, BTecs can see students embracing editing, pitching campaigns and developing images in the dark room.

“BTecs send students into the media as fully trained professionals with a portfolio of work,” says Lesley Holland, leader of the media production course at Cirencester sixth form college.

A jam-packed portfolio, honed during your BTec, can work wonders at university admission interviews, says Sarah Simms, head of admissions at the University for the Creative Arts (UCA): “The majority of UCA courses include a portfolio review at interview as part of our entry requirements. Applicants who have studied a BTec course, with real-life placements, have more experience that they can draw upon in the interview, especially when presenting their portfolio.”

Once you have a BTec qualification under your belt, you’re more likely to be able to jump headfirst into your creative degree: “At UCA, A-level students are often to asked to complete a foundation diploma in art and design before they start an undergraduate course, while BTec students shouldn’t need to,” reveals Sarah Simms. “This is because they have not had as much time to specialise and develop their skills compared to a BTec student.”

A teacher's view on school reports: they're bland, robotic and misleading

by The Guardian, July 22, 2015

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It will come as no surprise to teachers that parents are increasingly dissatisfied with “robotic” school reports. Long gone are the days when children used to get up at dawn to intercept the dreaded letter from their school, aimed with drone-like precision to obliterate the early promise of the holiday. Now parents read reports on their iPhones the moment they are written. There is no escape for the naughty child.

Except, of course, much of what is said these days is dull and impersonal: that naughty child can hide in the plain sight of bland statements. And that’s if they are read at all: I have taught many children who blithely admit that their parents never look at their reports. There are a number of reasons for this. Most obviously, teachers are in much more regular contact with parents by email now, so reports tend to just summarise what is already known.

Degrees 'will cost £6,000 more' after George Osborne freezes the threshold for student loan repayment in Budget

by The Independent, July 21, 2015

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The cost of obtaining a university degree will rise by £6,000 for middle-earners due to the salary level at which graduates have to start paying back their student loans being frozen in the Budget, according to a new analysis.

The average student would face an additional bill of £3,800 to cover the cost of their tuition, the independent Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) has calculated in a report on university funding published today.

Its conclusions prompted accusations that the Chancellor, George Osborne, was burdening students with heavier debts while they were studying – and with bigger repayments after they start work.

Currently graduates from English universities have to pay 9 per cent of any income earned above £21,000 a year towards their tuition fees and Mr Osborne has announced plans to peg the threshold until 2020.

Poorest graduates 'will owe £53,000' after grants cut

by BBC News, July 21, 2015

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Students from the poorest backgrounds in England will graduate owing up to £53,000 after maintenance grants are replaced by loans, a think tank says.

Changes to student finance announced in the Budget will mean an initial £2bn annual saving for the government, says the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS).

But the IFS estimates only a quarter of these loans will be repaid and the long-term annual saving will be £270m.

The government says it is committed to "widening access in higher education".

More than half a million students from poorer backgrounds currently receive a maintenance grant, at a cost to the taxpayer of about £1.57bn a year.

From 2016, these will be replaced with loans, which they will be expected to repay in addition to loans for their tuition fees.

The IFS says the new loans will mean up to £550 more "cash in pocket" per year for those students, but they will graduate owing up to £53,000 in total, compared with £40,500 before maintenance grants were scrapped.

In the short term, government borrowing will fall by £2bn a year, because spending on grants counts towards the government's borrowing, while spending on loans does not count in the same way, the IFS says.


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