News in brief

June 13, 2013

Student loans

Rules fixed for private providers

The government has published final guidance on the new process for allowing privately funded higher education providers access to publicly funded Student Loans Company money. Under the rules, any institution wanting its students to access the loans will need to have undergone a successful recent review by the Quality Assurance Agency. Providers will also have to supply copies of their accounts from the previous three years as part of financial sustainability checks. From 2014-15, the government is also set to control the number of students able to access loans at each provider. David Willetts, universities and science minister, said that the guidance would “provide assurances to students and the taxpayer, and ensure that our reputation for world-class higher education is upheld worldwide”.

Student visas

Visitors not outstaying welcome

The Home Office has concluded that the student visitor route that was introduced in 2007 is being used as intended and is not a back-door route to work or settlement in the UK. A report released on 6 June found that the route, which allows students to undertake a course of study for up to six months without being sponsored by an institution, was mostly being used to take courses at institutions already licensed to sponsor international students. Students using the route cannot work, do work experience, bring dependants to the UK or switch to another visa immigration category. “The evidence suggests the student visitor route is being used as intended and abuse is minimal,” Student Visitors states.

Troops to Teachers

From front line to chalkface

The University of Brighton is leading a government-funded project to train military personnel as teachers once they leave the armed services. The Troops to Teachers programme will train former service members through newly created one-year graduate or two-year non-graduate initial teacher training routes developed in collaboration with the Ministry of Defence’s Career Transition Partnership. Brighton will lead the scheme as part of a consortium with the universities of Bath Spa, Canterbury Christ Church, Huddersfield, Reading, Staffordshire and Southampton. Lorraine Harrison, head of Brighton’s School of Education, said that the initiative “recognises that exceptional service leavers have invaluable skills and experiences to bring to teaching, especially if they have trained other people as part of their role”.

Healthcare training

Technology-led learning

The Higher Education Academy is working with an NHS body to improve training for healthcare staff. The York-based organisation will run a 12-month project with Health Education England to promote the use of technology – including e-learning, computer simulations and mobile phone applications – in enhancing the teaching of health-based subjects. The scheme will lead to the creation of a good practice guide, which will be shared with regulators, health providers, commissioners and the 160,000 healthcare students supported by HEE. Geoff Glover, assistant director and head of health and social care at the HEA, said that sharing good examples of technology-led learning would have a direct impact on patient care and would “provide support and leadership within this important sector”.

Online now

Last week’s story that Leeds Metropolitan University is considering changing its name provoked some inevitably sardonic responses. Jonathan Baldwin said that the options on offer – Leeds Beckett University, Leeds Headingley University and Leeds Ridings University – were “awful”. “What about: Metropolitan University of Leeds? Polytechnic University, Leeds? Leeds Polytechnic University? Or do what airports do: London University, Leeds.” Returning the institution to its pre-1992 incarnation was popular with Bill Cooke. “I’d vote for Leeds Polytechnic, as a proud graduate of that institution,” he said.

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