News in brief

September 5, 2013

Visa applications

Overseas students not deterred

Visa applications from overseas students seeking to study at UK universities are up 4 per cent, according to the latest migration figures from the Office for National Statistics. The data, which were published on 29 August, suggest that the further education and school sectors, rather than higher education, have borne the brunt of the government’s visa crackdown. The ONS says there were falls in visa applications of 25 per cent, 16 per cent and 3 per cent, respectively, for further education, English language schools and independent schools. The figures also show a rise in overall net migration thanks to a fall in the number of people emigrating from the UK. This has prompted fears that the government could further tighten the rules for overseas students in an effort to meet its target of reducing net migration to “tens of thousands” by 2015.

Graduate employment

Three years on, they’ve got jobs

Almost nine out of 10 graduates from the class of 2008-09 are in work, according to new data, and just over 3 per cent are unemployed. The statistics from the Higher Education Statistics Agency’s longitudinal survey of graduate destinations show that former students are faring much better in the labour market three and a half years after leaving university than they did after six months. Surveyed half a year after graduating, 7.2 per cent of 2008-09 leavers were unemployed. But this proportion dropped to 3.2 per cent in the following three years, while the number in work rose from 73.4 per cent to 87.1 per cent. However, the class of 2008-09 appears to be faring slightly worse than the students who graduated nearer the turn of the millennium. The 2002-03 and 2004-05 leaving cohorts had unemployment rates of 2.3  per cent and 2.6 per cent, respectively, three years after graduating.

QAA guides for applicants

How to get the low-down

Making sure that prospective students get accurate information on workload, class sizes and teaching is the aim of new guidance from the sector’s quality watchdog. The Quality Assurance Agency’s documents are aimed at supporting universities and colleges in making information available to current and prospective students, and at advising students on the questions to ask about teaching when applying for a course. It looks at areas identified as priorities by students in research by the National Union of Students. “There is now more choice than ever before of where and what to study, and universities and colleges need to get it right in the information they provide to their current and future students,” said Jayne Mitchell, director of research, development and partnerships at the QAA.


Words of our time

The acronym “Mooc” has made it into OED Online – a web-based lexicon of current English by the publishers of the Oxford English Dictionary. Defined as “a course of study made available over the Internet without charge to a very large number of people”, the word “Mooc” has become common in academia over the past 18 months after many institutions began offering such courses. It is not the only education-related word making its debut in the online dictionary. “BYOD”, an abbreviation of “bring your own device”, has also been added. It refers to the practice of people using their own computers, smartphones or other devices for work purposes, and is increasingly being used in universities, with lecturers encouraging students to use their own gadgets during class.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

Government backing for plans that would let students judge universities on how many of their academics hold teaching qualifications provoked debate. “Passive-aggressive attempt to mandate that lecturers have teaching qualifications begins,” said @richpaige. @smitajamdar said such plans were “the opposite direction of travel to FE”, with @dajbelshaw describing UK education policy as “schizophrenic”. “They [the government] seem to be making it up as they go along with a terrifying mixture of naivety, elitism and incompetence,” added @thegreenun.

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