News in brief - 11 July 2013

July 11, 2013

Graduate employment
Job lot: results do vary

Students entering university from state schools perform better than the expected benchmark for securing a job after graduation compared with the privately educated, a report says. However, state-school entrants perform significantly less well than their privately educated peers at securing a higher-level graduate job. Higher Education and Beyond, published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England on 5 July, tracked the performance of cohorts of students who entered between 2002-03 and 2006-07, who began graduating in 2005 and 2009 respectively. It also found that the proportion of students gaining an upper second-class degree or above rose from 49.6 per cent of those entering university in 2002-03 to 53.3 per cent for the 2006-07 cohort.

Capital investment
Bond stars in Manc ‘master plan’

The University of Manchester has become the latest university to launch a bond issue to raise money for capital investments. The proceeds of Manchester’s £300 million bond issue will be used for “general corporate purposes, including the continuation of its £1 billion campus master plan”. The announcement follows similar moves last year by the University of Cambridge and De Montfort University. Last week, Times Higher Education reported that Durham University’s governing council has also given the go-ahead to a potential bond issue in light of the scarcity of capital funding from public sources. Manchester’s 40-year bonds, which offer a return of 4.25 per cent, have been assigned the second highest possible rating of Aa1 by ratings agency Moody’s – the same as De Montfort’s £110 million issue. Cambridge’s £350 million issue, announced last October, was given the highest rating of AAA.

Sir Bernard Crick Centre
Blunkett: been there, knows that

Former home secretary David Blunkett is to become a visiting professor at the world’s first centre for the public understanding of politics, at the University of Sheffield. Mr Blunkett, who is MP for Sheffield Brightside and Hillsborough, held Cabinet roles in the Labour government of Tony Blair, including three years as home secretary and stints as secretary of state for education and for work and pensions. The Sir Bernard Crick Centre for the Public Understanding of Politics is named for the late political theorist who was Mr Blunkett’s tutor when he read political theory and institutions as a mature student.

Office for Fair Access
Concern at drop in part-time study

Dramatic falls in part-time and mature student numbers must be tackled to ensure that people from poor families have the chance to go to university, access head Les Ebdon has warned. Writing in the Office for Fair Access’s annual report for 2012‑13, published on 3 July, Professor Ebdon, director of fair access, says he is “very concerned” by a 40 per cent decline in the numbers of students starting part-time courses since 2010, as such students tend to come from poor backgrounds. “If higher education is truly to meet the needs of all those with the talent to benefit, it must be flexible enough to support those who choose to study later in life, whether part-time or full-time, as well as those who go straight to university from school,” says Professor Ebdon, a former vice-chancellor of the University of Bedfordshire.

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

A story suggesting that only one in three lecturers has been rewarded for their teaching spurred debate online. Doug Belshaw (@dajbelshaw) suggested that some sort of badging system could be used to recognise teaching prowess, but Miranda von Rossum (@Mirandamvr) was not impressed. “Sorry Doug, but I’d rather have a pay rise ;-),” she said. Nathan Emmerich (@bioethicsuk) was less concerned by the issue. “Is this another facet of the everyone’s a winner society? How many [of you] would expect to be rewarded for doing [your] job?” he asked.

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