News in brief - 15 August 2013

August 15, 2013

Widening participation
Still a struggle below poverty line

Children from the poorest families remain about half as likely to enter higher education as their more affluent peers, according to government figures. The estimated proportion of state school students eligible for free school meals entering higher education by the age of 19 increased from 13 per cent in 2005-06 to 20 per cent in 2010-11, according to a report published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills on 7 August. However, that remains well below the proportion of state school pupils going into higher education who did not receive free school meals – 38 per cent in 2010-11, up from 33 per cent in 2005-06. The report, Widening Participation in Higher Education, also shows that the proportion of state school A-level students reaching the most selective universities – those in the top third of UK institutions when ranked by average Ucas tariff score – fell from 26 per cent in 2008-09 to 24 per cent in 2010-11.

Knowledge transfer
Korean kudos (UK also-rans)

Academics at leading South Korean universities are the world’s best at attracting funding from big business, a study has found. Compiled by Times Higher Education with Thomson Reuters data, the World Academic Summit Innovation Index shows that global companies are investing the equivalent of $97,900 (£62,800) in each scholar in South Korea to carry out work in innovation and research on their behalf. Singapore is in second place, bringing in an average of $84,500 per academic. The UK is in 26th position ($13,300). The index has been published ahead of THE’s inaugural World Academic Summit. To be held at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore on 2-4 October, the summit will bring together leaders from industry, government, higher education and research to discuss the relationship between big business and the academy.

Law rubber-stamped

The University of Law, the UK’s first for-profit university, has had its status rubber-stamped by the coalition government. The Department for Business, Innovation and Skills said that the institution continues to meet the criteria for university title, following its £200 million sale to Montagu Private Equity last year. In November 2012, BIS awarded university status to the previously charitable College of Law. Once that status had been awarded, Montagu completed its purchase, converting the University of Law into a for-profit institution. In November, BIS introduced guidelines requiring that within three months of the completion of any sale or change of ownership, universities must undergo checks to see if they continue to meet the criteria for the title.

Postgraduate students
Home advantage

In a sign of the dominance of overseas students in the UK postgraduate market, Glyndwr University is to offer half-price postgraduate courses to British students in what it has called an attempt to “stop knowledge and skills leaving home soil”. The deal will apply to students who have completed their undergraduate studies at Glyndwr. The head of the institution’s business school, Chris Jones, says: “It’s fantastic to have so many overseas students here in the UK but when they go back to China, or South America or…Europe they take their skills and what they’ve learned with them.”

Follow Times Higher Education on Twitter

There was plenty of debate about how British universities are cashing in on the global exposure to international students offered by links with their local Premier League clubs. “Spare a thought for world-class universities that’ll never have Premier League soccer in town,” said @pinman acidly. @AlextoMiles said that the teams’ managers “all study at @warwickuni and @WarwickBSchool…it’s like a Carlsberg World Cup advert on campus”. And @guildheceo pointed out that it is not just a Premier League phenomenon, noting examples of universities sponsoring lower league clubs.

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