News in brief

February 14, 2013

Teaching funding
It looks down, but it’s up: Hefce

England’s funding council has unveiled the sector’s total funding for 2013-14, stating that funding per student is on the rise. On 7 February the Higher Education Funding Council for England published its response to last month’s grant letter from the government. The response outlines a funding distribution of £4.47 billion, including £2.3 billion in teaching funding and £1.6 billion for research. Hefce says the fall in teaching money - from £3.2 billion last year - reflects the switch to tuition fee income, which “in most cases…will result in higher income per student for universities and colleges in 2013-14 than in 2011-12”. However, capital funding for teaching was set at £59 million, which the Million+ group of newer universities called “an all-time low”. Widening- participation funding fell to £105 million from £140 million, but a Hefce spokesman said this reflected the loss of a dedicated payment for part- time students, who may now access tuition fee loans.

Part-time study
Work and progress

Part-time students enjoy a high level of job stability, with four out of five working throughout their studies and still in employment two years after graduation, a report says. The study of more than 1,000 part-time students, Futuretrack: Impact of Part-time Learning Two Years after Graduation, says 81 per cent of respondents were employed before, during and after their course, of whom 78 per cent worked full-time. Of students working in their final year of study, only 20 per cent changed employer two years after graduation, according to the research carried out for the Higher Education Careers Services Unit by Birkbeck, University of London and the National Institute of Economic and Social Research. About half of those still in the same job two years after graduation said the course enabled them to do more interesting work and to improve job satisfaction and pay and promotion prospects.

Quality assurance
Good news gets set to travel

Thousands of examples of good quality assurance practices are now available on two new databases. Operated by the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, the Good Practice Knowledgebase and the Recommendations Knowledgebase contain data from hundreds of peer reviews of universities and colleges undertaken by the watchdog. “The reports we publish after each review contain a wealth of useful information on everything from curriculum design to student engagement,” said Anthony McClaran, chief executive of the QAA.

Student debt
Banking on family support

University students have an average of £1,409 in debt outside their state loans for tuition fees and living costs, a study has found. Based on a survey of 1,000 students by YouGov SixthSense, the report finds that students owe an average of £940 to banks, building societies and financial companies, as well as £469 to family and friends. The study, published on 6 February, says students had an average income of £6,951 in 2012-13, excluding tuition fee loans. However, they spend an average of £726 a year more than this amount, it adds. The report calculates that students studying at universities in the UK in 2012-13 collectively owed almost £20 billion, with the vast bulk of the debt owed to the state-owned Student Loans Company.

Online now

Our report last week that student advertising spending had risen by an average of 22 per cent at 70 institutions led to a lively debate. “It is the prisoner’s dilemma,” wrote Jim. “If you don’t spend and your numbers fall because others spend and recruit more, it’s time for another job. The rational decision is to agree limits amongst all universities…and use the saved money” for improvements. But that requires “trust that others will also stick to it”. Meanwhile Tony wrote: “When will universities wake up to the fact that it’s their reputation that counts, not glossy brand makeovers which fool nobody.”

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