News in brief

September 6, 2012

Postgraduate study

Shame about the face time

Nine out of 10 taught postgraduate students are happy with their course - but they are less satisfied with levels of contact time, new research shows. Eighty-nine per cent of respondents to the Higher Education Academy's fourth Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey, which was carried out in the spring of 2012, said they were satisfied with their overall academic experience. But only 69 per cent of postgraduates said they had enough contact time with staff. The survey collected responses from more than 54,640 students at 83 institutions - a 41 per cent increase on the 38,756 students at 80 universities who responded last year. The Higher Education Funding Council for England is examining how a postgraduate poll similar to the National Student Survey, which covers undergraduates, could be introduced to allow prospective students to compare satisfaction levels at different universities.

Tuition-fee rises

Too much? Not half, say half of us

One in two people believes a university education is not worth £9,000 a year, a poll has found. Fifty-three per cent of those quizzed by YouGov say they do not believe the maximum annual tuition fee - in the wake of reforms coming into effect in English institutions this autumn - represents value for money for students. Of the 1,687 people polled shortly after A-level results day on 16 August, 30 per cent say university study is worth £9,000 a year, while 16 per cent are not sure. Members of the public were also asked about the government's decision to allow universities to recruit as many students achieving AAB at A level as they wish. Just over a third of respondents (39 per cent) support the policy because it will increase competition between universities, while 29 per cent are against it. Almost a third (32 per cent) did not offer an opinion.

Medical research

Get the bridge-builders in

Funders have launched a £30 million initiative to encourage engineers to find solutions to medical problems. The Wellcome Trust and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council are jointly funding the Innovative Engineering for Health programme, which will fund a minimum of three projects over seven years. The funders said they hoped the scheme would give researchers flexibility and resources to develop engineering solutions to pressing healthcare needs such as tackling mental health issues or rare diseases. The results of previous successful mergers between the physical sciences and healthcare include magnetic resonance imaging and automated gene sequencing. The EPSRC said that it hopes to encourage international collaborations.

Student accommodation

Bright lights, big city, bigger bills

The cost of studying in London is hitting students hard as their accommodation costs continue to rise, a report has shown. Over the past 12 months, student rents in London have grown by an average of 5.3 per cent in university-provided accommodation and by 7.2 per cent in the private sector, according to findings by DTZ, part of the property services company UGL Limited. Despite the rise, which has led to average student rents approaching £300 a week for 2012-13, demand is also set to increase. This is thought to be due in part to growth in the number of international students in the capital. In 2010-11, London was home to almost 290,000 full-time students, the largest concentration of university students in the UK.


The news that London Metropolitan University had lost its licence to sponsor overseas students brought a deluge of comments from readers. Sally observed that "London Met's failure to check standards of English" had been cited by the UK Border Agency. "If this is one of the key reasons why the licence was revoked, then the Home Office needs to start casting its net far wider." Jim said: "To deport genuine bona fide students in the midst of their studies is vindictive, petty and utterly unfair. At the very least the UKBA, whilst suspending new enrolment, should have reviewed students in place, tried to migrate them to other universities."

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