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April’s industry round-ups

Opinion: Universities must create opportunities for the people coronavirus will harm most
The Guardian, 16 April
This article argues that we must use the pandemic to reimagine a more equal and just society. It points out that as engines of social mobility, universities have a crucial part to play in teaching the skills that people who have lost their jobs need to move on with their lives. The piece challenges universities to use this time to step up to their efforts to improve social mobility through working closely with hard-to-reach schools.


Editorial: THE Impact Rankings 2020: Results Announced
Times Higher Education, 22 April 
Universities in Australasia have topped the second edition of Times Higher Education’s Impact Rankings, which assess the social and economic impact of universities, using metrics based on the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. New Zealand’s University of Auckland once again leads the overall THE Impact Rankings, despite an additional 299 institutions joining the table this year, while Australia’s University of Sydney, Western Sydney University and La Trobe University complete the top four. Last year, no Australian universities featured in the top 10. The overall ranking includes 766 universities from 85 nations/regions.


Opinion: What students are doing is remote learning, not online learning. There’s a difference.
EdSurge, 2 April 
This opinion piece argues that the media is touting an online learning “revolution”, and claims that students are currently adapting to remote learning, not online learning. It argues that what students are experiencing on Zoom and other conferencing platforms is not online learning, but rather remote learning. It suggests that the two can be distinguished as remote learning is a “quick, ad hoc, low-fidelity mitigation strategy” in contrast to “well-considered, durable online learning”. 


New research: Students more anxious than excited about starting their careers despite confidence they will find work
HEPI, 28 April
The Higher Education Policy Institute has published new research about students’ views on starting their careers, Open for business? Students’ views on entering the labour market (Policy Note 22). The survey of over 1,000 full-time UK undergraduate students, undertaken for HEPI and JobTeaser in partnership with the polling company YouthSight, found that three-quarters (79%) of graduates feel confident of getting a graduate level job once they graduate. However, when asked about their feelings towards entering the labour market, most (28%) cite anxiety as their number one feeling, ahead of confidence (23%), uncertain (16%) and feeling overwhelmed by the prospect (16%). Only 14% selected excitement as their primary emotion, leaving 3% feeling relaxed. Around one-third (29%) said that the Coronavirus pandemic has altered these feelings.


Editorial: Universities are expecting 230,000 fewer students – that’s serious financial pain
The Guardian, 23 April 
New analysis suggests that over 230,000 fewer students will enter higher education in 2020 as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, over half of which are international students. That fall in student numbers would translate into a drop in income of around £1.51bn from non-EU students, £350 million from EU students and £612 million from UK students opting to stay away. The report from London Economics for the University and College Union lays bare how vulnerable some of the most renowned universities are to falls in international demand, but also how widespread the financial pain might be. All 125 universities in the report would suffer substantial falls in income, leaving 91 (almost three-quarters) in a critical financial position where income only just covers expenditure.


Opinion: Digital can’t replace face to face when it comes to widening participation
WONKHE, 14 April 
In this article, Hugh Rayment-Pickard talks about the limitations of online learning when it comes to widening participation. He argues that ‘Covid-19 has illuminated the depth of the digital gulf between well-off families where every child has a study-bedroom kitted out with a high spec laptop, and free school meal pupils in overcrowded homes, with shared bedrooms and inadequate IT.’ He points to research from Teach First which found that teachers in the poorest communities believe that at least a fifth of their pupils do not have adequate access to a device for online learning at home.


New research: How Teaching Changed in the (Forced) Shift to Remote Learning
Inside Higher Ed, 23 April
A US survey offers insights into the transition colleges have made to online learning as campuses shut across the country. It found that 90% of institutions engaged in some form of emergency distance education and 76% reported they had moved their courses online to complete the term. Respondents were also asked about the level of experience they had with remote teaching and 50% said their institutions had some faculty members with online teaching experience to ease the transition. Additionally, almost two-thirds said they changed “the kinds of assignments or exams” they gave to students, and nearly half said they lowered their expectations for the amount of work students would be able to do.


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