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July’s industry round-ups

Industry news 

In July, the news continued to focus on the implications of COVID-19 on young people, with new research on the global graduate job market and evidence that UK universities received the highest number of applications yet. Read about these and more from across the education sector below.

Editorial reporting: Australia set to ease virus visa hardship for foreign students

THE, 3 July

The Australian government is set to announce new visa arrangements next week, bringing rules for foreign students more in line with those in competitor countries. The plans are expected to include fee waivers for students forced to extend their stay in Australia because of the pandemic, and to clarify whether online classes count towards the period of study required to qualify for post-course work rights.

New research: UK universities receive record number of applications in lockdown

The Guardian, 9 July

A record 40.5% of all 18-year-olds in the UK have applied to go to university, with numbers rising significantly during lockdown, according to the university admissions service UCAS. It is the first time that more than four out of 10 students (40.5%) had applied by 30 June to go to university, and the figures will offer some comfort to universities bracing themselves for the COVID-19 aftershock. At the same point in the admissions cycle last year, the figure was 38.9%, and UCAS points out that between mid-March and the end of June, when the pandemic was at its height in the UK, applications rose by 17%.

New research: New report calls for the decolonisation of universities in order address a ‘silent crisis’
HEPI, 23 July

HEPI has published a new report with practical guidance for UK universities on decolonising higher education. The report states that decolonisation is “the crucial next step for our institutions” and vital for the improvement of course curricula, pedagogical practice, staff wellbeing and the student experience. The report’s recommendations include: prioritising decolonisation in order to expand the curriculum and improve both teaching and course content, increasing government and university funding for BAME research and BAME-only scholarships, and creating departmental roles to work specifically on issues relating to anti-racism and the decolonising of their department.

New research: Searches for tech courses surge 40% amid COVID-19 pandemic

Education Technology, 20 July

Across the UK, searches for remote learning tech training and skills development programmes have increased by over 40% on average, as the lockdown drives the uptake of continuous professional development with people out of work. The results demonstrate a considerable rise in searches when compared with 2019, with UI/UX coming out as the most in-demand skills on the list, surging by 62% and 56% respectively.

Opinion: Collaboration is key for universities to survive Covid-19
University Business, 29 July
This joint opinion piece from James Clay, Head of Higher Education, and Josh Frey, Director of Cloud, both at Jisc, argues that despite a history of isolated development across higher education, increased collaboration between institutions, sector bodies and industry will be required to help fuel the sector’s recovery. It claims the traditional model of trying to do everything themselves is something that universities will have to let go of and the pandemic has highlighted the need for industry-education partnership in particular, due to the urgent need for a talent pipeline across various disciplines. 

New research: Graduate hiring outlook ‘brighter in continental Europe

THE, 31 July 

A new survey of recruiters has shown that employers in parts of continental Europe think the COVID-19 pandemic is less likely to change their plans on hiring graduates compared with firms in the UK and the US. Early results from the latest survey that feeds into the annual Global University Employability Ranking, indicate that the variations between countries in the handling of the crisis may have created very different views about the effects on universities and graduate employment. For example, asked whether their recruitment plans for this year had been changed by the crisis, firms in Germany scored the impact lower than 6 on a 10-point scale, while in Switzerland and France it was below 7. This compared with an average score of about 8 from companies in the US, the UK and parts of Asia.

Feature: The future of education or just hype? The rise of Minerva, the world’s most selective university

The Guardian, 30 July

This feature article claims that the Minerva Project could offer a template for universities shifting their courses online due to coronavirus. The Minerva project was founded in 2012, with an aim to “revolutionize education” and offer “customized learning and talent development programs that are more agile and effective than traditional approaches”, and to “impart the skill sets and mindsets needed for success in the modern era”. At Minerva, all teaching is done through online video classes, and rather than reading maths or history, students take courses aimed at teaching transferable skills such as critical thinking and problem-solving, through classes named “multimodal communications”, “empirical analyses” and “complex systems”. This piece claims that Minerva’s innovations certainly pose a challenge to a sclerotic university model in both the US and the UK.

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