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The HE Bite: 8th September – which country has topped the Global University League Table?

The HE Bite: 8th September – which country has topped the Global University League Table?

The home office is looking to increase the number of checks for international students, Vice Chancellor’s paychecks continue to be questioned and a country has topped the Global University League Table for the first time in 13 years. Here’s what’s been happening in the world of Higher Education over the past week.

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Home office wants EU student crackdown – according to leaked documents

A few weeks ago, the HE bite covered exaggerated numbers on international student mobility. The suggestion, touted by Theresa May and others, that 100,000 students overstay their study visas grossly overshot the real data. In fact, 97% of international students leave the UK upon completion of their study period.  

This week, amidst hope of a conciliatory attitude toward international students and a more liberal approach, the leaked documents highlight measures to introduce additional checks on student mobility. Specifically, English language and financial checks were mentioned in the document.

This has been met with little official reaction from Europe, after all, this is not an actual policy declaration but a leaked document. Although media commentators in Europe have not held back, it is safe to assume by the nature of these leaks that the document has not met cabinet approval.

EU student enrolment is already experiencing the biggest decline among any demographic group, per UCAS data. As every sector grapples with the economic impact of Brexit, Higher Education braces for impact on international student mobility. Additionally, research funding from Europe is particularly high among Russell Group institutions.

Click here to read the full draft of the policy here.

Why does this matter to you?

EU students have already begun to respond to Brexit and there is no reason to assume that continued policy won’t influence youth mobility, as it has done in the past.

Joe Johnson addresses Vice Chancellor Pay at Brunel University

Vice Chancellor pay has continued to dominate sector conversation this week. Most recently, Joe Johnson (current Conservative MP and Minister of Universities and Science) put forth a government announcement at the University UK annual conference at Brunel University. The announcement stipulated that universities paying their vice-chancellors more than £150,000 a year, could be fined if they are unable to justify salaries. Jo Johnson has also charged the Office for Students with regulatory duties, amid concerns regarding rising tuition fees.

He also addressed grade inflation and accelerated degrees, as well as covering the Higher Education and Research Act, which Johnson stated would “set an entirely new regulatory framework for the HE sector, and marks the start of a new era.”

The address came after Oxford VC, Professor Louise Richardson, hit back on criticisms of VC pay. In a series of comments, she discussed the “mendacious media,” and “tawdry politicians,” for undermining the HE sector by inflating the issue of VC pay. She clarified her points in a recent BBC 4 radio interview, stating that transparency was important to the sector. When asked about her comments on “tawdry politicians,” she stated that this was a reflection on individuals, armed with a private political agenda, who have done damage to the Higher Education sector.

Both Johnson and Lord Adonis, discussed in last week’s HE update, have discussed VC pay as an issue of contention.

Click here to read the coverage of Jo Johnson’s speech.

Click here to read the full speech, including specifics on OfS regulatory duties.

Some good news? The UK dominates global rankings despite Brexit

Britain has trumped America and secured the top two places in global league tables for the first time in 13 years. Oxford and Cambridge took first and second place respectively, followed by Stanford and Caltech, which tied for third place. Times Higher Education, responsible for the rankings, said the top universities all excelled across 13 performance metrics; but British universities did particularly well in increasing their total institutional income.

Researchers behind the table warned that the full effects of the separation from the EU are yet to be felt, with a quarter of research funding from Cambridge coming from the EU.

Overall, the United States continues to dominate the rankings with twice as many universities in the top 200. Additionally, Chinese universities saw a boost in the rankings, with two universities jumping to the top 30 for the first time.

Click here to view the ranking table.

Why does this matter to you?

University rankings are an indicator of the global development of HE. In an increasingly globalising sector, it is important to understand university trends internationally, as well as how the UK positions itself.

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