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Latest Increase in Unconditional Offers Highlights Need for Radical Change
July 31, 2019
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This year, almost two in five (38 per cent) of 18 year old applicants from England, Northern Ireland, and Wales received an offer for a place at university that could be considered unconditional, compared to a third (34%) last year and just 1% six years ago, according to new analysis released today (30 Jul).

A report from UCAS also reveals that the total number of unconditional offers made to 18-year-olds in England, Wales and Northern Ireland this year was 75,845, which represents 7.8% of all offers. This is up on last year’s 67,915 (7.1% of all offers) and considerably higher than the 2,985 (0.4% of all offers) made in 2013.

UCAS’ report ‘Unconditional offers – an update for 2019’, published within 22 working days of the 30 June application deadline, shows 97,045 students who are typically yet to complete their qualifications received an offer with an unconditional component. This is a rise from 2018, when 87,540 of these applicants received an offer of this type – which represented a third (34 per cent).

In 2019, a quarter of 18 year old applicants (63,830) from England, Northern Ireland, and Wales received a ‘conditional unconditional’ offer, up from a fifth (52,145) at this point last year. ‘Conditional unconditional’ offers are initially made by the university as conditional, then updated to unconditional if the offer is accepted as the student’s first (firm) choice.

Applicants from the most advantaged backgrounds, using the POLAR4 measure, were slightly more likely to receive a conditional unconditional offer than those from the most disadvantaged backgrounds.

Universities’ offer-making policies are typically confirmed up to a year before the start of the admissions cycle, and they will usually be consistent throughout the cycle to ensure fairness. By 31 March 2019, universities and colleges had already made 98% of this year’s offers to 18 year olds from England, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Previous UCAS survey insight  has shown that around two thirds of students receiving a conditional unconditional offer felt positive about them, with some reporting a reduction in stress levels before sitting their exams. UCAS’ 2018 End of Cycle Report  showed that those holding a confirmed place on an undergraduate course were more likely to miss their predicted grades than those holding a conditional offer.

Clare Marchant, UCAS’ Chief Executive, said:

‘Students’ best interests must be the number one consideration for universities and colleges when making offers. We have expanded our information and advice to students  on all types of offers, as well as producing a series of good practice resources  to support admissions teams when making unconditional offers.

‘The use of unconditional offers remains a complex issue and continues to evolve. We look forward to working with the Office for Students and Universities UK on their respective upcoming admissions practice reviews, to deliver meaningful recommendations.

‘Clearing, the post-qualifications application route, is now open. With student choice at the heart of the UK’s application system, we’ve streamlined the process  for those who have changed their minds and now want to make a new choice. Anyone can apply to the 30,000 courses with places on offer for this September, including those students who might have accepted an unconditional offer.’

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

“What sets the UK’s world-leading universities apart is our relentless focus on quality and this must be protected.

“There is a place for unconditional offers, however this data highlights the continued rise in their use and we know some students who accept unconditional offers can be more likely to miss their predicted A Level grades. We also have particular concerns about the use of conditional unconditional offers, which can potentially pressure students into accepting a place which may not the best option for them.

“Many institutions are already taking steps to address the rise in unconditional offers and we hope these efforts continue, with the figures showing a different picture next year. We look forward to seeing the results of the OfS’ and UUK’s reviews of admissions practices to ensure they work in the best interests of students.”

The University and College Union (UCU) said the time had come to adopt a post-qualification admissions (PQA) system – preferred in the rest of the world – where students apply to university after they receive their exam results.

UCU acting general secretary Paul Cottrell said:

‘Unconditional offers have made a mockery of exams and put teachers under unfair pressure when it comes to predicted grades. Unconditional offers put students under enormous pressure to make a snap decision about their future and can encourage some to take their foot off the gas, instead of striving for excellence.

‘The continuing rise of unconditional offers demonstrates the stark failings of our current admissions system. It is time for us to join the rest of the world and adopt a post-qualifications admission system so we can make university offers based on actual achievements instead of guesswork.’

Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, said:

“Our recently announced ‘Fair admissions review’ is bringing together school, college, university and UCAS leaders to ensure offer making practices are fair and transparent, underpinned by clear criteria and operating in the best interests of students.

“There are clear benefits in universities being able to use a variety of offer making practices to reflect an individual student’s circumstances, potential and the context of their application, and to support different groups such as students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

“An important principle of the UK system is that universities decide independently which students they accept; but with this comes a responsibility to explain why and how places are awarded, and to show the public and students why different types of offers are made.”

Research shows that only one in six (16%) university applicants achieve the exam grade points that they were predicted. While UCAS has found that holding an unconditional offer increases the chances of missing a predicted grade by two or more grades by 6.4 percentage points.

Overall, 80% of applications from 18 year olds in England, Northern Ireland, and Wales received an offer (either conditional, unconditional, or conditional unconditional) this year, tying the record of 2018.

Williamson to Personally Take on Skills Remit
July 31, 2019
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The education secretary will be supported by the new children’s minister in delivering the brief, DfE confirms.

Education secretary Gavin Williamson will personally lead on the skills brief, the Department for Education has confirmed. 

He will do so with support from newly appointed children’s minister Kemi Badenoch – a former apprentice who completed her A levels part-time at an FE college. 

The announcement follows days of speculation on whether there would be a dedicated skills minister in Boris Johnson’s government and the resignation of former apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton last week. 

The DfE said this morning that, as already announced, Jo Johnson would be returning to the department, and this would be “in his previous role as universities minister, in addition to also returning as a minister at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy”.

A DfE spokesperson said:

“All ministerial appointments have now been made and the education secretary will be leading on the skills brief, with support from the new children’s minister Kemi Badenoch.

“As the prime minister has said, further education and skills will be a priority for this government – and the education secretary taking the lead for this vital work is a reflection of that commitment.”

In his first appearance in Parliament as prime minister last week, Boris Johnson said he had already discussed the issue of further education and skills with the newly appointed education secretary, and it would be a priority.

“Yes, it is a great thing that 50 per cent of our kids should have the ambition to go to university, but of course it is equally important that other kids should acquire the skills they need that can be just as valuable, can lead to just as fantastic a career, and it is vital we invest now in further education and skills,” he said. 

Apprenticeship Funding Rules
July 30, 2019
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The ESFA had published the 2019 to 2020 apprenticeship funding rules following feedback from the clarification exercise.

The changes they have made are set out in the summary of changes which can be found using the link below:

https://www.gov.uk/guidance/apprenticeship-funding-rules) gov.uk/guidance/appre…

International Conference: Career Development: Indentity, Innovation and Impact
July 30, 2019
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Plans are well underway to host dmh associates first International Conference in central Birmingham, England on 10 October 2019. 

The aim of this one-day conference is to bring together practitioners, academics, policymakers an d technology innovators from the UK and further afield to focus on career development policies, research and practice that makes a difference to individuals, communities and our economy.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dr Deirdre Hughes OBE, international expert in careers policy, research and practice
  • Dr Reineke Lengelle, Assistant Professor interdisciplinary studies at Athabasca University, Alberta, Canada and researcher at The Hague University of Applied Sciences
  • Emeritus Professor Hubert Hermans, Dutch psychologist and Creator of Dialogical Self-Theory
  • Liane Hambly, co-author of ‘Creative Career Coaching’ and inspirational educator of career development professionals
  • Professor Graham Attwell, international adviser on the use of ICT, labour market intelligence (LMI) and learning analytics
  • Nick Chambers, CEO, and Dr Elnaz Kashefpakdel, Head of Research, Education and Employers, London leading on international research and developments in primary and post-primary schooling.

Highly interactive workshop sessions include the following themes:

  • Digital advancements in national and European careers services
  • Career coaching, philosophy and narrative counselling
  • Career guidance, vocational and technical education
  • Schools and employer engagement work in primary and post-primary education
  • Changing identities in a modern world, including higher education developments
  • The evidence-base underpinning careers support services
  • The future of work and lifelong guidance in the workplace.

Delegates attending will receive a resource pack including materials and activities that can be applied in practice with copies of all presentations. To enable us to plan well for this forthcoming conference please click on this link below to register for a place at the event:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/career-developmentidentityinnovation-and-impact-international-conference-tickets-58077200470

The full programme will be published shortly. 

ESFA Move to Short Notice Funding Audits in Data Crackdown

Colleges and training providers will now be given as little as two weeks notice of a financial assurance audit and only three days to present sample files, the ESFA has warned.

A letter from the agency, titled ‘ESFA Funding Assurance’ visits, says it plans to give providers as little as two weeks’ notice of an assurance review visit, which can take place any time of year, whereas previously providers were notified in June or July if they were to be visited in September.

And where before, providers had between five and ten days to prepare a selected sample of individual learner files, the ESFA will now give them between three and five days.

FE Week also understands that while the auditing only used to cover last year’s data and clawback from last year, this has been extended to include data from three years’ previously.

Elements of this new regime chime with the controversial mystery auditsthe ESFA carried out a number of providers earlier this year, where hundreds of documents from as far back as 2015/16 had to be handed over within two days.

This tightening of deadlines for providers is part of a crackdown by the ESFA on record-keeping by FE institutions.

3aaa, one of the country’s biggest apprenticeship providers, went bust in October after it was alleged employees had manipulated data to artificially inflate achievement rates by a huge amount.

In March, the principal of Dudley College, Lowell Williams, apologised after it was found the college had been late in recording the withdrawal of numerous apprentices, which also inflated the achievement rate.

An ESFA investigation also found some learners’ end dates were inaccurate.

The ESFA audit team has also been beefed up this year.

As reported by FE Week, in May, it launched a recruitment drive for a “newly created market oversight unit”, including an advert for four auditor vacancies posted on the civil service jobs website.

Helping You to Meet the #GatsbyBenchmarks
July 29, 2019
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Are you a career leader or a teacher?

Need to embed careers in the curriculum? Careermap has you covered with their informative CPD webinar series aiming to help you to succeed at providing high quality career guidance. 

Who Are the Free Gatsby Benchmark Webinars For? 

Whether you’re a teacher, Career Leader or career adviser, you’ll be more than welcome to join the interactive live event. Join the event and you’ll be part of a deep discussion offering practical advice and discovering how to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks. 

Worldwide respected employers, industry experts and leaders are all involved in the webinars alongside Director of Careermap, Sharon Walpole.

Careermap recognises that there is a strong requirement for career advice and guidance in schools, colleges and Sixth Forms.

Underpinning the purpose of the Gatsby Benchmarks and implementing them into your career strategy is a necessity to enabling young people to make well informed choices about their future. 

What Can You Expect?

Hosting the event will be Sharon Walpole, Director of Careermap and sector expert. As a well known panellist with more than 15 years experience in the industry, Sharon is highly respected for her expertise. Sharon has also enjoyed a fulfilling career as an FE college lecturer. 

Sharon has a strong knowledge of all career pathways and the webinars will also feature skills sector organisations, industry experts and top employers including:

Click on the name of the event your interested in to find out more about each one. You can also book your tickets to the event – it’s free!

Cost and Location

The Careermap CPD webinar series is completely free and you don’t need to limit your options as you pick multiple events. However, this works on a first come first served basis so book today to avoid any disappointment. 

Once you’ve booked we’ll be in touch closer to the time with your login details. Should you have any queries in the meantime you can email for more information.  

Who is Careermap? 

Careermap is an online resource which connects young people, schools, colleges, universities and parents with high quality career advice and guidance. 

Careermap release informative webinars, powerful and insightful Careermag, interactive videos and blogs based on current events and getting the edge with a firm focus on helping schools and colleges to meet the Gatsby Benchmarks

Over Half Of Students Not Confident About Finding Work After Graduating

Entering the world of employment can be challenging for the 14 million-plus graduates gearing up to start their working careers.

With figures showing that graduate starting salaries have remained unchanged for the fifth consecutive year, Fresh Student Living has delved into what those leaving university can expect from the job market, and whether there have been significant changes impacting students and graduates over the years.

Research from YouGov shows that 81% of students admit feeling pressured to find a job within the first six months of graduating, with the top reasons to find a job quickly being:

  • Wanting to earn money or have disposable income (82%)
  • Career aspirations (78%)
  • The belief that job prospects are thin on the ground (45%)
  • The desire to start paying back their student loan (23%)
  • Providing financial support from their family (24%)
Average starting salaries today

It has been revealed that over half (53%) of students are not confident about their job prospects after graduating.

Further research shows that both men and women feel doubtful about their graduate starting salaries, women feel this way more so. While students are seemingly already cynical about their career opportunities and pay, women are pricing themselves almost four grand lower than their male counterparts.

Subjects with The Highest Salaries
SubjectAverage Salary
Dentistry£34,840
Chemical Engineering£31,824
Veterinary Medicine£29,224
Economics£29,068
General Engineering£29,068
Mechanical Engineering£28,236
Subject with The Lowest Salaries
SubjectAverage Salary
Media Studies£18,928
Optometry, Ophthalmology & Orthoptics£18,304
Drama, Dance & Cinematics£17,940
East & South Asian Studies£17,472
Creative Writing£16,796
Creative Arts & Design£15,184
Salaries for Some of The Most Popular Subjects
SubjectAverage Salary
English£29,068
Mathematics£25,896
Law£24,492
Business£24,336
Geography£23,348
The Hardest to Fill Roles and Skill Gaps in the UK

Recent Research by Bidwells has revealed that several popular subjects studied by university students have significant skills gaps. This is when graduates are most likely to find employment when they enter the job market, but because of the skills gap, they may have the right qualifications to enter these fields.

Sectors with the biggest skills gaps:
  • Science and Technology: -69.49%
  • Construction: -66.75%
  • Education: -66.51%
  • Health and Social Work: -51.79%
  • Manufacturing: -42.3%

Although there are some industries and sectors who prefer experience to qualifications, bridging courses and online boot camps can assist with closing the gap and enabling more students to successfully find employment after finishing at university.

Best Location for Graduates Seeking Jobs

In 2018, London, the Education Capital of the World, also doubled up as the UK’s biggest hotspot for graduate recruitment; offering just under half of all vacancies based in the UK.

  1. London
  2. South East
  3. West Midlands
  4. North West
  5. Yorkshire and Humberside
  6. South West
  7. Scotland
  8. East Midlands
  9. East of England
  10. North East
  11. Wales
  12. Northern Ireland
Career Kickstart Reviews Guide
July 26, 2019
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The TUC has produced a guide for their Union Learning Reps (ULRs) to help them work with young people to support them develop career plans through career kickstart reviews.

While the guide is aimed at ULRs the information it contains will be of value to anyone involved in the provision of information, advice and guidance.

Kickstart reviews are designed to provide support to young people, start a conversation with them about their career plans and give them the best possible start to their career.

Career kickstart reviews provide a range of benefits. Young people will be able to:

  • identify transferable skill think about potential career pathways
  • build confidence and motivation
  • consider progression opportunities and the support needed to get on at work.

Union learning reps (ULRs) and union reps will be able to:

  • reach those young people who have had little careers advice
  • help young people develop confidence in making decisions
  • encourage them to become active union members.

Employers will benefit from the increased motivation of staff, employees with higher skills, and reduced staff turnover.

This guide provides support and resources for ULRs and other union reps to deliver career kickstart reviews. It offers:

  • underpinning knowledge
  • contextual information
  • the basic theory behind IAG
  • a suggested structure for reviews
  • information on resources and signposting.

Use the link below to download the guide:

https://www.unionlearn.org.uk/sites/default/files/publication/Career%20Kickstart.pdf

Response to the Appointment of Gavin Williamson as Secretary of State for Education
July 25, 2019
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Rt Hon Gavin Williamson CBE MP, has been appointed Secretary of State for Education in Boris Johnson’s first evening in office as Prime Minister.

Gavin was previously Secretary of State for Defence from 2 November 2017 to 1 May 2019. He was Chief Whip (Parliamentary Secretary to the Treasury) from 14 July 2016 to 2 November 2017. 

Gavin was known for his innovative ideas while in his previous Defence Secretary role, which also ended with a little bit of controversy. Reports in the mainstream media were widely shared whilst he was in the Defence Secretary’s post, such as innovative cost-saving ideas like arming tractors with guns, disguising missile defense systems as drinks lorries and re-purposing ferries as landing craft.

Williams was removed from post as the Defence Secretary over the Huawei 5G leak scandal by previous Prime Minister Theresa May, where he was accused of leaking information from a National Security Council meeting. Williamson strenuously denied any involvement in the Huawei leak and no formal charges were brought against him. 

So what is the Sector Response to the news about Gavin Williamson taking up the Secretary of State post?

Steve Frampton, President of the Association of Colleges (Aoc) said:

“The job of Secretary of State for Education is one of the best, and most important, in government. There is the potential to change the lives of millions of people, transform our communities, and support the long-term success of business and our economy.

Gavin Williamson has stepped into the role at one of the most crucial times in modern history. The House of Common’s own Education Select Committee this week released a report that warns that the education system risks “reaching breaking point” unless government acts. And so we urge him to act and act quickly.

Report after report, expert after expert have been clear, colleges have been over-looked and under-funded, having faced a decade of unprecedented cuts. The new Secretary of State has the potential to shape a legacy in which the forgotten 50% are remembered and supported, businesses are equipped with the skilled staff they are crying out for, and our communities and people across the country can thrive. That legacy can only happen if he prioritises further education, including with real, meaningful and sustainable investment in colleges. We look forward to working with the new Secretary of State to make this happen.”

Tom Bewick, Chief Executive of the Federation of Awarding Bodies (FAB) comments:

“It’s great to see a state educated politician take over the helm at the Department for Education. Gavin Williamson will be judged on the basis of one overriding objective: and that is his ability to secure more investment in further education and skills. He needs to make the case to the Treasury that you can’t secure a world-class workforce on the cheap. Improving skills, productivity and social mobility is a shared challenge. Top of his priority list should be to sort out the financial sustainability of the Apprenticeship Levy. He should resist the calls from business to turn the Levy into a general skills fund; and instead, ensure the money is targeted at below Level 6 apprenticeships. This should include a focus on more 16-24 year olds being able to benefit from the learning and earning route to success, without them having to rack up huge graduate debts. 

“From FAB’s perspective, we’d like to see the new ministerial team become a genuine champion of the awarding and assessment industry. We export more qualifications and expertise than any other country on the planet. Attacking the value of vocational qualifications therefore is not a sensible way of building parity of esteem. It only undermines the hard work of many learners and teachers. We look forward to discussing his predecessor’s various qualifications reviews; as well as playing our part in constructively helping the government to deliver on its promises of turning the nation into a leading system of technical and vocational education.”

Update from GOV.UK – £20m Funding to Help 10,000 Young People into NHS Careers
July 25, 2019
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The Health and Social Care Secretary has announced £20 million funding to support 10,000 young people from all backgrounds to get an entry level job or apprenticeship in the NHS. This will be matched by £7 million from the Prince’s Trust.

The 3-year pre-employment programme will begin later this year and will involve up to 150 NHS trusts in England. Participants will gain basic skills and experience of working in the NHS. The programme will focus on helping those who otherwise may not have the opportunity to gain this experience to overcome barriers and enter sustainable employment.

The programme will provide:

  • job application support
  • NHS trust work placements
  • courses in basic healthcare, literacy and numeracy skills
Young hospital receptionist speaking to a patient

It is expected to help 5,000 young people get into the NHS through entrylevel positions, with a further 5,000 joining through apprenticeships. Roles will include digital and business administration, healthcare assistant, facilities, catering and portering.

The programme will be delivered by The Prince’s Trust and supported by Health Education England (HEE). HEE has already worked in partnership with The Prince’s Trust to run 250 pre-employment programmes, helping over 1,000 young people find work in healthcare across the country.

Nick Stace, UK Chief Executive, The Prince’s Trust, said:

Each year, The Prince’s Trust supports thousands of young people across the country to develop the confidence and skills they need to get a job – with our ‘Get into Healthcare’ programme we help young people to take their first step into employment with the NHS.

We are delighted that through this enhanced partnership we will give thousands more young people across the country exciting job opportunities. Placing young people into frontline roles at the heart of our National Health Service will empower them to realise their potential, kick start their careers and make a valuable contribution to our society.

We believe that when young people succeed, our country succeeds and this is a great example of what that can mean in reality.