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Universities Need to Address the ‘Stark Disparities’ in Graduate Outcomes
July 1, 2019
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New data shows the wide variation in graduate outcomes depending course and institution.

Universities need to address the ‘stark disparities’ that see students get significantly different earnings and employment outcomes at different institutions despite doing the same subjects, the Education Secretary has said (26 June).

New data released today show the wide variation in average earnings and employability by course and institution 1, 3 and 5 years after graduation, and reinforces to prospective students completing their A Levels this week that where they choose to study really matters.

Damian Hinds has praised the universities that are leading the way for student outcomes, including future earnings and employability, but expressed his concerns at those delivering similar courses and not yielding the same results.

Last month Mr Hinds expressed concerns over courses not offering value for money for students and taxpayers, and today’s data shows that some universities aren’t giving students the same positive outcomes that other students on similar courses benefit from. Previous research by the IFS has shown that variation in outcomes cannot be solely attributed to differences in students’ prior attainment and social background.

Expected salaries are only one of the drivers when it comes to choosing a university and course. Today, Mr Hinds has highlighted the importance of courses that contribute to the UK’s rich and diverse culture and society.

Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:

Studying at university has the potential to expand horizons, enrich understanding and transform lives, and we have more data available than ever before to help students make the right decision to achieve that. We know that potential earnings is a driver for many when it comes to choosing a university, and today’s data will help thousands choose the right course for them.

Of course, future earnings aren’t the only marker of a successful degree, we need to also look at employability, social impact and the important cultural value which enriches our society.

What I am concerned about though is how a course at one university can generate drastically different outcomes and experiences compared to another one offering the same subject, whether that’s potential earnings, employability and even teaching quality.

It cannot be right that students studying the same subjects at different institutions, and paying the same fees, are not getting the same positive outcomes which are evidently achievable. All students should feel they are getting value for money and the stark disparities between some degrees show there are universities that need to improve and maximise the potential of their courses.

Last year analysis by the Institute for Fiscal Studies showed that women who study at the lowest returning course earn on average 64% (approximately £17,000) less than the average degree after graduation. For men, this figure is 67% (approximately £21,000) less.

This month a student survey from the Higher Education Policy Institute showed that more than a third (36%) of students said they would have made a different post-18 choice if they were given the opportunity again. These options included choosing a different institution (12%) or course (8%), both (6%), or choosing an alternative route such as an apprenticeship (4%).

The Government has transformed student choice by increasing the data available and the data today will help students opening their A Level results on 15 August find the right course and institution for them.

Two new apps launched earlier this year, backed by Government funding, which use graduate outcomes data to help prospective students make better choices about where and what to study.

ThinkUni, created by AccessEd, works as a personalised digital assistant to access information, while TheWayUp! created by The Profs, is a game where players can simulate career paths.

Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:

Deciding where and what to study at university will be one of the biggest choices young people will make, so we want students and their parents to have the best possible information about higher education.

This data is an invaluable tool to help prospective students make the right choice for them and know what to expect from the course they choose. I hope the next generation of students will take advantage of all the data this government has made available to help them start their career on the right path.

The department’s flagship rating system, the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), which awards universities with a Gold, Silver or Bronze rating encourages high-quality teaching and provides another tool to help students make informed decisions on their post-18 options.

Last month Philip Augar’s independent panel for the post-18 education and funding review published its recommendations to the Government, with a focus on delivering value for money for students and taxpayers. The Government will now consider the panel’s recommendations before concluding the review at the Spending Review.

The universities regulator, the Office for Students (OfS), has placed a condition of registration on providers to deliver successful outcomes for all of their students. The OfS has the power to take action where a provider is not meeting this criterion, including imposing sanctions, and in the most serious cases deregistration.

75% of Traineeships Lead to Apprenticeships or Jobs
June 26, 2019
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A new achievement rate measure will be introduced to boost transparency around traineeships, according to the government

Three-quarters of young people who complete a traineeship go onto start an apprenticeship, further study or get a job within 12 months, the Department for Education has said.

The number traineeships fell for the first time in 2017 and, at the time, the Association of Employment and Learning Providers (AELP) urged the government to take action to save the programme.

Traineeships are an education and training programme aimed at helping 16- to 24-year-olds to prepare for an apprenticeship or work. They were launched by the coalition government in 2013.

The DfE has announced that a new achievement rate measure will be introduced for the academic year 2019-20 in a bid to boost transparency and highlight the progress of trainees.

The measure will help the government to monitor the effectiveness of the traineeship programme, and assist young people in making decisions about their futures.

In order to encourage more people into traineeships, the government is providing £20 million through the Adult Education Budget for further education and training providers.

‘A positive step’

Apprenticeship and skills minister Anne Milton said that traineeships were a great way of giving people of all ages and from all backgrounds the opportunity to learn new skills and go on to have successful careers.

“I’m thrilled that this report shows how traineeships are supporting young people to start their apprenticeship journey, get their first job or go to further study,” she added.

“This new measure we have launched today will also provide greater transparency and help young people make informed decisions about their next steps.”

Mark Dawe, AELP chief executive, said that the announcement was a positive step towards reinvigorating traineeships, and encouraging more young people to take advantage of the programme.

“AELP particularly welcomes the separate measurements of achievement confirming the programme’s original objectives of progression into an apprenticeship, job or further education.  

“In the light of this, we will be urging providers to seriously take a fresh look at traineeships with a view to increasing the number of opportunities available,” he said.

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said: 

“It is important that we do not lose the stepping stone programmes that allow people to progress to the levels of competence that employers are seeking. These changes will help recognise the many positive outcomes from traineeships which colleges are helping to achieve,” he said.

T Levels: The NexT Level Branding
June 4, 2019
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New T Level branding unveiled to boost awareness of the new courses ahead of the 2020 rolloutT Levels

With the introduction of T Levels just around the corner, the new branding has now been unveiled to stakeholders and providers ahead of the official launch of T Levels in 2020.

The launch will be the first step towards raising awareness of T Levels in schools and colleges ahead of the 2020-2021 academic year.

The ‘NexT Level’ brand logo, which has been designed in consultation with employer panel members, FE providers, young people and parents, will enable 2020 providers to promote the benefits of T Levels to young people in the process of deciding their route into post-16 education.

Providers and stakeholders have now received a brand toolkit, including brand guidelines, leaflets and social assets to help to recruit the first wave of T Level students and encourage employers to offer industry placements.

Read more

Education Secretary Calls for an End to Low Value Degrees
May 28, 2019
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New analysis identifies courses where students aren’t earning enough five years after graduating to repay student loansDamian Hinds

Universities and higher education providers offering poor value degrees are letting down thousands of students and costing the taxpayer millions, the Education Secretary has warned today (26 May).

Damian Hinds has called on institutions to drop or revamp courses delivering poor value for money as new analysis shows that on more than one in 10 of all courses, there is a 75% chance that graduates won’t be earning enough five years after leaving university to start making loan repayments.

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£15 Million Investment to Help Keep Families Safely Together
May 24, 2019
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Up to 40 new areas will benefit from £15 million to expand promising innovative approaches to keeping families safely togetherFamilies together

Children at risk of being taken into care are set to benefit from programmes that tackle the root cause of family problems, by strengthening the expert support available from social workers, addiction specialists and psychiatrists.

The new programme, Supporting Families; Investing in Practice, will help families work on issues together, including those impacted by domestic violence, substance misuse or addiction, in order to help create stability in the home for young people and prevent them being taken into care, where that is in their best interests. This is part of wider Government work to improve outcomes for children in need of support of a social worker, by creating home and school environments in which they can thrive.

Applications to the programmes can be made here.

Modelled on existing Family Drug and Alcohol Courts (FDACs) and a programme known as Family Group Conferencing, the innovative new projects will be rolled out in up to 40 new council areas. The Government has today announced up to £15 million over the next year, following the emerging success of these existing programmes.

Read more

Crackdown on Schools Failing to Promote Vocational Qualifications
May 22, 2019
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Schools must stop blocking employers and colleges from speaking to their students about alternative non-academic options‘I want schools to talk about the whole range of things they might do after 16 or after 18 including apprenticeships and college,’ education secretary says to A-levels and university, the education secretary has said.

Damian Hinds has warned the government will take action against schools that are still refusing to open their doors to organisations that want to promote apprenticeships and vocational courses.

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Hinds said: “I want schools to be talking about the whole range of things that they might do after 16 or after 18 including apprenticeships and college options

“I think it is important that children have that knowledge. It is not for everybody to be pursuing a university route, and there are plenty of other really high-quality options and routes available.” Read more

DfE Launches Consultation on Improving SEND Funding Arrangements for Colleges

The Department for Education has today launched a consultation on how to improve funding arrangements for learners with high needsDfE launches consultation on improving SEND funding arrangements for colleges

The department is seeking views on what “may be adversely influencing local authorities, mainstream schools, colleges and other education providers” in their support for young people with special education needs and disabilities (SEND).

“We welcome views on changes to the funding system that could help in getting the best value from the resources available,” the DfE said.

The evidence document said the government “understands the cost pressures facing both local authorities and post-16 providers as they seek to meet the needs and ambitions of young people, and the need for appropriate levels of funding”.

However, it hopes to gather views on whether there are other aspects of the financial arrangements that are acting as a barrier to young people accessing the support they need, “regardless of the amount of funding available”. Read more

New DfE Skills Index Shows Significant Decline Since 2012
April 30, 2019
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The overall added-value of the FE and skills system in England has fallen from a baseline of 100 in 2012 to just 73, new government data shows.

The Department for Education has published for the first time a ‘Skills Index’, which shows how the aggregate value of the skills supplied by apprenticeships and classroom-based learning each year has changed over time, following pressure from the National Audit Office to release it.

It shows that the overall FE skills index has declined every year since 2012 until 2016/17, flattening out in 2017/18 at 73.

In making up the drop from 100 to 73, classroom-based provision fell to 48 and apprenticeships increased to 118. Read more

Graduates Earn £10,000 More Per Year than Those Who Don’t go to University
April 29, 2019
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Graduates earn £10,000 more per year than those who don’t go to university, proving that a degree continues to be a rewarding investment, brand new data has revealed (25 April)

The new figures published by the Department for Education show a continued rise, as working-age graduates aged 16-64 earned a median salary of £34,000 in 2018, a rise of £1,000 from the previous year, while their non-graduate peers who chose a different path earned a median salary of £24,000.

The figures show that a degree continues to be a worthwhile investment, however it also revealed that gaps in earnings still exist between different groups of the working age population – with male graduates earning £9,500 more than female graduates, and white graduates also earning £9,500 more than black graduates.

The Universities Minister has welcomed the overarching figures that highlight the value of a degree, but warned that there is further to go to tackle the disparities between different groups. Read more

Universities Urged to Review ‘unacceptable’ Admissions Practices
April 5, 2019
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Education Secretary calls for review of university admissions practices, which have seen students ‘backed into a corner’ to accept place.Damian Hinds

A full review of university admissions is required to end ‘unacceptable’ practices some universities use to lure students into accepting higher education places, the Education Secretary said today (5 April).

Damian Hinds is calling for a review of admissions practices after the extent that ‘conditional unconditional’ offers are used by institutions was revealed by UCAS last year.

A ‘conditional unconditional’ offer from a university informs students that they are guaranteed a place, but only if they put the university as their first option. This could breach laws designed to protect consumers from entering into a transaction they otherwise wouldn’t have.

In letters to the 23 universities using this recruitment technique, Mr Hinds will call on them to end this practice. He will say they are ‘backing students into a corner’ to accept a place at their institution – trapping them from exploring other options that could be more suitable. A small number of institutions have recently decided to end this practice, and now Mr Hinds is calling for other universities to follow suit. Read more