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  • Four weeks to go until Study UK Annual Conference 2014 There are just four weeks to go until the Study UK Annual Conference, which takes place on Tuesday 25 November 2014 at the Grand Connaught Rooms in London. We are delighted to announce a keynote address by Professor Madeleine Atkins CBE, HEFCE Chief Executive and former Vice-Chancellor of Coventry University, who will set out her vision for English higher education. Regulation is needed to manage rising student numbers, raised expectations and increasing diversity in provision. HEFCE is poised to play the leading role and recently announced an unprecedented review of quality assessment arrangements. Professor Atkins is ideally suited to balancing the risks and opportunities of a modern, diverse sector, having herself pioneered a low-cost and innovative delivery model at Coventry University College. This keynote will be followed by a thought-provoking discussion on 'Quality and opportunity – enacting higher education reform', with Professor Atkins joined on the panel by the Deputy Director of Quality Assurance at QAA and policy leads from Universities UK and the Association of Colleges, to forecast some of the reforms that the next Government will need to consider in drafting new legislation. Elsewhere on the programme, expert analysis of the 2015 general election and what it means for education policy will be provided by the heads of three leading think tanks with a strong track record in education: Professor Stephen Lee of CentreForum; Dr Emran Mian of the Social Market Foundation; and Nick Hillman of the Higher Education Policy Institute. A choice of breakout sessions will provide delegates with practical advice, the latest research and updates on key industry issues from experts in their fields, including: What do international students really want? – Marie Clark, Head of Marketing and Communications, Hobsons – Daniel Cunningham, Head of Client Services, Hobsons Defining and developing your approach to employability – Maureen Tibby, Consultant in Academic Practice, Higher Education Academy – Doug Cole, Head of Employability and Enterprise, Northumbria University Working with agents: encouraging best practice – Helen Obaje, Professional Development Manager (Agents), British Council – Ian Smith, Visa Accreditation and Compliance Manager, Study Group Student recruitment: UK trends and developments – Margaret Farragher, Senior Policy Executive, UCAS – Alison Berry, Head of Institutional Liaison, HESA– Boryana Peevska-Cutting, Director of Quality and Academic Policy, BPP University The new GCSEs and A-levels: a University admissions perspective  – Roseanna Cross, Head of Admissions, University of Bristol – Paul Teulon, Director of Admissions, King’s College London – Rebecca Gaukroger, Director, Student Recruitment & Admissions, University of Edinburgh For the full programme and further conference details as they are confirmed, check the Study UK website. ESSENTIAL CONFERENCE INFORMATION Date and timeTuesday 25 November 2014Conference: 9am-5pm. Evening reception: 5pm-7pm. Conference venueGrand Connaught Rooms, 61-65 Great Queen Street, London, WC2B 5DA Delegate feesStudy UK members: £150. Non-members: £180. (VAT exempt)(20% discount available when booking additional delegates) Booking informationBook online to secure your place or contact the events team:T: 020 7608 7090 | F: 020 7608 7961 | E: events@study-uk.org
  • Study UK response to new Government student visa measures Study UK has responded to a joint announcement by the Prime Minister and the Home Secretary that the rules for educational institutions sponsoring international students will be dramatically tightened. From 1st November, the proportion of student visa applications that can be refused before their sponsor is stripped of its licence will be halved from 20% to 10%. Alex Proudfoot, Study UK Association Manager, speaking to The PIE News, said: "We were disappointed to hear that the Home Secretary has chosen to proceed with this policy change after the idea was met with almost universal criticism when floated earlier this year. We do not think it is helpful, we have seen no evidence to suggest it is necessary, and we are concerned that it will have damaging and unintended consequences across the UK's education sector. "The Home Office has many tools at its disposal to tackle suspected abuse or non-compliance in the student visa system, and the visa refusal rate was already the bluntest and least fit for purpose. There are a host of factors that can affect a sponsor's refusal rate, and very few which are within their control. The visa decision-making process is far from perfect, and errors by entry clearance officers are common but can be stubbornly hard to correct. Subjective assessments are made of a student's 'credibility' at interview, with questionable conclusions reached daily which cannot be appealed. Simple mistakes are made frequently by prospective students themselves, despite the best efforts of institutions. "This change will hit smaller providers the hardest, including further education and sixth form colleges, language schools, and specialist institutions which attract students from across the world through word of mouth alone. They do not have the sheer volume of student numbers to absorb any unexpected spike in refusals. The Home Office claims that a discretionary approach is adopted towards small institutions, but it is too narrow in scope, is too inconsistently applied, and gives little reassurance or comfort to institutions, their shareholders or trustees."The Government press release promises 'a 3 month transitional period for colleges and universities to re-examine their admissions procedures before offering individuals places'. In truth, just two days' notice has been given before visa refusals will start to count towards this new 10% threshold on 1st August. "For its part, the Government should use these next three months to enter into a dialogue with the sector as to how it might differentiate between its pursuit of any remaining 'bogus student colleges' (the intended target, as publicly stated by the Prime Minister, of today's action) and any unintentional, collateral damage to genuine institutions. These institutions need urgent reassurance that the Government seeks only to eradicate abuse, not simply to reduce genuine student numbers in absolute terms. They need confirmation that the Home Office will therefore exercise discretion and restraint towards sponsors whose refusal rates exceed 10% through no clear fault of their own. The reputation of UK education depends on it." ENDS Notes to Editors For further information, email info@study-uk.org or call 020 7608 7090. Study UK is the UK’s leading association for independent further and higher education institutions and specialist training providers, with over 120 quality-assured members. The Government announcement can be read in full here.
  • Study UK response to David Willetts resignation Study UK has responded to the news that David Willetts MP has resigned as Minister of State for Universities and Science, to be replaced by Greg Clark MP as part of a cabinet reshuffle today. Alex Proudfoot, Study UK Association Manager, said: "David Willetts brought real vision and energy to the HE sector, backed up by ambitious reforms which have left UK Higher Education on a stronger footing for the future. He applied his deep understanding and consideration to the challenges facing the sector and provided invaluable support on many issues to both traditional universities and new providers alike. We wish him well in his future plans."There are however many issues left to resolve in order to ensure equal treatment for all providers leading to a sustainable, competitive and efficient sector for the future. In this regard we look forward to working with the new universities and science minister Greg Clark on creating a modern HE sector which meets the needs of students and the country alike and which further strengthens our position internationally." ENDS
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