University Olympics

Published: 10 October 2016

Whilst the idea of a world sports competition between leading Universities would no doubt provide a stunning sporting spectacle, we are actually closer to another Olympic link than any track and field. Recent announcements about the Higher Education Bill have thrown light on the mechanics of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) process and the outcomes Universities will be celebrating or commiserating. 

In what feels like an unprecedented change (and a nod to the summer Olympics), Universities are soon to be ranked Gold, Silver or Bronze based on their performance across a number of key metrics. These are strongly student linked and will give research intensive institutions real pause for thought. The importance of the new framework should not be underestimated as we saw first-hand last week at the Conservative Party Conference; it will have pervasive implications which have not previously been foreseen. One of the more debated speeches from last week was that of Amber Rudd in which she sought to lay the foundations for new Home Office policy. Students continue to be counted under net migration figures so any changes in immigration policy are likely to have a major affect on one of the sectors key income streams. There was particular consternation at a mooted policy whereby only Universities ranked with “Gold” status would be able to recruit international students. The impact of such legislation would have a significantly adverse affect on the sector and the suggestion has already begun to make waves around the world. Last week the Hindustan Times, one of the biggest papers in one of the largest student recruitment markets, published an article urging students to reconsider their options in the face of Rudd’s recent speech. Such an example will no doubt be replicated across the world. 

The only constant at the moment is uncertainty, and until Government clarifies its plans on TEF and internationals students the uncertainty will continue to grow. The UK Education system has fought hard to gain and maintain its global position. 10 years from today, it will be fascinating to see whether we have been able to maintain and grow this position, or have watched it deteriorate amidst increasing global competition.  

For further information on the TEF, and for an excellent visual indicator, I would recommend visiting the website below. 

Gin Bhandal is a Consultant in the Education practice at Berwick Partners. He regularly works with Universities to appoint senior leaders tasked with leading international affairs, including student recruitment and international strategic partnerships.  

Categories: Education Recruitment

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