IDP acquires Hotcourses
Jeremy Hunt is in the spotlight today thanks to receiving a large payout from the sale of an 'education business' (as is being reported). The education business in question is Hotcourses which he co-founded and ran for many years and now runs sites like Whatuni, Postgraduate Search and The Complete University Guide. It was announced this morning that IDP Education, the well-known Australian based international student recruitment company, is buying Hotcourses for £30.1m: an interesting move for keen watchers of education businesses and thanks to the Hunt connection, is unusually all over the press this morning.
HESA has released data on student enrolments and qualifications across the UK: among the headlines was the fact that part-time education continues to decline and has seen a further 5% drop. Overall international (non-EU) numbers have declined by 1% from last year, although some parts of the UK have suffered more than others e.g. Wales which saw an 11% decrease in non-EU students from 2014/15 to 2015/16.
The figures also point to changing trends in international recruitment over the last five years. From the EU, Italy has increased the most (+4,125 students), while numbers are dropping from Germany (-2,560) and Ireland (-4,125). Enrolment from Indian students has almost halved from 29,900 to 16,745 in five years. Enrolment from China was up to 91,215 (+12,500).
The number of students qualifying with first and upper second class degrees continues to steadily increase, from 66% in 2011/12 to 73% in 2015/16 fuelling fears about grade inflation; a story splashed across the papers last week in the wake of the stats release. The data also comes along with some rather pretty interactive charts to keep the wonks busy.
Rows over the future of the Scottish Funding Council continue. The issue was debated in the Scottish Parliament last week with several MSPs criticising the move to merge the SFC into a much bigger body. The sector has used the opportunity to up the lobbying effort in an attempt to save the funding council. Further news expected in the Spring.
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has launched an inquiry into research integrity. The inquiry follows a recently published report by the Parliamentary Office of Science and Technology, which finds that misconduct and mistakes remain on an upwards trend, and calls for a regulatory body to oversee publicly-funded research - something which could presumably come under the purview of UKRI. The deadline for submitting evidence to the inquiry is 10th March.
FE Area Reviews
The government has published ‘wave 3’ of the reports for its area reviews of further education which will force a major shakeup for colleges and will have implications for local relationships as well as HE-in-FE delivery, and pathways into universities. The reviews aim “to move towards fewer, often larger, more resilient and efficient providers.” Releases from the last week included: Hampshire, Liverpool, Cumbria, Coventry and Warwickshire, and the Black Country. Wave 3 also includes London, though those reports have yet to be released. You can find the area review documents here.