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Data digest: November 2019

November 2019

Welcome to Luminate's monthly summary of the key data and developments in higher education, careers services, graduate recruitment and the labour market

This month on Luminate

  • My Hometown: challenges for graduates who return home - nearly a quarter of graduates in 2016/17 were Returners, meaning they moved to another region for university before returning home after graduation to begin their careers. Such graduates tend to have certain distinct characteristics and outcomes. Charlie Ball hones in on the experiences of Returners in the North West to illustrate some of these and highlight the need for the sector to find effective ways to 'help this pool of talented individuals to use their skills more effectively'. [Luminate]
  • Are local employers the key to successful student outcomes? - universities are faced with several challenges when supporting students and each institution must understand the necessity of responding to local climates and industries. Knowing that 69% of students either both studied and remained where they were domiciled, or moved away to study and returned to their home region to begin work post-graduation, it is apparent that the local economy is vital to the potential success of graduates, making the relationship between universities and local employers more important than ever before. Michelle Craig, Alison Hedley and Suzanne Dickinson consider how local employers can be better connected to students and graduates at the universities of Bradford and York St John. [Luminate]
  • Understanding the work mobility of physics graduates - Being cognisant of the disconnect between physics graduates and industry, the White Rose Industrial Physics Academy (WRIPA) aims to improve the link between academic physics departments and employers to prepare undergraduate students for technical careers. Regardless of the recognition that physicists are pivotal drivers of growth in strategically important Yorkshire, Humberside and East Midlands industries, many of the most promising physics graduates turn away from industry due to a lack of knowledge on what it has to offer. 'WRIPA addresses this challenge by providing physics students with the opportunity to gain skills, knowledge, work experience and connections that better prepare them for graduate-level technical employment'. [Luminate]

News in summary

  • Is teaching data the key to gender equality in STEM? - asserting that 'decades of work with role models, champions, ambassadors, and publicity campaigns has achieved almost nothing', John MacInnes calls for a change in the way gender inequality in STEM is approached. Recognising the apparent ubiquity of working with data in today's economy as data science moves centre stage, he suggests that we refrain from continuing to push young women towards STEM disciplines which they choose to avoid, instead the STEM skills should be brought into the disciplines they do want to study. As an example, he highlights the success of the Q-step programme in the social sciences, which has (unwittingly) turned hundreds of young women into experts in quantitative data analysis. [Wonkhe]
  • How and why this election matters for students, staff and higher education institutions - the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) released a briefing document discussing five higher education issues linked to the 2019 general election. The authors bring attention to: student voters, undergraduate fees and funding, participation and access, research and development, and internationalisation. Acknowledging that these are among the biggest issues affecting universities in years to come, HEPI highlights the importance of implementing policies 'based on the available evidence showing how best to enable students, staff and institutions to thrive'. [HEPI]
  • Why my university is glad to be awarding fewer first class degrees - the announcement by the Office for Students (OfS) revealing a 13% increase in the number of students awarded first-class degrees has been an issue of debate over the past few months, raising fears of devalued degrees and the diminishing reputation of UK higher education overall. This finding has been met with 'trenchant criticism' from the sector. However, Mike Ratcliffe of Nottingham Trent University (NTU) suggests that there is some merit to the OfS's findings. Asserting that - along with other legitimate factors - the ways in which marking systems are designed and applied may be behind at least some of the upward trajectory. He details the steps taken by NTU that saw a 7% decrease in the number of first-class degrees awarded in comparison to the previous year. [Wonkhe]
  • Disabled students dropping out amid 'inadequate' support, charities and unions warn - charities and unions warn that a disproportionate number of students with disabilities are dropping out of institutions due to a lack of support, with the OfS also indicating that such students are not being provided with the necessary provisions to succeed - especially those with mental health conditions. This has prompted Chris Millward, director for fair access and participation at the OfS, to implore that 'universities ensure genuinely equal opportunities for disabled students' and 'create learning environments in which all students can thrive'. [The Independent]

Data point

Yorkshire and the Humber contains the largest proportion of graduates working in non-graduate roles in England, with two-fifths (40%) of all graduates in the region doing so in 2018. [Office for National Statistics]

Global outlook

  • How the international student population in the USA is changing - OECD data shows that the United States has been the number one attraction for international students for some years. However, this hasn't always been the case, and a report recently published by the Institute of International Education allows for the trends and changes to the US higher education sector to be tracked by students and educators. For instance, it reveals that the number of international students has multiplied 43 times since 1948/49, with the biggest growth occurring within the last ten years. Furthermore, it shows that there hasn't only been an increase of students enrolled on undergraduate courses, but also on graduate and Optional Practical Training programmes. [Study International News]

Research from the Luminate library

  • Why are some students unable to access work placements? - although work placements have been proven to have a dramatic impact on the post-graduation employment prospects of bioscience and chemistry students, there are many that are unable to experience them. In fact, more than two-thirds (67.5%) of the bioscience and chemistry students within the study were either unable to find placements or chose not to participate; with data showing that those potentially most in need of placements - older students and those from BME backgrounds - were the least likely to get them. In this HECSU funded report, Nicola Abbot of Sheffield Hallam University looks to explore the possible reasons for this; also identifying a number of potential solutions. [Luminate]

Download the full report

Demographic variations in placement choice

  • File type
    PDF
  • Number of pages in document
    33  pages
  • File size
    1.5MB

Download the full report

Download PDF file Demographic variations in placement choice

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