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Welfare Reform on the Web (October 2007): Education - UK - higher

The future sustainability of the higher education sector: international aspects

Education and Skills Committee

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2006/07; HC285)

The internationalisation of higher education potentially brings great benefits, economic and otherwise, to the UK and its universities. In order for the UK to continue to experience these benefits, the committee recommends that:

  • Joint ventures should be developed with countries such as China for overseas course delivery
  • More systematic support should be offered to international postgraduate students coming to the UK
  • UK students should be encouraged to undertake part of their studies abroad, through a proper credit transfer system and improvement in foreign language capacity
  • The arbitrary distinction between full and part-time students for funding purposes should be abolished.

Staying the course: the retention of students in higher education

National Audit Office

London: TSO, 2007 (House of Commons papers, session 2006/07; HC 616)

Around 28,000 full-time and 87,000 part-time undergraduates who commenced their studies in 2004/05 were no longer in higher education in 2005/06. However, compared internationally, higher education in England achieves high levels of student retention. For the sector to improve even marginally on that level of performance while at the same time opening up higher education to more students from more diverse backgrounds is a big challenge. The gap between retention rates in the best and worst performing institutions does indicate that there is room for improvement. The report therefore recommends:

  • Regular reviews in retention trends should be undertaken by each institution's governing body
  • Early leavers' surveys should be undertaken to increase understanding of why students drop out
  • Student support should positively emphasise the opportunity to improve grades rather than simply addressing learning deficits
  • Institutions should support disabled students in applying for allowances
  • Institutions should explore differences in retention performance with other institutions with broadly comparable recruitment, curriculum and retention benchmarks.
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