WENR, November 2017: Europe

U.K: Foreign Student Tuition Fees Main Source of Cross-Subsidy for Underfunded Research

A new Higher Education Policy Institute report found that international students in the U.K. are effectively subsidizing U.K. research by £8,000 per student, due to underfunding in the sector. The report also found that the current £3.3 billion deficit in research funding seems to only be getting worse. Tuition fees from international students are the primary source of cross-subsidy for U.K. research, and while the existence of cross-subsidy is neither a problem nor a surprise, international students may draw issue with both the size and level of transparency. The research deficit problem will be greatly exacerbated if international students are included in net-migration targets.

Times Higher Education
November 9

U.K: Home Secretary Leads Charge to Remove International Student from Net-Migration Targets

U.K. home secretary Amber Rudd is leading a cabinet push to remove international students from net migration counts, and thus exclude them from new immigration targets. The efforts come, in part, to defend against a potential throttling of international student flow next year when the House of Commons considers a post-Brexit immigration bill. A Lords amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill to remove foreign students from net migration targets was rejected in April. Sarah Stevens, head of policy at the Russell Group, urges the government to consider this change, noting that internationally diverse student bodies are not only economically beneficial, but bolster U.K. soft power around the world.

Times Higher Education
November 8

France: New Reforms Give Universities More Power over Admissions Process

New reforms will allow French universities discretion in admitting students into oversubscribed courses, replacing the country’s current lottery system. Universities will also be able to require applicants take a preparatory course in order to secure a place in their desired program. With the reforms, the French higher education system will become more stratified, and bear more resemblance to that of the U.K. Both changes will lead to an assurance of quality and new standardization for university courses that many think will make the country a more attractive destination for international students.

Times Higher Education
November 7

Sweden: Poll Indicates Desire for National Higher Education Internationalization Strategy

According to a recent poll, 90 percent of Swedish higher education institutions believe the country needs a higher education internationalization strategy, calling for a national body to identify current roadblocks and clarify the role of public organizations. Those polled indicated they are most interested in collaborating with institutions in China, India, and the United States. A unified international education strategy could potentially make great strides in combating restrictive visa policies, solving funding issues, and supporting higher education institutions in collaborating with intergovernmental agencies.

University World News
October 28


U.K.: Tuition Freeze May Spell Trouble for Universities

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has warned that while universities can cope with a two-year freeze in tuition fees, they will face dire consequences without funding increases. Surpluses in the sector are narrow as is, and universities are becoming increasingly dependent on the tuition fees of international students, which is set to account for 27.7 percent of tuition fee income in 2019-20. This creates increased pressure for universities to achieve their predicted growth levels, a task which HEFCE warns may be difficult. This will likely lead to universities relying on unsustainable patterns of borrowing. A HEFCE report predicts the sector will enter a period of net debt at the end of 2016-17.

Times Higher Education
October 27

U.K.: Early Application Numbers High, a Potential Recovery from Previous Year Slump

Early figures indicate that U.K. university application numbers are recovering from last year’s drop. A record 61,440 people submitted early applications to U.K. higher education institutions by the deadline in early October; international applicants from outside the E.U. account for just over 2 percent of this total. This is a 7.9 percent increase from last year’s application numbers, and stands in stark contrast to last year, when, in the wake of the Brexit vote, applications were down 4 percent. Until the January deadline it is unclear whether these early application numbers represent an overall trend in the demand for U.K. higher education, or represent a less affected subgroup.

Times Higher Education
October 26

Europe: University Leaders Call Upon Governments for Accelerated Brexit Negotiations

A group of prominent European university leaders has called upon governments across Europe to give urgent clarification on the effects of Brexit on higher education. In a letter signed by 22 representative organizations, universities are asking for accelerated negotiations in regards to the U.K.’s participation in programs like Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+. The letter follows the recent delay of the second phase of Brexit negotiations, where the future of research and higher education are to be discussed. This delay creates problems for universities needing to finalize collaboration and student exchange programs for 2019.

Times Higher Education
October 25

U.K.: Universities Condemn “McCarthyite” Behavior in Wake of Brexit Vote

University officials and academics are decrying what they deem as “McCarthyite” behavior from Tory MP and government whip Chris Heaton-Harris in response to his recent letter calling upon universities to declare what they are teaching about Brexit, as well as lists of those teaching courses about European affairs. Many university leaders are outraged, seeing the request for information as the first step in a slippery slope toward political censorship and a clear threat to academic freedom. Less than 20 percent of U.K. academics voted to leave the European Union, and among those who did, many are also troubled by the request, citing the investigation as a form of concerning government overreach into university curriculum.

The Guardian
October 24

Germany: University Introduces Guidelines for Religious Practice on Campus

The University of Hamburg has set forth guidelines for religious practice on campus, the first German higher education institution to do so. The “Code of Conduct for Religious Expression at Universität Hamburg” was drafted by a ten-person interdisciplinary commission, and was created in response to an increasing prevalence of religion-based issues on campus, including loud, disruptive prayers and reports of male Muslims pressuring female students to wear headscarves. The code maintains students are allowed to wear religious attire and symbols, like headscarves and crosses, instead focusing on disruptive religious practice, stipulating that all celebration of religious holidays be kept to the university’s Room of Contemplation.

Deutsche Welle
October 22

U.K.: Universities UK Analysis Finds Universities Generate £95 Billion for U.K. Economy

A Universities UK analysis found that U.K. universities generate £95 billion for the U.K. economy. The research, using data from 2014-15, also found that this contribution from the sector has risen 15 percent since 2011-12. Universities employ many people as well, supporting over 940,000 jobs, 3% of those in the U.K. International students accounted for £25.8 billion in gross output, and supported 250,000 jobs. This research highlights that impact on the higher education sector is an important consideration when evaluating policy decisions, and that the industry’s contributions to the U.K. economy must not be taken for granted.

Times Higher Education
October 16

Posted in Europe, Regional News Summaries