PODCAST: Reassurance, international, admissions, Rhodes will fall

This week on the podcast we evaluate universities' efforts to reassure students about the experience they will have from September.

This week on the podcast we evaluate universities’ efforts to reassure students about the experience they will have from September.

We also discuss Jo Johnson’s proposals on international students, a new report recommending changes to admissions and Michelle Donelan’s interview with HEPI.

With Ghazwa Alwani-Starr, Pro Vice-Chancellor Strategy at the University of London and Ben Ward, Union Director and CEO at the University of Manchester SU.

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Transcript

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[00:00:01] It’s the Wonkhe show, what will persuade students to enroll in September? We’ll have to think there are some proposals on international students. Some suggestions for reform to admissions and roads will fall. But how will that go down with that minister? It’s all coming up.

[00:00:15] Yes. I mean, I think students will. We could change their mind late, late in the day. We’re seeing what’s happening in China at the moment with this, you know, small return of the outbreak. What that would mean on on international travels for international students is still to be seen. But some students as well face a very.

[00:00:43] Welcome to The Wonkhe Show, your weekly weigh into this week’s Higher Education News, Policy and analysis side, Jim Dickinson. I’m here to help us understand what’s going on this week. As usual, we have two excellent guests in London. Ghazwa Alwani-Starr, Pro Vice-Chancellor Strategy at the University of London, your highlight of the week, please.

[00:00:59] Oh, not in H-E or politics. It’s the Olive and Mabel Mabel videos. The latest one on. Well, the one I received on company appraisals meeting was just absolutely brilliant.

[00:01:10] I loved it actually in Manchester. Ben Ward is chief exec at the University of Manchester. Student Chadian. Bam, your reason to be careful this week.

[00:01:17] Again, nothing to do with H-E, but there isn’t a football season. Hopefully my beloved team Liverpool will win a league championship after 30 years.

[00:01:24] Lovely. So yes, we start this week with September universities. UK had a fresh push this week at minimising deferrals and drop outs in September by reassuring students about provision. Is it enough?

[00:01:35] Well, I mean, we’ve seen a huge plethora of announcements this week. Everyone rushing out to say nothing to see here. Business as usual. So I suppose three things that have caught my eye this week. First of all, the UK’s chief operating officer published a wonky articles looking at deferrals this year as opposed to part the ordinary cycle. Only a small rise in what would would normally be expected, although 20 per cent of applicants surveyed had been anxious about missing out on the experience. We know through lots of research being done with students at the moment, but that wider experience is one of the key key selling points to go into go into universities. Hot on the heels of that, though. To kind of underline the points about business as usual. Universities UK put a survey of 92 universities that said 97 per cent of them undertake some impact in-person teaching at the start of the year, with 87 per cent also expecting to offer in-person social opportunities to students. Now, certainly locally, we haven’t yet gone on to discussing that. We’re still focused on, you know, how well the hell are we doing teaching? And there’s just a whole range of confusion not helped by both the minister talking about complaints to the office of the Independent Judicature, which were quickly rejected by the office of the Independent Duplicator and the and the Office for Students issuing guidance on consumer rights. So I think everyone is pretending that it’s business as usual. We know it isn’t. We know that universities are going through gargantuan efforts to try and get the sector ready for the start of the academic year. But I get the best sense that most sector bodies aren’t being particularly helpful.

[00:03:11] This is a really difficult case because on the one hand, you know, the sector wants to reassure students about their experience they’ll have. But on the other hand, the experience is both unknown. I’m absolutely won’t be usual. So, you know, where where where is the appropriate line between the two?

[00:03:27] Goodness knows. It feels like we’re all really stumbling in the dark and looking through a crystal ball that I couldn’t use more metaphors to try. In trying to work out what’s going to happen in September. A lot of effort is going into, you know, assuring students that there will be safe. I think that’s a big part of what we’re trying to do. Now, if you come to university, whatever your experience is, for example, in the halls of residence, we will look after you, will make sure that you’re safe, you know, will assure parents that their kids will will be safe for sure. International students, once they quarantine and travel, all of that and there is no second outbreak, etc, etc, you know, that they will have a really good experience. But we’ve all experienced what that what is and what we know today is completely different to what we knew three, four days ago. We’re changing. We were we’re working out our plans.

[00:04:15] We’re reworking our plans. Is it two metres? Is it one metre social distancing? So, you know, well, we will see what happens in September. I guess. Today is the day for acceptances of offers. We’ll see what that shows for for the sector. But the the it feels like the road to September is a long and winding road still.

[00:04:34] And the you know, we record on a Thursday morning and on radio for 10, 15 minutes ago as we record, they were a little group of students. And one student were saying that, you know, that the interview I put to them would social bubbles work? And the statement said, well, you know, one of the reasons I wanted to go to university was to meet this diverse range of people. Is that going to be possible? Do you think in September that that, you know, mixing with lots and lots of different people or older students probably have to accept that, you know, face to face social activities can be heavily, heavily restricted?

[00:05:04] I really don’t think much of this is is possible that there’s there’s a number of things that I think universities are trying to say. Many universities have now come out in the last day or so and said, actually, if you choose to stay at home in the first term, that will be okay. You will have a similar learning experience to your peers. I think there’s still lots of conversations going on around the density of students being able to live in halls because, you know, the month of September is fairly like a pandemic in Hawser residents anyway with freshers, flu and all the rest of it. But I do I do think it will be difficult to do the two things. One say. Students, you will meet a broad range of people from right across the world, from an international network of friends and start activities that will help, you know, your sense of belonging and all of the rest of it. Whilst at the same time pulling off the social distancing and the social bubble, what’s your sense of whether deferrable conversation is, you know, easy?

[00:06:00] You know, there you casazza is right. And you know, where worryin over nothina or is it that, you know, students and their families will make their minds up very, very late in the day? You know, there could be lots of deferral right at the very last minute, which would destabilise everyone I.

[00:06:14] Yes. I mean, I think students will we could change their mind late, late in the day. We’re seeing what’s happening in China at the moment with the, you know, small return of the outbreak. What that will mean on on international travels for international students is still to be seen. But students as well face a very difficult time. The employment market, the graduate market has suffered enormous losses. The 20 percent reduction in recruitment, 13, 13 percent of employers saying that they’re not recruiting graduates, 40 percent drop in internships. So the job market is is looking dire, taking year out, looking pretty miserable. You’ll be stuck at home with you, with your family. The powers that are pulling and pushing the decisions are are are going to be difficult for 18 year olds to make that to it, to, you know, to make their minds up and for their families to help them in making the decision to make a very large investment in terms of the fees and and the cost of of of university.

[00:07:15] I think from university it traditionally does well at times of recession. So that will go in its in its favor and students will hopefully take up their courses. My, my take on it is that I think there will be a drop in student numbers this year. I think some students will defer for all the reasons that have already been highlighted in terms of the societal experience of university and the personal experience of universities.

[00:07:42] Obviously the main concern, I think, has to be around international recruitment. You know, we’ve seen occur again with a plethora of university announcements over the last couple of weeks, universities offering free rent periods in halls of residents to undertake quarantine before the start of term. An interesting thing for me is talking to colleagues around institutions. Processional English courses seem to be more popular than ever. Now they’re being delivered online. Many more students are signing up to them internationally to keep their options open to come and study in UK. So. So that might be the green shoots of recovery or it might be students just keeping their options open for later on down the track.

[00:08:23] Yeah, I was saying to someone the other day, is keeping your options open. Thing I think is fascinating because I was reading a blog that suggested that, you know, that one of the reasons why international recruitment numbers might not be down everywhere is a sort of, you know, booking dotcom, keep your options open with a with a cancelable hotel room sort of effect where, you know, lots of students have got lots of, you know, options open in lots of countries and will decide very late on which country they go to or which institution they enrolled in the same role at all. Can I ask you both? Can I ask both of you? I mean, you both work in big urban conurbations where it’s really, really hard to separate what goes on in the university from what goes on in the community. And if it’s the case that campuses will be operating at about 20 or 25 percent occupancy. Presumably that means if you’re not on campus when you were, you’ll be somewhere else. Is the assumption that people will be in that room at home or, you know, how does that kind of work in terms of public transport and stuff?

[00:09:17] I mean, that’s a it’s a very difficult question, isn’t it? I mean, you know, our university is certainly involved with as many local decision makers as possible that the devolved mayoralty in Greater Manchester is looking at the economic recovery of the city region and the university as part of that. But I think on him, on a more operational basis, you know, we we’ve seen all sorts of tensions already during the pandemic between local residents and students. I think I sent you an article from that that well-known publication, The Tab, the other day talking about students getting the blame for the increase in covered related deaths in a particular area of South Manchester. And I think we will see that, you know, expanded even more come come September. But the you know, the creaking infrastructure when students arrive is already difficult at the best of times. But with social distancing, I know you were talking just before about the length of queues that you’d need to, you know, adequately social distance on transport in London. It’s the same in same in Manchester.

[00:10:21] Yeah, I mean, we I mean, just to say we weren’t we were we were talking before we hit records. I got just just just take us through that, you know, that kilometre thing that you were talking to us about.

[00:10:29] Substitute in terms of the tube in London, London’s even more complicated because the challenges of transport in London have become just so much more difficult as we move into more.

[00:10:41] Going into work and going into the center, so just out of interest, when I received an email from TEFL telling me that the capacity of the tube on my journey to work will be it will run between 15 and 20 percent. So I thought I’d look at with the length of the queue would be at my local underground station to see how long it would take me to get on it tube, which of course will arrive full, as it always does from the previous stations, and allowing for the number of people that usually enter my tube station between the hours of eight and nine o’clock in the morning.

[00:11:10] And the capacity and the two meter distancing.

[00:11:14] Then my cue will be seven kilometres long and it won’t move at all, of course, because the tube people full. So that’s the exact length. That’s the exact distance to Senate House where I work.

[00:11:22] So I will be walking or cycling to work.

[00:11:27] But it’s a very interesting question that you put, Jim, because it is you know, we have been saying to students, come to school, to our halls. We’ve launched a safe to stay sort of hashtag and campaign outlining a whole host of measures around how we’re going to look after students, whether they’re home students or internationals, coming into, of course, a two week quarantine, which we haven’t talked about yet and how we would manage that that situation.

[00:11:50] We’ve offered 700 contracts so far and in this week, in the last three days, and we’ve already had 330 signed contracts back and deposits paid. Two thirds of those that have written their contracts require quarantined. So in applications are up and booming in London big time. So what will happen in September? In terms of our previous discussions, it will be, you know, very interesting to watch and react to, of course, which we will have to do.

[00:12:17] Yeah.

[00:12:17] And Ben, I mean, you know, there is at least in theory, a scenario here where, you know, all of the work around reassuring students, you know, works and, you know, numbers, boom. And, you know, everyone turns up even know that, you know, that quarantining and we’ll talk about it until students later. And then suddenly there’s all sorts of other sorts of pressures that people aren’t necessarily anticipating us that long time planning for Iraq, just just around delivery and, you know, numbers being, you know, back than some people were expecting.

[00:12:48] Yeah, I think I think that’s right. And I think no one no one can really yet know that. I think that the you know, Ghazi’s right to talk about the the ever changing nature. What what goes on in in the next couple of weeks following the final selection deadline, will that will really indicate that. But, you know, we we then need to think about, well, what will library and learning resources look like? What will I.T. clusters look like? What will cafes look like? You know, a whole host of things that that we’ve just closed down in the in the points up until now.

[00:13:24] Yeah, because, I mean, the other thing I was saying the other day was, you know, there is a danger, isn’t there, that, you know, computer labs and cafes and just somewhere to sit becomes like the kind of higher education equivalent of toilet rolls in March where, you know, you’ve got you guys some kind of panic. Right. You know how people panic by that sort of space in the library when it’s exam time. They built a little fault in the morning. You know, there’s a danger that that happens and know that’s a problem because, you know, lots of ASHAD facilities are really there to enable a bit of levelling up for students who frat perhaps, you know, haven’t got anywhere to study or or out or on the wrong side of the digital divide.

[00:13:59] Absolutely. Absolutely right. I think the lesson in how we organize our space to respond to the needs of students as we move into this next phase of of thinking about our delivery, the social spaces, as well as academic spaces, I mean, a huge amount of work is happening on that front at the moment, but it certainly won’t won’t feel the same as it did as it did last year.

[00:14:25] I mean, I have a sort of a personal, I guess, a lack of confidence in suggestions like the social bubbles and the inner students keeping away from each other.

[00:14:37] I think anybody who’s, you know, who’s who’s watched students interact with each other, it’s it’s just is completely unnatural to them. They also think that they’re, of course, invincible. They’re young.

[00:14:47] And, you know, even if they catch the virus, so what, they’ll be fine, which will, of course, pose some additional risks potentially to staff the frontline staff in particular. So we have to be mindful and plan for all of those eventualities.

[00:15:02] And it poses a risk to the reputation of universities as well. I mean, not connected to universities, but we saw over the last week some illegal raves happening around Manchester. Lots of young people who potentially could be students if we see that sort of thing happening in term time. Well, we’re going to see the finger pointed very quickly at universities for bringing people to towns and cities.

[00:15:23] Well, not to think about now. Let’s see who’s been blogging for us this week.

[00:15:27] I am Randall Whittaker, pro vice chancellor, academic athletes, arson, adversity. This is a response to worldwide. Black Lives Matter demonstrations where our thoughts on why lack of action and apathy within the university sector contributes to race. Quantity, I argue that now is the time to stop excluding those with lived experiences from decision making. The unwillingness to do so is driving racism. And at the heart of making such slow progress on the racial injustice, I challenge readers to consider gender equality. I have advisors with white women. While the contribution of the black women’s movement within suffrage has been erased from history, and I share my frustration at how casually the narrative numbers intersect is used. Numbers are being used to explain the waiting action. And that is racism.

[00:16:15] And don’t forget, we’d love to have your contribution on the site if you’d like to purchase a piece to drop us an email on team at wanky dot com with your idea and we’ll be in touch. Now, next up, former universities minister Joe Johnson published a report this week on universities and international students. What’s going on here?

[00:16:31] So this report comes soon after the minister’s speech earlier in the month at the rich council, basically saying the UK education system is open to students from across the world and outlining the ways in which government is working to make it easier for international students to come here. She gave a pledge that students coming to the UK will benefit from correct education and be looked after in the same way its home students. Which is clever, I thought, and important in light of messaging coming out of the US. She also said that the UK would be flexible on visa regulations and announced the appointment of Sir Steve Smith as international education champion. It was all good news for the sector and for UK p.l.c.. George Olsson’s report is a good read. It’s punchy with data graphs demonstrating the value of the business of international students to the UK economy. You can take lots of headlines from three point two billion in taxes contributed by one cohort of international students who stay in the UK for the first 10 years after graduation. These graduates do not take jobs from UK citizens. Current government objectives would put the UK on a trajectory that would see it half its market share by 2030 four point three billion shortage of research funding in the UK basically being paid for by international students, so on and so forth. So very good. Very good report for facts and figures and graphs.

[00:17:40] If you are preparing presentation, international recruitment. The report makes eight recommendations and they all make perfect sense. Adopted goals for the UK to be a number one study destination worldwide after the US create a best in class student visa offer double the post study work visas from two to four years, double student numbers from India and include it as a low risk country. Refocus the efforts of the British Council on Education Promotion Activity. And of course, the council has given their 60 million pound bailout package. Take out the bureaucracy confronting international students and put universities, not government, in charge of English proficiency and tearful visas mitigate the impact of curved make education exports central to the UK’s post Brexit trade strategy and require the new international education champion to report progress to Parliament annually. The report, I think, would be welcomed, although not all of George Johnson’s initiatives were a hit when he was universities minister e.g. TEF. He is respected and seen as someone who understands the sector and represents its interests well. So what’s missing? A lot, actually, but I mentioned just a few. Africa, only one mentioned in the report for a place where the 15 to 25 year old population is set to double in the next 30 years and where this proportion of the population is already double that of Europe’s.

[00:18:55] The report’s also missing empathy with international student experience as a whole. It assumes that there is nothing for universities themselves to do and could be read as treating international students as a mere commodity.

[00:19:06] I’m not sure how the messaging will translate when seen through a different lens. And finally, as alumni of the University of London who studied law while in prison, Nelson Mandela said education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world at this time, when the devastating impact of curve, it’s being felt by millions across the world. And when we are facing the realities of racism and inequality, it is hard not to see more in the report on the real value of education at the University of London, where the oldest provider of flexible distance online learning we see our role is enabling people across the world to change their lives for the better and address inequalities in access to education. It’s been a mission for 150 years and in our DNA. So when this higher or the value of education is not adequately articulated, we really do miss it and feel.

[00:19:52] Yeah, I guess it’s certainly obvious reading it, thinking, you know, most of these sorts of things that you read, at least that is a pretense that this is about something kind of more noble. This was very, very sort of, you know, you know, here’s how we persuade these people to bring their checks.

[00:20:09] I mean, in many ways, he’s he’s playing to the crowd of the day, isn’t he? I think this is you know, this is playing to the narrative of, you know, how do we become a global Britain again, open for business throughout the world. Post Brexit policy. So it you know, in in many ways, I think it’s a useful contribution playing to the politics of the governments of the day. You know, I think you particularly some of the some of the discussions around the post study work visas and moving away from the hostile environment that Theresa May created. That’s a. International students that no one even in government could quite believe. But but I do I do think this is this is a clear indication of the future direction for four U.K. chairs and international experts.

[00:20:55] The other thing that I thought was interesting was, I mean, I was talking on the other day that was saying, look, one of the things we’ve got to take into account with international students is that, you know, lots and lots of countries, they might not have a you know, a set of, you know, in the middle of the pandemic economic cushioning schemes as extensive as the U.K. virus. You see, Mark, you know, and the you know, the very furlough scheme and so on. But, you know, most countries are cautioning to some extent this part of the pandemic. We’re about to move into a period where most economies will go in to sharp recession. And no one’s really clear on what that might do, for example, to international mobility.

[00:21:30] Absolutely. And the predictions of a of a global recession are very important. And these are only going to serve to highlight the inequalities of access to education, the ability for for those in a disadvantage to to travel into the lack of jobs. I mean, you know, international students come here and it’s great disruption to their lives. You know, they sacrifice a lot.

[00:21:54] Their families will have whole families often clubbed together to to fund a student to come and study. So. So I think there will be a huge impact on on that market. There was I mean, there was an evaluation this morning in the Times higher and which countries will do best in being able to attract international students. And, you know, in coming to their countries, an evaluation of what’s happening in the US, Canada, the UK, Germany, etc. and everybody is trying their best and everybody’s putting packages into support, international students coming to study in their countries. But the fact of the matter is that a student there’s got to be able to afford to get well. He’s got to be allowed to come on a plane, you know, and then being able to afford the plane ticket, able to afford the plane ticket to come here and then really being able to afford to live here. So I think it’s those packages and that’s where I think the whole system approach to the whole experience of international students coming to the U.K. is also missing from that report. It’s about the programs study. It’s about something that’s suitable for there for what they’re going to do when they go back home, how they’re going to improve their lives and improve their lot truly through it, through acquiring this education.

[00:23:07] That was one thing that linked to the link to the earlier thing about international recruitment, though, that I think we’re seeing two very different things in relation to either undergraduate applications or postgraduate applications for international students. The sense says that and certainly this was fatback from the Indian High Commission recently, that the undergraduate students will see a terms inconvenience as okay, because they will have three, four years here studying, plus the post study work visa. But its postgraduate taught students that that are already here for such a short time. But that tends to be where lots of universities recruits many more students.

[00:23:47] Now, next up, a think tank has published a report into university admissions practices this week aiming to ensure that admissions are fair, transparent and equitable. Tell us more.

[00:23:56] Well, I mean, I think if we had a pound for every time there was report on reforming the UK admissions system, we’d be we’d be quite we’d be quite rich. And. And I think, you know, this goes into this this long a deep dissatisfaction with how this how the admission system works. We could have been any year this year where we tried to post qualification admissions, but actually we just seem to want to operate the system as usual. But the this report, I think I think it poses a new and an and a set of interesting recommendations for the sector. Again, like the previous report, eight recommendations, the Office for Students and University. So first, the affair should should select the designated admissions body such as UCAS.

[00:24:37] I mean, I’m sure it would be UCAS and the AFL should like when he got picked as the guy who might become the designated data body. Oh, indeed.

[00:24:45] Indeed. The AFL should impose a condition of registration that each provider must use the system operated by the designated admissions body. At the beginning of the admissions cycle, though, universities will be required to publish a standard qualification requirement for each undergraduate degree, uninteresting once that’s published. It cannot be altered by universities any points in the admissions cycle. So you know that that’s a last minute change to to drop grades in order to pull in more students through. Clearing may be a thing of the past. If these recommendations are implemented and all universities must also state the maximum number of students that they can accept on to each degree course without compromising the quality of education they provide. I’m not quite sure how you measure that one, but it will be interesting to see what. Well, what indeed what what does that what does that mean? And then actually what they. Rather than. Doing local contextual admissions. The recommendation is a new national contextual offer will be applied to the standard qualification requirements. At at the level required by applicants facing the greatest level disadvantage. So so rather than universities working in local communities and through its widening participation initiatives, setting contextual admissions. This being done at a national level and a whole set of other recommendations. But actually, the really interesting thing there is is, is stopping the idea, the use of dropping grade requirements or the use of unconditional offers. That seems to be hated as a policy by the by the government, by OFAC classes.

[00:26:25] This is a bit of a loss of autonomy here, a price worth paying to sort of take this off, you know, the government’s list. You know, the government is clearly still upset about unconditional offers and bums on seats and so on. The nice should should the psychologist accept these sorts of recommendations in order to get get on with things and improve its reputation? Or is that a step too far in terms of, you know, autonomy?

[00:26:46] Well, I found it very difficult, to be honest with you, to read to read the report, but seemed to be so prescriptive in terms of what should be done at a time when everybody is working out what we need to do almost on a daily basis. It just came that it just was really left field read for me. I found it very difficult. I come from Syria, originally from Damascus. And the baccalaureate systems run over there. You know, if you get 90 above 90 percent, you study medicine above 88, you study engineering above 85, you study law. You know, it it was very, you know, prescriptive. And it felt through a little bit like that, to be honest with you. I think it just really fails to recognize the diversity that we have in our in the U.K., our education system, the diversity we have in the student body and the roots that they take to come into university.

[00:27:31] The whole suggestion that there could be to live in some kind of national policy on this is ludicrous. I mean, it’s worrying, actually, you know. I mean, you know, in Manchester, I’m in London. We know that in London, you know, London and Manchester are probably seen success stories in terms of attracting funding, attracting research. But there are severe inequalities within our local areas. And universities work very, very hard to address disadvantage that exist within pockets of large metropolitan areas. So, sir, no, actually, I don’t think the recommendations are sensible and I don’t think they really reflect the flexibility that we’re all having to show at the moment. And the real challenges that face us in enabling disadvantaged people to get into higher education.

[00:28:15] Hi, my name’s John Simpson and I was an effective director for the Higher Education Association, or with the release of his graduate atkins’ survey data being published today.

[00:28:25] We’ve produced a guide which focuses on how to interpret the data state. The graduate labour market has been of widespread interest for a long time, not only to students and providers, but to funders, regulators, policymakers, Jeneda researchers and the public. The richness of the survey data cannot easily be captured in headlines.

[00:28:41] And it’s also important to remember if you think this is new information, it’s a new survey without comparison. Qualifications are important to neighbouring factors, but not guarantees of career success.

[00:28:51] Some courses have clear professional employment pathways provided. When a large number of people get small numbers can have a big impact, particularly when tied into percentages. Two years have passed since the first survey respondents graduated, and a lot has changed since then. A few of the things that the guide covers that there is a lot more. Please check it out. And huge thanks to Sally, Laura and Anita for putting it together. Happy reading.

[00:29:15] Now we record the wonky show on a Thursday morning, and while we’ve been recording, HACER has released iteration one of the results of gradual outcomes. I’m here to tell us more. David Kernahan.

[00:29:28] So this is the first iteration of the he’s a Grutter Outcome survey, a population level survey of graduate activity 15 weeks after the graduation. And the 2017 18 cohort is the first time we’ve seen this data. We need to be careful about interpretation and it is certainly not comparable to drl h e. So no Building of Time series, please. Eighty per percent of UK graduates were in full time employment offer the study at the time of the survey, 60 percent in full time employment alone. And there’s an eight percentage point gap in full time employment between white and black and minority ethnic graduates. We get interesting data about jobs graduates are working in. There’s a clear slant towards high skilled employment for science graduates. But even 61 per cent of the much maligned creative arts graduates are in high skilled employment. The high skilled framing comes from standard occupational qualifications socks. And we’ve covered Ishikawa’s themes on Warnke before. Suffice it to say, there’s a lot going on between that Hadlow finding and we’d need to dig deep into the coding to understand what it is. It’s also notable in this area that creative art students are only a percentage point less likely to be in full time employment than biological sciences graduates. The salary data shows that women are disproportionately represented. Lower salary, really level bumps, and we’re more likely to find men on high salaries. One persistent myth around the gender pay gap has been that women have lower salaries on average because of career breaks. This appears to me to be compelling evidence that this is not the case. Harten Emily, 86 percent of survey graduates felt their current activity was meaningful. 80 percent reported that their current activity matched future career plans, and 72 percent reported that they were using skills learned during study. Obviously, these are complex questions like construction of meaning through employment is a contentious field of inquiry at the best of times. But we do get some very encouraging answers. As always, there’s more on the site. If you want to take a look.

[00:31:22] And finally, roads will fall. After all the news that Oriel College, Oxford has voted to at least an intention to take down the controversial statue of Cecil Rhodes comes just a day after the university’s minister had things to say on the issue of statues and so on. What did we learn from happies? Michelle Donlon interview.

[00:31:41] I thought the speech covered really good ground and Nick Elman was as good as usual in sort of picking up the key issues in the follow up questions. She started acknowledging the impact of at 19 on universities and thanked them for adopting, adapting quickly to mitigate the impact on students, outlined measures that have been put in place out the sector. She dropped in the 30000 unconditional offers in one week again and concluded that part of her that part of her talk setting out the expectations from providers. She said the depth and breadth of the curriculum, the quality of the teaching, the value of the degree achieved must stay the same. Gervin, 19, could be with us for a very long time. God, I hope she’s wrong. And as universities prepare for the next academic year, there may well be operating different learning environment. Regardless of this, they must still make sure that all students, no matter what background, can expect to get the same kind of high quality academic experience that they would have done before the pandemic broke out. I’m sure we can pick at this at, you know, what we’re talking about. She then described the various ways that students of all backgrounds have been affected by the pandemic. She thought that the huge part of the success of the sector’s responses to date has been down to the resilience shown by students.

[00:32:49] And I really strongly agree with that. I think students this year have been great and they have suffered. And to be fair to her, she has inherited 125 days in the job, as she said, been consistent in her desire to address students welfare in all of its forms, you know, wellbeing and mental health particularly. She reminded the audience of the various support packages that have been introduced to acknowledge the work the universities have done to help students and then announced students space, an initiative with student mind supported by three million from DOE efforts to plug gaps in mental health provision for students for the next six months for English. Once universities. I’m not sure how much can be achieved in six months. To be honest. Anyone who has worked with students mental health knows that the connection between the student, their home GP and their NHS as well as mental health services and the institution’s own wellbeing services and that and the students academics is critical. So this is not an easy ask in six months. Quick gallop through the questions from Nick. Thoughts on Black Lives Matter. Her response? Her response was that we can’t edit or censor our past, but we know this standard government response that this week has been.

[00:33:53] She said she rehires facts that a government response ensued.

[00:33:56] Yes. Did you know Nick raised the student accommodation concerns her advised is check your contract. Speak. Citizens Advice Bureau, but acknowledged that many students don’t live in halls and universities must support all students. Question. We’ve already talked about international student recruitment, which she covered. She confirmed that the numbers cap is temporary. She was asked whether she had any advice to this year’s graduates. She didn’t truly. She just said just worktops. Skill your skill yourself.

[00:34:23] Where is orga coming? How is the professor doing? Very well. Brexit.

[00:34:29] Her priority? Social mobility and work on alternatives for Erasmus, which will remain only if it is in Britain’s best interests.

[00:34:36] I mean, it was the usual iron fist in a velvet glove. She did her best to praise universities in its short term responses, but talk very critically about things like unconditional offers, the need to improve welfare services, and a whole host of a whole host of other things. But no, nothing, nothing, no new policy analysis, apart from the three million funding for the new mental health platform that’s been developed with student minds to complements and supports existing services and universities, which, you know, is certainly a very, very positive step for that, for the sector where we know that support services demand is far, far outstripping supply.

[00:35:14] There’s a lot of I mean, you know, if you take everything that Michelle said, there are quite high expectations on a sector that is exhausted and is facing a real gap in terms of the resource it will have in there in the next government’s expectations. You know that if you take the totality of what Michelle said, the expectations, you know. Right. Is it possible to do everything in terms of, you know, support and equivalence of provision and so on? You know, Michelle. Jests that it is important the sector delivers.

[00:35:43] I think it is important that the sector delivers. I think where I found her speech a little bit difficult to take is where she talks about the same kind of experience. I mean, we all know that that’s just not going to happen. It’s it’s impossible to happen, whether it is by, you know, the physical use of our space and the way that we deliver the teaching or whether how people feel about social interactions and how people feel about coming to work and how students are going to feel being at university. You know, the content of our material has moved from face to face teaching to online and distance education. But it’s really content that was prepared initially for face to face teaching. So, you know, we were lucky at the University of London is that all of our provision has been online and we had to deal with sort of online assessments and proctoring and things like that. But the material that students have received in the last term this year was originally designed for face to face teaching. So it’s not the same experience when it is delivered online or remotely. So I think our expectations are are too high. I think the financial pressures will not. Of course, there will have that many universities have already announced or because Nizamettin change programs, redundancies, etc.. So, no, I don’t think it will be the same. I think everybody will work very hard and to give a great experience. And, you know, as we were saying before we started FIDs like the academic year, that will never end. And we’re just sort of keep on going over the summer. But it won’t be the same experience I’m pretty sure about.

[00:37:09] But if I look at the questions that Nick Hellman asked, one of the things that struck me was the extent to which lots of the things we’re not certain about or worried about aren’t strictly DFA issues. Right. Yeah. So, you know, some of that consumer law stuff is really a kind of base issue. Some of the health stuff is really a department of health issue. You know, some of the accommodation stuff is rarely a minister of housing, a local government issue. You know, communities, you know, Robert gemara consult. And I was thinking watching it, you know, it’s not immediately clear to me that that kind of next level down for a kind of, you know, less headline community like students and universities, it’s not immediately clear to me that there’s lots of coordination happening at that level between departments and DFA on some of these, you know, thorny questions.

[00:37:53] No, agreed. And I don’t think we will get that level of coordination until some difficult challenges come September when local health services start being overrun or that the transport infrastructure isn’t there as well as we were saying earlier. And that’s when I think it will it will force the issue. It’s it’s almost as if we we’re talking about the wider experience, and yet we’re just focusing on better online lectures.

[00:38:18] Yeah. There’s so much here that actually, you know, universities can influence but really can’t control. Right, guys?

[00:38:23] Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely right. And to be honest, there hasn’t so far there hasn’t been a demonstration that the right hand and the left hand are talking in government anyway.

[00:38:32] You know, we’ve had completely shut on the really big things.

[00:38:35] Absolutely. You know, we’ve had conflicting and confusing messages within 24 hours of each other. We’ve had ministers not talking to each other. We’ve we’ve had, you know, this strange looks that they give each other when they’re doing the daily briefings. They really are. And that hasn’t really changed. So I think Ben’s absolutely right. I think it is it will come to the crunch and then people will start to talk and and naturally, universities will be expected to pick up the pieces in places. And we are preparing for doing some of that.

[00:39:05] Just before we wrap up any quick reflections, I mean, you know, you’re you work at student Sini and that does a lot of kind of student activist support and doing activist campaigning and so on. This this world presumably be, you know, quite a big moment for the student campaigners at Oxford.

[00:39:20] Yeah, it will. And right around the country, I think the you know, the Rhodes must fall campaign has been used as a proxy for learning about the heritage of all of our institutions, whether that be, you know, connections to slave trade, to slave trade, to to build buildings or funded longstanding bursaries. Obviously hot on the heels of the University of Glasgow last year, talking about using the word reparations deliberately to fund scholarships and Jamaican students. But this is a huge moment and a huge change in really reflecting on the heritage of our institutions. And I think, you know, those universities that are ahead on this will do much better with the reputation of their students and and the wider reputation of the sector.

[00:40:09] So that’s about it for this week to find out more about everything we’ve discussed today. You’ll find links on the episode page at Wanky dot com, where you can also leave your thoughts and comments. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to us automatically. Your search for the wonky show on your favorite podcast directory or you’ll find the Fiji need on Warnke dot com forward slash podcast. And if you think you’ve got what it takes to be a guest on the show, do drop us an email on team at wanky dot com. And we’ll be in touch. So thanks again to Ghazwa and Ben, to everyone at Team one key for making the show from behind the scenes and of course, to you for listening. Until next week, stay wonky.

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