February News Digest

Mar 1, 2023 | News, Sector & policy

News in February that you may have missed and need to know from apprenticeship levy reforms to the international student profile. 

More business call leaders call for levy reform; need for female pupils to study A-level maths and physics; students take on more debt; strike action continues; the changed profile of international students.


Business calls for levy reform during Apprenticeship Week

‘The apprentice levy has failed the UK economy’ and requires urgent reform, said Balfour Beatty’s CEO. The Co-op also called for apprentice levy reform and argued that £600m in levy funds are currently wasted. You can read how ISE member Aon maximises the levy to boost engagement.

On a more positive note, BT announced plans to hire 400 apprentices and graduates who will start this September. And UCAS will promote apprentice options alongside degrees to prospective students from this coming autumn.


More female students need to study A-level maths and physics

115,000 more girls need to study maths and/or physics at A-level if technology and engineering degrees are to reach gender parity, said EngineeringUK. Ony 18% of first year engineering and technology students are women compared to 57% across all subjects. ISE member Arm explains how it is engaging schools in STEM careers.

The latest UCAS data shows that university applications to study computing and law are up but overall numbers are lower than last year. Although the 18 year old application rate of 41.5% is still the third highest on record.

Nursing applications also dropped but the NHS is expected to announce that the number of medical school places for doctors and nurses could double under its draft workforce plan.

Social background can influence the courses students apply to. The Social Mobility Commission reports that students from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to attend universities or study subjects that are associated with higher earnings.


Students take on more debt and less likely to do a Masters

30% of students have taken on more debt to deal with the cost of living crisis, reports the ONS’ Student Cost of Living Insights Study. Lack of funds could also lead to fewer Masters applications as 35% of students reported that they are less likely to undertake further study.

Read more on how the rising cost of living is influencing how young people approach careers.

Money concerns could be reason students report a lower life satisfaction than adults. Students across the Atlantic aren’t any happier: 40 percent of US students thought their employer did not prepare them for the mental transition from education into work.


Stike action continues to disrupt schools

Universities and their staff could be close to resolving their conflict over pay and conditions as unions suspend industrial action pending further talks.

But in schools, the strikes continue as teachers press ahead with industrial action. Unions want to see a serious proposal from ministers before they will call of the strikes.

Will strike action lead to student complaints? In a class action 3,500 students are suing UCL for covid compensation and a further 50,000 have signed up to the Student Group Claim.


The profile of international students has shifted

Two contrasting stats show how Brexit has radically altered who comes to study in the UK. The number of EU students studying in the UK has dropped by half since 2016, but the HE sector has hit its 600,000 international student recruitment target eight years early.

If you want to understand what international students think of the UK employment market, read the AGCAS report International Graduate Routes: Narratives from the UK job market.

ISE and HEPI collaborated at the start of the year to understand what employers think about international students and their hiring practices.



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