The Institute for Fiscal Studies has warned that high inflation could cause an “interest rate rollercoaster” for student loans, with the interest rate reaching as high as 12% for some this autumn. This is because the rate of interest on student loans is linked to the retail price index (RPI), which the Office for National Statistics has announced, has hit 9% for the year ending in March 2022. In response, the Office for Budget Responsibility has predicted that RPI will be below 3% in 2024 and the Department for Education (DfE) has said that changes in interest rate have only a limited impact on payments long term. If you want to know more about student loans, the House of Commons Library has a useful research briefing.
In Wales, the Welsh government and the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) have agreed some draft principles designed to ensure that the learner voice is properly integrated into decision-making processes. Its interesting to compare and contrast with the approach taken in England by the Office for Students (OfS).
Regulatory and finance
THE has a piece on the big squeeze facing the sector as a result of a tuition fee freeze and big increases in costs.
UCU has written to DfE asking for a number of Covid-19 safety measures, including free testing, to remain in place in the post-16 education sector.
Access and Inclusivity
The OfS has written to universities asking them to submit variations to their Access and Participation Plans (APPs) by 31 July 2022. Amongst other things, the variations are designed to make APPs more understandable and accessible to students and key stakeholders; and foster partnerships with local schools.
Unite Students has launched a commission on Living Black at University: the commission will be chaired by the founder of the Black Female Professors Forum, Iyiola Solanke, and will aim to implement recommendations from research by Unite Students published earlier this year on black students’ experience of racism in University accommodation and its impact on mental health.
Meanwhile, the National Union of Students (NUS) will commission an independent investigation into allegations of antisemitism directed at its incoming President, Shaima Dalali. This follows publication of an open letter, signed by over 500 students and advocates, from the Union of Jewish Students, calling for an investigation; and public intervention by the Minister and the Chair of the Commons Education Select Committee.
Marking may one day get a lot easier. Jisc’s national centre for artificial intelligence has launched a new pilot of Graide, a digital assessment and feedback platform using AI to automate repetitive marking tasks…