The UK way to win students

13 August 2021
(Published in Campus Morning Mail on August 13)
Changes to university acceptance processes, rapid vaccination and student demand means the UK Higher Education sector is surging ahead in the Covid-19 recovery

The pandemic caused so much interruption to high school students that a decision was made to replace final exams with teacher assessments.  This resulted in students receiving higher-than-expected scores, and has seen a record breaking number of 18 year olds applying for university, further exacerbated by the inability to travel on a gap year break. Medicine and Dentistry alone has had a  20% surge in enrolments. This is putting significant pressure on universities (not the worst problem to have compared to our empty campuses).

The UK’s university towns are expected to be bustling with students as the true value of a university experience has been better understood through the stress of lockdowns. The government is pushing for a return to face-to-face teaching. Gavin Williamson, Education Secretary, has signalled that students should not be charged full fees if they don’t receive face-to-face teaching.  While there is some push back from the Russell Group, defending the flexibility of blended learning, there are avenues opening for students to reclaim fees if they don’t believe they are receiving a high quality of education.

Australia is losing international students to the UK, a key factor being the rapid vaccination roll-out and open borders.   As ANU DVC Ian Anderson pointed out last week, international students have lost confidence in Australia and it is going to take a concerted effort to rebuild it.

As our vaccination program rolls-out, universities should be watching the unfolding UK experience to stay competitive, both domestically and internationally.


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