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Weekly news roundup: UK education secretary Gavin Williamson sacked

Lily Martin
Last Updated: 16 September 2021 • 2 min read

This week’s news comes from the UK and Europe, with the UK’s education secretary Gavin Williamson being sacked in a cabinet reshuffle.

Moreover, two surveys have highlighted the disparity between online and in-person teaching in the higher education sector, with one report by ISC Research showing that 41 per cent of universities expect an increase in their intake for international students for the next academic year.

Here’s your weekly higher education news roundup. 

UK education secretary sacked by Prime Minister Boris Johnson

The British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has sacked the UK’s education secretary Gavin Williamson after a Cabinet reshuffle yesterday.

Mr Williamson, a former Conservative Party Chief Whip, was widely credited with securing the now-Prime Minister with swathes of support from Conservative MPs during the party’s leadership competition in 2019.

He was also previously the campaign manager for former Prime Minister Theresa May’s successful leadership campaign and had a reputation as one of Westminster’s most formidable organisers.

This is the second time that Mr Wiliamson has been sacked from government, being pushed from the role as defence secretary in 2019 over information leaks.

He has been replaced in the role by Nadhim Zahawi, the former vaccines minister, whose successful oversight of the vaccination programme in the UK has made it one of the most widely vaccinated countries in the world.

Mr Zahawi said that he was “honoured” to be back at the Department for Education as education secretary.

“Children and young people have had a tough time during this pandemic and I’ll be listening to them and their families as we accelerate our work to build back better and fairer,” he added.

Study shows 41 per cent of universities expect an international student intake increase

New research suggests that 41 per cent of universities across the world are expecting their international undergraduate intake to increase for the new academic year.

The Pathway from International School to Higher Education report from ISC Research collated 165 international respondents from 23 countries.

Furthermore, 48 per cent of those surveyed said that they were allowing entry to new international students for the 2021/22 year without traditional grades or scores. Moreover, 73 per cent said that they used detailed interviews and 41 per cent said that they used more references in the absence of academic transcripts.

The report said that while some higher education institutions “appear to be embracing this period of disruption as an opportunity to change, others do not”.

“This report calls for global exploration of the challenges faced and changes being implemented by some institutions to identify effective models for change.”

Survey emphasises importance of in-person tuition for students

A Times Higher Education survey has highlighted the importance that students place on in-person tuition rather than online teaching.

The survey of students from more than 120 countries on their experiences of remote learning during the Covid-19 pandemic has found that 41 per cent agreed with the statement that “my education has been lower quality than if it had been delivered in person”.

It also found that 45 per cent of students said they did not have access to adequate resources when studying online.

This highlights the disparity between students’ expectations of their learning experience and the post-pandemic offering by universities, with many looking to move teaching online indefinitely.

The move has seen significant backlash by current and prospective students, who believe that the quality of education would decrease substantially.

The report concludes that the results demonstrate that “students desire the convenience of online learning but without sacrificing the benefits of a traditional university experience.”

Furthermore, the perceived quality gap is a “crucial issue” for the sector to address if online or hybrid teaching becomes a permanent method in higher education.

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Lily Martin
Written By
Lily Martin

Lily is a Content Writer and Editor based in Manchester, UK. She is passionate about travel, literature and higher education.

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