Weekly news roundup: Scotland and Wales push to keep Erasmus, and NZ keep borders open for 1,000 foreign students

By Nicole Wootton-Cane• Last updated: Jun 19, 2023
Weekly news roundup: Scotland and Wales push to keep Erasmus, and NZ keep borders open for 1,000 foreign students
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In a week where the efficacy of covid vaccinations has been put under scrutiny, higher education is looking beyond the pandemic. 

In the UK, this means a post-Brexit future, where students are no longer eligible for the Erasmus exchange scheme - at least for now. 

And in New Zealand, there are fears that their pledge to bring back 1,000 continuing international students over the next year could be halted by a lack of quarantine capacity.

Here’s your weekly higher education news roundup from around the world. 

UK postgraduate admissions set for controversial rehaul

Central university applications’ system Ucas are facing backlash from institutions over their proposals to introduce a mandatory postgraduate applications tool. 

Universities fear that it would threaten their autonomy and bring up “ethical questions” about application fees.

UCAS says that it hopes its acquisition of MO, a “multi-language mobile app”, will “help the UK attract and support postgraduate students from around the world by creating a single, easy to use and welcoming front door to UK higher education”.

And Scotland and Wales are exploring ways that they may be able to continue taking part in the Erasmus exchange scheme following Brexit. 

The UK opted to leave Erasmus and start their own version of the scheme as part of their agreement for leaving the EU, but ministers from Scotland and Wales have called this a “lesser imitation” of the real thing. 

“We have been clear that what they are proposing is simply not good enough, and that instead any replacement funding for Erasmus should be given in the first instance to the Scottish and Welsh governments, to allow us to exercise our right to deliver educational services within our respective nations,” they said.

New Zealand border opening could be halted by logistics

Plans to allow a small number of international students to return to New Zealand over the next year are facing challenges as a new case was discovered in Auckland. 

The country has not revoked its decision to bring back 1,000 continuing students, but there are fears that there is not the quarantine capacity to cope with such a scheme. 

“To get into New Zealand, you need to be able to get a flight,” said Universities New Zealand executive director Chris Whelan. “You need to be able to get a space in government-run managed isolation and quarantine. And, obviously, you need to be able to get a visa.

“Those…are major constraints. The fact that we’re clearing an extra 1,000 students is great, but right now it looks like we’re not going to have the extra quarantine capacity at the time we need it.”

Canadian universities urged to make PhD programmes more job-centric

Canadian universities are being urged to make their doctoral graduates more attractive to industry. 

The country currently produces a far greater number of PhD graduates than it has spaces to hire academics, according to a government-chartered assessment. 

Alongside this, research spending across Canadian industry has also decreased, meaning that those with doctorates are less in demand. 

The Council of Canadian Academies has suggested that solutions to the problem could include encouraging companies to spend more on research, and recognise the value of employees with doctorates. 

However, they are also advising that universities alter courses to focus more on management, teamwork, and communication - all skills that are seen as valuable to employers.

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