Weekly news roundup: UK campuses will reopen, and US int'l students eligible for covid support

By Nicole Wootton-Cane• Last updated: Oct 31, 2023
Weekly news roundup: UK campuses will reopen, and US int'l students eligible for covid support
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Most of our news roundup comes from the UK this week, where the easing of coronavirus restrictions and the setting of next year’s political agenda have attracted the biggest headlines. 

The UK also agreed a deal with India, which will see mutual recognition of qualifications, and the introduction of several new visas for Indian students. 

Elsewhere, in the US the government will provide Covid financial support to international students for the first time. 

And in Canada, the new graduate pathway opens - and closes just one day later, after reaching its limit.

Here’s your weekly higher education news roundup. 

UK campuses to reopen next week

All remaining university students will be allowed to return to campus from 17 May, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has confirmed.

The government had previously been criticised for failing to set out a clear date of return for university students, despite hospitality and retail opening up across the country. 

Currently, only those on practical courses that require in-person teaching are allowed on campus.

This week, the UK and India also declared a new agreement, which will see greater cooperation and alignment between the two countries’ education systems. 

The agreement includes mutual recognition of qualifications, cooperation on research, and a variety of initiatives aimed at improving mobility between the countries.

These include the introduction of short-stay, multiple entry visas, a ‘Young Professionals Scheme’, and a ‘global talent’ visa.

“The migration and mobility partnership reinforces the value of the reciprocal mobility of students, academics, researchers and young professionals to facilitate economic, social and cultural development,” said UUKi Director Vivienne Stern.

“It is a welcome framework for the creation of further international exchange opportunities between the UK and India.”

In the North of England, three prominent universities have joined together in an attempt to bring more funding and interest to research conducted in the area. 

The universities of Manchester, Sheffield, and Leeds are aiming to imitate the Oxbridge model of attracting investment to support start-ups through their ‘Northern Gritstone’ initiative. 

They hope to raise up to £500 million to turn scientific and technological research initiated at the three institutions into successful businesses. 

Combined, the Northern Gritstone universities have an annual research budget of around £650 million - a figure comparable to that of the golden triangle institutions (University of Cambridge, University of Oxford, University College London). 

This week also saw the government lay out their plans for the next year in the Queen’s Speech, which confirmed their plans for lifetime higher and further education funding. 

The speech set out both a Skills and Post-16 Education Bill and a Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill.

According to the government, the Skills and Post-16 Education Bill will “support a lifetime skills guarantee to enable flexible access to high quality education and training throughout people’s lives.”

The Freedom of Speech Bill, which has faced opposition from universities and students in its early stages, is supposed to “strengthen academic freedom and free speech in universities in England”.

However, there are fears that the Bill could be used to allow those with offensive viewpoints use universities as a platform, or bury universities under excessive legal claims.

US will give international students financial aid over covid

The US government has said that international students will be eligible for financial covid support under its new Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund. 

More than $36 billion has been allocated to postsecondary education, with at least half the funding going directly towards supporting students. 

“These funds are critical to ensuring that all of our nation’s students – particularly those disproportionately impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic – have the opportunity to enrol, continue their education, graduate, and pursue their careers,” said US Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona.

Canada’s graduate pathway reaches limit on first day

Canada’s new pathway for international graduates reached its 40,000 capacity just one day after going live earlier this week. 

The scheme was open to graduates from Canadian institutions who completed their course within the last four years, and no earlier than January 2017.

The scheme demonstrates Canada’s popularity among international students, and their commitment to giving students long-term prospects in the country.

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