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One adult, one child injured at North Spokane Costco |

One adult, one child injured at North Spokane Costco

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Carryover effects of larval exposure to different environmental bacteria drive adult trait variation in a mosquito …

The adult phenotype of mosquitoes depends on the types of bacteria encountered environmentally during development.

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University financial health check 2017: future prospects?

View/download full data on UK institutions’ finances, 2015-16

In what was probably its last annual report on the financial state of English universities before it morphs into the Office for Students, the Higher Education Funding Council for England did not pull any punches about the years ahead.

Given Brexit, challenges to student recruitment and cost pressures such as a rising pensions bill, the report, published in March and based on 2015-16 financial results, regards “the financial projections from some institutions in July 2016 as over-confident”. A relatively “sound” financial position overall, it warned, was obscuring a noticeable minority of universities with serious challenges.

These words did not go unnoticed by those who keep a close eye on the financial sustainability of universities. For Julie Mercer, global head of education at professional services firm Deloitte, the report was “one of the strongest warnings on the future finances for the sector that I have read” and represented “a step change” in Hefce’s “language and tone”.

So how have we reached this point? After all, some critics of UK universities claim that the trebling of fees to £9,000 in 2012 was a cash windfall for higher education: a point underlying the recently revived debates over the merits of fees and vice-chancellors’ pay levels. Lord Adonis, the former Labour education minister, for example, claimed in July that the current fees policy gave vice-chancellors “a licence to print money and pay themselves £400,000 salaries”.

To probe this issue, Times Higher Education, with the help of accountants Grant Thornton, has analysed UK universities’ 2015-16 financial data, provided by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. Although comparisons using some of the data are more difficult this year owing to new accounting standards, the picture that emerges is one of a sector as deeply divided, in financial terms, as many other sections of UK society.

In England, much of this divide can be attributed to success or failure in the market for students, fully unleashed in 2015-16 with the ending of caps on undergraduate numbers. This is because income from tuition fees and education contracts accounted, on average, for just under half (48.4 per cent) of UK institutions’ total income, tipping over 50 per cent if you exclude Scotland’s fee-free system. But when you look at individual institutions, the picture is ever starker. Fees accounted for more than two-thirds of total income at 42 per cent of UK universities, while 22 institutions depended on fees for more than three-quarters of their income in 2015-16.

Tuition fees as a proportion of total income

Fees as proportion of income, graph

Source: Hesa

The risks of this are obvious: a sudden drop in student demand, even spread over a few years, could be catastrophic: a peril highlighted by the strong correlation that now exists between changes in real-terms income for universities and real-terms income from fees.

Institutions seeing at least a 2 per cent fall in real-terms fee and total income, 2014-15 to 2015-16 

Institutions seeing at least a 2 per cent fall in real-terms fee and total income, 2014-15 to 2015-16, graph

Source: Hesa

Changing places: relationship between real-terms fee income and total income change, 2014-15 to 2015-16

Institutions’ real-terms fees income v total income change, 2014-15 to 2015-16

Source: Hesa

There is a growing list of factors that threaten student demand, sometimes all at the same time. A constant worry over the past few years has been whether a stricter visa policy may turn off the supply of overseas students, and the higher fee income that they represent. A shrinking pool of 18-year-old UK students is also a known issue. But there are two new major threats to add to the list: the teaching excellence framework and Brexit.

The government’s original intention that, in England, only universities with a gold or silver TEF award would be eligible to raise tuition fees by the full permitted amount has been postponed until an independent review of the exercise is complete. However, the TEF’s potential effect on student demand will have some bronze-rated universities in particular watching their application and acceptance rates nervously. And although the metrics underlying the TEF only cover undergraduates – and only partially include overseas students – it is highly likely that demand will be affected across the board by an institution’s TEF rating.

Most worried will be those bronze-rated universities that also have a heavy reliance on tuition fees. Comparing institutions’ proportional income from fees with their average TEF “Z-score” – which shows the average distance they are from meeting their benchmarks on the six TEF metrics: a good proxy for their overall performance – flags up where difficult discussions might be taking place among senior management teams and governing bodies.

Risk factors: institutions’ TEF performance plotted against reliance on fees

Institutions’ TEF performance v fees income

Source: Hesa

For Jenny Brown, chief not-for-profit operating officer at Grant Thornton, it is far too early to know how the TEF will affect the sector. But she predicts that it will “really kick in” for universities that were already struggling to stand out from the pack.

“Taking away the student [numbers] cap has been the biggest issue [such universities] have been facing. It raises the question of how they can distinguish themselves to make themselves attractive, and many have chosen to do this by highlighting their teaching and support.”

For other universities, a disappointing TEF score is likely to be less of an issue, particularly if they are a specialist university with a “niche” offer, or one that already has a strong international reputation, such as the London School of Economics. For such global-facing institutions, Brexit and visa policy is likely to be more of a preoccupation.

A total of 15 UK institutions, including the LSE and a number of other London universities, have an estimated combined fee income from European Union and overseas students representing more than a quarter of their total income. It is perhaps these universities that will be most concerned with the international student picture. A poor TEF result could amount to a double whammy for those among them that lack the LSE’s reputational gravitas.

Institutions’ reliance on overseas fees

Institutions’ reliance on overseas fees, graph

Source: Hesa

As Brown points out, the financial impact of Brexit stretches far further than potential lost fees from EU students. “If universities have a lot of international research and teaching staff there is some nervousness that these are the people who will be lost [due to Brexit],” she says. “So it is not just a [student] demand issue facing universities at the moment: it is a supply issue too.”

The financial knock-on effects of a sudden brain drain of EU staff would be multifaceted. Across the sector, it could hike up the cost of attracting top staff to replace the leavers and diminish the UK’s teaching reputation, hitting international student recruitment further. And, if individual institutions find themselves disproportionately affected by a brain drain, they may also lose ground in the scramble for nationally allocated competitive research grants and see reductions in their research block grants, which are determined on the basis of performance in the research excellence framework.

Another Brexit effect could be the shutting down of UK universities’ access to the EU’s research funding programme. When EU student fees and research money are combined, there are relatively few institutions that count on them both for a substantial share of their overall income. However, the raw sums involved are eye-watering for some research-intensive universities. Moreover, for research-focused institutions, the loss of EU grant money and the best EU nationals among their research staff would be a particularly big blow.

Euro zone: reliance on EU cash 

Institutions’ reliance on EU cash, graph

Source: Hesa

Phil McNaull, director of finance at the University of Edinburgh and chair of the British Universities Finance Directors Group, says that “it has been clear for some time” that direct income for research “does not cover the full economic cost of conducting it, and the net deficit is subsidised by other sources”, such as surpluses from teaching.

However, he adds, “after several years of capped fees…tuition fees…cannot provide that support; hence the drive by many institutions to [recruit] overseas students”.

The figures on this are stark. According to a presentation made at a conference held by UK higher education’s Financial Sustainability Strategy Group earlier this year, data for 2015-16 show a £3.1 billion shortfall in funding the full economic costs of research across the sector.

Nigel Brown, a former finance director at Hefce who is now an independent consultant on higher education, also points to this shortfall as a concern.

“If an institution starts to fail to recruit [students], it has nothing to draw on to keep [research] going,” he says. Moreover, there is growing pressure to invest any surpluses in more buildings, equipment and facilities, in order to keep attracting students.

The latest bout of political angst about whether universities should continue to be able to charge home undergraduates fees of £9,000 (or £9,250, as the cap will be from 2017-18) is only likely to be ramped up further if students and commentators cotton on that a portion of their fees is subsidising research. Therefore, it is arguably becoming even more important for universities to support academic scholarship from other income sources – especially given the constant threat to income from international fees.

That rationale explains why many universities are eyeing the government’s industrial strategy with interest. Associated funding streams, such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund , aimed at bringing together “the UK’s world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time” are among various alternative sources of income that many universities will have to tap into to remain financially sustainable, according to Deloitte’s Mercer. That is particularly true, she says, for institutions that do not have the option of falling back on their global reputation to buoy up student demand.

“There is a very small number of global brands that are of the scale and reputation to continue to be successful without substantial changes to their strategy and approach,” Mercer says. “It is unlikely that for this handful – and it is a handful – the current uncertainty will have a major impact on them in the medium term. However, for most universities, [it will].”

Another reason why it is paramount that universities diversify their income sources, experts say, is that there are scant opportunities to lessen spending dramatically given that staff costs still represent about half the UK sector’s expenditure.

The ticking pensions time bomb is another major factor: last month’s annual report of the sector’s largest scheme, the Universities Superannuation Scheme, revealed a deficit of £12.6 billion, which the scheme will be required to act to fill. Grant Thornton’s Brown says the major problem with the increasing pensions deficit is that addressing it requires contributions from employers and employees to go up, effectively adding another layer of staff costs on top of general pay rises. Indeed, changes since the last USS triennial review in 2014 mean that any pay increases in the sector already have to factor in that dimension: as Brown points out, higher pension contributions mean staff receive less take-home pay from any increase, and employers have to pay more on top of any pay rise. The only alternative – which has also been adopted – is to make the scheme less generous.

“If you think about it, some of those percentages [of total pay] in terms of employee and employer contributions are so high they are having an absolutely phenomenal effect on pay increases. And pay increases are an incredibly sensitive area,” Brown says.

So which universities have the diverse income streams and lower cost bases that will allow them to best deal with whatever may be thrown at higher education in the next few years?

In the money?: Distribution of surpluses and deficits as percentage of income

Distribution of surpluses and deficits as percentage of income

Source: Hesa

A look at a university’s surplus or deficit as a percentage of its income gives a few clues. However, these figures can be down to one-off factors that do not always reflect a university’s actual financial position. For instance, the University of Oxford had a deficit of 1.1 per cent of its income in 2015-16, but clearly the institution is not in difficulty and this may be linked to Oxford University Press income being reported only every three years (and not in 2015-16).

A better indicator, experts suggest, is the state of a university’s unrestricted reserves: the amount of surplus money it has built up and is able to spend on whatever it decides. According to Hefce, “in very broad terms [this figure] can be used as a proxy for the overall value of an institution”.

Share of total unrestricted reserves in UK sector, graph

Source: Hesa

The striking thing about these unrestricted reserves is that just 14 institutions – most of them Russell Group members – hold half of the total reserves for the whole UK sector. In part, this is due to their larger capacity to raise sums from donations, to license intellectual property and charge premium fees to overseas students.

According to Nigel Brown, who was also an adviser to the committee under Lord Dearing that first recommended the introduction of fees in the late 1990s, there have always been a small number of universities able to generate what he calls “free income”. But, 20 years ago, Hefce was able to use its grant allocations to shore up the rest of the sector. These days it – or its successor body – would be able to do little to compensate for sudden changes in fee income at particular institutions. Nor would it be able to compensate for any overall loss of income brought about by a political decision to reduce fees without increasing the teaching grant.

“If anything significant was done to cut undergraduate funding, that would put many institutions at risk. So if you wish to deal with the tuition-fee problem, it has major implications for institutions,” he says.

Grant Thornton’s Brown notes that it is precisely those universities with the biggest reserves that are the least likely to run into the kinds of economic difficulties that would require financial directors to draw on them. And she adds that the socio-economic makeup of their students gives the richest universities an extra advantage.

“It is not just that the wealthy universities stay wealthy,” she says. “It is also that they have the ability to tap into a more wealthy pool of alumni for donations and endowments. [This situation] is not just mirroring society: it is part of the problem.”

Old car

Happy returns: the cases of Swansea and London Met

One university that jumps out of the latest financial figures as having a positive story to tell is Swansea University.

It had one of the largest jumps in total income in 2015-16, a real-terms rise of 25 per cent, based in large part on a real-terms rise in fee income of 18 per cent.

For long-serving vice-chancellor Richard Davies, this is the result of a long-term strategy hatched in the early 2000s to grow the institution in terms of research capacity and quality.

“We were rather a small institution [back then]: too small to be cost-effective, [with] no economies of scale [and with] a lot of very small departments that were inefficient and unstable. One person could leave and the whole department would be destabilised,” he says.

So Swansea set about becoming big enough to achieve economies of scale and focused on driving up quality. Success on the latter criterion is demonstrated by Swansea’s performance in the 2014 research excellence framework, Davies says, in which it recorded one of the largest rises in grade point average.

“You recruit students because of [your] quality, at the end of the day. Our growing reputation has given us the chance to recruit more,” he says.

He also points out the importance of having a supportive governing body, which “as long as they were being shown that risks were being properly managed…would go along with really quite bold strategies”.

Meanwhile, at London Metropolitan University, which has had its fair share of financial challenges in recent years, there are hopes that the institution is finally turning a corner. Although London Met was in deficit again in 2015-16, vice-chancellor John Raftery claims that its financial results were £4.8 million “better than forecast”, with “healthy reserves in the bank and no borrowing – which is not something that many universities can claim”.

Although London Met was awarded bronze in the teaching excellence framework, with some of the poorest metrics in the sector, this was based on data going back to 2012. According to Raftery, more recent data on graduate outcomes and student satisfaction point to an improving performance.

“Since 2014, we have put a range of initiatives in place to improve student outcomes, and these are working,” he says. “Our latest graduate employment score is above 45 universities, including several big-hitters in the Russell Group, and we took difficult decisions to redesign our university, including letting people go, which has had a stabilising effect on finances.”

“We believe that financial sustainability follows academic stability, and our new structure is achieving that.”

Simon Baker

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Virginia is $660 million short on higher education funding, SCHEV says

RICHMOND — Tuition and other fees now account for 53 percent of the cost of higher education for families, compared to the 33-percent target set by the state in 2004. The state’s share of the bill has fallen to 47 percent, compared to the 67-percent target.

Virginia would have to find an additional $660 million to restore the balance in paying for a student’s education at a state college or university, according to a new report that said erratic state funding has shifted most of the burden onto families through rising tuition and fees.

The State Council of Higher Education for Virginia issued a report to state lawmakers Wednesday that calls for a fresh look at new ways of funding public institutions of higher learning in the face of state spending cuts in eight of the past 10 years.

The bottom line for students and their families is increased tuition fees, which now account for 53 percent of the cost of higher education, compared to the 33-percent target set by the state more than a dozen years ago. In contrast, the state’s share of the bill has fallen to 47 percent, compared to the 67-percent target established in 2004.

“If the next 10 years are similar to the last 10 years for Virginia public higher education, our system is indeed in peril and all options to improve its future should be considered,” SCHEV said in its annual report on tuition and fees.

The report was delivered to Gov. Terry McAuliffe and the General Assembly’s budget committees less than three weeks before they are to meet to evaluate the state’s revenue outlook. The state ended the fiscal year on June 30 with a projected revenue surplus of $132 million, but not in time to avoid an average 2.5-percent cut in spending on higher education in the current fiscal year.

For SCHEV, the volatility in state spending put a quick end to the optimism it expressed a year ago, after the state budgeted an additional $223 million for public colleges and universities in exchange for restraint on tuition increases that averaged just under 3 percent.

“Since the beginning of this century, it’s been an up and down ride,” said Dan Hix, director of finance policy at SCHEV.

For the state to restore the balance, it would cost $660 million, which would reduce the average tuition burden by $2,700 a student, or one-third of the expense now, the report states.

But cuts in state spending only tell part of the story, contend state lawmakers, who say public colleges and universities also have to take a hard look at costs that have played a big factor in runaway tuition for in-state undergraduate students.

“Expenses certainly have to be part of the equation,” House Appropriations Chairman Chris Jones, R-Suffolk, said Wednesday.

The appropriations committee heard a report from its staff in November that estimated that only half of the cost of tuition increases over the past 20 years were the result of reduced state spending on higher education and called for more transparency on how institutions spend tuition dollars.

The SCHEV report paints a different history, charting the ups and downs of state support for higher education through two economic recessions since the turn of this century.

“Since entering the 21st century, tuition charges to in-state undergraduate students in Virginia have been greatly influenced by the state’s economic conditions,” the report states.

“During a period of strong economic growth, the commonwealth provided substantial operating support,” it says. “In later years, the commonwealth allowed institutions to assess double-digit tuition increases to offset general fund reductions when growth in the economy slowed or declined.”

“The lack of continuity and predictability has limited the ability of students and their families to plan for the cost of college education.”

The effects are measurable, SCHEV’s staff says in the report, which shows in-state undergraduate charges — including tuition, mandatory fees, and room and board — accounting for 47.7 percent of a family’s per-capita disposable income in Virginia, compared to 43 percent nationally. In 2001-02, those charges accounted for just 31.4 percent of per-capita disposable income in Virginia.

This school year, in-state undergraduate students will pay an average of $546 more on tuition and fees, an increase of 4.8 percent. The increase is higher for four-year institutions, an average of $565, than two-year colleges, an average of $120.

William and Mary has the highest level of tuition and mandatory fees, at $22,044, an increase of $810, or just under 4 percent for incoming freshmen under the school’s four-year promise of set tuition. Virginia Military Institute follows at $18,214, an increase of $722 or 4.1 percent, and the University of Virginia is third at $16,068, an increase of $354, or 2.3 percent.

The solution to the funding dilemma is unclear, but SCHEV staff are exploring a range of options, such as tying both state general fund support and tuition increases for in-state undergraduates to the rate of inflation.

Other options being considered include reducing state support for graduate education and reallocating the savings to institutions for in-state undergraduate education, or allowing some institutions to increase enrollment of higher-paying out-of-state students while maintaining their current level of in-state enrollment.

In the latter case, the institutions would keep most of the additional revenue, while allowing the state to shift its share of the savings to other institutions that have less ability to generate additional tuition revenue.

Under a fourth option, the state could reduce its share of funding to some institutions — UVa, Virginia Tech, and William and Mary — to shift savings to other, less competitive schools.

The downside of this approach is the “admission that Virginia does not have sufficient public review or public will to support its institutions adequately and equitably,” the staff said in a report to the council in July. “It also would result in otherwise-higher tuition at those institutions.”

None of those options is a recommendation to the council, Hix said in an interview. “They’re options for the council to consider.”

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Why Republicans Don’t Trust Higher Ed

Not only do Republicans and Democrats have different levels of confidence in higher education, but they are coming at the issue by focusing on different issues, a new poll by Gallup shows. Republicans who distrust higher education focus on campus politics, while the smaller share of Democrats who distrust higher education tend to focus on rising college prices, the pollster found.

The data were released a month after a report from the Pew Research Center found that more than half of Republicans say colleges have a negative impact on the direction of the United States. The shift was dramatic. Two years ago, Pew found that 54 percent of Republicans said colleges had a positive impact on the direction of the United States, while this year 58 percent said colleges had a negative effect. Among Democrats, 72 percent this year viewed colleges as having a positive impact on the direction of the country.

Gallup set out to see if it would find similar partisan shifts in the view of higher education, and — if so — why members of the two major parties were splitting in this way. Gallup’s findings largely confirm those of Pew — a growing partisan divide on higher education.

First Gallup asked people if they have confidence in colleges and universities. (The question did not specify two-year vs. four-year, public vs. private, etc.)

How Much Confidence Do You Have in Higher Education?

Then Gallup asked those with little or no confidence in higher education to identify reasons for their lack of confidence. Here Republicans focused on political issues and Democrats focused on more practical issues (such as paying for college). The question here was open-ended and Gallup grouped similar responses and provided the top answers.

What Are Some of the Reasons You Do Not Have a Lot of Confidence in Higher Education?

Gallup also asked those with high confidence levels in higher education why they felt that way, again grouping together open-ended responses. The answers show that many Republicans seem to feel good about their own or their relatives’ experiences in higher education, and that they are more likely than Democrats to believe that earning a college degree is essential for career success.

What Are Some Reasons Why You Have a Lot of Confidence in Colleges and Universities?

To be sure, some Republicans have long criticized higher education for being too liberal. Jesse Helms, the late senator who was long a hero to the far right, once said of plans for a zoo in North Carolina, “Why build a zoo when we can just put up a fence around Chapel Hill?” And bashing universities — the University of California, Berkeley, or Harvard University, or the Ivy League generally — has long been a part of Republican rhetoric.

But perhaps more quietly, support for much of higher education — public and private — has been bipartisan. Democrats might have been more generous with funding in some years, or more focused on low-income students. But Republicans have been strong proponents over time of building up universities’ research capabilities. And support for community colleges and many regional institutions comes from lawmakers of both parties working to support local colleges.

In this context, the Pew and Gallup findings suggest a shift in attitudes in which Republicans have a much stronger aversion to the direction of higher education, which they see as too liberal. The questions asked in the Gallup study were so general (without any definition of “college”) that many may not have thought of parts of higher education (community colleges, evangelical colleges or professionally oriented online programs) that look nothing like the residential liberal arts colleges that are mocked — many times inaccurately — in the conservative blogosphere on a daily basis.

An analysis released by Gallup, while not endorsing the views of the Republicans surveyed, says that their attitudes could have a significant impact on higher education.

“The effect of this divide on views of higher education — a pivotal element of the American dream for so many — raises questions about the future of higher education in this country,” the Gallup analysis says. “To what degree will diminished confidence in higher education among Republicans lead to decreased public support and funding for colleges and universities? Or, will Republican families be less likely to send their children to traditional colleges and universities, and instead seek other ways to educate them? Will various colleges and universities begin to align their brands and curricula increasingly along party lines? Is there any hope that this partisan divide on views of higher education will diminish — and if so, what would bring that about?”

Indeed, regardless of what one thinks of Republican attitudes, Republicans control the White House and both houses of Congress. Of particular relevance to public higher education, 34 of the nation’s governors are Republicans.

Brandon H. Busteed, executive director for education and work-force development at Gallup, said in an interview that he thought it was important for colleges to think about their “marketing and communication messages” on a range of issues. For example, many competitive colleges consider race and ethnicity in admissions — and polls suggest majorities of white voters favor the end of such forms of affirmative action.

Busteed said that colleges need to think about the way many critics of affirmative action believe that admissions are based on a pure academic meritocracy, except for minority students. He said colleges should talk about the edge in admissions enjoyed by athletes, children of alumni, people from some parts of the country, and many other groups. This information might change attitudes about affirmative action, he said.

He also said it’s not likely to be enough for colleges to just assume that Republican attitudes are incorrect. Rather, colleges need to engage the discussion, he said. For example, many colleges bemoan that some prospective students and their families judge colleges by “sticker price” and don’t take into account the aid offered by institutions. Colleges are relentless in encouraging people to think about college prices beyond sticker prices, he said. They need to be equally active on qualities — real or not — that make many Republicans think they are liberal.

On the theme of rebranding, Busteed published an essay Wednesday urging colleges to stop using the term “liberal arts.”

“Putting the words liberal and arts together is a branding disaster, and the most effective way to save or defend the liberal arts may be to change what we call them. Note, the problem isn’t with the substance of a liberal arts education but with the words we use to describe it,” he wrote.

“Although there is certainly a difference between the meaning of a liberal arts education and being ‘liberal’ politically, it helps no one to fight to the death defending the term ‘liberal arts’ in the context of today’s climate. Let’s face it: other than people in higher education or liberal arts graduates themselves, who understands what the liberal arts are anyhow?” he added.

Busteed’s essay will probably rankle more than a few liberal arts professors. But it may be worth considering that Republicans are not the only ones who are challenged by the term “liberal arts.”

A 2015 study by Caroline Hoxby and Sarah Turner, professors of economics at Stanford University and the University of Virginia, respectively, asked academically talented, low-income high school students why they didn’t apply to certain kinds of institutions. With regard to liberal arts colleges, the answers suggested a lack of knowledge of what they are. Among the responses they heard from students about why they weren’t applying to liberal arts colleges:

  • “What is a private liberal arts college?”
  • “I don’t know what this is.”
  • “I don’t like learning useless things.”
  • “I am not liberal.”

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A-level results: Solihull College & University Centre wins gold for its higher education

Solihull College University Centre will be holding a Higher Education advice day for prospective students looking to start their university level studies this September on Tuesday, August 22, from 2pm to 6pm at Blossomfield Campus.

The college was recently awarded a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) “Gold” rating for its university-level provision, the only college in the West Midlands to achieve this, beating many top Russell Group universities.

So, are you thinking of staying local for your degree, ready for a career change or didn’t get the A-level results you were hoping for?

With campuses set in convenient locations and extremely competitive fees compared to many universities, the college offers you the chance to stay local and save thousands on your degree. Many courses are offered full and part-time allowing students to fit studies around work and family life.

Read More

A-level results – What next?

The college’s facilities are unmatched in the region, with recent investment in virtual reality and industry-standard science laboratories at Blossomfield Campus and the Centre for Advanced Aeronautical Provision featuring world class flight simulators and a former Royal Navy aircraft at Woodlands Campus. The new University Centre at Blossomfield also gives students the chance to relax and study in an area designed solely for university-level students, away from the hustle and bustle of the college.

A wide range of equipment is available at Solihull College

A wide range of equipment is available at Solihull College

Students can study on courses offered in partnership with top universities, including Oxford Brookes, Newman, Coventry, Northampton and Warwick, as well as the college’s own provision. Programmes available include HNCs, HNDs, Foundation, Top-Up, Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees developed with the help of industry across a variety of exciting subject areas.

New degrees on offer for September 2017 include games design virtual reality, history and English literature, veterinary nursing and creative film production.

Take the next step towards your dream career right here in Solihull!

  • For more information on the university-level courses available for September 2017 drop in to the Higher Education Advice Day, visit or call 0121 678 7000.

Article source:

Looking for advice after exams? – Belfast Newsletter

Exam results often present a crossroads where and making informed decisions is imperative to effective career planning.

The Department for the Economy’s Careers Service say they are here to help, providing impartial advice and guidance on a range of career options including further and higher education, apprenticeships, training, employment and voluntary work opportunities.

Head of the Careers Service, Frances O’Hara said: “It is important that those receiving exam results or making decisions about their next steps on their career paths have all the relevant information about future education, training and employment opportunities.

“If you need immediate advice following results, you can talk to a careers advisor online using our instant messaging facility which is available at

“The service is available from 9.30am to 4.30pm, Monday to Friday. We have extended opening hours on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 August from 9.00am to 7.30pm to provide additional support for those getting their A level results.

“For GCSE results, the opening hours for this service have been extended from 9.00am to 7.30pm on Thursday 24 and Friday 25 August.

“Alternatively young people and parents can access a wealth of useful information including contact details of careers advisers throughout Northern Ireland at

“You can also call 0300 200 7820 to speak directly to a careers adviser.”

Explaining the potential options available to young people, Frances added: “There are a number of choices available for those receiving their exam results at this time including;

Further Education (FE): FE offers a wide range of full and part time qualifications, including Foundation Degrees. The courses are geared towards preparing learners entering the world of work and the professional and technical qualifications have been developed in conjunction with employer bodies and are a strong first step to accessing different career paths.

Foundation Degrees (FDs) are professional and technical higher education qualifications, delivered by colleges and awarded by universities which integrate academic and work-related study. They offer an alternative progression route from A levels into higher education and an alternative route to a Bachelors degree. FDs are stand-alone qualifications with an emphasis on the development of skills in the workplace which will assist successful students in gaining suitable employment. You can contact your local FE College for more information visit

Clearing/Alternative degree courses: If you have not been offered a place on your chosen course, you may be able to find a place at university on a similar course using UCAS clearing – see This facility advertises vacant courses at universities across the UK. Your results may also cause you to re-think the courses you have already applied for.

Apprenticeships: The apprenticeship programme gives you the opportunity to ‘earn while you learn’ – to be in paid employment and achieve nationally recognised skills and qualifications in a variety of occupations. Learning takes place both ‘on the job’ and ‘off the job’ working towards the achievement of an industry approved qualification. Apprenticeship training is delivered at your local further education college and by a number of other contracted training suppliers. Check

“This is an important time for all young people and I would encourage them to make sure they have all the relevant information to ensure they make the decisions right for them and their future career path.”

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Warren: Education Dept lawyer may have violated conflict-of-interest laws

Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenWarren: Liberals will ‘lead the Democratic Party back from the wilderness’ Warren asks where bank CEOs stand on customers’ ability to join class action suits Labor Department seeks delay of Obama investment adviser rule MORE (D-Mass.) is pressing Education Secretary Betsy DeVos for answers as to whether or not an Education Department lawyer violated a federal conflict-of-interest law by working to repeal an Obama-era nonprofit college rule while working for a company that owns several for-profit schools.

Warren this week sent a letter to DeVos, asking her to detail Robert Eitel’s involvement with the Education Department’s work to roll back the Borrower Defense to Repayment rule. 

The rule prohibits schools that receive federal funds from including language in contracts that force students to waive their right to participate in class-action lawsuits.

Warren claims Eitel served both as the vice president of regulatory legal services at Bridgepoint Education Inc., a company that owns several for-profit colleges, and as a special assistant to DeVos from February to April before being appointed senior counselor to the secretary.

The Massachusetts senator said she has repeatedly questioned Eitel’s involvement in the department’s work to redo the rule originally designed to hold abusive higher education institutions accountable for cheating students and taxpayers out of billions of dollars in federal loans.

“If Eitel provided any written or verbal advice to the Secretary of Education and Department or Administration Staff on any aspect of the borrower defense rule-a ‘particular matter’ that affects the financial interest of Bridgepoint-between February 13, 2017, and April 5, 2017, including on implementation, delay, or rulemaking while employed both at the Department and at Bridgepoint, and did so without receiving any relevant waiver, then it appears that Eitel may have violated the criminal conflict-of-interest statute,” she said in her letter on Tuesday.  

Warren noted that Eitel currently serves as chairman of the department’s Regulatory Reform Task Force and co-authored a report in May recommending the repayment rule for repeal. She asked DeVos to answer a series of questions about Eitel’s specific involvement in the agency’s work to repeal the rule by Sept. 1.

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Massive tree falls in New York’s Central Park, injuring 3 kids, adult

Three children and one adult were hurt Tuesday when a massive tree fell on top of them in New York’s Central Park, officials said.

The New York Police Department confirmed to Fox News the injuries occurred when the massive tree fell on the park’s West Drive shortly after 10 a.m.

The four have non-life threatening injuries and have been transported to a local hospital, officials added.

A witness told FOX 5 New York the tree came down on them as they were walking, including two that were in a double-wide stroller. The third child was strapped to the woman in a chest carrier.

The four were initially trapped under the branches, but were pulled out quickly by other people who were in that normally busy area of the park.

A woman who was running in the park, Tammi Jones, told FOX 5 she heard a cracking sound and then saw the tree come crashing down.  

Jones added she didn’t even know that there was a baby in the stroller until they reached the tree and helped get the baby out.

Photos from the scene posted to social media show the large tree laying across the road near 62nd street, as emergency crews cleared the area of pedestrians.

Authorities have not yet said what caused the tree to fall. There were thunderstorms in the area earlier in the day, but no severe weather was reported at the time of the incident.

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Rick and Morty will no longer stream for free on Adult Swim’s website

When Rick and Morty’s third season premiered two weeks ago, Adult Swim made the first few episodes free.

Sunday night, however, Adult Swim didn’t air a livestream. Those who visited the site excited for the fourth episode found that they couldn’t watch the episode live or for free. Only those with cable subscriptions to Adult Swim could log in after the episode aired to watch it or turn to traditional television.

Adult Swim did give viewers a heads up on Twitter before the episode aired. The network tweeted out a video confirming that the new episode wouldn’t be available to stream without a cable login, adding that it may be time for pirates to “start your engines.”

Adult Swim later confirmed to Polygon that it will no longer offer free livestreams of Rick and Morty.

“Adult Swim livestreamed the first two episodes of Rick and Morty to kick off the new season and will continue to offer episodes to view online after they have aired on the network,” a network representative said.

Sunday’s episode was made available on Monday morning, according to the representative, and all future episodes will follow suit. Those who want to watch the rest of season three online as it airs will need a cable subscription in order to do so. This includes the season finale, the representative confirmed.

Adult Swim did offer a livestream of some kind to those who tuned into the website Sunday night: one that featured actors performing the script in poor fashion, seen above. The stream poked fun at the audience who turned up for the episode, something that the Rick and Morty community was divided on.

“This shit is getting annoying,” one person said on Reddit. “It’s not funny. It makes me want to never watch anything on AdultSwim ever. I don’t care if they’re trolling, troll any other time except the airing of a new episode. Some people stay up late and alter their schedules to watch the show live, and for AdultSwim to throw this garbage at us and have the audacity to insult us at the same time is frustrating when you know damn well that they make enough money to just stream the show like normal.”

Others argued that Adult Swim executives should have the ability to charge for the content they’ve created, adding that most networks don’t livestream episodes of their newest series for free either.

This means those who want to watch Rick and Morty live will have to do so the traditional way. Even though Adult Swim seems to have given the go-ahead to pirates, those who want to watch Rick and Morty legally can download Adult Swim’s app and subscribe for $3.99 a month to get full episodes after they air.

Rick and Morty airs Sundays at 11:30 p.m. ET.

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