Q: In your opinion, what were the major developments in the UK higher education sector in 2015? Has it been a successful year for UK HE?
A: For me the major developments have been the introduction of higher apprenticeships and vocational degrees, which should open up the sector for a broader skills based education.
Q: Removing the cap on student numbers is one of the most debated topics in UK higher education. How will this affect the UK HE scene next year?
A: Potential students will be shopping around more. This was seen this year at Clearing when students were prepared to take their time when making a decision and were very obviously making comparisons between offers they were receiving. HEI will need to ensure that they remain competitive on all levels.
Q: Figures released from HESA earlier this year show that graduate employability is improving. Could universities be doing more to boost prospects for their students?
A: Yes and many universities are with internships and progression onto PG programmes.
Q: UK HEIs performed well in the world university rankings and league tables this year, suggesting we are doing enough to stay competitive in an international market, do you agree with this? What could we be doing better?
A: I don’t think we promote ourselves as well as some of the international universities and we need to be doing more to show the world how good we really are.
We need to be doing more to show the world how good we really are
Q: The Prime Minister has pledged to hold an in-out referendum on the UK’s EU membership by 2017. Will this impact the HE sector next year? How?
A: I’m not sure it will have much impact, maybe with some programmes that have Erasmus and other EU links but not in terms of recruitment.
Q: What lessons have we learned in 2015 that will help us prepare for the year ahead?
A: Students are becoming consumers, they are prepared to shop around for the best university and option.
Q: What are the biggest challenges facing the sector for the next year?
A: Competition from both private providers, employers and other HEIs.
Lynn Senior is the Dean of College of Education at the University of Derby. W: derby.ac.uk