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A series of reports produced by the Higher Education Academy STEM project: Skills in Mathematics and Statistics in the disciplines and tackling transition are published today.
The five discipline-specific reports accompany an overarching report, Mathematical transitions, and present findings of a major project funded and run by the HEA which looked at the mathematical and statistical needs of undergraduate students in disciplines including Business and Management, Chemistry, Economics, Geography, and Sociology. Broadly speaking these are disciplines where there is a clear need for Mathematics and Statistics, but where an A-level in Mathematics is not usually a pre-requisite for acceptance at university.
The main findings of the project suggest that many undergraduate students are surprised at the amount of mathematical content in their degree programmes and some struggle to cope with this content. For some time, there has been concern in the HE sector about the mathematical and statistical skills of students entering undergraduate degree courses in these disciplines. In particular there are many questions regarding the extent to which students’ skills match the actual requirements of university degree courses.
The reports consider the mathematical demands of the subjects, what the HE departments are doing to meet the students’ needs, staff and student expectations and the signalling HE provides about the need for mathematical and statistical skills. Throughout a particular emphasis is placed on the transition into university study.
Dr Mary McAlinden, Discipline Lead for Mathematics, Statistics and Operational Research at the HEA says: “Mathematical and statistical skills are embedded within the university curricula of many subjects both in STEM and more widely. They are fundamental tools which students need to acquire in order to be able to understand and appreciate academic literature and research findings within their subject domains. There is, therefore, a clear need for a greater understanding between the HE and pre-university sectors about the need for students to be able to apply their mathematical and statistical skills within their subject domains.”
The Higher Education Academy (HEA) invites expressions of interest from HEA subscribing higher education providers from across the UK to participate in three strategic enhancement programmes commencing in October 2014.
The three programmes – Embedding employability into the curriculum, Internationalising the curriculum, and Engaged student learning – form key elements of the HEA’s four enhancement workstreams for 2014-15. A call for participation in two further strategic enhancement programmes relating to flexible learning, and retention and attainment, will be issued in October 2014.
Participating institutions will receive HEA-facilitated support for enhancement initiatives that they are taking forward during 2014-15 that align to the programme. Support will take the form of a series of network meetings tailored for each of the three programmes, plus bespoke support for each participating institution. Specific projects designed to strengthen the evidence base in the areas covered by the programmes will be commissioned by the HEA.
The deadline for submission of applications is: noon on Monday 15 September 2014.
A report presenting the findings of a study commissioned by the HEA and conducted by the National Union of Students (NUS)/NUS Services has found that on the whole students are positive about the use of OERs.