The Week in Education – 13.10.2017

Providing your essential education and university news. This week; the benefits of study abroad, Stanford tops Education tables and Oxbridge deadlines loom for 2018 hopefuls.

Short-Term Study Abroad Polishing Employable Skills

International students consider overseas study a significant contributor to the development of their soft and hard skills; short courses in particular have been noted as more effective than longer term study in the development of teamwork skills.

The research, Gaining an Employment Edge, polled U.S. alumni who had studied overseas between 1990 and 2017 to determine how study abroad had contributed to the development of 15 soft and hard skills. These skills were based on those found to be most desired by companies in previous studies.

In all, 14 of the 15 skills were found to improve as a result of studying abroad – the only skill unaffected was technical or software skills. With regards to teamwork skills, 30 per cent of respondents considered the experience a “significant” impact on their development while a greater percentage of short-course students (8 weeks or less) responded positively when compared to those studying for a longer period.

This trend is believed to be partially due to the more real-world, experiential nature of shorter courses and their condensed interaction with fellow students; contrasted with the increased class-room and independent study time of longer courses. However, that is not to say longer courses are without their own merits – as co-author of the study, Christine Farrugia, states; “what this study finds is there are distinct values to each kind of experience”.

If you’re interested in your own taste of overseas study, find out more about our 2018 Summer Courses.


Stanford Tops Times World University Rankings For Education

The latest subject rankings from Times Higher Education place California’s Stanford University at #1 for Education and #2 for Law. This update also sees Cambridge place just ahead of Oxford in Law, seizing their position as the UK’s top institute for the subject.

New data has also been released for Social Sciences along with Business and Economics. While Oxford continue to top Business and Economics, closely followed by Cambridge, this year marks the first time a UK institute has placed first for Social Sciences. Oxford overtakes Stanford by a considerable margin following improvements in their teaching performance.

Also of note is the first placement of an Asian university in a THE World University Rankings table top five position. The University of Hong Kong secures fourth in Education, primarily as a result of it’s exceptional research score, while other Asian institutions also score well in the subject. Peter Mathieson, president of the University of Hong Kong, puts this down to Education and Law’s “ability to span the demands of being internationally recognised while maintaining local and regional significance”.


2018 UCAS Applications for Oxford and Cambridge close on Sunday 15th

Only a month after the open of UCAS applications for 2018 study, Oxford and Cambridge hopefuls are confronted by this Sunday’s impending deadline. Along with courses in Medicine, Vetinary Medicine/Science and Dentistry, prospective students are expected to submit their application by the 15th in order to allow for the in-depth selection process these institutes employ.

For those unware, UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) is the UK’s centralised service for students seeking to apply for further education. They provide an online portal allowing students to submit and manage their application to the various UK universities; playing matchmaker for both students and university. Despite the early Oxbridge deadline, students are free to expand their application to other universities until the national deadline of January 15th 2018.

Being a fundamental part of the UK’s university application process, a solid understanding of the service is required. UCAS provide a huge range of articles on-site to assist in this and guide students through each step in their application – including the daunting and potentially unfamiliar prospect of a personal statement. Prospective students should ensure they familiarise themselves with these resources and speak to guidance counsellors for any particularly tricky questions.

Experience both Oxford and Cambridge with our combined 4 week courses. For a first-hand experience of the UK’s top universities and their application process, explore our University Guidance Tours.

Posted: October 13, 2017

2017 Excursions – The Oxford Scavenger Hunt

To provide a true taste of Oxford, we ensure students have every opportunity to discover the joys of Oxford city life in between their studies. Striking a fine balance between modern city hustle and historic beauty, our students spend their first days acclimatising through an array of activities and personal exploration –

What could be a better way to get to know the city of Oxford than a scavenger hunt? And what could be a better way to get to know each other than seeing how many of you can fit into a phone box?

A list of quintessentially ‘Oxford’ things in hand, our students head off in groups to frantically track them down before time runs out. From a life-sized Dobby to the carved lion’s head which inspired the character of Aslan in C.S Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia, students hunt down those subtler details of Oxford which are all too often missed. While Oxford is famous for the standard of its education and its breathtaking architecture such as the Radcliffe Camera, it is these smaller things that give the city its character and make it such a unique and welcoming place to study.

Not everyone is aware, for example, of the Anthony Gormley sculpture ‘Another Time’ which features an iron man on the roof of Blackwell’s Art & Poster shop on Broad Street. He gazes over the city towards Balliol College, eerily still as he perches close to the edge. Similarly there are blue plaques all over Oxford; eager to tell the tales of those renowned people and groups who found fame in the buildings here. Perhaps less well known than the big Oxford names of J.R.R Tolkien and Lewis Carroll, but all rich contributors to British culture; artist William Turner and pre-Raphaelite muse Jane Burden, also known as Mrs. William Morris, lived in the city centre.

As you make your way through the list, you’ll also find your knowledge of British-English challenged – finding a ‘wheelie bin’, for instance, defeats a few, while telephone and post boxes are not immediately obvious to those unused to the iconic red boxes which dot streets throughout the UK.

Our scavenger hunt allows students the chance to orientate themselves both to Oxford’s personal geography and history; discovering useful landmarks and new friendships before trips further afield and the course starts in full.

Posted: October 10, 2017

The Week in Education – 06.10.2017

Providing your essential education and university news. This week; Cambridge vloggers shed the stereotypes, the cost of international students and the challenge in nurturing STEM.

Student vloggers challenge the Cambridge stereotypes

Cambridge students are increasingly taking to YouTube to share their experiences at the historic institute, shaking loose stuffy stereotypes in the hope of inspiring future applicants – regardless of their background.

Counting friend of Oxford Summer Courses, Holly Gabrielle, among the many students discussing the joys and challenges of Cambridge, the platform has become a go-to for incoming freshers looking to dispel preconceptions of Cambridge as “only for the select, privileged few”.

Few universities can boast the popularity that Cambridge vloggers enjoy, with even Oxford video-makers lagging behind. Furthermore, the university actively encourages their endeavours – A-level results day saw seven student YouTubers championing Cambridge’s cause. In a progressively digital and connected world, the authentic conversations between these students will be key to their decisions as they enter further education .

See Holly’s take on a day in the life of our Cambridge students HERE. Alternatively, head to oxfordsummercourses.com/cambridge/ to find out how you can experience Cambridge for yourself.


Visa compliance costing Universities up to £500,000 per year

Following the release of data collected by Study Group, several universities have been found to spend £500,000 each solely to satisfy Tier 4 visa regulations – applying to the majority of international students outside of the EU. In fact, these figures are likely underestimates due to the different approaches universities take to expenditure; Oxford University only spends a declared £58k despite one third of its student population being international.

As the Home Office has introduced new rules and cost-saving measures, the responsibilities and associated cost of checking and monitoring have been shifted to the education sector. Combined with changes making a successful application even more difficult to achieve, the issues for universities have only multiplied.

However attitudes towards international students have been changing favourably as high rates of visa compliance are demonstrated. More changes are anticipated once the Migration Advisory Committee makes its findings on the value to the UK of international students, with the report due for publication in September 2019.


Germany leads STEM students – but how much influence does a country really have?

The latest data from the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development shows Germany maintain their position as world leader in STEM subjects, with 40% of new higher education students entering a STEM field in 2015 – seven percentage points higher than the next closest OECD country. However, closer inspection poses a conundrum for the growth of STEM.

Breaking adoption down by broad STEM fields shows Germany only leads in those subjects related to engineering, manufacturing and construction. Turning to the natural sciences, maths and statistics sees the UK rise to the top, while Estonia and Finland are joint leaders in ICT. Despite the goals of a country’s government, student choices actually appear more closely governed by the practicalities of the job market. Andreas Schleicher, the OECD’s director for education and skills, then poses the question; “How do you help students make meaningful choices: do you look at the present, which is easy, or do you somehow incentivise change?”

The gender gulf remains another issue for STEM subjects to address, with just 30 percent of new entrants in 2015 being women. The UK, joint highest alongside New Zealand and Iceland, still only saw a 37 percent share – highlighting the global nature of the hurdles we still must overcome to address this disparity.

If you have a passion for STEM subjects, discover our Maths, Biology, Chemistry and Physics programmes – or browse all our available subjects

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Posted: October 6, 2017

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