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The south's winners and losers of new university ranking system

Eight weeks today A-level students will find out if they've got into the universities of their choice.

But in the future the quality of higher education will be judged under a new grading system - the first results of that released today with a few shocks and surprises for universities here in our region.

The new system claims to focus on teaching and - not the quality of research - at the institute. It also puts a fair amount of weight on the students' views.

But it's already proving controversial with claims it's flawed and damaging - as our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford explains.

The south east's winners and losers of new university ranking system

Eight weeks today A-level students will find out if they've got into the universities of their choice.

But in the future the quality of higher education will be judged under a new grading system - the first results of that released today with a few shocks and surprises for universities here in our region.

The new system claims to focus on teaching and - not the quality of research - at the institute. It also puts a fair amount of weight on the students' views.

But it's already proving controversial with claims it's flawed and damaging - as our Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford explains.

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Four universities celebrate government's "Gold" rating - while two others don't make the grade

Four universities in the Meridian region are celebrating being awarded prestigious 'gold' ratings in the government’s first assessment of teaching excellence in higher education.

The Universities of Oxford, Portsmouth, Kent and Surrey all achieved the highest category for the quality of their teaching and learning.

In contrast the University of Southampton - which is a Russell Group university and has traditionally performed well in university league tables - has been given a bronze, putting it in the bottom quarter:

It is hard to have confidence in a Teaching Excellence Framework which appears devoid of any meaningful assessment of teaching.

I know I am not alone in having deep concerns about its subjective assessment, its lack of transparency, and with different benchmarks for each institution removing any sense of equity and equality of assessment. "

Our own student satisfaction metrics, including satisfaction with teaching, are better than some of those universities who have been awarded Silver and Gold today. This was a pilot scheme and there are serious lessons to be learned if the TEF is to gain public confidence.”

– Sir Christopher Snowden, President and Vice Chancellor of Southampton

It's a double blow for the city of Southampton because its second university - Southampton Solent - which prides itself on its vocational teaching and the employability of its students - was also given a bronze.

A total of 295 universities and colleges took part in the TEF.

59 providers were rated gold, 116 silver and 56 bronze. The performance of universities including student drop out rates, student satisfaction and whether or not students were in graduate level jobs six months after finishing their courses were analysed.

Universities were benchmarked so their outcomes were only compared with similar universities.

The Vice Chancellor of Portsmouth Professor Graham Galbraith said he was delighted with the gold rating - and that judging universities by their teaching was long overdue:

It does seem rather preposterous that we have never had any official government assessment of the quality of teaching before now.

The main purpose of universities is providing education to students. It is a good thing that we are now trying to measure it and I think it will have an impact because it will shuffle universities and resort them in the pecking order."

– Professor Graham Galbraith, ice Chancellor of Portsmouth

Here are the full results for Universities in the Meridian region.

  • University of Oxford - GOLD
  • University of Surrey - GOLD
  • University of Kent - GOLD
  • University of Buckingham (private) - GOLD
  • University of Portsmouth - GOLD
  • Arts University - Bournemouth - GOLD
  • University of Surrey - GOLD
  • Oxford Brookes University - SILVER
  • University of Reading - SILVER
  • University of Winchester - SILVER
  • Bournemouth University - SILVER
  • University of Brighton - SILVER
  • University of Chichester - SILVER
  • University of Sussex - SILVER
  • Canterbury Christchurch University - SILVER
  • Buckinghamshire New University - BRONZE
  • University of Southampton - BRONZE
  • Southampton Solent University- BRONZE
  1. Tom Savvides

The hotel run and staffed by students. Would you stay?

Would you stay in an hotel run and staffed by students and apprentices? Well such an establishment has just opened in Broadstairs. East Kent College has turned an old building into a luxury hotel where students are trained to cook, serve drinks and even make beds for paying guests. Tom Savvides talks to head chef Ben Williams, catering students Jordan Morris and Daisy Houlan, as well as hotel manager, Andrea Whigham.

Students learn about farm safety

Agricultural students at Abingdon and Witney College will be learning about farm safety today.

It's part of an initiative by the National Farmers Union to try and raise awareness of the risks involved with the industry and reduce the number of injuries and fatalities every year.

They'll be put in real-life situations and have to decide what action to take to prevent accidents happening.

Agricultural students in Abingdon will be taught about farm safety Credit: ITV Meridian

"Young people are such an important target group for this farm safety message as the future of the industry.

"As technology advances within farming, the risk of accidents can actually increase. While the safety of machinery and equipment has improved, the fact that machines can do so much more can make people complacent. It's fantastic to have an outside organisation like the Farm Safety Foundation come in to help us deliver this vital message and for the students to face scenarios they could come across on their own farms when they go home or in their future workplace."

– Pam Willsher, Head of Faculty Land Based Industries & Life Sciences

Battle bus brings the fight to stay in the EU to students - but how many are registered to vote?

The 'Britain Stronger In' battle bus visited Kent today, flying the flag for the campaign for Britain to remain in the EU. Its first stop was on the campus of the University of Kent in Canterbury.

Most polls indicate it's young people and students that are enthusiastic about the need to remain in the European Union. But the same voter samples suggest young people - despite their enthusiasm - will NOT be taking part in the June 23rd Referendum: with many not even registering to vote.

Sarah Saunders reports from the student city of Canterbury.

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Don't stress - guide dogs help students unwind

We all know what a remarkable job guide dogs do for blind and visually-impaired people.

But now, a college in Sussex has found a new use for the dogs - helping staff and students reduce their stress and increase their well-being.

And socialising is good training for the dogs too, helping them cope with unfamiliar situations in their working lives.

Malcolm Shaw spoke to students Natasha Duursma and Toby Bett, Marion Williams of Eastbourne & Pevensey Bay Guide Dog Group, and Jo Monnickendam from Sussex Downs College.

Under starter's orders - students go behind the scenes at Brighton Racecourse

Brighton Racecourse has had a colourful history. Once frequented by King George IV and his aristocratic pals, it was later portrayed as the haunt of gangsters and racketeers in Graham Greene's book "Brighton Rock".

Now, a group of students have been behind the scenes to find out what it's really like today.

Malcolm Shaw joined the boys for a day at the races, and interviewed Wayne Hardie of the British Horseracing Authority, Colin Brown, tipster and former jockey, and race commentator Richard Hoiles.

Local students to take part in national protest

Thousands are expected to take part in the demonstration which is thought to be the biggest since 2010. They're campaigning against fees and cuts and calling for free education. Two further days of action have been organised for December.

Students from across the South to protest in London Credit: ITV News Meridian
  1. Christine Alsford

Record numbers apply for university places

A record number of candidates are applying to go to to university this year, seemingly undeterred by fees of up to nine thousand pounds. Overall, figures are up by four per cent - but in the ITV Meridian region there are winners and losers.

Some universities - particularly those offering skills and vocational courses - are proving highly popular. At Surrey applications are up by a staggering 35 percent, Portsmouth is up by 12 percent - and Southampton Solent saw an increase of eight percent.

But the more traditional universities have been hit - Oxford is only up by 1 percent - and Reading says applications are down compared to the same point last year.

ITV Meridian's Social Affairs Correspondent Christine Alsford has been looking at the bigger picture - and finding out if enough is being done to offer teenagers alternatives to taking a degree.

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