UK universities could be surprise casualty of oil price drop


crane-494257_1280In recent years, UK universities have been able to rely upon a generously funded recruitment well – students backed by government-funded scholarships in oil producing countries, underwritten by 100 dollar a barrel revenues. But the oil price collapse to 60 dollars a barrel may mean this is a stream that is set to run dry. HEFCE data published this week shows that in 2013, Iraq rose to become the third largest contributing country for postgraduate research students in the UK, with 610 entrants, almost double the 2012 intake. Libya rose by 37 per cent to 245 entrants. Increases in government sponsorships account for most of the growth. Deutsche Bank and IMF figures quoted by the BBC show Libya requiring an oil price of 184 dollars a barrel to balance their national budget. Iraq requires 101 dollars a barrel. An oil price recovery to 100 dollar a barrel levels is unlikely inside 5 years, say analysts, with US shale oil producers pumping 4 million barrels a day into the market, and Saudi Arabia unwilling to support cuts in Middle East production. Many consequences are emerging from the oil price drop. It is possible that some of the effects could extend to UK HE. — UK NARIC will be presenting data and analysis on new and alternative prospective markets for student recruitment at our Emerging International Markets seminar event in London on March 13.


UK NARIC Statements of Comparability and English Language Assessment can help with UK Visa and British citizenship applications


UK NARIC has been receiving a lot of enquiries recently about UK Visas and British citizenship.

We cannot advise on exact requirements for visa and citizenship applications – and you cannot apply for a Visa through UK NARIC – but our services can help you with your application.

Our Statement of Comparability can help you evidence the level of your international qualifications.

Our English Language Assessment can help you evidence your level of English.

If you have a qualification comparable to British Bachelor level that has been taught in English then UK NARIC can check and verify that you have level C1 English in the Common European Framework.

We may also be able to check and verify for lower levels of English if you do not need level C1.

Check the UK Home office web pages on visas and immigration for full information on UK Visas and citizenship.


Best practice in graduate recruitment


The Graduate Market in 2014, a study of graduate vacancies at the country’s leading employers, has highlighted that employers are increasing their graduate intake by nearly 10% in 2014. Despite a dip in recent years, firms such as investment banks, law firms and the public sector are likely to see a sharp increment in applicant’s this year; holding both domestic and international qualifications.

Each recruiter has their own requirements, with a 2:1 and ABB frequently being required at bachelor and A levels respectively. This is obviously simple to regulate when an applicant has qualifications awarded within the UK, but how do employers ensure that these benchmarks are consistent across all applicants – how do they guarantee that applicants educated in countries such as Nigeria, India and China are held to a comparable standard?

UK NARIC has seen a sharp increase in communication with graduate employers over the last 12 months. The majority of our conversations have been with HR Managers hoping to ensure that they are providing a consistent message to all applicants; aiming to stand behind UK NARIC information when decisions are questioned by the applicant.

As a result of this the International Grade Comparisons database was developed in 2013. Recruiters have been able to ensure consistency in grade equivalences from over 40 key feeder countries to the UK, with further consultation ensuring that an additional 20 countries will be added to the database in 2014.

The next step has been for recruiters to ask UK NARIC for help in streamlining their application systems; by providing data to support the application procedure recruiters have been able to ensure that applicants were signposted to appropriate jobs and the selection process has been made more efficient in terms of reduced unsuitable applicants.

We’d be interested to hear from any graduate recruiters in the hope of further discussing challenges, such as what has been mentioned above, as we continue to work towards providing information which is relevant and useful to all sectors. Please do get in contact (communications@naric.org.uk) should you have any thoughts, suggestions or questions about the above information or UK NARIC as a whole.


Immigration Update – April 2014


The latest changes to the Immigration Rules have come into effect from the 6 April 2014. Below is a summary of some of the changes that have been made:

  • Expanding the Tier 1 (Exceptional Talent) category to include leading talent in the digital technology sector, who are endorsed by Tech City UK;
  • Tier 2 applicants will be granted leave to remain for five years. This means that they can go on to apply for settlement without having to reapply for further leave to remain after three years;
  • Applicants for Tier 4 visas from Oman, Qatar and United Arab Emirates will be given more generous documentary requirements and the exemption from the genuineness test will end;
  • Removing ring-fencing of MBA graduates for Tier 1 (Graduate entrepreneur) applicants as well as restrictions on applicants’ graduation dates;
  • The salary and maintenance thresholds for sponsoring dependents will be changed with effect from 1 July 2014;
  • The Government Authorised Exchange is a new scheme with Tier 5 for overseas government language placements. This category will enable language teachers to carry out teaching placements at UK institutions;
  • The Home Office will no longer grant B-rated licences for applications under Tier 2 and Tier 5.

There are also a number of minor changes, clarifications and technical amendments including a change to the minimum salary thresholds set out in the codes of practice for Tier 2 and 5 workers. The updates represent a 0.9% increase.

You are advised to visit the Home Office website to ensure that you receive the most up-to-date information


Student mobility to increase employability and integration in the workplace


The International Projects team at UK NARIC recently participated alongside other international stakeholders in higher education, in an EU-funded study visit* to Poitiers, France on how student mobility increases employability and integration in the work place. Student mobility is widely accepted as a social and economic benefit whereby students gain valuable new social skills and learning approaches that make them more adaptable in the work place.

The visit focussed on aspects of the ‘Mobility Scoreboard’[1] recently developed in response to a call by Members States to remove obstacles to mobility such as:

  1. Information and guidance about mobility opportunities;
  2. Portability of student aid;
  3. Knowledge of foreign languages;
  4. Recognition of studies abroad (use of ECTS and Diploma Supplement); and
  5. Support for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.

The study visit explored some of these obstacles in the different education systems, discussing at depth the use of key mobility and recognition tools such as Erasmus / Erasmus +, Europass and the European Credit Transfer system for facilitating mobility. A visit to the Université de La Rochelle provided the group with information about the university’s internationalisation strategy, helping to facilitate study periods abroad for students and researchers. The strategy focuses on the ‘professionalisation’ of the university’s curriculum to teach students skills relevant for employment within their chosen programme such as languages, IT and business skills, developing over 150 partnerships with universities in Europe, the Asia-Pacific and the Americas, and helping students fund study periods abroad through university grants or funds raised by the community of La Rochelle.

For the International Projects team at UK NARIC, participation in the study visit facilitated a deeper understanding of the obstacles and best practices in student mobility and recognition across Europe. By establishing networks and building partnerships with participants from the study visit, we hope to work on future projects to ease the recognition for student mobility within Europe and internationally.

*Disclaimer: The content of this publication is the sole responsibility of the publisher and the European Commission is not liable for any use that may be made of the information.

[1] European Commission – IP/14/9   10/01/2014.



Where do you want to go next?


Making sure that employers and education providers understand the value of your qualifications is vitally important.

If you want to take the next step by either studying, looking for a first job or looking to change jobs, it is fundamental to make sure that your qualifications, skills and abilities are valued.

Not all employers, colleges or universities understand the skills and competencies that are associated with qualifications. So whether you hold academic, vocational or professional qualifications from the UK or from overseas we are able to help ensure your qualifications are understood.

Mobility across Europe

Whether you have studied in the UK or elsewhere in Europe, the Europass portfolio can help you stand out from the crowd.

Europass documents are used throughout the UK and Europe and can help employers, universities, colleges and professional bodies understand more about the skills and competencies that are obtained through training and qualifications.

Visit the Europass website to find out more.

Qualifications from overseas

If British HEIs or potential employers have difficulties understanding the level of your qualifications, UK NARIC can help you. UK NARIC can provide a Statement of Comparability to compare your qualifications to the UK’s qualification frameworks. So, if you want to work or study in the UK please visit the UK NARIC website to find out more.


Reflections: Morocco


Morocco Hassan II Mosque detail“Play it again Sam”

Although never said these words are probably the most famous quote associated with Casablanca; however the city offers so much more than the backdrop to the famous 1942 film.

A former French colonial post Casablanca is a busy, bustling, modern city that hasn’t bowed to pressure and change to meet the needs of the sun-loving tourist.   The city is the most Westernised in Morocco but still retains an Islamic heart.  Highlights for a tourist include the King Hassan II Mosque and Casa’s Medina.

The purpose of the visit was to attend the British Council’s Bringing the Learning Home seminar on international partnerships and developing skills for employment.  UK NARIC has previously had very little involvement in this area but it quickly became apparent that there is a significant strategic role for the UK’s national agency to play alongside the British Council.

International skills and education partnerships exist for a number of reasons; to develop and share best practice (including QA, curriculum development, delivery and assessment), to generate additional income, to improve student mobility and for education providers to learn from each other.  Each individual partnership is unique and outcomes vary accordingly.  Some programmes may have a micro-impact where the main benefit is experienced by the students only; others might have a macro-impact with the institution changes its behaviour as a result of the partnership; some partnerships have even had a national-impact where the partnership findings have resulted in a change to education or skills policy.

Key to the success of partnerships is an in depth understanding by each partner of the educational systems involved and an appreciation of where the partnership outcomes will fit into the education and skills frameworks.  This is where UK NARIC can and do help.  The data contained UK NARIC’s online databases and the findings of our benchmarking work can help ensure that partners are better equipped to succeed.

But what of Casablanca and Morocco?  It is always difficult to judge a country from one city and a city from a four day visit; however, some traits did become clear.

Although not the capital of the country, Casablanca is a very lively and busy place.  Industry and commerce are everywhere.  On most streets in the centre of the city there are vendors adding colour and atmosphere.  The markets in the medinas are an experience not to be passed up; they are a delight to each of the senses!

There is the constant buzz of transport accompanied by a symphony of horns, hooters, bells and back-firing engines.  Getting around the city in the red taxis is not for the faint hearted, but it does add to the overall excitement.

Morocco Hassan II MosqueThere are oases of calm.   The King Hassan II Mosque, set on an Atlantic headland, appears a million miles away from the bustle of the city centre.  A thirty minute stroll back into the city also takes you past the excellent La Sqala restaurant and ever popular Rick’s Cafe.

Returning to partnerships; it was evident from the conference that there are many opportunities available for UK education providers in Morocco; and it is equally evident that they are interested in partnering with UK providers.  Morocco’s education system is based on the French Napoleonic system and is similar to other systems in North Africa.

Secondary School

Morocco was a former French protectorate, so the education system is modelled on the French education system

Secondary education is supervised by the Ministry of Education.

Upon completion of secondary school, students get the Baccalauréat, this is the secondary school award that gives access to higher education in Morocco and it might be suitable for entry into overseas institutions (it is all down to institutional discretion).

Vocational Education

Technical and vocational courses are available at secondary school level where students are awarded the Baccalaureat Technique.  At the post-school level vocational courses are usually two years; the highest technical award is a Brevet de Technicien Supérieur.

Higher Education

Higher education is offered by universities and Grandes Ecoles and is under the supervision of the Ministère de l´Enseignement Supérieur (Ministry of Higher Education).

The awards from recognised HE institutions are comparable to standards of the reciprocal UK HE awards.

In short, although not closely linked to the UK’s system Moroccan awards are broadly comparable to the standard of UK awards.

There are a lot of opportunities in Morocco especially for those interested in partnerships and TNE.


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