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Demographics will shrink European talent pool


A recent report reveals that demographic change is likely to have an effect on business, with less graduates forming a talent pool in the next 20 years.

The report predicts a moderate fall in the numbers of 18-20 year olds between now and 2019 across the UK - the overall decline equates to 70,000 full-time undergraduate places over the next 10 years, although the dip between now and 2019 will have reversed by 2027.

The rest of the EU is expected to see an even greater downturn in 18-20 year olds – around 40% in some countries.
The report into the future size and shape of the higher education sector in the UK examines the impact of these changes and marks the first phase of a major project by Universities UK.

The second phase, due for publication in Summer 2008, will consider the policy actions that may affect the demography of the student population, as well as the likely impact and implications for higher education institutions affected by those changes.

Improved staying-on rates and achievement at level 2 (GCSE equivalent) by those from the lower socio-economic groups would have a significant impact on demand for higher education, says the report.

Sir Muir Russell, vice-president of Universities UK and chair of the report’s steering group, said: “This isn’t the first time the sector has faced such a significant change in the make-up of its student population, but we’ll need to work closely with policy makers to ensure that the sector adjusts well. Our universities are in an excellent position to prepare for such fluctuations, but it is crucial that future government policy takes these demographic projections into account.

“We expect to see an increase in international students over this period and we must ensure the UK remains an attractive destination for them. Given the projected increases in other age groups, such as 30-39 years old, it is also crucial that universities have a key role in improving the skills of the current workforce. And finally, as we saw with similar demographic uncertainties in the late 1980s, we must continue to improve the staying-on rate for 16-year-olds in order to increase demand for higher education, especially from those from poorer backgrounds.”


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