2018 THEunirankings vs 2017 THEunirankings. An infographic comparison.

This week Times Higher Education published the 2018 Times Higher Education World University Rankings with the top 1102 Universities in the world. We compared the 2017 and 2018 tables and we made this nice infographic. Enjoy!


Our first month in Esparks Manchester business accelerator

Before we talk about us, let’s talk about you. Some of the things below might or might not apply to you but are based on other entrepreneurs’ reflections and opinions.

  • You have a business idea. Very nice!
  • You work full time on your business idea from home but working from home can be very distracting. We know…
  • You have worked for a while on your business idea. You have done a lot of things; from setting up the company, designing and building your company’s website, designing the digital marketing strategy. Still something might be missing in order for your idea to fly.
  • As an entrepreneur you feel isolated;  your friends do not understand what you are trying to achieve because they have a 9-5 job. They are asking you how is it going with your business every week – out of interest- but you don’t have anything new to say because things don’t happen overnight.
  • You think it is difficult to find like minded people to exchange ideas.
  • You have worked so hard and now  you are stuck and you need some piece of advice of how to proceed with your business. Ideally for free.

First of all, nobody said that building your own company is going to be easy. As we said before when it comes to companies for every success story, there are also a lot more that failed. If it makes you feel any better, you are not on your own; there is a high possibility that entrepreneurs are facing or are going to face at least one or more of the above bullet points, especially when their business is at an early stage.

But don’t worry, don’t be afraid, ever because…. there might be some light at the end of the tunnel. Have you heard before of business accelerators? According to the last report on business accelerators and incubators across the UK, accelerators support  young businesses through the early and fragile stages of growth.

It is often the case that a business has to pay its way in with cash or equity in order to be part of an accelerator or incubator. But that is not the always the case. There is at least one group of Business Accelerators in different cities across the UK that actually is completely free to participate.Entrepreneurial Spark is powered by Natwest. We applied for the 3 month Sprinter Programme in the Esparks Manchester Hub in January and we got accepted in May.

#Godo Twitter

So far it has been amazing! First of all, you realize that you are not on your own and other business owners face the same obstacles like you. Or even better they have already faced them and you can get some piece of constructive advice. We are already one month in our Sprint Programme and it is very obvious to us that the people of Esparks Manchester Hub are putting a lot of effort in order to create a Programme tailored to the needs of the businesses accepted in the accelerator. So the Programme is continuously evolving and adjusting its self according to the needs of the entrepreneurs.

But if we could summarize the perks of joining Esparks Manchester Hub, that would be;

  • You can get business training.  From developing a positive mindset to pitching.
  • You can at last network with like minded people in an informal environment.
  • You get support and advice. From other business owners to business advisors and mentors- when you are in a later stage. They help you and you…can pay it forward by helping other people.
  • You can get work space and internet access.
  • You have to set goals and you work on achieving your own goals within the time frame you have set. You are also held accountable for achieving your goals.
  • You can get access to investment -when you are in a later stage.
  • You can get technical, legal and financial advice from Esparks Partners such as KPMG, Dell and Pinsent Masons.
  • Last but not least. You get coffee!

So basically you get what you might have been lacking so far; some structure – plus coffee. And all that for free! Yes, you ‘ve heard correct! You don’t have to pay anything!

We would definitely recommend it, if you are in the beginning of setting your own business and you feel a bit lost. Even if you don’t feel lost, we would still recommend it. It is impossible to know everything your business idea needs in order to grow.

Thank you very much! You ‘ve been fantastic and we hope you enjoyed it!

We will keep on GODOing!

A brief history of tuition fees and student enrollments in UK Higher Education

For this analysis we used data publicly available by HESA.

We are only going to focus on UK Higher Education Institution (HEI) student enrollments in this analysis. According to the collected data and the following graph, HE Institutions in the UK have in the year 2015-2016 272000 less students enrolled compared to the year 2009-2010. That is a 10,66% decrease in student numbers.

UK Enrollments (2009-2016)

Although we are only going to focus on what happened between the 2009-2016 period, it is worth having a look at how was the Higher Education system prior to the 2009-2016, as some decisions taken before may have influenced the number of student enrollments.

UK Higher Education system prior to 2009

Before September 1998 students enrolled in UK HEI did not pay tuition fees. In July 1997 the Dearing Report was published suggesting that University tuition fees should be introduced. In September 1998 students enrolled in UK Universities start paying GBP 1000 \ annum.

In 2004 and under the Higher Education Act 2004, tuition fees caps can be raised and Universities in the England can charge up to GBP3000 \ annum starting from the academic year 2006-2007. This measure is introduced in Northern Ireland the same year, while Welsh Universities raise their tuition fees in accordance to the HE Act in 2007-2008.


In 2009-2010, the year we have data for, the tuition fees are raised from GBP3000 to GBP3250 \ annum.

Following the Browne review the tuition fees cap was raised and in December 2010 it was announced that the tuition fees are going to be raised starting from September 2012 from GBP3250 to GBP9000\ annum.

If you see the graph, the academic year 2011-2012 enrollments across the UK are decreased slightly, followed by a 6,88% drop in student enrollments the following year. By September 2014, universities in the UK have almost 300k less students enrolled compared to its pick in the year 2010-2011. Student enrollments only bounce back up slightly for the year 2015-2016 (+0,65%).

But let’s see what happened so far in each of the UK constituent parts.


Student enrollment in Universities in England follow the same trend as seen in the UK student enrollments for the same period. That is not a surprise as Universities in England attract more than 80% of  University enrollments in the UK.

University Enrollments England (2009-2016)


On the other hand, while the UK has seen a general drop in University enrollments starting from 2010-2011, enrollments in Scottish Universities dropped slightly for only two years (2011-2012 and 2012-2013). Since 2013 enrollments in Scottish Universities have increased by almost 10%.

Scotland Enrollments (2009-2016)

You are probably wondering why. The answer is simple. Following devolution in 1999 the Government of Scotland brought its own Act on tuition fees. So when in England the tuition fees were raised in 2012-2013, the Scottish Government kept the the tuition fees for Scottish and EU students lower compared to tuition fees in England . Currently tuition fees in Scotland are GBP 1825 \ annum for a full time undergraduate degree and at GBP 3400 \ annum for a full time postgraduate degree. Students from RUK (England, Wales, and Northern Ireland) would currently have to pay between GBP6750 and GBP7400 \ annum to complete a undergraduate study in a Scottish University and GBP 3400\ annum for a postgraduate course. The tuition fees for 2017/2018 are going to remain the same for Scottish and students coming from the EU while the tuition fees for postgraduate students coming from England, Wales and Northern Ireland can be up to GBP 9000 \ annum.


Enrollments Wales (2009-2016)

Welsh Universities have seen a drop of more than 22% in student enrollments since their 2011-2012 pick. Although there is not a simple explanation why student enrollments in the UK fluctuate over the years, the decrease of students in Welsh Universities can be attributed to:

a) University mergers that took place between 2011 and 2013


b) The raise of the tuition fees, which for students coming from the UK and the EU are currently the same as in English Universities -GBP 9000\ annum- and they intent to stay the same for the year 2017-2018.

Northern Ireland

Student enrollments in Universities in NI follow the same trend as enrollments in Scottish Universities with an increase of 8.34% in student enrollments since 2009.

NI Enrollments (2009-2016)

One of the reasons that might explain the increase in enrollments is that the full time students from NI and the EU member countries pay GBP4030 \ annum for an undergraduate degree, while tuition fees for students from England, Wales and Scotland can be up to GBP 9000 per year. Again, as in Scotland, tuition fees in Wales are much lower for local and EU students respectively compared to the tuition fees in Universities in England.

The future

On the 23rd of June 2016  EU membership referendum took place across the UK and the result shows that the UK is going to leave the EU  with any impact that that might have for EU student enrollments in UK Universities. The latest UCAS analysis regarding applications for the March deadline show a decrease in applications from the UK (-4%) and from the EU (-6%) compared to the March 2016 deadline.

Tuition fees in England are going to be raised again starting from September 2017 at GBP 9250 per year.

Only recently and during the June 2017 General Election, Labour party announced their intention to scrap University tuition fees if they win the General Elections starting from September 2018.

The next 2 years are certainly going to be very challenging and intense for the Higher Education Institutions across the UK. We just need to wait and see.

Thank you very much! You ‘ve been fantastic and I hope you enjoyed it!



What is Academous? – A video

We talked so far a lot about entrepreneurship and we had our data-crunching-visualisation moments. But we haven’t said much about what Academous is going to be and how it will work. So this short video we made explains a lot! Enjoy!

World University Rankings. An infographic (2/3)

We crunched once again the data from the latest World University Rankings published by THES, QS, CWUR and Shanghai Ranking Consultancy (ARWU) and we present them to you as per Economic Organisation (OECD countries, BRICS and Rest of the World).




Starting up a start up. A personal experience -Saving and finding money (2/2)

In our last post we talked about financial planing when starting your own company. The big question still remained ;

Where do you get funding?

At least in the UK there are plenty of options. As we explained in a previous post, there is no right or wrong way to start your company and this list is based on our beliefs, opinions and experience only. So what works for us does not necessarily mean that works for you as well. And certainly we have a “unique” way of how we see and do things. Probably not the typical company.

  1. Payday loans. Nope. Not a good idea; very high interest rates.
  2. Loans. In 2014 we talked to 2 financial advisors from a growth hub. We were told that a business loan can have an interest rate of up to 12-13% per annum. Immediately our answer was NO. Although Academous has great potential why to get a loan with such an interest rate when you are unsure if your idea is going to work or not? And anyway, you do not have the money now. What makes you think that you will have the money in one, two or three years? For us that would have been a ticking time bomb. If we would have got a bank loan, it would have been also the bank’s fault and the story of the global financial crisis we are still experiencing, would repeat its self. Like nothing has changed after 10 years and after so many people becoming poor, homeless and jobless due to poor decision making from both parties (banks and borrowers). Like the banks and the citizens have not learned nothing from this crisis.
  3. Angel investors. That idea was also on the table when we were discussing with the aforementioned financial advisors. We don’t like the idea of giving equity to someone who would get a big chunk of your company and your future profits for such a small amount. Also it seems that there is a growing concern that start ups burn money very fast and investors are not very happy about that. And also investors\venture capitalists\lenders are acknowledging the risk they take when investing\lending money to companies, but if the companies survive, they will ask their money back. So again you work for someone else instead of being your own boss. For these reasons we said No again.
  4. Peer to peer lending. We have read only very few things about it. The interests rate of a P2P loan can be lower compared to a bank loan. In the UK P2P lonas are not regulated by Financial Services Compensation Scheme (FSCS) with whatever that might mean for both parties; the lender and the borrower. It is usually a mixture of a loan and an investment. You ask for capital and in return you either give equity or you need to repay the money you borrowed with an interest rate. As you can understand we crossed that from our list for the aforementioned reasons.
  5. Borrowing from family and friends. We have never done that. Hopefully we will never do it.
  6. Government loans. In most of the cases you need to have assets in your name or your company needs to generate a certain turnover in order for it to be eligible for a government loan. Not applicable for a company in its early stage. Again if we fail, we need to pay the amount back. And remember, there is great uncertainty in business. Especially nowadays -just read the financial news and hopefully you will understand what we are talking about.
  7. Grants.Now that’s a capital idea! You get a small amount, you do not need to give any equity of your company to someone and you do not need to repay it even you fail. Unfortunately there is A LOT of competition. We applied twice and we failed. In fact we know other companies who applied for grants and failed as well. What can you do? Failure is part of life too. For every “success story” that you hear there are many more that failed. And that is fine.
  8. Crowdfunding. Now we are talking! You do not have to give any equity and a lot of people who find your idea interesting contribute an amount, small or big, and you have your 20K. It sounds easy? Yes? Here is a nice question.

    How do you engage all these people within 1 month in order to contribute to your cause?

    We have no personal experience with crowdfunding but we intend to find in a few months. This is our next goal.

  9. Regional Development Programmes. They are Programmes funded by the EU and their aim is to assist less developed regions across the EUAcademous is based in the Northwest of the UK and in 2014 there were Regional Development Programmes that were providing technical assistance to Small and Medium size Enterprises (SMEs). We applied, our application got accepted, and because of these programmes the front end of our MVP was born! We would like to thank everyone who was involved in that. Without them we would not have made it. And this is one more reason why we are against BREXIT. We believe that without these programmes a lot of SME’s will close and only the big companies will operate in the UK. But of course this is just our opinion.

Probably this list is not complete. Probably there are many more ways of funding an idea. We just don’t know them -yet.

Thank you very much for reading this! You ‘ve been fantastic and we hope you enjoyed it!

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