EUREKA Eurostars is a European programme for SMEs that supports and funds international collaborative research and development projects. This funding competion is aimed at innovative SMEs wanting to take part in collaborative research with partners across Europe and associated countries. Innovate UK manage UK applications. Small businesses working on high-quality research and development projects across national borders often find it difficult to attract public-sector funding. Eurostars was set up to overcome this barrier to innovation. (The guidance has been updated to refelect a change to UK eligibility criteria for the competition.)
Category / EU
Welcome to the EU section of the blog! Emily Cieciura (BU’s Research Facilitator – EU and International), Jo Garrad (Funding Development Manager) and Dianne Goodman (Funding Development Co-ordinator) together try to take the pain out of finding and applying for EU funding by horizon scanning many sources and placing the most important information on this page.
We blog as often as possible on everything from calls for proposals and partner searches, to networking event opportunities, all the latest on Horizon 2020 and international funding. We also use the blog to disseminate information on EUADS (BU’s EU academic training initiative), how to write brilliant proposals, how to find partners and other top tips!
HE and Research Bill – the Bill was debated in the House of Lords on Monday and Wednesday with a lively debate on both days. Monday’s was marginally more exciting because the House voted on one amendment (248 to 221) and the government was defeated, but this is likely to turn out to have been more symbolic than substantive. Read the Wonkhe perspective here and some other coverage from the Times Higher here.
The amendment that was passed was the first amendment on the list and related to the function of universities and included the statement that “universities are autonomous institutions and must uphold the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech” and another of other statements about the purpose of universities – in practice this will not be adopted as drafted as it is hard to see how it would work as part of legislation – but it set the tone of the debates and showed that – if pushed – the Lords can and will muster a majority to defeat the government – and may do so again.
So far, apart from the first amendment, only government amendments have been agreed, with the rest withdrawn or not moved – including amendments on part time and flexible study, the role of the Director for Fair Access, and the relationship between the OfS and UKRI – and the name of the OfS. The Government have said that they will reflect on the debate and the comments made, so there may be more Government amendments forthcoming. Many members of the House of Lords have reserved their position on the points made which will arise again on later amendments. The latest “marshalled list” of amendments is here with a supplementary list here.
- Blog from Jo Johnson on Conservative Home on 9th January 2016 on autonomy and the purpose of the bill
- Wonkhe article on academic freedom ahead of the Lords debates
- Andrea Coscelli (Acting Chief Executive) of the Competition and Markets Authority has blogged on why competition is good for universities and their perspective on the Bill
- Lord Stevenson, author of many of the proposed amendments for Labour, in the Times Higher on the problems in the Bill
- Lord Knight has also blogged for the Times Higher on the Bill – his interesting last comments is “Finally, the chatter in the voting lobbies was one that questioned the need for the bill. Many are trying to understand exactly what problem this legislation is trying to fix, or whether it is just an ideological move to advantage the private sector.”
- Jo Johnson has written in the Telegraph and blogged on the amendment that was passed: “We have seen this week how passionately expert members of the House of Lords feel about institutional autonomy and academic freedom – and, on this point, we wholly agree. ….The Government is listening carefully to powerful arguments made during Committee Stage and understands the passions that these important questions arouse. We must avoid, however, hasty attempts to incorporate into primary legislation unprecedented declaratory statements about the nature and purpose of universities. While it had the best of intentions, the new clause promoted on Monday would inadvertently hem them in and stifle innovation.”
He suggests that the sector is just being resistant to change: “As history tells us, every period of university expansion in this country has met with opposition. And the arguments against new entrants put forward today echo those aired more than a century ago when UCL – now a pillar of academic excellence – was dismissed as ‘a Cockney university’. Similar opposition befell the civic colleges, Manchester and Birmingham among them, when they elected to transform themselves into red brick universities before the Great War, and could be heard again during the ‘plate-glass’ expansion of the 1960s. The same arguments were also made in opposition to the 1992 reforms that allowed the Polytechnics to convert into a wave of new universities, enabling them to play their part in ensuring higher education was never again rationed for the benefit of the socially privileged.
We must be careful to distinguish between legitimate and shared concerns that the Bill should protect cherished institutional autonomy from self-serving arguments cloaked in the garb of principle. As the Bill re-enters Lords Committee stage today, bear this in mind: those who would dig their heels in now ignore a central truth about our higher education system – our universities did not get where they are by accepting the status quo.”
- There is a response from Andrew McGettigan here.
Meanwhile, the Cabinet Office has advertised for board members for UKRI.
Brexit, immigration and the impact on staff and students There is an interesting read from HEPI (with Kaplan) this morning, balanced by the stories about the Education Select committee hearing yesterday – (thanks to Wonkhe):
- Hard Brexit a ‘disaster’ for universities warn vice-chancellors – The Independent
- University leaders and academics warn hard Brexit could be disaster – The Guardian
- Hard Brexit Would Be The ‘Biggest Disaster In Years’ For Universities, Say Leading Academics – Huffington Post
- Hard Brexit ‘may spark disaster’ for universities, MPs told – Sky News
- Oxford academics warning of Brexit ‘disaster’ – BBC
Nick Hillman has written about the HEPI report in the Guardian. Although the conclusion is that the impact may not be the disaster that has been predicted (or at least not for all institutions) it comes with a big warning about the cumulative impact of changes to international student visas, which are still to be announced. “Of course the number of EU citizens who come to UK universities will probably fall as a result of Brexit. In part, this is because they are likely to lose access to tuition fee loans and to face full international fees, which are much higher than the UK fees they have been paying. Any fall is regrettable and, sadly, the latest UCAS figures suggest it has already begun. But working out how big the drop-off will be is hard partly because it depends on the type, location and mix of students at each university. Our assessment of Brexit’s impact takes such factors into account and finds the effect on student numbers and university incomes could be less dramatic than expected.
There are almost three times as many foreign students in the UK from outside the EU as from within it. This is because, until recently, EU undergraduate students came within the student number controls imposed on universities. So there was limited incentive to recruit them. Our analysis shows that, overall, their numbers could fall by more than half – that is by over 31,000 new students each year. But that is still only about 3% of all first-year undergraduate and postgraduate enrolments. Moreover, because of the higher fees, our modelling suggests that, despite receiving 31,000 fewer new EU students, universities will only lose £40m a year in the first year. That is just 0.1% of the total income of publicly-funded higher education institutions across the UK. Some institutions, such as Oxford and Cambridge, will actually see their fee income rise even as their EU students fall. This is because their full international fees are so high.”
In a separate story about staff immigration (Sky News but also widely reported – see Reuters) a Home Office Minster suggested that the £1000 per year per employee levy that applies to overseas workers might apply to EU workers post-Brexit and the PM has said this is not under consideration. Business reacted strongly to this (International Business Times). The levy will apply to employers of skilled international staff from April.
The House of Lords discussed the EU worker’s right to remain yesterday but with no new news – the rather strange dance continues on who will concede first that they do not intend to throw out each other’s citizens post-Brexit: “My Lords, the Government have been absolutely clear that we will seek to reach an agreement on this issue at an early stage of negotiations with the EU. I totally dispute the notion of a trade-off, because the EU’s refusal to guarantee the status of UK nationals elsewhere in the EU prior to negotiations shows that the Government have been absolutely right not to give away the guarantee of status for EU citizens in the UK. As the Prime Minister has said, that would have left UK citizens high and dry.”
The amendments to the HE Bill on international students were not accepted in the House of Lords yesterday.
Student enrolments data – The HESA UK HE 2015/16 enrolments and qualifications statistical first release (published 12 Jan) highlighted that 2015/16 UG enrolments were at their highest since the 2011/12 peak. In contrast, there was a notable decline in foundation degree enrolments (15%) and part time provision (overall 5%) within the sector. Most interesting are the changes in volume and geography of EU domiciled students between 2011/12 and 2015/16. Overall there is a 4% decline with regional variability between England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. There was a 1% decrease in international students from 2011/12 to 2015/16, contrasting the disproportionate growth from China (+12,500 students). Furthermore, 3% (207,522) fewer study visas were granted.
Changes to HE fee policies abroad – while international student numbers in the UK are dropping, there are changes afoot in competitor countries according to the BBC:
- Germany and the Philippines are scrapping tuition fees in state universities
- Finland intends to charge overseas and non-EU students from this autumn
- Scotland retains free tuition
- meanwhile Governor Cuomo is trying to push through free tuition for middle-class families in the state of New York. However, as it only applies to state universities this is perhaps a double edged sword, potentially pushing WP students away from accessing the most prestigious institutions.
There are also more resources available for home students to consider the cost of studying abroad – a Telegraph article notes the UK is the sixth most expensive place in the world to study and links to the FairFX Study Abroad Cost Calculator for students willing to relocate to obtain a cheaper degree.
Adult Students – part-time and flexible study was debated at length in the House of Lords but the amendments so far have not been passed, and John Wrathmell and Simon Hughes of the Open University have blogged for HEPI on this issue, arguing that Personal Learning Accounts are an important way to support learning and meet our national skills needs.
Predatory conferences – not really a policy issue but an important one – an article by James McCrosbie for the Times Higher which is worth a read.
New DLHE – we noted last week that a response and second stage consultation on the DLHE consultation is due soon – at a conference last week HESA indicated, amongst other things that a move to a centralised system – so away from universities administering DLHE themselves – was likely. “The responses received to this were mixed, with marginally more respondents in favour of moving to a central system, and many respondents making detailed points in support of their position.” BU raised concerns about this because it could reduce response rates and also remove a valuable contact between universities and graduates. We look forward to the consultation, which HESA has confirmed is due in early February.
Managing intellectual property transfer – during the 11 January hearing of the Science and Technology committee on managing intellectual property transfer Jo Johnson stated that: “…work on the government’s Industrial Strategy would emerge from extensive consultation which had already taken place. In the coming weeks the government would be launching a discussion period that would begin a further period of consultation before publication of a white paper.”
He also spoke of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, a ‘sizable financial commitment’ that aims to encourage greater interaction between universities and business communities. The fund will focus on priority technologies that are “significant in scale” and on areas “where the UK had a comparative advantage”; commercialisation of research was stated as a big part of the fund. Johnson stated the Treasury would be reviewing the research and development tax environment to ensure it was competitive (in response to a committee discussion about the lack of business investment in research and development).
On Tuesday the 21st February 2017 Interreg will be visiting BU 10.30-16.00 at the EBC.
Interreg is an economic development programme that funds innovation, low carbon, climate change and resource efficiency projects which take place across EU countries and regions. These projects aim to find common solutions to common problems which exist in multiple countries. BU has been awarded and is involved in projects from the Channel, 2 Seas and Atlantic schemes.
The event will be split into two parts.
The first part will include;
- An introduction to Interreg: The Interreg programmes, how they are different from each other and from other EU funds. This will also cover the types of project that are funded.
- Tips on how to develop a good Interreg project: Lessons from the selection process by Sallyann Stephen from The Department for Communities and Local Government, based on her experience on the Interreg project selection panel.
- How to apply: the two stage process going through the selection criteria and the key documents involved.
The second part will have a more informal set up aimed to get you thinking, collaborating and developing project ideas.
Throughout the afternoon there will also be one to one appointments on specific project ideas with one of the Interreg facilitators. This is an excellent opportunity to develop a project and get feedback from the experts. If you would like to book a one to one session you will need to email Dianne Goodman at firstname.lastname@example.org. Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis, if you have specific preferences on the time we recommend contact as soon as possible so your request can be accommodated.
Please note that to attend the one to one session you are required to send a 1 page project summary to Paula MacLachlan, 2 Seas Territorial Facilitator email@example.com no later than 14th February. Apologies, without this ahead of time they will be unable to prepare adequately for your personal one to one session.
We have also invited the the M3 group, which includes: AUB, Bournemouth, Brighton, Portsmouth, Reading, Southampton, Southampton Solent, Surrey, Sussex and Winchester. BU will host a networking lunch for all attendees. This is a great opportunity to learn about Interreg and how you can strengthen your applications for funding. If you would like to attend, then please book through Eventbrite.
For further information on this event please contact: RKEDevFramework@bournemouth.ac.uk
As part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, Bournemouth University is expanding its pool of external bid writing expertise, through a tendering process.
If you have worked with a good bid writer or, as an external subscriber to this blog, you have written successful research funding applications, please contact Barry Chapman, in BU’s Procurement Team.
We are particularly interested in those who can provide short courses, one-to-one support, bid writing retreats, application review or a range of these and related activities.
Examples of key funders include:
- British Academy
- European Commission funds including Horizon 2020
- Innovate UK
- Leverhulme Trust
- National Institutes of Health and other US Federal funders
- Research Councils
- Royal Society
- Wellcome Trust
We look forward to hearing from you.
Faculty of Health and Social Sciences
Need help designing a questionnaire?
This two-day Masterclass will help you get started through a series of expert lectures, group discussion, and hands-on sessions, covering both tool development and administration.
- Who should attend: Postgraduate researchers/professionals interested in developing a questionnaire
- Schedule: 10am – 4pm, 23—24 January 2017
- Venue: Executive Business Centre (EB702, EB705), Bournemouth University
Professor Vanora Hundley – Professor of Midwifery
Professor Edwin van Teijlingen – Professor of Reproductive Health
Dr Zoe Sheppard – Senior Lecturer in Quantitative Methods
The fee of £200.00 includes two days with the course facilitators, refreshments and class materials. Please note that resources will be provided electronically and that accommodation and travel costs are not included.
BU staff/PGRs – To book on please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
External delegates – please register online at:
https://questionnairemasterclass.eventbrite.co.uk (places limited)
Dr Sascha Dov Bachmann, Associate Professor in International Law (BU) and War Studies (FHS) has been invited by the Commandant of NATO School Oberammergau as a guest lecturer to present on his ongoing work on hybrid warfare and its legal implications. Sascha will present at NATO School’s Senior Officer Policy Course which is the flagship course for Senior Officers from the ranks of Colonel to Major General.
BU represented by Associate Professor in International Law (BU) and War Studies (FHS) Sascha Dov Bachmann and colleagues from the Swedish Defence University sucessfully started a project titled ”A European Network on Hybrid Warfare Capabilities” in London on 7-8 December 2016. The project aims at bringing researchers and professionals from various disciplines together to discuss the origins, nature and opportunities of Hybrid Warfare and how own vulnerabilities can be identified and reduced. The work is generously funded by Riksbankens Jubileumsfond (grant no: F16-1240:1) with planned activities to take place during 2017.
For more information on the subject see http://remotecontrolproject.org/interview-sascha-dov-bachmann/.
The committee stage in the House of Lords starts on Monday. The list of proposed amendments stands at 85 pages. We will be keeping an eye and reporting on the progress of the bill and progress can be tracked on the new House of Lords pages here. The bill itself (if you need it for reference) is here. So here is a round up ahead of the debates next week
- My blog for the BU research blog on the Commons third reading
- The Guardian 31st December
- UUK blog and briefing 6th December raises the same 7 issues that they raised in the commons (which we support) -the briefing is attached. UUK also flagged three of these issues in a joint letter to the Guardian with GuildHE, calling for the Lords to amend the Bill to address probationary degree awarding powers, to stop the OfS validating degrees and to stop the government interfering in academic standards and course funding. Their 7 original issues were:
- Ensuring the powers of the Office for Students and the Secretary of State are compatible with the principle of university autonomy
- Separating ‘quality’ and ‘standards’ in the bill, and ensuring that academic standards continue to be owned by the sector
- Protecting students, employers and the reputation of the sector by ensuring a suitably high bar to for new entrants
- Strengthening checks and balances for giving and removing Degree Awarding Powers and University Title
- Removing the ability for the OfS to validate degrees and clarifying its role as regulator
- Ensuring the duties of the OfS reflects the diverse range of activities carried out by universities
- Ensuring that the autonomy of the research councils is protected within the new UKRI structure.
The written evidence and transcripts of the Committee’s sittings are available on the Higher Education and Research Bill 2016-17 page of the Parliament website. This includes BU’s submission – we were one of only 11 HE institutions to submit individual responses (out of 63 sets of evidence). We did not attempt a comprehensive review as this was evidence submitted to the Public Bill Committee and not a consultation, so we addressed a selection of the relevant issues, but one of them was the way that the TEF approach muddles standards and quality – and these issues are noted in the Wonkhe blog on the difference between quality and standards. We were also concerned about the link between fees and the TEF, as noted, with other concerns, in our green paper response (see the VC’s blog for HEPI on this).
This includes a number of government amendments, some of which are fairly technical (as happened in the House of Commons) and as in the commons there are a number of amendments that relate to things that are not covered in the Bill (and that the government will resist) – e.g. issues relating to immigration, student loans (Wes Streeting MP: Labour Lords will fight student loan repayment ‘scandal’), Syrian refugees, registering students on electoral registers, Sharia finance. Some of these amendments are very similar to those raised in the House of Commons – e.g. the OfS reporting on international student numbers. Several issues were previously raised, and dismissed, in the green paper process such as changing the name of the “Office for Students” to “Office for Higher Education” and suggesting that all registered providers should be subject to the same freedom of information requirements as universities are now. Changes relating to Brexit and immigration include “a condition that requires the governing body of the provider to collaborate with other registered higher education providers and with the OfS in the promotion of English higher education abroad through the GREAT Britain campaign, the British Council, or otherwise”.
New and interesting proposals include amendments to transfer all the powers of the Competition and Markets Authority relating to universities to the OfS, and to disapply the Prevent strategy.
Research Professional have an article about the government amendments to the bill strengthening the role of the OfS director – which have been welcomed across the sector.
In terms of changes to the detail of the Bill itself
There are some high level changes proposed– which reflect a great deal of sector concern, e.g. including provisions up front which state that universities are autonomous institutions which must uphold the principles of academic freedom and freedom of speech. One amendment states that universities should not be “for profit” organisations.
There are long insertions in the bill relating to a new Quality Assurance Office to replace the Quality Assessment Committee in clause 23. See the Wonkhe blog on the difference between quality and standards
There is a proposal to replace the TEF with ratings on a scale of 1-10 which “may only be awarded for each aspect of each course separately” and “may not be published as an average or otherwise summarised for a course or a provider”. Other TEF related proposals include suggestions about verifying the metrics that will be used (ensuring that they will be linked to teaching quality, statistically valid etc.) and that the TEF arrangements must be approved by Parliament. On this topic:
- a blog was published by the VCs of the University of Essex and East Anglia yesterday which argues that the NSS is an important part of the TEF because it ensures that the student voice is part of the process.
- Times Higher 3rd January – challenging why we need a TEF at all
- the Chair of the TEF panel, Chris Husbands (VC of Sheffield Hallam) has written on Wonkhe – busting 5 myths about TEF.
- Wonkhe have published an interesting analysis of the TEF metrics and benchmarking and how they work complete with data about the current likely outcomes of the TEF.
- Wonkhe report that Professor John Raftery, vice chancellor for London Metropolitan University, has written for the Telegraph on the TEF, calling for the metrics to include a measure for number of qualified teachers in universities – something BU also called for in our TEF consultation response.
- An expert in dyslexia has written a blog for Wonkhe on potential benefits for disabled students as a result of the implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework with its focus on “split” metrics.
There is a proposal for a joint committee to be established by UKRI and OfS which will look at various aspects of how the Bill is operating and the sector, such as the health of the higher education sector, work relating to equality of opportunity, the health of different academic disciplines, knowledge exchange, skills development (amongst other things).
There are some helpful proposals about the confidentiality of concerns about institutions that may be at risk of sanction by the OfS.
There are extensive proposals for amendments to the information collection and publication requirements for the OfS – including contact hours, mental health of students, academic freedom and freedom of speech,
There are also extensive proposals for amendments to the process and requirements for new alternative providers. See also:
- Wonkhe blog on alternative providers
- Thursday’s HEPI report on alternative providers and the response from Independent HE
On research structures the amendments are towards the back of the Bill.
- I have noted above the reference to the OfS and UKRI working together, and there are other proposed changes that link the OfS and UKRI such as requiring the OfS to consult with UKRI before awarding research degree awarding powers.
- There are proposals to require particular experience for people on the UKRI board (see the proposed amendments to Schedule 9).
- One amendment requires UKRI to encourage and facilitate co-operation between UK and overseas education and research establishments, and there are amendments requiring UKRI to recognise institutional autonomy.
- One amendment requires UKRI to recognise Research Council autonomy and subsidiarity in decision making. There is a proposal (in clause 95) to ensure that funding is allocated separately to each council, Innovate UK and Research England and cannot be varied without parliamentary approval.
- Similar Brexit/immigration related amendments as for the OfS are proposed relating to reporting on overseas staff and students.
The winter 2016 edition of Ideas, the newsletter of the European Research Council, is now available.
The leading article discusses Frontier research in science diplomacy – We live in a world with mounting tensions and global disorder. That is why it is topical to look at how bottomup frontier research can contribute to science diplomacy. This article is based on the ERC conference, which took place in October 2016.
Amongst other news, the return of Synergy Grants in the 2018 ERC Work Programme is announced. In brief:
- Enable a small group of Principal Investigators (2- 4) and their teams to bring together complementary skills, knowledge and resources in new ways, in order to jointly address research problems.
- Are intended to promote substantial advances at the frontiers of knowledge, and to encourage new productive lines of enquiry and new methods and techniques, including unconventional approaches and investigations at the interface between established disciplines.
- The ERC review panels were asked to assess whether the proposals demonstrated the synergies, complementarities and added value that could lead to breakthroughs that would not be possible by the individual researchers working alone.
The indicative deadline dates for 2017 are:
Advanced Grant – 31st August 2017 (call expected to open on 16th May 2017)
Proof of Concept Grant – 19th January 2017, 25th April 2017 and 5th September 2017
The ERC is celebrating 10 years in 2017 – it has funded almost 7,000 researchers and thereby has supported more than 40,000 team members.
If you are considering applying, please contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator; EU & International, to discuss your plans and arrange support.
Professor Lee Miles was invited as the Professor of Crisis and Disaster Management to give an address to the Centre for British Studies at Humboldt University in Berlin (12 December 2016) – one of Germany’s most prestigious universities.
Lee’s lecture was entitled ‘A (Dif)Fusion Perspective on BREXIT Crisis Management: Reflections on a single market outside the Single Market?’. During the lecture, Lee examined the implications of the UK vote in 2016 to leave the European Union from a crisis management’s point of view, and as a process of ‘crisis alleviation’. Lee also combined these ideas with work on fusion theory in European Integration for which he is widely associated. He outlined the challenges of UK withdrawal from the European Union and considered a number of scenarios from the perspective of fusion/diffusion if the main terms of reference focus on being outside the Single European Market. Lee spoke to a packed audience and the address was very well received.
Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and Research Excellence Framework (REF)
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Vinney, has a new blog on the HEPI (the Higher Education policy Institute) website on research and teaching and how REF and the TEF work together, with some proposals for change in how the REF is implemented in 2021, and views on subject level TEF, which is proposed for year 3 (informal consultation has already started).
And on Thursday afternoon the HEFCE REF consultation on the implementation of the REF 2021 was published – with a response date of 17 March 2017. The proposals incorporate the principles from the Stern Review. You can read the background on our BU Policy & Public Affairs page on the Stern Review. Wonkhe have a useful summary of the proposals and David Sweeney from HEFCE has written for Wonkhe on why the sector needs to engage in the consultation – contact email@example.com if you would like to be involved in preparing our response, we will be working on this with RKEO.
Wonkhe have published an interesting analysis of the TEF metrics and benchmarking and how they work complete with data about the current likely outcomes of the TEF. Wonkhe report that Professor John Raftery, vice chancellor for London Metropolitan University, has written for the Telegraph on the TEF, calling for the metrics to include a measure for number of qualified teachers in universities – something BU also called for in our TEF consultation response.
An expert in dyslexia has written a blog for Wonkhe on potential benefits for disabled students as a result of the implementation of the Teaching Excellence Framework with its focus on “split” metrics.
Widening Participation and Social Mobility
A Social Mobility Commission report has been issued looking at social and ethnic inequalities in post-16 choices. It examines social gender and ethnic inequalities.
The report found significant differences between poorer children and wealthier children living in the same neighbourhood with the same GCSE results. This Government press release states that “bright children from poorer backgrounds are far less likely to go to university or study A levels that could get them into top universities than their wealthier counterparts – even if they live in the same neighbourhood and achieve similar results at GCSE.”
Some other key findings include:
- 24% of children eligible for free school meals attend higher education compared to 42% of children from more privileged backgrounds.
- Poorer children are also twice as likely to drop out of education at 16 and are more than half as likely to study A levels that could get them into a top university.
- around a quarter of the progression gap – the different choices made by children after leaving school – is purely down to social background.
- White British students are far less likely to go to university than ethnic minority students – Indian (72%), Pakistani/Bangladeshi (53%), Black (57%) and White British (36%). Participation differences between White British and other ethnic groups who live in the same neighbourhood and with the same GCSE attainment are even more pronounced.
- White British students are more likely to drop out of post-16 education than ethnic minority students – Indian (3%), Pakistani/Bangladeshi (8%), Black (7%) and White British (10%).
- Female pupils are 8% more likely to attend university than males (44% versus 36%). However, although female participation rates at top selective universities are slightly higher (10% versus 9% for boys); they are less likely to attend these universities than a boy from the same neighbourhood with the same GCSEs.
Education Select Committee Inquiry into the effect of Brexit on staff and students in HE
Neil Carmichael MP, Chair of the Education Committee, said: “This written evidence from university leaders, academics, businesses and others highlights the degree of concern about the fate of UK universities post-Brexit. The evidence raises a variety of issues relating to freedom of movement, including the prospects for recruiting EU students post-Brexit and the future rights of EU staff to live and work in the UK. Concerns are also raised about how to maintain the UK as an attractive destination for EU and international students, about the financial viability of universities, and the need to ensure Britain can continue to compete on the international stage as a provider of world-class university education.
In our inquiry, we are determined to examine the opportunities for higher education post-Brexit and consider what the Government’s priorities should be for the sector going into the negotiations with the EU. It’s crucial that we don’t allow Brexit to become a catastrophe for our university sector. We look forward to testing the evidence and questioning university leaders, academics, students, unions, and Ministers in our public evidence sessions in the New Year.”
Higher Education and Research Bill reaches the Lords
The HE and Research Bill had its second reading in the House of Lords on 7th December and has now moved to the Lords Committee stage. Research Professional have a summary. You can read the full debate in Hansard here and a summary by DODs here.
At the committee stage amendments will be tabled and discussed in great detail. The Bill has only had government amendments approved so far, and there has been a lot of criticism (of and by everyone) of the level of scrutiny so far – with time being severely limited in committee and third reading stage in the Commons, with all opposition amendments rejected. But as you saw from my update on the third reading in the Commons, the debate there centred largely on Brexit, student visas, TEF, and loans (none of which are actually covered by the Bill), with very little actual focus on the bill itself.
It is expected that the Lords, while they will discuss those issues as well, will also focus on the bill itself, particularly on the changes to the research landscape, but also on degree awarding powers and other aspects of autonomy – and that was reflected in the debate, as well as discussions about the TEF.
UUK have update their briefing note to focus on what they want from the Lords – read it here – it lists the same 7 issues as for the House of Commons third reading, so it is interesting to see that they have flagged three in particular in a joint letter to the Guardian with GuildHE, calling for the Lords to amend the Bill to address probationary degree awarding powers, to stop the OfS validating degrees and to stop the government interfering in academic standards and course funding.
It has long been expected that fees, loans and linking TEF to fees, will be a feature of the Lords debate – Wes Streeting wrote about student loan repayment yesterday: Wes Streeting MP: Labour Lords will fight student loan repayment ‘scandal’.
UCU Survey: Inaccuracies in predicted grades
The UCU undergraduate application and admission survey tackles the disparity between predicted and actual A level grades achieved. It reports only 16% of predictions (2013-15) were correct with the majority of students predicted higher than they achieve, identifies differences in under/over prediction depending on the type of institution, and notes differences surrounding disadvantaged students. The Guardian quotes Sally Hunt (UCU) “this report is a damning indictment of a broken system” and references the underpinning study by Dr Gill Wyness (University College London Institute of Education) “it seems highly inefficient to continue with a system in which life-changing decisions are made, and scarce university places are allocated, on the basis of inaccurate information”. THE pick up on the socio-economic angle of high achieving disadvantaged students who are under predicted and state it may be skewing their access to highly selective universities. UCU are calling for an overhaul and recommend a post-qualification admissions system. .
Something a bit different
The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee has decided to create an open opportunity for the science community and the wider public to suggest science and technology areas for scrutiny. Inquiry: My Science Inquiry
Inquiry proposals will be considered on the basis of merit, and the Committee would be interested to receive proposals for work in areas that might otherwise escape its attention. Proposals should outline in less than 200 words the nature of the issue that the Committee should explore, why it deserves attention, and how Government policy in this area could be developed or improved. A selection of the proposals will be shortlisted for an opportunity to give a 10-minute pitch to the Committee in person at a public ‘Dragons’ Den’-style session to be held in the New Year. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you are interested in contributing – the deadline is 4th January 2017.
If you were unable to attend the session on 6/12/16 introducing the Horizon 2020 Research and Innovation Staff Exchange (RISE) call for 2017 and would still like to find out more, please go to the RKE Development Framework Community on MyBU to view the slides from this event. These are located within the International Funding pathway > Horizon 2020 Calls.
Please note that it is imperative that you contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator: EU & International, before starting work on any application to this call.
Every month the European Commission publishes research*eu, their round-up of the latest news from research projects funded by their various schemes.
The following highlights will be of interest to academics at BU:
October 2016 (Special feature: What we can learn from insects?)
- EU researchers saw Brexit coming
- How maggots are influencing the future of robotics
- The use of houses in Britain during the neolithic period
- Recommendations for a sustainable EU flight ticket tax
- Novel OS for smart cities turns energy consumers into ‘prosumers’
- Major cinema breakthrough could allow for glasses-free 3D
- From photos to realistic video games, in the blink of an eye
- Novel techniques to ensure safe, spicy and delicious food
November 2016 (Special feature: Shaping the future of offshore wind)
- Smart devices and applications for healthy ageing
- A risk assessment approach to unleshing offshore energy potential
- Impact of counter-radicalisation polices on multiculturalism in Europe
- Forest fragmentation – a danger to vulnerable species
- Cloud innovations signal the future for urban mobility
- Innovative food packaging extends shelf life, reduces footprint
- Better interoperability to manage major crises
By taking a look at these items and the many others reported in research*eu, you may find potential partners or spark ideas for future research collaboration. In addition, CORDIS, the European Commission’s primary portal for results of EU-funded research projects, provides a wealth of information to assist you when building a new project.
If you are considering applying for EU funding, please contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator: EU & International, to discuss your ideas!
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor John Vinney, has a new blog on the HEPI (the Higher Education policy Institute) website on research and teaching and how Stern and the TEF work together.
Research Professional note that: In oral answers to questions on 1 December “Robin Walker, the minister in charge of higher education in the Department for Exiting the European Union, told MPs that he has taken evidence from a number of organisations including Universities UK, the royal academies and the Russell Group on the implications of EU withdrawal for universities”. “The sector strongly supports our ambition to create an environment in which the UK as a whole can continue to be a world leader in research, science and the tertiary education sector,” he said. Research Professional also note that David Jones, another junior minister in the same department, added in a written answer that ministers “will aim to visit every sector and every region of the UK” to hear their views on EU withdrawal, as part of a wider approach to build “national consensus around our negotiating position”.
In another piece of welcome transitional news, the government has confirmed that EU students starting courses in 2017/18 can apply for Research Council Studentships, and funding will last for the whole of their courses.
The Department for Education have released data on graduate destinations from the Longitudinal Educations Outcome (LEO) dataset. This is made up of information from the National Pupil Database (NPD), the Individualised Learner Record (ILR), the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs data (HMRC), The National Benefit Database, the Labour Market System and Juvos, the unemployment research database. This is different from the DLHE (Destination of Leavers in Higher Education) because it takes a much longer term view (DLHE is currently at 6 months after graduation).
The data released today is “experimental” and looks at the employment and earnings outcomes of those graduating with an undergraduate degree in 2008/09 from an English higher education institution (HEI). It looks at outcomes one, three and five years after graduation. Data are split by subject studied and graduate characteristic (sex, ethnicity, age, home region and prior attainment at A level). Employment outcomes are also provided for each HEI. (A further release is scheduled for spring 2017 covering outcomes by each subject for each institution.
There will be plenty of analysis and commentary to follow – UUK were very quick off the mark with a blog “Graduate earnings data is welcome but doesn’t tell full story” – noting that it doesn’t cover self-employed students (with a disproportionate effect on arts graduates) or those who are working abroad and do not separate part-time work or address regional variations. However, despite these limitations, the data will no doubt provides interesting context for the TEF amongst other things.
The Ofsted 15/16 Annual Report outlines improved school judgements with ‘considerable’ benefits for children under age 11, however the North/South divide has widened. Concerns are expressed regarding the quality of technical and vocational education and training alongside ‘serious knowledge and skills gaps’ which threaten the competitiveness of the UK economy, further exacerbated by Brexit. This is interesting in the context of the schools consultation, which closes on 16th December – a Guardian article concludes that this is a complicated and risky area for universities.
Nursing degree apprenticeships:
A new nursing degree apprenticeship was announced on 30 November as part of the government commitment to create 100,000 apprenticeships within the NHS by 2020, and make up to 40,000 more nurses available to prevent rota gaps. The new nursing associate role will be hands on and expected to free up existing nurses to lead patient care decisions. Successful completion of the nursing associate apprenticeship can count towards a nursing degree and lead to registered nurse status.
The apprenticeship aims to open up a nursing career to people from all backgrounds, improving diversity within the workforce, through the earn whilst you learn model. The government envisages up to 1,000 nursing apprentices per year, starting from September 2017, with a flexible and progressive training model which accounts for previous qualifications and experience. The nursing apprenticeship standards are detailed here.
The Royal College of Nursing response is wary of creating a two-tier system, refers to the past where students were seen as ‘nursing on the cheap’ and stresses the importance of would-be nurses having a graduate level education to gain the knowledge and skills required for 21st century health care.
Government grant standards
The much criticised anti-lobbying clause was put on hold earlier this year (read more here) – and the government have today issued their new standards guidance for government grants. The new guidance confirms that researchers can communicating research and inform policy, including responding to consultations and select committee enquiries, and contributing expert scientific advice to inform government policy.
Teaching Excellence Framework
And finally – the Chair of the TEF panel, Chris Husbands (VC of Sheffield Hallam) has written on Wonkhe – busting 5 myths about TEF. The myths he is busting are:
- The TEF will push universities for widening participation
- The TEF is only about metrics
- The provider statement is all about explaining away the metrics (he’s like them to be celebratory)
- The TEF is biased and pre-ordained
- Student views do not count
For those of you interested in catching up on the TEF, Jane is running a workshop with Professor Debbie Holley from the Centre for Excellence in Learning on Friday 9th December
The latest list of committee inquiries is here. There is a new one on closing the STEM skills gap, and one on the role of education in mental health for young people – please contact email@example.com if you want to respond to any of these.
As part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, RKEO are holding a briefing session on the Horizon 2020 Marie Skłodowska-Curie Action Research and Innovation Staff Exchange programme (RISE). The 2017 call opens on 1/12/16 and has a closing date of 05/04/17.
Venue: Lansdowne Campus (S203, Studland House)
Date: Tuesday, 6th December 2016
Time: 14.00-16.00 (No catering is provided at this event – but please feel free to arrive with a drink!)
Book your space via the RKE Development Framework page for this event.
For further information, please contact Emily Cieciura, Research Facilitator: EU & International
Last week I attended COST Action Training School BEYOND BIRTH COHORTS: from study design to data management which was conducted from November 23- 25 in Valencia, Spain. COST (European Cooperation in Science and Technology) is a unique platform where European researchers can jointly develop their ideas and initiatives across all scientific disciplines through trans-European networking of nationally funded research. The specialist training to which I was invited focused conducting longitudinal cohort studies especially birth cohorts.
Various aspects of birth cohort were discussed during the training which included data collection, development of standard operating protocols for analysis of samples, techniques and tools to study biological samples, different methods of data analysis, and data management. Training also included the use of the R-package for data analysis and management. There were presenters from different countries including the UK, Germany, Spain, Malta who were associated with the COST Action.
Overall this training was very helpful and I found it interesting to discover more about the COST Action, their objectives and activities and also about the data on birth cohorts including designing cohort studies and ways to analyse the data. I am sure it will help with my PhD fieldwork which links with the THET-funded project on mental health training for community maternity care providers in Nepal. My fieldwork in Nepal starts in January 2017. I would like to thank the EU for the funding and FHSS for the co-funding of the travel expenses.
A lack of diffusion of ideas and technologies between different sectors and regions is feeding inequality across Europe, according to Carlos Moedas, EU Commissioner for Research, Science and Innovation.
He was speaking at a conference called Spreading Excellence and Crossing the Innovation Divide held in Brussels, Belgium, on 23 November, where he also announced a set of measures to improve EU research.
The aim of the conference, organised by the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU, was to gather ministers, policymakers and academics to discuss how to close the gaps in research and innovation between different countries, regions, research institutions, universities and enterprises.
Commissioner Moedas said that while certain sectors – such as ICT – are productive, innovative technologies and knowledge are not spreading beyond that sector, and while cities and regions that are home to successful companies are thriving, other regions were not benefitting from this.
‘We are trying to solve one of the major problems of innovation today, which is to solve the productivity gap so we have less inequality,’ he said. ‘Research and innovation is key to overcoming these gaps. We need to feed the pipeline of talent and ideas and help them diffuse far and wide.’