Apart from academics and policy-makers, the 2017 Belvedere Forum was attended by representatives of business organizations (e.g. PwC), senior management of selected universities, think-tanks (e.g. the Chatham House, the Centre for European Reforms), the BBC as well as the Ambassador of the United Kingdom to Poland, and the Ambassador of the Republic of Poland to the United Kingdom. On the Polish side, this Forum’s steering committee was headed by Ryszard Czarnecki whereas on the British side, it was led by Sir Malcolm Rifkind. Next year, the forum is going to be held in London. For more info see: https://twitter.com/Belvedere_Forum
Category / Global engagement
Date: Friday 24 March 2017
Time: 10.00 am – 5pm
Venue: EB708, Executive Business Centre, Bournemouth University
The event is free to attend, however, places are limited and registration is required.
About the Event:
Additive Manufacturing or 3D printing as it is more commonly known, continues to push the boundaries of Intellectual Property (IP) law whilst raising questions relating to the protection and exploitation of IP.
There have been various attempts to address these questions through legal and empirical studies; yet at the same time, there continues to be limited literature and debate on the implications of 3D printing surrounding IP law, industry, society, technology and policy.
This challenge, which extends to the lucrative jewellery sector raises further questions in relation to creativity, design, copyright and licensing and these issues will be addressed at the event by bringing together experts from the cultural and business sectors including designers, manufacturers, distributors, policy makers and legal professionals.
This multi-disciplinary event which will explore the above issues will also provide the platform for a discussion of the ‘Going for Gold’ project carried out by researchers at CIPPM (Bournemouth University) in collaboration with Museotechniki Ltd and Uformia AS and will be complemented by a demonstration of 3D printed jewellery artefacts resulting from the project.
The event, based on the ‘Going for Gold’ project led by Professor Dinusha Mendis, is supported by the RCUK funded Centre for Copyright and New Business Models in the Creative Economy (CREATe), AHRC Grant Number AH/K000179/1 and builds on the BU/CIPPM-led UK Intellectual Property Office (UKIPO) Commissioned Study on 3D Printing and IP law completed in 2015.
Confirmed Participants and Speakers:
Mark Bloomfield (Electrobloom); Roger Brownsword (Bournemouth University / Kings College London); Ruth Burstall (Baker & McKenzie LLP); Frank Cooper (Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre, Birmingham Jewellery School); Lionel Dean (De Montfort University); Damian Etherington (Ipswich Museum); Nikolaos Maniatis (Museotechniki Ltd); Dids McDonald (Anti Copying in Design); Dinusha Mendis (Bournemouth University); Cherie Stamm (Uformia AS); Andrea Wallace (CREATe, University of Glasgow); Michael Weinberg (Shapeways Inc).
For inquiries, please contact Dinusha Mendis at email@example.com
The EURAXESS Portal has recently been revamped, making finding information much easier. There is a simple initial search based on who you are and what you need. You don’t need to register to access many of the features but if you do, you will be able to access even more and be able to interact with the EURAXESS community! It only takes a few moments to set your own EURAXESS account.
- Search for and posting job opportunities
- Career development training
- Partnering between individuals and organisations in both academia and business
- Practical information and support concerning living and working in Europe such as visas, finding accommodation, pensions and health care…
- Information for researchers wishing to relocate outside Europe – EURAXESSWorldwide has dedicated teams in ASEAN (Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Lao PDR, Myanmar, and Vietnam), Brazil, China, India, Japan and North America (US and Canada)
- A personal profile once you have registered, so that you can be located by others looking for your expertise
If you would like to discuss using EURAXESS as a researcher, in order to promote BU’s research activity, supporting incoming researchers to BU or other related purpose, please contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator: EU & International and BU’s EURAXESS Institutional Contact.
EURAXESS is also included as one of the highlighted resources within the Research Toolkit > Research Staff pages on this blog.
Budget: There was very little about HE in the budget this time, as expected, apart from the announcement of the outcomes of the consultations on PG doctoral loans and part-time maintenance loans (see below). The announcement of a £300m fund for brightest and best research talent, including for 1,000 new PhD places and fellowships focused on STEM subjects has been widely welcomed across the sector. There were lots of announcements about technical education
- T-levels will be introduced, with 15 clear routes into employment
- There will be an increase of over 50 per cent in number of hours training for 16-19 technical students including a high quality three month work placement, this will result in a £500m a year investment in 16-19 year olds
- Maintenance loans for those who undertake higher level technical qualifications at the new institutes for technology and national colleges
- Up to £40m investment in pilots to test the effectiveness of different approaches to lifelong learning
- Up to £40m investment in pilots to test the effectiveness of different approaches to lifelong learning
- The new doctoral loan will provide a contribution of up to £25,000 to the costs of study rather than covering the full fees and living costs of a student. It will be paid directly to the student rather than to the student’s institution.
- The proposal to cap the number of people who could receive loans at each institution was not supported and so this has been dropped – it will be available to all eligible students for all eligible programmes – including all Level 8 programmes, up to 8 years long. Students receiving other government funding, such as through the NHS or a Research Council grant, will not be eligible.
- Repayment arrangements will be the same as for the existing masters loan.
- Part-time students will be eligible for maintenance loans from the academic year 2018/19
- Students undertaking distance learning courses and Level 4 and 5 HE qualifications are likely to be eligible from academic year 2019/20 (this is subject to the passing of the HE and Research Bill – it will only happen when the Office for Students has been established and has put in place the new regulatory framework for providers)
- The new loan arrangements will be reviewed after five years
- Loan amounts each year will be based on the intensity of study. We had some concerns about this because it may make it harder for students to stretch the funding over the whole course
- Maintenance loans for students undertaking distance learning courses will come in later as the Government needs to ensure a robust system of controls is in place
- Part-time maintenance loans will be means tested
- Repayment terms will mirror the process for part-time fee loans and the full-time undergraduate student finance system
Non-continuation: HESA have issued a summary of the 2015/16 non-continuation rates. OFFA have responded to the indicators expressing disappointment at the higher non-continuation rates for young students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds and earmarking this for attention in the Fair Access Agreements due for submission in April.
Higher Education and Research Bill and the TEF: the House of Lords have used the third reading of the TEF to make a number of amendments to the HE and Research Bill against the government. The Vice-Chancellor has blogged on the BU Research blog about what this means for the TEF. It is not at all clear what will happen next – if the amendments are not reversed, then TEF will go back to the drawing board in terms of what the OfS would do with it– but that would not affect the HEFCE- run year 2 process that has already started. Other amendments include one that requires universities to ensure that students are registered to vote as part of student registration. The debates in the Lords on the bill continue next week – more amendments are to come including more on migration and loans (including Sharia compliant finance), cheating, Prevent and UKRI.
New DLHE: HESA have responded to the enormous consultation on the DLHE last summer (over 130 questions) with a second one, which sets out their proposals for the new version of DLHE and asks for responses by 7th April – this one is much shorter (only 6 questions plus a space for more comments). We’ll be preparing an institutional response. Data will not be available until 2020.
- DLHE will be centralised. The survey will be delivered both online and through telephone interviews, in order to achieve an overall response rate of at least 70% per provider
- Survey at 15 months – replacing the 6 month and the longitudinal one (that was not used in league tables or the TEF)
- It will also ask about previous and planned activity (to get away from problems associated with a “snapshot”
- Linked to HMRC data on earnings and self-employment and other HESA study information including placements (from 19/20)
- New question on entrepreneurship and three new ‘graduate voice’ measures of outcomes from the perspective of the respondent. These will measure the extent to which the graduate’s current activity reflects on three distinct areas of development:
- Utilisation of what has been learned
- Orientation toward their future goals
- A sense of meaningfulness or importance.
- Optional question banks including research student experiences, subjective wellbeing, Net promoter score, graduate choice, impact of HE. HE providers will be able to add their own questions to the end of the survey.
Caroline Lucas MP asked a question in Parliament this week: Whether it is his policy to seek for the UK to remain a member of the Bologna Process after the UK’s withdrawal from the EU; and whether he plans that UK university degrees will be considered compatible with degrees in EU member states under the Bologna Process following the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. 
Jo Johnson MP replied “The Bologna Process, which created the European Higher Education Area in 2010, is an intergovernmental agreement among 28 countries in the European region. It is not an EU body and therefore UK membership will not be affected by the UK’s departure from the EU.”
The Newton Fund has announced the following funding opportunities:
To find out more, please follow the links given above. For general information about the Newton Fund, please go to their website.
The Government launched the Industrial Strategy Green Paper and consultation at the end of January. The paper focuses on improving Britain’s innovation and productivity in key areas alongside upskilling the workforce to become world leading. The government suggest a number sectors to support:
- clean energy
- space technology
- quantum technology
- advanced computing and communications
The document references the role of Universities as innovation leaders, challenges us on taking a greater role in commercialisation and pushes for more cooperation with business. There is also a focus on skills and particularly on technical education with a proposal for new Institutes of Technology. There is an emphasis on rebalancing the difference in Britain’s economic geography through infrastructure investment and asks for suggestions about how to ensure that research funding is distributed across the country. There is a link to a speech by Greg Clark here.
The approach taken the Green Paper has been criticised by the House of Commons BEIS Committee in their report issued today. The criticisms centre on the view that the document is not sufficiently ambitious, only setting out incremental proposals and that is insufficiently industrial and not very strategic (see the article in The Times by the committee chair). We were pleased to host a Universities UK regional roundtable today with representatives from across the South-West – we’ll update more about the content next week. The consultation ends in April, we are preparing a BU response – if you would like to contribute please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Brexit and immigration
The House of Lords are continuing their discussion of the Bill that will confirm that the government can trigger Article 50 and start negotiations for the UK to leave the EU. On Wednesday the Lords voted to force the government to give a guarantee to EU citizens living in the UK that they will be protected when the UK leaves the EU. This amendment is likely to be over-ruled in the House of Commons in due course, but it is important to recognise the concern across the UK about this issue, and the impact on our EU staff of the continued uncertainty.
The House of Lords European Union Committee publishes its report on the impact of Brexit on Gibraltar, in which it makes clear that the UK Government has a ‘moral responsibility’ to ensure that Gibraltar’s voice is heard, and its interests protected, throughout Brexit negotiations with the EU. Of all the British Overseas Territories, only Gibraltar is part of the EU and was therefore eligible to take part in the referendum of June 2016. 95.9% of votes cast in Gibraltar were for the UK to stay in the EU, by far the strongest vote for ‘remain’ of any area eligible to participate in the referendum. Yet the territory is now set to leave the EU along with the UK, and faces significant challenges as a result. The report refers to evidence given by Professor John Fletcher
You will recall that at the Conservative Party conference in November, a consultation on potential changes to immigration rules for international students and staff was announced but was postponed. In the meantime, the Home Affairs Committee is conducting an inquiry into developing a consensus on effective immigration policy. This includes an opinion survey open to all run by National Conversation – it is worth taking a look and responding to it.
UUK International have issued a report on mobility in the 2014-15 graduating cohort which demonstrates a correlation between outward mobility and improved academic and employment outcomes – particularly for under-represented groups (who are particularly under-represented when it comes to mobility).
Higher Education and Research Bill
The Higher Education and Research Bill reaches the report stage in the House of Lords next week. One opposition amendment was passed by the House of Lords in committee stage, seeking to define the role and function of universities. Responding to the debates in the House of Lords and discussion with the sector, a large number of helpful additional government amendments have now been proposed along with further amendments proposed by peers. One key amendment proposed jointly by the government and opposition includes a definition of institutional autonomy to replace the opposition amendment that was passed. Further proposed amendments include changes to allow for higher fees to be charged for accelerated degrees – although not to increase the total cost of a degree. You can see the latest set of draft amendments here and a letter from the Minister here.
HEFCE student data
Times Higher Education report on new HEFCE data – 90,600 UK and EU students began full-time taught postgraduate courses at English universities in 2016-17, up by 16,100 (22 per cent) on the previous year. The number starting part-time grew more modestly, but still shows an estimated increase of 8.6 per cent (5,900) to 74,900. This is likely to be partly attributable to the new PG loans. The picture on international post-graduate students is more mixed. The THE article continues “According to Hefce, full-time domestic and EU undergraduate enrolments also grew by 1 per cent to a record 408,000 students in 2016-17, However, 2016-17 is “likely to be a peak year as the declining population of 18-year olds, the consequences of the EU referendum and the transition from bursaries to loans for nursing students will put downward pressure on the number of entrants in 2017-18”.”.
Credit transfer in higher education – following the announcements last week about changes to the HE and Research Bill relating to credit transfer and accelerated degrees, we are still waiting for the government response to last summer’s insulation, but ahead of that they have released research into both areas:
On credit transfer it is clear that there isn’t much evidence – and suggests a wider range of benefits for students, employers and institutions. It lists a similar lists of challenges with the idea to those identified in last summer’s consultation – but also identifies lack of demand as one of the challenges – but linked to awareness amongst students. A requirement to publicise the availability of existing schemes is the minimum we can expect from the government response. But the note about “rigid and inflexible admissions timetable whereby enrolment for most courses is typically only allowed once a year” may hint at another. As we said in our response to the consultation, cohort identify is a good reason for this sort of “inflexibility” – and a curriculum which is based on progression from one area of learning to the next is another. . The Guardian covers the story here.
The accelerated degrees literature review also includes a case study. The review includes some potential areas for action that are highlighted by the research – including agreeing a definition of a standard accelerated degree, promotion of positive messages about them, monitoring information about real costs, outcomes and experiences for staff and students, and changing funding – interestingly “additional and sustained central funding” – which will be very interesting if it turns up in the consultation response.
HESA finance data for UK HE
HESA released data on the financial position of UK higher education providers. According to HESA, the data reveals a total income for the HE sector of £34.7 billion in 2015/16. Income from tuition fees was £16.8 billion representing 48.4% of total income. The sector’s total expenditure was £33.0 billion, of which £18.0 billion (54.6%) was spent on staff costs.
Accounting standards for higher education providers changed for 2015/16 so that this year’s data is not comparable with previously published HESA finance data. HE providers submitted re-stated figures for 2014/15 based on the new standards, but transitional changes, such as an inflation of staff costs, are reflected in these figures so they should be interpreted with caution.
Last week was a good week for FHSS from a publishing perspective. On the last day of February Sociological Research Online published a book review with Dr. Pramod Regmi as first author, which we highlighted in an earlier BU Research Blog (see more here!) . On the same the same day we received news from the Journal of Travel Medicine (published by Oxford University press) that our latest article on research in Nepal was accepted for publication. Our paper ‘Identifying the gaps in Nepalese migrant workers’ health and well-being: A review of the literature’ addresses the health and well-being of migrant health workers and ‘brings’ this to travel medicine specialists .
On Thursday our article ‘Vital signs and other observations used to detect deterioration in pregnant women: an analysis of vital sign charts in consultant-led maternity units’ was accepted by the International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia published by Elsevier . On Friday The Lancet published correspondence from FHSS Post-Doc. Researcher Dr. Pramod Regmi and FHSS Ph.D. student Folashade Alloh, and BU Visiting Faculty Prof. Padam Simkhada under the title: ‘Mental health in BME groups with diabetes: an overlooked issue?’ . To round off the week on Friday afternoon the editorial office of Kontakt (published by Elsevier) emailed that the editorial ‘The medical and social model of childbirth’ had been accepted for publication .
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
- Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E. ‘Balanced Ethics Review: A Guide for Institutional Review Board Members’ by Whitney, Simon N., Springer, (2015) ISBN: 9783319207056 (pb) (book review), Sociological Research Online 2017; 22(1) http://www.socresonline.org.uk/22/1/reviews/3.html
- Simkhada, P.P., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Aryal, N. Identifying the gaps in Nepalese migrant workers’ health and well-being: A review of the literature, Journal of Travel Medicine (Accepted).
- Smith, G.B., Isaacs, R., Andrews, L., Wee, M.Y.K., van Teijlingen, E., Bick, D.E., Hundley, V. Vital signs and other observations used to detect deterioration in pregnant women: an analysis of vital sign charts in consultant-led maternity units, International Journal of Obstetric Anesthesia (Accepted).
- Regmi, P., Alloh, F., Pant, P.R., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2017) Mental health in BME groups with diabetes: an overlooked issue? The Lancet, 389: 904-905.
- van Teijlingen, E. The medical and social model of childbirth, Kontakt (Accepted.
This week saw the publication of the latest issue of the internet-based journal Sociological Research Online. In this issue Dr. Pramod Regmi and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen published a book review of Balanced Ethics Review: A Guide for Institutional Review Board Members written by the American academic Simon Whitney.  In doing so they continue the tradition of FHSS scholars contributing to the research ethics debate. For example, Regmi and colleagues recently had a paper accepted on their insights into research in low-income countries in the journal Developing World Bioethics. Whilst a 2012 FHSS-led paper stressed that researchers conducting research in low-income countries need to apply for research ethics approval to the relevant local authority, if national legislation requires one to do so.
Looking better a little further back, Professor Emerita Immy Holloway wrote about the researcher who may have (potentially) conflicting roles namely those of researcher and health care professional. Whilst a combination of midwifery researchers in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) highlighted the problems faced by practitioners doing research in their field of practice with perhaps the risk of blurring professional and research ethics, as balancing competing ethical concerns between protecting research participants and over-managing the ethical process can be problematic.[5-6] The latter issue of management and regulation of research ethics has recognised as getting more and more cumbersome and bureaucratic.[7-8]
Two further publications by Prof. Ashencaen Crabtree have added to the pool of FHSS publication on research ethics.[9-10] The first one, a book, addressed the problematic issue of gate-keepers in research together with the ethics of critical observation of abuse (potential or actual), as well as the ethics of advocating on behalf of research participants. The second paper covered issues around working with research participants who are regarded as ‘vulnerable’ in a study into the context of care and patient/service user experiences.
Whilst Prof. Parker has highlighted the benefits and dangers of using email and the Internet for social and health research. An even newer research approach is the use of discussion boards as sources of data, which brings its own ethical dilemmas.
In 2010-11 Prof. Parker and colleagues explored in two separate papers the contested meanings and difficulties associated with informed consent, highlighting challenges raised by an almost unquestioned acceptance of biomedical research ethics in social research and questioning whether potential ‘harm’ is different in this context.[13-14]
Prof. Hundley and colleagues discussed the ethical challenges involved in conducting a cluster randomised controlled trial, where getting informed consent can be complication. Whilst it is worth reminding researchers that in issues of informed consent during pregnancy and childbirth one has to consider the potential for harm to two participants.
- Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2017) ‘Balanced Ethics Review: A Guide for Institutional Review Board Members’ by Whitney, Simon N., Springer, (2015) ISBN: 9783319207056 (pb) (book review), Sociological Research Online 22(1) http://www.socresonline.org.uk/22/1/reviews/3.html
- Regmi, PR., Aryal, N., Kurmi, O., Pant, PR., van Teijlingen, E., Wasti, P.P. (forthcoming Informed consent in health research: challenges and barriers in low-and middle-income countries with specific reference to Nepal, Developing World Bioethics.
- van Teijlingen E.R., Simkhada, P.P. (2012) Ethical approval in developing countries is not optional, Journal of Medical Ethics 38:428-430.
- Holloway, I., Wheeler, S. (1995) Ethical Issues in Qualitative Nursing Research, Nursing Ethics 2: 223-232. http://nej.sagepub.com/content/2/3/223.full.pdf+html
- Ryan, K., Brown, B., Wilkins, C., Taylor, A., Arnold, R., Angell, C., van Teijlingen, E. (2011) Which hat am I wearing today? Practicing midwives doing research, Evidence-Based Midwifery 9(1): 4-8.
- van Teijlingen, E.R., Cheyne, H.L. (2004) Ethics in midwifery research, RCM Midwives Journal 7 (5): 208-10.
- van Teijlingen, E. (2006) Reply to Robert Dingwall’s Plenary ‘Confronting the Anti-Democrats: The unethical Nature of Ethical Regulation in Social Science, MSo (Medical Sociology online) 1: 59-60 www.medicalsociologyonline.org/archives/issue1/pdf/reply_rob.pdf
- van Teijlingen, E., Douglas, F., Torrance, N. (2008) Clinical governance and research ethics as barriers to UK low-risk population-based health research? BMC Public Health 8(396) www.biomedcentral.com/content/pdf/1471-2458-8-396.pdf
- Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2012) Rainforest Asylum: The enduring legacy of colonial psychiatric care in Malaysia, London: Whiting & Birch.
- Ashencaen Crabtree, S. (2013) Research ethics approval processes and the moral enterprise of ethnography. Ethics & Social Welfare. Advance Access: DOI:10.1080/17496535.2012.703683
- Bond, C.S, Ahmed, O.H., Hind, M., Thomas, B., Hewitt-Taylor, J. (2013) The Conceptual and Practical Ethical Dilemmas of Using Health Discussion Board Posts as Research Data, Journal of Medical Internet Research 15(6):e112) Web address: http://www.jmir.org/2013/6/e112/
- Parker, J. (2008) Email, ethics and data collection in social work research: some reflections from a research project, Evidence & Policy: A Journal of Research, Debate & Practice, 4(1): 75-83.
- Hundley, V., Cheyne, H.C., Bland, J.M., Styles, M., Barnett, C.A. (2010) So you want to conduct a cluster randomised controlled trial? Lessons from a national cluster trial of early labour, Journal of Evaluation in Clinical Practice 16: 632-638
- Helmreich, R.J., Hundley, V., Norman, A., Ighedosa, J., Chow, E. (2007) Research in pregnant women: the challenges of informed consent, Nursing for Women’s Health 11(6): 576-585.
- Parker, J., Penhale, B., Stanley, D., (2010). Problem or safeguard? Research ethics review in social care research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005. Social Care & Neurodisability, 1(2): 22-32.
- Parker, J., Penhale, B., Stanley, D. (2011) Research ethics review: social care and social science research and the Mental Capacity Act 2005, Ethics & Social Welfare, 5(4): 380-400.
As part of Service Computing Seminar Series funded by EU H2020 FIRST (virtual Factory: Interoperation suppoRting buSiness innovaTion). We would like to invite you to the seminar:
14:00-15:00 Tuesday 7th March 2017
PG143 (Thomas Hardy Suite, Talbot Campus)
Speaker: Prof. Prof Jian Yang, Director of Research, Department of Computing, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia
Title: Topic Derivation in Twitter
Abstract: As one of the most popular social media, Twitter has attracted interests of business and academics to derive topics and apply the outcomes in a wide range of applications such as emergency management, business advertisements, and corporate/government communication. Since tweets are short messages, topic derivation from tweets becomes a big challnege in the area. Most of existing works use the Twitter content as the only source in the topic derivation. Recently, tweet interactions have been considered additionally for improving the quality of topic derivation.
In this talk, we introduce a method that incorporates social interactions such as mention, retweet, etc into twitter content to derive topics. Experimental results show that the proposed method with the inclusion of temporal features results in a significant improvement in the quality of topic derivation comparing to existing baseline methods.
In this talk, we will explain the general idea of Matrix Factorisation and how it is applied in topic derivation, the experiment set up, and experiment results analysis.
Dr. Jian Yang is a full professor at Department of Computing, Macquarie University. She received her PhD in Multidatabase Systems area from The Australian National University in 1995. Before she joined Macquarie University, she worked as a senior research scientist at the Division of Mathematical and Information Science, CSIRO, Australia , and as an assistant professor at Dept of Computer Science, The Australian Defence Force Academy, University of New South Wales.
Dr. Yang has published over 200 papers in the international journals and conferences such as IEEE transactions, Information Systems, Data & Knowledge Engineering, CACM, VLDB, ICDCS, ICSOC, CAiSE, CoopIS, CIKM, etc. She is the member of steering committee of the prime international conference on service oriented computing (ICSOC). She has been general chair and program committee chair of several international conferences such as ICSOC. She has served as program committee member in various international conferences such as: ICDE, CAiSE, ICSOC, ER, CoopIS, ICSOC, BPM, ICWS, SCC, WISE, etc. She is also a regular reviewer for journals such as IEEE Transactions on Knowledge & Data Engineering, Data & Knowledge Engineering, VLDB Journal, IEEE Internet Computing, etc.
Her main research interests are: web service technology; business process management; social network based data analysis; interoperability, trust and security issues in internet.
The Chair for the Office for Students (OfS) has been confirmed as Sir Michael Barber, Wonkhe profile his career here. Recruitment for the OfS Chief Executive is underway.
Higher Education and Research Bill– amendments are being submitted for the House of Lords report stage. One focusses on students and academic staff at HE providers stating the government has a duty to encourage international students, ensure UG and PG students are not treated as long-term migrants, maximise British and international research collaboration, especially in EU, and provide favourable employment conditions for non-British individuals offered employment at a HE institution. The amendment is not expected to be accepted. Another relates to changes to the repayment terms of student loans. The Lords Report stage is on 6th March and the list of amendments is expected to grow further.
EU Withdrawal Bill – This week MPs discussed:
- A clause advocating a strict timetable of parliamentary scrutiny throughout the negotiations with the EU.
- The rights of EU nationals living in the UK
- The impact of withdrawal on a number of different industries
- The role of the devolved Nations in negotiations and repatriated powers.
The bill was passed by vote in the Commons on Wednesday. No amendments were accepted. It was anticipated that there might be a push to a vote on residency rights for EU nationals. A leaked letter from the Home Secretary, reputedly aiming to quell backbench rebellion on the subject, stated the future rights of EU citizens in Britain would be settled by a separate Immigration Bill. “..the Government remains committed to providing reassurance to EU nationals here and UK nationals in the EU as a priority once Article 50 has been triggered… I’d also like to reassure colleagues that Parliament will have a clear opportunity to debate and vote on this issue in the future… after we leave the European Union we will have an immigration system that supports our economy and protects our public services, and that should mean securing the rights of EU citizens already here, as well as establishing a new immigration system for new arrivals from the EU once we have left. But this isn’t just about ensuring British businesses and our public sector have access to the right workers, we owe it to those many European citizens who have contributed so much to this country to resolve this issue as soon as possible and give them the security they need to continue to contribute to this country.”
EU citizens featured regularly during Prime Ministers Questions this week. Sarah Wollaston (Con, Totnes) called on the PM to commit to guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens living in the UK. May responded this was a priority for the early stage of negotiations. James Berry (Con, Kingston and Surbiton) said his constituency was “enriched” by skilled workers from abroad. The PM assured him the “brightest and best” would still be welcome after Brexit, including from the EU, but the Government still aimed to lower net migration.
Meanwhile ministers are pressing Lords as they want the EU Withdrawal Bill passed by Tues 7 March. It is expected the Government will trigger article 50 on Thursday 9th March during the EU Summit.
UUK Brexit Priorities: Universities UK have provided a succinct briefing covering Brexit priorities for the HE sector and make some new and interesting points. This calls for three short term transitional arrangements:
- Confirm rights to reside and work in the UK post-exit for EU nationals that are currently working in the university sector and their dependants. (This is in the white paper.)
- Confirm that EU students starting a course in 2018–19 and 2019–20 will continue to be eligible for home fee status, and be eligible for loans and grants.
- Signal that the government will seek to secure continued UK participation in the Horizon 2020 research and innovation framework programme. (This is in the white paper.)
Six exit priorities:
- Residency and permanent right to work for EU nationals currently working in the university sector, and their dependants, with full access to public services.
- Continued UK participation in the Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme until the close of the programme period in 2020 (even if post-Brexit).
- Close collaboration with European partners to deliver excellent research (including seeking access to Horizon 2020 successor programme)
- Continued access to Erasmus+ and the Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions programmes (widely discussed but absent from the white paper)
- An outcome which allows for the continued recognition of professional qualifications between the UK and the remaining 27 EU member states
- Preserving and building on regulatory and standards equivalence with other EU countries.
- Finally a call to push the HE agenda within domestic policy change including simplifying visas (students and staff), further research investment, and government targets for UK student mobility.
Brexit – educational influence: The BBC have analysed the leave vs remain voting trends and highlight at local ward level that the strength of the leave vote was strongly correlated with lower educational qualifications. If the proportion of the ward electorate with a degree was 1% lower, on average the leave vote was 1% higher. The level of educational qualification accounts for 2/3s of the voting preference, adding in age and ethnicity accounts for 83% of the variation in votes.
Sale of student loan book: The government announced their firm intention to sell the student loan book this week. The sale has attracted much press attention and has been covered by the BBC, the Guardian, the Independent, the Times, contrasting views from HEPI and Critical Education and a thought provoking article in the Financial Times which criticises the governments self-imposed rules and states selling an asset whose value, at the government’s cost of borrowing, exceeds its price in the market will worsen the government’s finances, not improve them. An Early Day Motion (929) also heard Labour and Scottish National Party MPs protest the sale. Terms and conditions of loans or the mechanisms of repayment cannot be changed and the loans will continue to be serviced by HMRC and SLC. The purchasers would not have the right to directly contact borrowers. The loan value is estimated at £4bn by the government. The sale process may take several months as it involves securitising the remaining future repayments on the loans and selling securities representing the rights to these to a range of purchasers. The government has announced its intention to utilise the sale to obtain a short term cash boost earmarked to reduce the national debt. An article in iNews crunches the numbers including comment from Martin Lewis, consumer finance expert.
Falls in applications: The Guardian continue the story of the falls in applications and longer term recruitment trends following the release of UCAS data last week.
Widening Participation: An interesting Telegraph article by Chris Wilson, Co-CEO of the Brilliant Club, describes successes in training and placing early career researchers in schools. The scheme aims to increase school attainment including exposing pupils to high level equipment, however, it also had a beneficial effect on increasing the number of WP pupils attending high tariff HE institutions. 53% of free school meals pupils enrolled on this Scholars programme secured a place at a highly-selective university – compared to the national 5% progression rate.
The Fair Access Agreement guidance was also launched this week. As anticipated it continues pushing universities on the school sponsorship agenda. This is particularly interesting when contrasted with the closure announcement of another university technical college this week, as reported in FE Week.
Finally the Sutton Trust have published Global Gaps Comparing socio-economic gaps in the performance of highly able UK pupils internationally. It draws on the 2015 OECD Pisa data for reading, maths and science and tells a familiar story whereby bright but poor pupils fall behind by over 2 school years. It acknowledges these gaps occur throughout the developed world whilst calling on government to establish ‘highly able’ fund to improve the life chances of high attainers in poorer schools.
Parliament is now in recess until 20 Feb so no further bill developments are expected.
There will not be a policy update next week.
Higher Education and Research Bill – the House of Lords committee stage has finished with no further amendments (other than non-controversial and welcome government amendments). Unlike in the House of Commons, where time was more limited and there was a great deal of focus on the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), student loans, the impact of Brexit and limits on international students rather than the detailed content of the Bill, in the House of Lords there has been much more detailed analysis of the Bill and very lively debate about issues such as institutional autonomy, the role and governance of the research councils and the role of the Office for Students. The other issues were also discussed, but none of the many amendments proposed by a long list of peers were approved. Assurances have been given by the government that the points made in the debates will be considered and so it is likely that further government amendments will be proposed at the report stage, which is likely to be in late February or early March. The Bill will then have to go back to the House of Commons, as it has been amended. Research Professional have a helpful summary of the position.
In related news, Mark Walport has been appointed as CEO of UKRI and has written for Times Higher Education. He notes: “We cannot sit on our laurels, or even our Nobel prizes. Research and innovation funding is still largely delivered by organisations siloed in traditional disciplines, allowing some imaginative proposals to fall between the cracks. Solving many of the most important fundamental research questions and tackling the challenges facing society requires an interdisciplinary approach.”
Brexit – the EU (Notification of Withdrawal) bill – the (very short) Bill was passed on its second reading this week. The committee stage is next – unlike the HERB (dealt with in the Public Bill Committee), this will be a committee of the whole House of Commons, which is scheduled for 6-8 February. The current 142-page list of proposed amendments is quite interesting and will probably grow. The Bill will then go to the Lords, where there may be further attempts to amend it.
After refusing to agree that the government would issue a white paper on Brexit, one was rushed out on 2nd February after the Bill was passed. BBC Newsnight reported that it was issued at 4 am and has typos in it, but at 77 pages, it attempts to cover a lot of ground. There has been grumbling from the sector about the things that it doesn’t cover (e.g. Erasmus), and although there is no new news in it for us, there is some reassurance too. It refers to commitments already made on guaranteeing EU research funding. In the migration section it refers to students as its third point – so very high up the agenda – in fact it is the ONLY group referred to specifically. The paper says that “the Government recognises the important contribution made by students and academics from EU Member States to the UK’s world class universities. A global UK must also be a country that looks to the future”. No assurances about what that means, but it is helpful, especially as it doesn’t say anything like that about any other sector. In Science and Innovation, it says nice things about universities and refers to the Industrial Strategy. It includes lots of reassurances about continuing to apply for funding. It also says “we would welcome agreement [from the EU] to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initaitives”. The White Paper will no doubt be discussed alongside the Bill in the Committee Stage, and we will see what comes next.
Bell Review – The UUK review of sector agencies, chaired by Sir David Bell, has published recommendations. In order to reduce costs to the sector and ensure focus and a strategic approach, the report recommends streamlining the current list of sector agencies from 9 to 7 by merging the Equality Challenge Unit, the Higher Education Academy and the Leadership foundation for Higher Education. In addition, the Higher Education Careers Services Unit (HECSU) will become self-financing through its commercial activity and will no longer take subscriptions from providers. To ensure efficiency and a more strategic focus on data, the report recommends that HECSU, the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA), Jisc and UCAS should form a strategic delivery partnership with a focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of data-related functions and services –writing on Wonkhe Sir David confirms that this group has already been formed. Link to the main report here.
UCAS applications data – this has been released today and is widely covered in the academic press.Wonkhe have a nice summary and they pull out some key charts
- 30,000 fewer applications across the sector than a year ago (5% down)
- First decline in overall applications since 2012 and nearly wipes out increases since 2013
- Not spread evenly across the sector
- Drop in EU applications – a shame as some had predicted a surge of applications this year while home fees and student loans are still in place, and may be a sign of a permanent decline, (see the last HEPI report on this question)
Factors that are cited include:
- Brexit uncertainty for EU applications –-around 6000 applications down
- Nursing – driven by financing changes – 5000 down. Also influenced by drop in mature applicants
- Mature student applications are down across the board – believed to be a result of more jobs and higher wages (so people not retraining), as well as nursing funding – 12000 applicants down
- Demographic dip in 18 year olds and a decline in students taking BTECs is apparently behind a 7000 drop in 18 year old applications.
The numbers are a bit of a guess as these categories overlap.
On Wonkhe, Fleur Nielsen from the Council of Deans of Health says it’s not time to panic (yet). She comments on the difference between applications and admissions, and also notes that there is still a challenge of increasing numbers (as required by the government) when there are limits on placements (which is appoint that BU has consistently made in consultations on this topic). “The scale of the fall in application numbers is not the critical factor for universities or the health and social care sector. Courses that were previously heavily oversubscribed can survive a significant dip in application numbers as long as the quality of applicants is good, and our members report that this remains so.”
HESA has published its Open Data Strategy 2017-2021 – following the consultation last year. Importantly, the strategy says that HESA will migrate its current range of data publications to open data, free of charge to users, over the next 5 years, publish more data openly and establish a user group.
Inclusive teaching and learning in HE – the Department for Education have published a report by the Disabled Student Sector Leadership Group. This is an independent group made up of representatives of a number of relevant sector bodies and 6 UK universities. The report encourages higher education providers (HEPs) to look at how they can support and offer the best environment for disabled students.
- It considers the requirement to provide ‘reasonable adjustments’ under the Equality Act 2010, and suggests actions to mitigate risks associated with that, including how providers can adopt a strategic approach to reasonable adjustments.
- It sets out the benefits of inclusive practice to higher education providers
- It provides examples of simple actions to affect change
Widening Participation: HESA has released statistics on widening participation from the 2015/16 academic year. It shows that progress is slowing although there are range of different angles on the data (thanks to Wonkhe for these links):
- Oxford University bucks national trend and accepts fewer state school students, figures show – The Telegraph
- Cambridge intake no longer most privately educated – BBC
- One in ten new undergraduates from poor background as inequality gap gets wider – The Times
Technology-Enhanced Learning: The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) have published a report on the impact of technology on universities (Rebooting learning for the digital age: What next for technology-enhanced higher education?). The report reviews best practice around the world to show how technology is benefiting universities and students through better teaching and learning, improved retention rates and lower costs:
- in the US, curriculum redesign using technology-enhanced learning produced better student outcomes in 72 per cent of projects and average savings of 31 per cent;
- the University of New England in Australia reduced student drop-out rates from 18 per cent to 12 per cent via learning analytics; and
- at Nottingham Trent University, 81 per cent of first-year students increased their study time after seeing their own engagement data.
You can read about BU’s Technology Enhanced Learning Toolkit on the CEL website.
Call For Papers: RGS-IBG Annual Conference, London, 29th August -1st September 2017.
Que(e)rying Gender and Tourism Research
Eveleigh Buck-Matthews, Coventry University
Dr Jaeyeon Choe, Bournemouth University
Dr Claudia Eger, University of Warwick
Heather Jeffrey, University of Bedfordshire
Dr Caroline Scarles, University of Surrey
Sponsored by the Geographies of Leisure and Tourism Research Group (GLTRG) and the Gender and Feminist Geographies Research Group (GFGRG)
There is a growing body of knowledge concerned with gender and tourism, but still many voices remain unheard. Feminists are as varied as the subjectivities they so often research, but are joined together within a common emancipatory project. Queer theory can aid in an emancipatory project by destabilising foundational assumptions of normality (de Souza, Brewis & Rumens, 2016; Rumens & Tyler, 2016), and yet it has received little attention from tourism scholars. This session is designed to engage participants in a critical conversation on gender and feminism within tourism, hospitality and events research, to explore contentious issues among feminists and pave the way for collaboration. Papers concerning any aspect of gender within tourism, hospitality and events research are invited, as well as papers investigating multiple voices and perspectives within gender and tourism, which may relate to but not be confined by the following areas:
• Female hosts as guests and the reification of roles
• Masculinities in tourism, hospitality, and events
• LGBTQ voices in tourism, hospitality, and events
• Casual/precarious gendered workers
• Postcolonial feminism and subaltern studies in tourism
• Insights from queer theory for gender and tourism
• Feminist theory and practice
We are currently seeking contributions for a paper presentation session involving presentations each lasting around 15 minutes with time for questions. The presentation may be executed in a traditional or innovative style, and we actively encourage a wide range of styles; including snapshots and pechakucha.
Please send abstracts (approx. 250 words) with author contact details to Heather Jeffrey (email@example.com) by the 14th February 2017.
Congratulations to Sheetal Sharma, postgraduate student in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) whose latest paper on the process of the research in her PhD fieldwork was accepted today by the Journal of Asian Midwives . Sheetal used an innovative mixed-methods evaluation which was applied to a long-running maternity intervention in rural Nepal. The intervention has been supported for nearly seven years by Green Tara Trust, a Buddhist charity based in London. Sheetal’s supervisors are supervisors are Prof. Vanora Hundley, Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, Dr. Catherine Angell (all in CMMPH) and Prof. Padam Simkhada, who is Visiting Faculty in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences and based at Liverpool John Moores University.
This paper is part of a larger body of health research work conducted by CMMPH in Nepal.
Sharma, S., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Stephens J, Hundley, V., Angell, C. (2017) Evaluation of Maternity Care Intervention in Rural Nepal: Lessons learnt, Journal of Asian Midwives (accepted Jan. 2017).
Higher Education and Research Bill – the Bill continues its committee stage in the Lords, with long and lively debates. Only government amendments have been approved so far, apart from last week’s amendment to clause 1. The list of amendments has continued to grow in the meantime, there is a genuine risk that they may not get through it all and run out of time. The next sessions are 23rd, 25th and 30th January. Some interesting new proposed amendments over the last week:
- ensuring name and gender blind assessment on application and on marking for all student assessments at both undergraduate and postgraduate levels – Lord Desai
- power for the Office for Students (OfS) to initiate investigations (including a student perspective) into changes to the admissions system and the system of degree classification – Lord Lucas
- preventing changes to the repayment of loans – Lord Watson
- banning cheating services (see Contract Cheating below) – Lord Storey
- amending the ‘balanced funding principle’ to ‘long-term, stable block grant’ to facilitate strategic research development investment – Lord Stevenson
- reserving funding for Research England whenever new grants are awarded to UKRI – Lord Liddle
Research Professional cover the Minister’s uncompromising stance towards amendments. They suggest the Government is listening and may yet propose amendments to address some of the issues raised by the Lords, but points out that there is a risk of further symbolic resistance as more Lords ‘dig their heels in’.
- in response to comments in the HERB debates in the Lords, when concerns were raised about using the TEF to limit student visas, Lord Younger informed the House of Lords during the HE bill committee stage that the government has “no plans to cap the number of genuine students who can come to the UK to study, nor to limit an institution’s ability to recruit genuine international students based on its teaching excellence framework rating or any other basis. This applies to all institutions, not just to members of the Russell group.”
- The Home Affairs Committee invited written submissions for an immigration inquiry in December with a deadline of 20 January, however, it has been confirmed submission will be accepted after the deadline. BU is not proposing to respond to this as we already provided evidence on staff and student mobility after Brexit to the Education Committee, which is continuing its hearings. The next one is on 25th January at UCL.
Research integrity select committee – A Commons Science and Technology Committee has launched an inquiry into research integrity. The inquiry is accompanied by the recently published POSTnote: Integrity in Research which discusses the questionable practices and considers whether a regulatory body for UK research would be beneficial. The original committee investigation into peer review from 2010/11 is here which led UUK to set up concordat to support research integrity. A call for written evidence to the Committee has been published. We will be working with RKEO to consider whether BU should submit evidence, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to be involved. Issues raised in include:
- The extent of the research integrity problem;
- Causes and drivers of recent trends;
- The effectiveness of controls/regulation (formal and informal), and what further measures if any are needed;
- What matters should be for the research/academic community to deal with, and which for Government.
Contract cheating – WonkHE reported on the difficulties in preventing cheating with the rise in companies offering one-off essays and dissertations. The BBC (May 2016) ran an article about a commercial essay writer motivated by revenge for believed racial discrimination and noted five methods universities can undertake to tackle plagiarism. Lord Storey is leading the campaign for a proposed amendment within the HE and Research Bill which aims to make providing or advertising cheating services an offence, focussing on ‘unfair disadvantage’. The Australian Government currently have a national project reporting in 2018 that aims to stamp out ‘contract cheating’. Finally a THE article explains ta new law may only have a deterrent effect; countries with contract cheating laws do not in practice have many successful prosecutions.
Digital skills crisis – The Government have published their response to the Science and Technology Select Committee’s special report on the digital skills crisis within industry and teaching capacity within schools – it lists a number of areas that need focus: cyber-security, big data, the Internet of Things, mobile technology and e-commerce. There is a focus on degree apprenticeships, immigration and the Shadbolt and Wakeham Reviews of relevant degree provision.
Fees: the Government published a Statutory Instrument that allows institutions to increase tuition fees by inflation, this came into effect on 6 January 2017. This enables the first year of the TEF related fee increases – all institutions which have been designated as meeting expectations in year 1 of the TEF can now increase fees by inflation in September 2017. Some institutions have announced their intention to apply this to all students – including existing students – but BU will only change fees for new students. You can read more about the process and background to this on the intranet. The change went through as a formality – there is already legislation in place – but there are still amendments to be debated in the Higher Education and Research Bill seeking to break this link.
PM’s Brexit speech: If you missed this, the main points of the PM’s speech this week are below. Universities and research received a high number of positive mentions, which is encouraging:
- Leaving the single market and the customs union
- Not using any other existing model
- But would like a deal on customs tariffs and access to the single market
- MPs and peers will get a vote on final deal
- Not making huge contributions to the EU but may pay something to have access to the single market
- EU citizens welcome here but no guarantee – needs to be reciprocal
- Warm words about universities – hope for deal on participation in science and research
Industrial strategy – A Green Paper is expected around 23 January on the Government’s industrial strategy. Meanwhile Labour’s Industrial Strategy Consultation closes on 16 February.
New DLHE – Dan Cook writes for WonkHE on the new DLHE describing a centralised model aiming to achieve high response rates, allow for continuation of post-graduation support to alumni from HEIs, and exploring a dashboard so institutions have near-real time interaction with their data.
Widening Participation and Outreach–
- HEFCE have published a resource pool covering a wide range of outreach initiatives all of which were funded by the National Networks for Collaborative Outreach.
- Maddalaine Ansell has written about the schools policy for Wonkhe. We are waiting for the government response to the recent schools consultation -read more here.
HESA 2015/16 staff data was released on 19th January.
- 49% (98,620) of academic staff are teaching and research
- 26% (52,590) teaching only
- 24% (48,645) research only
- 66% of academic staff were on permanent contract.
- 4% of academic staff were known to have a disability
- 15% of academic staff were BME (not knowns excluded)
Nationality of academic staff:
- 70% UK (139,910)
- 17% (33,735) EU (non-UK)
- 12% (24,535) non-EU (presumably international)
(Atypical contracts and not knowns account for the percentages not totalling 100%)
This ties in with feedback comments from yesterday in a different group of trainees. In Sunday’s training, one ANM answered when asked about stress at work, that she finds it stressful that a room falls silent when a baby girl is born. She commented that this happens when the family is obviously hoping for a boy. She added that at the very moment a baby girl is born, the family immediately falls silent. She said that this is a great source of stress to her as a health worker.
Coincidently next door to the training venue in Nawalparasi a Hindu wedding has been taking place today. This colourful spectacle represents different roles and expectations of men and women, the bride and the groom, but also the other guests here in Nepal. Weddings everywhere are ceremonies that reflect society. Seeing the wedding from close by and listening to the ANMs over these last two days, we reflected at the end of today that these ANMs are acting bravely in raising such a culturally sensitive issue in their practice, in this largely patriarchal rural society.
Flora Douglas & Edwin van Teijlingen
Yesterday we come down from Kathmandu, the capital of Nepal, to our THET training area in Nawalparasi. Today we are starting our sixth and last training session on the Mental health training for community-based maternity care providers. Interesting we are starting training on a Sunday as Nepal is largely a Hindu country and most workers have only a one-day weekend (which is the Saturday). This BU-led project is a collaboration between the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH), Tribhuvan University (Nepal’s oldest university) and Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU). The project receives funding from DFID, and is managed through THET and supported locally in Nepal by a charity Green Tara Nepal.
The landscape in the photo gives an idea of how rural this part of Nepal is. Nawalparasi is situated in the south of Nepal the India border. It is also largely very flat, not like the Nepal most people envisage namely that of the Himalayans and of Mount Everest. The flatness makes a Dutchman feel at home though.
The project depends on volunteers who work in the health sector in the UK to come out and spend their time and energy preparing and delivering the training. Our project also could not work without the logistical support from Green Tara Nepal and our academic colleagues at Tribhuvan University. The last photo shows one of the UK volunteers Dr. Flora Douglas with the translator Shiwani Manandhar on the way to the training venue.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen (from Nepal)
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).