Last week Sacha Gardener reported on this BU Research Blog on the publication of our most recent article ‘Why suicide rates among pregnant women in Nepal are rising’ in The Conversation. Since then we have been informed that this piece was reproduced in two Indian independent online newspapers, last week in The Wire and today in Scroll.in (India’s leading independent source of news, analysis and culture). Scroll.in used the heading ‘A project is training midwives in Nepal to stem rising suicides of pregnant women’, whist The Wire used the title ‘Why Suicide Rates Among Pregnant Women in Nepal Are on the Rise’. Suicide in pregnant women and soon after birth is an important issue in both Nepal and India. Just for completeness the original article, written by BU’s Visiting Faculty Dr. Bibha Simkhada and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen based in BU’s Centre for Midwifery, Maternal and Perinatal health (CMMPH), can be found here!
Category / Knowledge Exchange
Association for Psychosocial Studies Biennial Conference
Bournemouth University, 5th-7th April 2018
‘Psychosocial Reflections on a Half Century of Cultural Revolution’
A half century after the hippie counterculture of 1967 (‘the summer of love’) and the political turbulence of 1968 (‘May 68’), one aim of this conference is to stage a psychosocial examination of the ways in which today’s world is shaped by the forces symbolised by those two moments. It will explore the continuing influence of the deep social, cultural and political changes in the West, which crystallised in the events of these two years. The cultural forces and the political movements of that time aimed to change the world, and did so, though not in the ways that many of their participants expected. Their complex, multivalent legacy of ‘liberation’ is still developing and profoundly shapes the globalising world today, in the contests between what is called neo-liberalism, resurgent fundamentalisms, environmentalism, individualism, nationalisms, and the proliferation of identity politics.
A counter-cultural and identity-based ethos now dominates much of consumer culture, and is reflected in the recent development of some populist and protest politics. A libertarian critique of politics, once at the far margins, now informs popular attitudes towards many aspects of democratic governance; revolutionary critiques have become mainstream clichés. Hedonic themes suffuse everyday life, while self-reflection and emotional literacy have also become prominent values, linked to more positive orientations towards human diversity and the international community.
The programme is now available on the conference website:
There are five keynotes and eighty papers, with presenters from all continents, as well as a number of experiential workshops. As well as examining the main theme of societal change, there is an open stream of papers on a wide range of topics. Methods of psychosocial inquiry are applicable to most topics. As an academic community, the psychosocial is a broad church defined only by a commitment to exploring and linking the internal and external worlds – the deeply personal and the equally deeply societal as sources of experience and action.
BU colleagues can attend the whole conference at the hugely discounted rate of £40, or £25 per day.
On Thursday BU will host Sam Gyimah, the Minister for Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation, for a question and answer event. This is an amazing opportunity for students and staff to directly question the Minister on HE and wider political matters.
This event forms part of Sam’s tour to a handful of universities. Entry to the event is by (free) ticket only. At the time of blogging approximately 50 tickets were still available.
Click here to book your ticket and for more details go to.
The event is being held in KG01 on the Talbot Campus on Thursday 15 March from 17:45-19:30.
Nibbles and refreshments will be available at the end of the event.
Tweeting and sharing on social media is encouraged!
Every year, the Research & Knowledge Exchange Office, along with internal and external delivery partners, runs over 150 events to support researcher development through the Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Framework (RKEDF).
Responding to your feedback and by popular request, below are the main events coming up over the next two months – please click on the event titles that are of interest to find out more and reserve your place as soon as possible:
Wednesday 21st March – Applying for an NIHR Fellowship Event (N.B. This event welcomes non-BU attendees)
Thursday 22nd March – NVivo Part One – Building your database (limited spaces)
Wednesday 4th April – BRIAN, Open Access and the Impact Module
Wednesday 4th April – International Funding – Working with Countries in South Asia
Thursday 5th April – The BU Protocol of Academics Engaging with Business
Wednesday 11th April – STEAMlab 3: Industrial Challenges (N.B. This event welcomes non-BU attendees)
11th, 12th & 13th April – Writing Academy
Tuesday 17th April – Research Ethics @ BU
Wednesday 18th April – Open data and the need for research data management plans, Getting started on applying for research funding, Pre-award finances, BU processes for applying for funding and Quality approvals at BU
Thursday 19th April – International Funding – Working with ASEAN countries
23rd & 24th April – An Introduction to Statistic Anaylsis with SPSS (Intermediate Session)
25th & 26th April – MSCA IF bid writing retreat – 2 days
Wednesday 2nd May – Introduction to the Royal Academy of Engineering – Visit
Wednesday 2nd May – EU funding outside Horizon 2020
Tuesday 8th May – Grants Workshop & Follow-up Bid Writing Retreat Day 2 of 2
Wednesday 9th May – Wellcome Trust- Visit
Wednesday 9th May – KTPs – an introduction
Monday 14th May – Fellowship Interview Training – Royal Academy of Engineering
Wednesday 16th May – Applying for funding from NIHR – an Overview of the Schemes Available (N.B. This event welcomes non-BU attendees)
Wednesday 16th May – Introducing and Evidencing Research Impact: the Basics
Thursday 17th May – Engaging with policy makers
Tuesday 22nd May – Writing Academy – Writing Day
Wednesday 23rd May – What is the Research Excellence Framework?
Professor Jens Holscher gave another interview to the Express on Brexit and the European Court of Justice:
The Catapult centres are a network of world-leading centres designed to help transform the UK’s capability for innovation in specific areas and drive future economic growth. To find out more, please visit this link.
To encourage increase in the connections between the UK research base and the Catapults, RCUK is supporting the development of new collaborations through research visits/ residencies for university (and other eligible research organisations) academics to spend time embedded within the Catapult teams through the Catapult Researchers in Residence (RiR) Awards. Please see a summary below of what this scheme offers:
- Accelerate the impact of RC-funded research
- Increase knowledge exchange and co-creation between academia and Catapult centres
- Develop new collaborations between academia and Catapult centres
- Expand the capabilities and knowledge of the Catapults
- Nurturing talents and skills development of researchers and Catapult staff
- Create a cohort of RiRs able to share their experiences with a wider network of academics.
- value of up to £50k (100% FEC); flexibly spread between one and four years.
- Funding awarded directly to the host university and not the Catapult.
- Funding to cover the salary costs for the visit of each RiR, travel and subsistence costs, and any consumables used at the Catapult.
The programme will run until March 2023, with two RiRs announcements of opportunity each year, with the last RiR opportunity announced in January 2019.
Current closing deadline is 23 March 2018; 5pm.
- applicants must be employees of eligible organisation; must be resident in the UK
- EPSRC eligibility criteria apply
The British Ambassador to Nepal Richard Morris hosted the launch of a report of a market study of Nepal’s education sector today (28th February) in his Kathmandu Residence. The report was commissioned to help support UK service providers who are looking for education opportunities in Nepal. The Ambassador invited Bournemouth University’s Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen to highlight the UK’s expertise in research, as well as to share his own experience in UK-Nepal partnerships/ collaborations in education.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen is Visiting Professor at colleges in Nepal: (1) Nobel College, affiliated with Pokhara University; and (2) Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences, affiliated with Tribhuvan University.
This morning we disseminated the findings of an evidence synthesis on ‘Effectiveness of community engagement and participation approaches in low and middle income countries’ in the Himalayan Hotel in Kathmandu. The study was designed to identify, analyse and summarise the findings of existing systematic reviews that have examined the effectiveness of community engagement/participation approaches in improving health, service delivery and sustainability outcomes. Therefore the overarching research question was: “How effective are community engagement/participation approaches for delivering better health outcomes, improving service delivery and sustaining benefits?”
Systematic Review of Reviews included 31 systematic reviews which examined community engagement/participation approaches in improving health (maternal and child health, infectious or communicable diseases, ‘other’ disease areas), service delivery and sustainability outcomes. There was wide variation in the aims and objectives, and methods of analysis across the included systematic reviews. In part this reflected a lack of a standard definition or terminology in how community engagement and participation approaches were described or characterised. The overall strength of the systematic review-level evidence has been categorised as of limited or moderate, however many systematic reviews reported consistent findings.
Community engagement and participation approaches continue to be viewed as important, particularly in LMICs. The general trend in the evidence identified suggests that community engagement and participation approaches have played a role in successful intervention delivery across health system domains and areas of health. However the extent to which community ownership and empowerment is achieved greatly impacts on the sustainability of these approaches and our evidence draws out some key factors for consideration in the delivery of successful community engagement and participation.
The study was led by Prof. Padam Simkhada from Liverpool John Moores University with support from staff based at the University of Liverpool, Bournemouth University and Green Tara Nepal. The study was commissioned and funded by the Research and Evidence Division in the Department for International Development. The forthcoming report has been funded by UK aid from the UK Government.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Both the Saturday and the Sunday edition of The Kathmandu Post carried articles on the International Conference on Education in a Federal Nepal. The coverage of this two-day conference (which ran on Friday and yesterday) included Prof. Stephen Tee’s keynote speech and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen reporting on research findings of an education study amongst health educators in Nepal, as well as FHSS’s Visiting Faculty, Prof. Padam Simkhada (based at Liverpool John Moores University). The conference organised by HISSAN and supported by 16 education partners including Bournemouth University, Liverpool John Moores University and The University of Utah (USA) was attended by some 400 delegates.
The two-day International Conference on Quality Education in Federal Nepal has just started in Kathmandu. Prof. Stephen Tee, executive dean of FMC and FMSS is one of the invited guests giving a short opening address. He spoke after the organisers had shown Prof. John Vinney’s recorded supporting message from Bournemouth University. Steve was part of the plenary session with the theme ‘Quality in Higher Education’.
This international conference has already attracted national media attention as the pre-conference press conference was reported in The Kathmandu Post today (click here to read news story).
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Bournemouth University leads the Kosovo-strand of a major four-year AHRC ‘Global Challenges’ project titled ‘Changing the Story‘. This project aims at supporting the building of inclusive civil societies (CSOs) with, and for, young people in five post-conflict countries. It asks how the arts, heritage, and human rights education can support youth-centred approaches to civil society building in Cambodia, Colombia, Kosovo, Rwanda and South Africa. The Kosovo strand benefits from an established track record of collaboration with University of Prishtina (Co-I) and Stacion: Centre for Contemporary Arts in Prishtina as well as several arts-based civil society organisations in the country. The BU-led strand focuses on formal and informal civic education through the arts in Kosovo, to be explored locally by a Postgraduate Research Assistant, attached to University of Prishtina, through a critical review and proof of concept exercise during the first year. In support, BU is contributing a fully-funded PhD scholarship under the title ‘Imagining New Futures: Engaging Young People Through Participatory Arts in Post-Conflict Kosovo‘, which is currently being advertised.
International collaborative activities commenced last week in collaboration with an internationally-acclaimed CSO partner in Dorset, devoted to developing global youth citizenship through culture and the arts. The award-winning Complete Freedom of Truth project (TCFT), with which BU collaborated already previously, kindly offered a one-week residency to Albert Heta, Director of Stacion: Centre for Contemporary Arts in Prishtina. This residency brought together a group of artists, workshop leaders and young people from across the UK between February 12 and 16 in Bridport. Albert’s visit from Kosovo was funded by the AHRC and facilitated by BU’s new Research Centre ‘Seldom Heard-Voices: Marginalisation and Society Integration’ of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences (FHSS). Together with Albert, some of the Centre’s members also participates in the events organised by TCFT, exchanged experiences and discussed best practice of working with young people of various background through the arts towards social justice. TCFT has a long history of working with young people, internationally, starting in post-conflict Srebrenica in 2008. Based on our observations during one week in Dorset, including of the issues selected as important by the young UK-participants during this period, we are currently reflecting on the extent to, and ways in, which arts-based interventions with a given set of young people in one specific socio-cultural context and its underpinning conceptualisations (such as of empowerment or vulnerability of, and pressures on, young people) can or cannot be transferred to another, such as that in which young people in Kosovo negotiate their aspirations.
Photo credit below: Robert Golden
British Federation of Women Graduates: Research Presentations Day
Saturday May 12th 2018 (10.30am – 4.00pm)
At BFWG HQ: 4 Mandeville Courtyard, 142 Battersea Park Road, London SW11 4NB
Are you a postgraduate woman student? Do you have research you would like to present to a discerning audience – and have the chance of winning a small prize of £120 for the best presentation to a general audience? Or would you like to join with us just to listen to other postgraduate women students presenting their research? The British Federation of Women Graduates Research Presentations Day (RPD) offers these opportunities. Past attendees, both presenters and audience, have found the Day thoroughly enjoyable and helpful in developing presentation skills.
If you think you would like to submit an abstract please go to the following webpages www.bfwg.org.uk where you can find more details and an abstract form. Closing date for applications is Saturday March 24th 2018.
All, postgraduates and anyone else interested (male or female), are welcome to attend as audience. Bona fide students (UG or PG) come free. For others there is a charge of £10. A sandwich lunch is included. For further information or to express interest in attending, please contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Two Bournemouth University students, Grace Connors and Emily Rogers, have presented their undergraduate research to MPs and policy makers at the annual ‘Posters in Parliament’ event.
Around 40 students from across the UK are given the opportunity to share their research in Parliament each spring. The exhibition allows MPs and policy makers to learn more about the innovative undergraduate research taking place across the country. It’s also an excellent opportunity for current undergraduates and recent graduates to hone their presentation skills as they share their work with lay audiences.
Grace Connors, a BA English student from the Faculty of Media & Communication, presented her research into BBC drama The Fall which explored the representation of women in crime dramas.
“I looked at the way female characters were treated in The Fall¸ and whether or not it impacts on the way that real women are treated,” explains Grace, “I’ve always been interested female characters and the way they’re portrayed.”
“The Fall is often described as being a feminist or woman-led show, despite the fact it has numerous poorly treated female characters. I wanted to see if there was a link between poor treatment of women in a ‘feminist’ programme and how women are treated in reality. Through my research, I found that the prevalence of negative treatment towards women often leads to people no longer finding this kind of behaviour taboo.”
Emily Rogers, a BSc Nutrition student from the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, shared her research into boosting fruit and vegetable consumption of school-aged children and their parents. Previous research has suggested that family meals can help to improve dietary intake, so Emily decided to see if meal time frequency could help to boost a family’s fruit and vegetable consumption.
“I chose to work with children aged 9 – 11 years old and their parents, as statistics showed that by the time children reach 10 – 11 years old one third are overweight or obese. 63% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese too, so I wanted to see if good eating habits were being shared throughout families,” says Emily.
“I sent out over 200 questionnaires to parents of year 5 and 6 children at Christchurch Junior School. To encourage a high response rate, I gave children the opportunity to win a couple of hampers filled with prizes designed to help them get more involved in food production and preparation: gardening tools, seeds and cooking utensils, as examples.”
“My research showed that there was a positive link between family meal times and an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption for both children and adults,” continues Emily, “Children had more opportunities to eat healthily and adults, perhaps because they were modelling good eating practices for their children, also improved their diets.”
“I was inspired to submit my research to SURE, BU’s undergraduate research conference, and Posters in Parliament by my lecturer, Dr Fotini Tsofliou. She has always been extremely supportive, and I can’t wait to use both opportunities to inspire others and help to create healthier communities.”
More information about BU’s undergraduate research conference can be found on the SURE website. Staff and students are welcome to attend the conference on 7 March and can book free tickets via Eventbrite.
In June of this year, Dr Luciana Esteves will be running a Researcher Links workshop, funded by the British Council, in South Africa. The workshop will support Early Career Researchers with an interest in the sustainable management of coasts and estuaries to network, increase their knowledge and develop potential collaborations for future research.
Coastal and estuarine ecosystems worldwide are under pressure from population growth, urbanisation and other land-based and marine activities. In the UK and South Africa, coastal areas greatly contribute to the local and national economy by supporting key urban centres and industries. Climate change tends to exacerbate existing problems, including but not limited to flooding, erosion, water quality and resource availability, which can have implications on environmental quality, food production, water supply and human health.Ecosystem-based management (EBM) has emerged as an integrated approach for the sustainable management of the trade-offs between socioeconomic development and nature conservation. EBM requires a transdisciplinary understanding of the natural system, nature-human interactions, and how they change through time.
The workshop will bring together researchers from South Africa and the UK to discuss how they can collaborate to support EBM through the development of long-lasting UK-SA collaboration and government-research partnerships. The workshop aims to attract researchers from the social and natural sciences to create the required combination of expertise to co-construct, advance and share knowledge to support estuarine and coastal EBM. The integration of scientific and practical knowledge will be facilitated by the participation of NGOs and government practitioners.
The workshop is currently open for applications. Early Career Researchers from the UK and South Africa are invited to apply by 16 March 2018. Further information about the workshop, eligibility criteria and how to apply can be found here.
Listening to the past can be a confusing experience. The voices of previous generations, sometimes captured on low quality recording machines, speak of different ages; pre-war, post-war, cold war, the sixties and beyond. The digital revolution has made that listening increasingly possible and we can now hear stories told by Virginia Woolf, J. B. Priestley, Samuel Beckett and others which require us to makes sense of historic radio and its treasures.
In this lecture, Professor Hugh Chignell will draw on twenty years of listening to the past, including radio talks, news and features but especially radio dramas. The lecture will be presented as a journey into the radio archive and into a different culture where telling stories in sound was a far more experimental and adventurous activity. The lecture will be a combination of words from your guide and extracts from archived radio which inevitably will be both challenging and beguiling.
Hugh Chignell is Professor of Media History and Director of the Centre for Media History at Bournemouth University. His research has focused on historic radio including both factual content and radio drama. He has published books and articles on the history of radio news and current affairs as well as on British radio drama and is currently writing a history of post-war British radio drama which will be published in early 2019. Professor Chignell chairs the UK Radio Archives Advisory Committee and sits on other advisory boards at the British Library concerned with our audio heritage.
You can book your free ticket here.
Fees, funding and the HE review
Sam Gyimah responded to a parliamentary question quashing the notion that UK students might be able to access student loans to study in international destinations.
THAT interview: Greening on maintenance grants & fees
Justine Greening (former Secretary of State for Education) made big news this week during her interview on the Today programme on Monday. This was her first interview since leaving the Cabinet. Reporting of the interview implies she criticised Government policy, primarily the abolition of maintenance grants, and failed to deny she was sacked from Cabinet because she blocked the HE major review. Read this short Guardian live blog for the salient quotes from Greening’s interview to decide for yourself how critical she really was.
Meanwhile Research Professional (RP) interpret Justine’s thoughts on fees as proposing ‘a mostly unnoticed alternative way to fund universities’, culminating in a thought provoking article on fees: A third way. RP report that Justine felt the government should move away from talking about loans to selling the idea of “time-limited graduate contributions” a phrase first coined by Martin Lewis (MoneySavingExpert.com). RP report that Greening went on: we need to have a student finance system that is progressive”, and that money raised from TLGC [time-limited graduate contributions] should be ring-fenced and put into a higher education fund “so that graduates today know that their contribution is helping to pay for students to get the same opportunities they had at university”.
She also suggested that employers could contribute to such a fund and that all graduates should pay into it for the entire 30 years. In this way, better-off students would not be able to have their fees paid upfront or repay their loans early as a consequence of large salaries. RP go on to debate how this resembles a graduate tax and the problems associated with a graduate tax scheme, including:
- The proposal also seems to abandon several of the principles that underpin the funding system. Student loans are not a form of taxation because they are attached to named individuals, are related to the amount borrowed, are subject to interest rates and can be sold to third parties.
- Importantly, taxation should be progressive. There is a small difference in the interest rate charged to graduates earning more than £41,000, but there is no difference in the percentage of earnings that graduates repay—9 per cent—across the pay range.
Returning to social mobility and the maintenance grants RP write:
- Greening, as an avowed champion of social mobility, offered her proposal as a way of removing the fear of debt as a barrier to participation. A higher education fund would be accompanied, in Greening’s mind, by maintenance grants for disadvantaged students, presumably paid for by the fund. In this respect, that part of the proposal begins to look a lot like a return to means-tested grants with a parental contribution.
- It is interesting that the former education secretary, who approved the politically unacceptable policy of index-linked rises in the fee level, should end up advocating a policy that is really neither one thing nor the other. It is a move away from the loan system but not an embrace of the direct taxation that underpins Labour’s offer to abolish fees. It is, if you will, a third way.
- Prime minister Theresa May’s primary concern is the perceived value for money of a university education. Selling TLGC on the doorstep as retail politics would involve a considerable gearshift away from one idea of the value of higher education towards another.
Wonkhe picked up on another element of the Greening interview: there were suggestions that some in government were pushing for variable fees by subject – Greening cautioned that this could encourage students from lower income backgrounds into non-STEM degrees.
Later on Sam Gyimah (Universities Minister) took part in the Today programme, to describe how living costs and value for money are of great concern to current students. Wonkhe report that he admitted that no change would be made by the next academic year (it would not be “credible” to do so), but was clear the review would have an independent element. There was the implication that fees would remain frozen until this was complete (as per Theresa May’s comments). See below for the OfS research into value for money launched last week.
Angela Rayner (Labour), Shadow Sec of State for Education) capitalised on Justine’s interview asking an oral parliamentary question:
Q – The Secretary of State’s predecessor this morning admitted that they were wrong to abolish maintenance grants, that the student finance system is regressive, that variable fees will punish the poorest and that their review is intended to kick the issue into the long grass, rather than make decisions. Apart from that, she is very supportive. But she is right, is she not?
A – Damian Hinds (Conservative, Sec of State for Education): We have a system of higher education finance in this country that means unprecedented levels of disadvantaged people can go to university and our universities are properly funded. In October the Prime Minister said that we would be taking quick action, raising the threshold for repayment and freezing the top fees for the next academic year. It is also right that we have a full review, looking at all aspects of value for money for young people and others going to university, and at the alternatives to university, such as taking a degree apprenticeship, as we discussed earlier.
Office for Students
The Office for Students confirmed they will run the TEF this year (as per timing and specifications already established by HEFCE). Chris Husbands (VC Sheffield Hallam) will remain as TEF Panel Chair (confirmed until August 2021).
Last week the OfS launched research into student perceptions of value for money. They state it will take forward its legal responsibilities to promote value for money. The research will cover:
- Fees and charges
- What students identify as value (services and opportunities)
- Immediate concerns around value for money
- Cross subsidisation
- Provider transparency
Nicola Dandridge (Chief Executive of OfS) said: “This important research will be invaluable in understanding more about what value for money means for students. The OfS has a duty to promote value for money and it has been clear from my visits to students’ unions that these issues provoke significant discussion. This research will allow us to deepen our understanding of this important issue, and prepare the ground for future inquiry.”
Data and Quality – designated bodies: Following the OfS Regulatory consultations (December) DfE have confirmed that HESA (data) and the QAA (quality) were the only applicants for the designated bodies and the sector response was virtually unanimous in support for the two bodies to be reappointed. The OfS will consider the sector’s response in their recommendation DfE which a final decision on their appointment due in late March.
In the Lords there was question on safeguarding against plagiarism within alternative providers:
Q – Lord Storey: Whether there is clear guidance on the use of the plagiarism checker technology Turnitin by those universities that validate degrees from private and independent colleges.
A – Viscount Younger Of Leckie:
- Higher education providers, as autonomous organisations, are responsible for handling matters of this nature, including developing and implementing policies to detect and discourage plagiarism.
- Although the government does not provide guidance on, or advocate the use of, plagiarism software to help providers tackle the issue of plagiarism, we asked the Quality Assurance Agency, Universities UK and the National Union of Students to produce new guidance, which was published in October 2017.
- This guidance is the first set of comprehensive advice for providers and students on the subject. It makes clear that where providers are working with others to deliver programmes, such as through validation, care should be taken to ensure that partner organisations are taking the risks of academic misconduct seriously. Providers are also encouraged to consider steps to scrutinise potential partners’ processes and regulations when developing validation arrangements. This is in line with the wider expectations set out in the UK Quality Code for Higher Education, which all providers must meet. This establishes the fundamental principle that degree awarding bodies have ultimate responsibility for academic standards and the quality of learning opportunities, regardless of where these opportunities are delivered and who provides them.
- Going forward I expect the Office for Students to encourage and support the sector to implement strong policies and sanctions to address this important issue in the most robust way possible.
Within the Lords there was a question on nurse training:
Q – Baroness Neville-Rolfe: Whether they have any evidence that difficulties in recruiting UK nationals as nurses reflect changes in the UK’s higher education system in recent years.
A – Viscount Younger Of Leckie:
- Until 1 August 2017, nursing, midwifery and allied health profession students had their training costs largely borne by the NHS, and this was not affected by changes to the wider higher education system.
- From 1 August 2017, most new undergraduate healthcare students receive tuition fee loans and, for full-time courses, living costs support, administered by the Student Loans Company. The former Department of Health also confirmed that it would fund up to an additional 10,000 clinical placements to support this expansion. These students are in their first year of university study.
- These reforms to healthcare student funding will help secure the future supply of nurses to the NHS by removing the artificial cap on training numbers in these professions, and enabling thousands of additional UK applicants to gain a place to study nursing at university.
Locally, Richard Drax (Conservative, South Dorset) used PM question time to ask the Government to improve rail links within South Dorset.
UK-China Education Deals
The Prime Minister announced UK-China education deals on Wednesday. The package consists of exchange deals, partnerships and commercial contracts from pre-school to post-graduation. She said: “The close ties between the UK and China are reflected in our relationship on education. More than 150,000 Chinese students study at the UK’s world-leading institutions and make a significant contribution to our academic life.”
It’s well known that Chinese students are the largest group of overseas students within UK education. The Government notes that 9,000 young British are studying/interns in China (a 60% increase since 2013). The deal was reported in Professionals in International Education who cite HESA data to remind of the stagnation in HE international students studying in the UK over recent years. The HE sector has long been calling on Government to paint a more welcoming picture to overseas prospective students. However, so far Theresa May has stood firmly behind her plans to include students within the net migration targets. Could this be part of a softer, more welcoming, approach without her losing face over the target battleground (yet)?
- The UK-China Maths Teacher Exchange for primary schools has been extended to 2020 (two week exchanges both ways). By 2023 the Government estimates 11,000 schools will have experienced the East-Asian style maths Teaching for Mastery programme.
- More study exchanges and information sharing on vocational education
- Promotion of English proficiency in China.
The bill for the education deals is in excess of £550 million and is expected to create 800 UK jobs.
At Prime Minister’s questions this week Daniel Zeichener (Labour) cited the value international students bring to the economy questioning why the PM’s policy continued to seek to reduce the number of international students. The Government responded that visa numbers were up since 2010.
In the House of Lords questions Lord Norton of Louth (Conservative) asked what plans the Government has to increase funding for promoting campaigns to encourage students in overseas countries to study in the UK.
Baroness Fairhead (Conservative) responded:
- The Study UK: Discover You (“Study UK”) campaign led by the British Council, aims to promote UK higher education, attract the brightest and best students to choose the UK and support UK universities in their international objectives. Study UK is a core component of the government’s GREAT Britain campaign (“GREAT”), which showcases the very best of what our whole nation has to offer in order to encourage the world to visit, study and do business with the UK.
- Study UK uses digital and face to face activity in key markets to promote the quality and distinctiveness of the UK education offer in the highly competitive international market for globally mobile students. The campaign also promotes the success of international alumni of British universities in their countries and promotes other forms of UK study – for instance, by encouraging international students to study online courses provided by UK universities.
- Activity to encouraged overseas students to study UK courses on the online FutureLearn platform led to over 100,000 extra enrolments by overseas students on MOOCs (“Massive Open Online Courses”) provided by UK universities in 2016/17. Students enrolled from 124 different countries. This year, the programme has driven more than 60,000 such new enrolments to date.
Lord Luce asked whether the purpose of the Commonwealth Education Ministers meeting would strengthen commonwealth cooperation between universities and schools for the benefit of young people.
Lord Agnew of Oulton responded: The purpose of the Conference is to strengthen cooperation across the Commonwealth for the benefit of young people of all ages. A key objective of this year’s conference is to address and define mechanisms through which education systems across the Commonwealth can enable sustainable development, and address major global challenges, such as climate change. This is a topic, which is of importance to young people across all member states.
Finally Chris Law (SNP) raised the reintroduction of the post-study work visa and asked if Scotland could tailor its own immigration policy for students.
Sam Gyimah (Conservative, HE Minister) responded: a lot of work is being done on international students by the Migration Advisory Committee. I am happy to consider the issue of Scottish visas specifically and come back to him on it.
Brexit – Policy Exchange have published Immigration After Brexit – What should post-Brexit immigration policy look like? They argue for a system limiting low skilled EU immigration but with more generous terms for high skilled professionals. There should be a customised “light touch” work permit system for EU professionals and — as Britain weans itself off low skilled migration — there should be priority for low skilled workers ready to work antisocial hours, thereby acting more as complements than direct competitors to the British workforce.
Brexit effect on the 2017 General Election – Kings College London has produced Voting in the 2017 general election: a Brexit election. A quick read for those interested in the voting surprises of the 2017 general election. The blog notes the slight tendency of those with degrees to vote Labour over Conservative. The article concludes:
- Even a year after the referendum, the BES found no sign of a decline in the ‘very strong’ sense of identification with Leave and Remain camps, which are substantially more important to voters than their party identities… so when problems arise, and they will as the Brexit negotiations progress, we can expect to see voters once again switching to parties that best represent their views on Brexit.
You can read BU’s response to the Migration Advisory Committee on International Students – economic and social benefits
Driving Innovation – an Asian perspective
HEPI have published Major shifts in global HE: A perspective from Asia. It discusses the rapid shifts in Asian HE (massification, rise of liberal arts, research importance, and graduate under-employment). Eastwood (VC, Birmingham) states: Asian universities have changed the paradigm for developing a university. Many have achieved a standing, a stature and a maturity much more rapidly than had previously been thought possible. This…includes challenges that are very familiar to us: challenges of making our universities fit, not just for tomorrow, but for a generation of students who are going to live and work differently. Universities are going to have touchpoints with their graduates over a much longer period of their lives than traditionally has been the case. Professor Tan’s Lecture includes some challenging questions for us in the UK. It shows our present debate on higher education has become too narrow and is in danger of becoming quite old fashioned.
On driving innovation the report says:
- As we all know, universities have substantial talent and research strengths. Through the mechanisms of commercialisation of intellectual property, start-ups, spin-offs and industry collaborations, universities contribute to the formation of new enterprises and the creation of new services and innovations. Universities can attract and boost industries and, in some cases, anchor industry clusters. This all contributes to the growth of national and in some cases global innovation systems. Humanities colleagues also contribute to addressing social and global challenges. They contribute to public understanding of issues and policy innovations that lead to societal advancement.
- Traditionally, there are three fundamental mismatches that impede close collaborations between universities and industry in R&D, namely in time frames, incentives and culture. The time frame of academics tends to be indefinite whereas industry is much more focused on doing things quickly. Academics like to publish papers; industry is largely concerned about commercial outcomes and profits. In terms of culture, again, our academic colleagues like the freedom to explore and to pursue long-term research, while industry is often about timelines, schedules and deliverables. In the same way, these traditional mismatches that impede university / industry partnerships in R&D, also affect the ability of universities to start up and spin off companies. But the landscape is changing, because industry players are adopting open innovation approaches and strategies when working with universities, to identify and recruit new talent through universities and to in-source intellectual property from universities. At the same time, in response to this, many more universities are embracing innovation and enterprise as core parts of their mission.
- What we have seen in recent years is that in certain fields – such as artificial intelligence (AI), computer science and data analytics – there are marked reductions in the time and barriers to move from a high quality basic research discovery to its high-impact application and commercialisation. So it is possible for universities to excel in basic research and create impact through its translation. As a result, more universities are moving into these areas because they represent a sweet spot between academic value and translational value. That means a higher quality of academic research and greater translational impact.
- While China has been rapidly increasing its investments in R&D, much of that investment has been spent in more applied research. [The new]…long-term strategic view of R&D is impressive. In some areas, like artificial intelligence and data analytics, China is making massive investments, and also has access to huge amounts of data. In these areas, China could move straight into a situation where it is creating research of high academic value as well as commercial impact.
- In Asia, rapid growth creates excellent conditions for universities to develop the education, research and entrepreneurial programmes that ride on the new opportunities and also to offer solutions to some of the serious challenges that rapid economic growth creates.
The report goes on to discuss supporting students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset (read page 21 onwards).
Advance HE is the new name for all the sector organisations that have merged following the Bell Review. Wonkhe have produced a tree diagram which shows the predecessor organisations and their successors. Given its size it’s best viewed online.
Social Mobility League Table – A Wonkhe blogger discusses ranking social mobility as a method to incentivise better performance within universities. Andrew George (DVC, Brunel University) highlights that taking a broader range of students can cause a university to score lower in the traditional league table rankings. He argues that without including social mobility measures in league tables they will continue to reinforce social division. Recommendations of how this could occur and the benefits for diversity are discussed. The blog even mentions Bournemouth as within the top 10 for value added salaries 5 years after graduation.
PM Questions – The schools attainment gap between less and better off pupils was covered in PM questions this week. The Government responded that the 2011 reforms had improved school standards and the attainment gap has shrunk by 10% at GCSEs and Key stage 2.
HESA – WP data – HESA will release the UK performance indicators for widening participation at the end of the week. These will illustrate the proportion of UK-domiciled, full-time, first degree entrants from state schools and low-participation neighbourhoods at each HE provider.
The Sutton Trust, a social mobility organisation, has published Internships – unpaid, unadvertised, unfair. They state: For young people who cannot afford to work for free, and for those who do not have the networks with which to secure a placement informally, internships are acting as a barrier to the best careers – and to social mobility.
The Key findings (direct from the report):
- Even if transport costs are provided, our new analysis shows the minimum cost of carrying out an internship in London unpaid is £1,019 per month (or £827 in Manchester). This is higher than we estimated in our last report in 2014, largely as a result of rising rents and inflation.
- Although there has been some progress since our last report on the subject, organisations continue to offer internships which are unpaid, and offer internships without formally advertising them.
- Current research suggests that over 40% of young people who have carried out an internship have done at least one of them unpaid.
- The most recent government estimate is that there are 70,000 interns in the UK at any one time, although there is no newer estimate available than 2010. In 2017, 11,000 internships were found to be advertised online, but many more are likely to have been offered unadvertised.
- New Sutton Trust analysis of the most recent HESA data suggests that roughly 10,000 graduates are carrying out an internship at six months postgraduation, with 20% of them doing so unpaid.
- There are concerns that some employers are either unaware that their interns should be paid, or that some employers are exploiting the lack of clarity in the law to avoid paying their interns.
Recommendations (from the report)
- All internships longer than one month should be paid at least the national minimum wage
- Internship positions should be advertised publicly, rather than being filled informally.
- Recruitment processes should be fair, transparent and based on merit.
In the latter half of 2017 there was discussion of unpaid internships within the House of Lords. Currently Lord Holmes’ has launched a private members bill to limit unpaid work experience to four weeks in length. The Sutton Trust recommendations coincide with this.
There aren’t any new consultations and inquiries this week however you can read BU’s responses to
- Migration Advisory Committee on International Students – economic and social benefits
- Knowledge Exchange Framework
- Doctoral Education survey
Resilience toolkit: Unite Students and AMOSSHE (student services) launched a new resilience toolkit on Thursday for Student Services HE professionals aiming to improve resilience through emotional control, self-management and social factors in the student response to stresses, anxieties and the daily barriers they encounter.
Apprenticeships: FE Week announced 15 more universities are now registered as apprenticeship training providers (taking the total to over 100 universities). The article goes on to discuss the inspection arrangements but never explicitly makes clear whether all 100 universities are offering degree level apprenticeships.
Mental Health: Student minds have published What’s the role of academics in supporting students’ mental health? The shorter 2 page summary is here. HEPI also have a blog on the report.
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Prof. Stephen Tee, Professor of Nurse Education & National Teaching Fellow, has been invited to give a key note speech at an International Conference on CHALLENGES AND PROSPECTS OF QUALITY EDUCATION IN NEPAL IN FEDERALISM ERA in Kathmandu, the capital in Nepal.
This International Conference is organised by the Higher Institutions & Secondary Schools’ Association Nepal (HISSAN) in collaboration with 13 international universities including Bournemouth University. Members of the Conference Advisor Committee includes BU professors Vanora Hundley and Edwin van Teijlingen. Prof. Tee will be speaking about ‘What can Nepal learn from latest UK technology-enhanced teaching?’ He is in great position to speak about learning technology due to his dual role at BU as Executive Dean of the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences as well as Interim Executive Dean of the Faculty of Management, moreover with his role as Assistant Editor of Nurse Education Today.
Out with the old and in with the new…the cabinet reshuffle this week brings changes for HE. Goodbye to Jo Johnson as he departs from the Universities Minister role to become Minister of State for Transport and Minister for London. Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, reflects on Johnson’s legacy in the Times Higher, and Wonkhe present a more mixed picture in Jexit leaves a mixed legacy in HE.
Sam Gyimah has been appointed as Universities Minister. The role remains under both Department for Education (DfE) and Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. Sam has been a consistent front bencher within the Commons since 2010 in his role as PPS to the Prime Minister, since then he has undertaken roles as a party whip, within the cabinet office, childcare and education (DfE) and prison and probation (Ministry of Justice). Sam voted to remain in the European referendum (his interesting 2016 blog sets out his remain mind set and his identification with the “easyjet generation”) although he has stated he believe Britain will thrive outside of the EU. A party loyalist, Sam’s education voting record mirrors Government aims. He voted for greater autonomy for schools, establishing more academies and raising undergraduate tuition fees to £9,000. On the tuition fee cap its reported that originally Sam believed the HE system should change so fewer people went to university with grants or lower costs. However, he changed opinion deciding participation was the right way forward stating “we must therefore work out how we can continue to fund that” and voting with the fee rise. Gyimah was also involved in the filibustering to prevent the Opposition’s Compulsory Emergency First Aid Education Bill in 2015. Sam’s political interests are HE, small business and international development.
The title of the role appears to no longer include science, research and innovation. This may just be a product of short form reporting in the breaking news; the below tweet suggests he still expects the same responsibilities as Jo Johnson enjoyed, we’ll be watching closely to see how the job develops! A 2014 Independent interview with Sam describes his family background, state schooling, and struggles to pay rent whilst at Oxford. A Wonkhe article What’s in Sam Gyimah’s in-tray? speculates about the new Minister’s role within the sector.
Damian Hinds has been appointed as the Secretary of State for Education. His responsibilities cover the full Education remit from early years to HE, apprenticeships, skills and free schools. Damian has a background in social mobility; he previously chaired the APPG on social mobility and was a Member of the Education Select Committee (2010-12). Whilst chairing the APPG in 2012 the committee published Seven Key Truths about Social Mobility – the key messages of which still prevail today. Hinds is known to have criticised how social mobility has stalled within the UK. His political interests are welfare, affordable credit, social mobility, education and financial inclusion. Damian’s previous roles span defence, party whip, the Treasury (Exchequer Secretary, 2015-16), and Minster for State within the Dept for Work and Pensions 2016-18). Sam Gyimah reports to Damian. Hinds is a loyalist and has consistently voted with the Government on education reforms and believes in greater autonomy for schools and establishing more academies. He is a regular speaker within the Commons. He voted to raise the undergraduate tuition fee cap to £9,000 in 2010, he voted against reducing fees to £6,000 in 2012, and voted to end financial support (16-19 year olds in training/FE). In 2014 he led a debate calling on the Government to lift the faith cap preventing the Catholic Church from opening free schools. Interestingly he will now be responsible for the Government’s response to the consultation on lifting the cap. Damian attended a Catholic grammar school before studying his degree at Oxford. Damian campaigned to remain in the European referendum, stating while he saw good points on both sides it was important for economic growth to have more negotiating weight. His constituency is East Hampshire. He supported Theresa May in the Conservative leadership contest.
So the PM has two loyalists in control of the HE sector, already the speculation over the much heralded major review of HE has begun: – a succinct Times Higher article Reshuffle paves way for bold review of English HE funding concurred with this and speculated that the planned knowledge exchange framework may also be doomed?
DfE: The remainder of the DfE roles are: Nick Gibb, Anne Milton, Lord Theodore Agnew, Lord Nash, all of whom remain in post. They’ll be joined by previous backbencher Nadhim Zahawi as DfE Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State.
Education Secretary Justine Greening declined the offered post (Work and Pensions) and has departed from Government. She said: social mobility matters more than a ministerial career.
Strong and stable:
- Amber Rudd remains the Home Secretary, and will also be the Minister for Women and Equalities.
- Greg Clarke remains as Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). Greg is Sam Gyimah’s second boss.
- Michael Gove remains as the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs
- Penny Mordaunt remains as the Secretary of State for International Development
- Minister of State for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (DEFRA) remains as George Eustice
- Therese Coffey remains as Parliamentary Under-secretary of State for Environment and Rural Life Opportunities (DEFRA).
And also of interest:
- Conservative Vice Chair for Training and Development is James Morris (previously a backbencher working as PPS to Damian Green).
- The Minister of State for Immigration within the Home Office is now Caroline Nokes, and she will attend Cabinet.
- Minister of State for Digital and Culture (DCMS) is Margot James (previously Margot was Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State to the Minister for Small Business, Consumers, and Corporate Responsibility within BEIS).
- Changes to the Minister of State for Health (2 posts) are Caroline Dineage (previously focused on families) and Stephen Barclay (Treasury).
Locally: Tobias Ellwood (Bournemouth East) remains within the Ministry of Defence retaining his role as the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State (Defence, People and Veterans).
On the reshuffle PM Theresa May stated: [this reshuffle brings] fresh talent into government, boosting delivery in key policy areas like housing, health and social care, and ensuring the government looks more like the country it serves.
The reshuffle provides fresh opportunity for BU staff to engage with the parliamentarians now responsible for their expertise area to impact on policy. Contact the policy team if you need support to begin building relationships with parliamentarians.
Office for Students – Student Panel
The 13 strong OfS student panel members were announced on Monday (see below) with members drawn from under and postgraduate provision, part time study, an international student, a recent graduate, prospective students (at sixth form level and a GCSE student) and the NUS President. The OfS explain that the student panel will ensure the new regulator’s work “properly engages with, and is relevant to, students from all backgrounds…[acting as] a critical friend” by providing advice to the board and examining the regulator’s relationships with students. Research Professional inform that the Student Panel will also produce research on important issues affecting students. The student panel will first meet later in January. Research Professional
- Alice Richardson , 6th Form student from the North West of England
- Benjamin Hunt, President of King’s College London Students’ Union 2016-17
- Chad Allen, a PHD student at the University of Cambridge, and former President of the Cambridge University Graduate Union
- Lizzie Pace, a part-time mature student at Birkbeck, University of London, and a former soldier in the British Army.
- Luke Renwick, President of Sheffield Hallam Students’ Union
- Megan Dunn, Senior Policy Adviser at the Equality Challenge Unit and President of the Nation Union of Students in 2015-16
- Ruth Carlson, Civil Engineering student at the University of Surrey. Ruth has also joined the Board of the Office for Students on an interim basis.
- Shakira Martin, President of the National Union of Students
- Shraddha Chaudhary, international student, and President, Director and Chair of the Trustee Board at University of Exeter Students’ Guild
- Sinead Brown, GCSE student from London
- Stuart Cannell, a part-time postgraduate student at Manchester Metropolitan University and a Student Reviewer for the Quality Assurance Agency
- Xenia Levantis, President of Norwich University of the Arts Students’ Union
- Zahra Choudhry, Vice President of Education at University of West London Students’ Union
Panel member, Luke Renwick, stated that “given recent controversies, the OfS has a long way to go to instil faith that it will truly work ‘in the student’s interest’”.
OfS Board Membership
This week saw a barrage of parliamentary questions focused on Toby Young’s appointment to the OfS Board, several MPs were also outspoken in their opposition. An urgent oral parliamentary question by Dawn Butler (Labour) on Tuesday brought the issue to prominence and required Jo Johnson to defend Young’s appointment. Dawn began by quoting a past Justine Greening speech: “Violent, sexist and homophobic language must have no place in our society, and parliamentarians of all parties have a duty to stamp out this sort of behaviour wherever we encounter it, and condemn it in the strongest possible terms.” And concluded by stating: “I find it hard to comprehend the appointment; I believe that it leaves the credibility of the Office for Students in tatters.”
Johnson’s defence, while balanced, was met with continued challenge from across the house – on process, suitable and merit grounds. The criticism for Young turned into a mini debate including, criticising the tweets and Young’s “dark and dangerous…progressive eugenics” (Halfon, Conservative), questioning standards at Young’s free school (Powell, Labour/Co-op), querying the due diligence of the appointment panel (Jenkin, Conservative; and Diana Johnson, Labour), and the implication for Muslims (Khan).
Later that day Toby Young resigned from the OfS Board. On his resignation Sir Michael Barber (OfS Chair) stated: “Many of his previous tweets and articles were offensive… he was correct to say that his continuation in the role would have distracted from our important work.” You can also read the Guardian – Toby Young: how barrage of nudges made OfS position untenable which suggests the remaining OfS Board members were gathering forces and Vice-Chancellor pressure brought to bear on Nicola Dandridge through prior UUK connections. Toby has the final word on his resignation in The Spectator.
It will be interesting to see who replaces Young on the OfS Board, whether they will also be drawn from the alternative provider sector. Although after the controversy Young created on the first official day of the OfS I think we can expect the new appointment to have a squeaky clean background!
Read the Wonkhe article: A beginner’s guide to the Office for Students.
HEPI and Kaplan have released The costs and benefits of international students by parliamentary constituency. The report uses economic modelling to identify the monetary value international students generate for the UK (after deducting a myriad of costs associated with hosting the student). It quantifies these economic benefits at a national, regional and local constituency level. The report acknowledges the wider positive cultural, societal and soft power impacts that international students bring but does not include these aspects in the value calculations.
In the report both EU and non-EU students are described under the umbrella term ‘international’. The report uses the 2015/16 cohort entry year but adjusts costs and considers the changed HE systems and context to ensure the figures are relevant for today. It takes a conservative approach to the calculations by including every kind of hosting cost to the public purse that is possible. For example, deductions are made for healthcare, housing, community amenities, education and care of dependents, social security, public order and safety, local resources, defence, economic affairs, recreation and culture, religious provision, environmental protection, student non-continuation, non-repayment of EU student loan post-graduation, and so on right up to the nuclear deterrent submarine that circles the UK. This conservative approach means the net value calculation of the income an international student brings is actually an underestimation ensuring its validity for policy making. To understand more on the methodology read the full report pages 10-28.
- In 2015/16 there were 438,000 international (EU and non-EU) students studying at HE levels across the UK (19% of all students). The most students come from China (1 in every 4 international students came from China), next were the US and India. From the EU Germany came top, closely followed by France and Italy.
Note: recruitment of international students has plateaued since 2009/10
- International students were roughly evenly split between under and post graduate studies.
- International students study at institutions throughout the UK. Higher concentrations study in London and the South East, followed by the West Midlands. The South West region has the second lowest concentration (of the English regions) totalling 12,770 international students.
- The average economic contribution each international student (across their full duration of study) makes to the UK economy is £87,000 (EU students) and £102,000 (non-EU). Aggregating these figures to the national level the UK economy receives £22.6 billion from international students (£5.1bn EU, £17.5bn non-EU).
- Using the conservative ‘include every cost imaginable’ approach the cost of hosting the international students is £2.3 billion. So each student costs the UK taxpayer £19,000 (EU) and £7,000 (non-EU) over the full duration of their studies. The majority of this cost is their use of public services.
- This means the 2015/16 starters resulted in a total net economic benefit of £20.3 billion (£4bn EU, £16.3bn non-EU). The value to the economy per student is £68,000 (EU) and £95,000 (non-EU). For every 11 non-EU students the UK economy received £1 million. This means the benefit of hosting non-EU HE students is 14.8 times greater than the total cost. For the South West this equates to £1.21 net impact. As we would expect the highest spending from international students is clustered around the immediate university area, however lower levels of spend ripple out into surrounding areas, meaning the positive impact is experience everywhere (just to a lesser degree).
- The report takes a sensible methodological approach, however, because aggregate figures are used the values, when translated into parliamentary constituencies, will vary slightly from the average aggregate values applied due to the local context (cost of housing and so on) and because international students were apportioned to a constituency on the basis of UK student residency location census data. Overall, this doesn’t detract from the validity of the values because they are so high and already an underestimation. In the majority of cases, if it were possible to calculate every student precisely it would actually increase the net economic benefit each international student brings. (Read pages 19 and 38 of the full report for a more in depth explanation.)
- The constituency areas that benefit most from international students are Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham, Oxford and Manchester. The top earning constituency within the South West is Bristol West (14th out of the top 20). An intriguing political quirk of the top 20 areas that obtain the greatest net income from students is that all but one are Labour seats.
- Here are the local net impact values:
|Parliamentary Constituency||Net impact|
|Mid Dorset and North Poole||£9.6m|
See pages 69-70 of the full report for the values associated with other South West constituencies
- International students attract friends and relatives to visit the UK. This additional income is included in the figures quoted above. In 2015/16 international students attracted a further 330,000 visitors to the UK (averaged at 3 visitors per EU student, 0.9 per non-EU student). The average EU visitor spent £296, whereas the non-EU on average spent more (£822) per visit. Across the full period of study the value is in the region of £3,000 (per EU student) and £2,000 (non-EU). Totalling £0.6 billion to the UK economy overall (£0.2bn EU, £0.4bn non-EU).
- The report concludes the costs of educating and hosting international students are modest and far outweighed by the benefits.
Sector mood music
While they are not ‘new’ providers there is increasing news this year of movement within specialist and alternative provision. The sector is hearing the mood music of gradual diversification and extended remits as specialist providers commence a wider offer, mainstream, or join sector bodies. These forward steps for previous fringe dwellers is all part of the current HE atmosphere of change, such as the push for accelerated provision as more standard and universal offer and the OfS registration changes to incorporate and strongly encourage alternative providers.
The Government and civil service are stridently pushing for a diversification of HE providers. Jo Johnson spearheaded the charge through the Higher Education and Research Act and stridently supported the alternative, but ill-fated, appointment of Toby Young for the OfS Board.
Two moves in this direction this week come from specialist providers KPMG and the University College of Estate Management. In recent months KPMG have been particularly noticeable on the university policy circuit and they have just launched a new Digital Degree apprenticeship in conjunction with BPP University. And the University College of Estate Management which provides online education for the Built Environment (apprenticeships, UG and PG provision) has joined GuildHE. On the join Guild HE CEO stated: “Like other GuildHE members UCEM offer vocationally relevant higher education, industry connections and a focus on the student. They help produce the highly skilled workers that industries and professions need – the skills essential to increase productivity and help realise the aspiration to see growth and prosperity in all regions across the UK.”
Learning Gain is the latest movement in HE but still developing in terms of consensus, measurement and agreed metrics. A HEPI policy note What affects how much students learn? published on Monday utilised statistical analysis of the HEPI Student Academic Experience Survey (2017) question where students self-report their perception of their own personal learning gain. The analysis combined influencing variables from elsewhere in the survey to determine the top factors which had the greatest effects for students to report they’d ‘learnt a lot: and three surprising variables that didn’t influence learning gain.
The key influencers:
- Access to high quality teaching (as judged by combining the 10 survey questions relevant to teaching quality) was highly statistically significant. This included aspects such as helpful and supportive staff, useful feedback, how effective staff were in explaining concepts. This was significant across the whole range of student prior attainment (judged by UCAS entry points).
- The volume of independent study – students reporting 20+ hours of independent study were significantly more likely to report ‘learnt a lot’
- Personal wellbeing was a significant threshold effect – students reporting low wellbeing were negatively associated with having ‘learnt a lot’
- More than 17 hours of paid work per week had a negative effect
- Students entering with 144+ UCAS points were more likely to report having ‘learnt a lot’
- Whether the student hailed from a gold TEF rated institution had a significant independent effect and increased the likelihood the student reported learning a lot. Interestingly there were no step level effects – only a gold rating produced this effect, silver didn’t result in higher ‘learnt a lot’ ratings than from a bronze level provider.
- There were also London effects (negative influence) and coming from a non-graduate family background (negative influence)
“Being at a London institution, at an institution that did not achieve a Gold in the TEF, and having non-graduate parents all appear to depress the odds of reporting having learnt a lot.”
Three factors did not have a significant effect on student’s self-reporting of how much they had learnt: timetabled taught hours (contact time), ethnicity and whether or not students live at home.
The report goes on to speculate what the findings mean for the current Government vogue for accelerated degrees:
- The findings have implications for the Government’s proposals for more two-year degree programmes as a ‘cheaper’ option to three-year programmes. Currently an undergraduate degree is 360 credits, each credit based on 10 hours of study. Students on accelerated degrees are expected to study for 1,800 hours a year, in excess of the 1,600 hours of many full-time jobs. If they undertake paid part-time work as well, as most students do, the pressure on them is likely to be considerable, with a risk of putting in too few independent study hours and their wellbeing suffering, both potentially leading to doing less well in their degree than pacing their study over three years.
- So there is a danger that many students will do less well than their potential taking two-year degrees, and that it will be students from less affluent backgrounds who are tempted by the offer. Indeed, if it is more affluent students who choose this route, and who may do so because their higher prior attainment means they can cope with the intensity, that will leave their less affluent peers with the greater debt and loss of earnings from a year less in the labour market.
Nick Hillman, the Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said on the report:
- We do not know anything like enough about how students learn or how much they are learning. We need a more scientific approach to this issue, which our new report helps deliver.
- Asking students how much they are learning and cross-referencing this with their personal circumstances is innovative, illuminating and important. Some of the results are intuitive. Good quality teaching matters as does lots of independent study, while low well-being and many hours of paid work have a negative impact. But some of the results are surprising. Contact hours, ethnicity and whether or not students live at home make less difference.
- Learning gain is likely to be one of the top concepts in higher education in 2018 and beyond. No one can pretend they have all the answers, but this work shows beyond doubt where we should focus.
Mature Students and Employer Skills Gaps
In a blog post Maddalaine Ansell links the drop in mature student numbers with the struggles of employers to fill their skill needs and calls for cooperation, dropping ELQs, and the potential for a more blended learning model:
- In relation to mature learners, we saw a further drop of 40% in applications this year. As many mature students used to study at Levels 4 and 5, there has been a decline in demand for these courses and an increase in complaints from employers that they cannot recruit sufficient people at this level. In some industries where the current workforce is approaching retirement, this is becoming critical. The government is trying to tackle this through the creation of a small number of Institutes of Technology. While these may turn out to play a useful role in some areas, fundamentally they are solving the wrong problem.
- We are not short of institutions that are capable of delivering qualifications at this level rather we are short of students who want to study them within the current system. This is likely to be linked to debt-aversion in older learners who are reluctant to take out loans…, lack of careers advice, particularly for people who left school long ago, and insufficient flexibility of provision.
- … if we are serious about offering students genuine opportunity and choice, we should promote collaboration between different institutions. Mature students are likely to be far less mobile than their younger counterparts so it is the local offer that will matter to them.
- Local industrial strategies could provide a vehicle for other areas to think about how best to use all the resources already in their area more strategically to meet the needs of local people and industry.
- While we recognise that there has to be some system of rationing the amount of education that is supported by the taxpayer, the time may have come to jettison the principle that people shouldn’t be funded a second time to study at an equivalent or lower level. It is no longer helpful. Higher education funding should be as flexible as possible, allowing for people to study for both academic and technical qualifications and to study at different levels at different times – or even concurrently.
- Some degree students would benefit from doing a lower level apprenticeship alongside their degree as it would teach them complementary skills and enable them to earn a little money while they learn – but currently, the funding system does not allow for a blended model.
- The sector has undergone a lot of reform in recent years. If we are going to have a major review of funding, let’s tackle the real problems.
Pedagogic innovation: HEFCE blog part-way through the catalyst projects to highlight the positives and some pitfalls of engaging students in the pedagogic innovation projects.
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JANE FORSTER | SARAH CARTER
Policy Advisor Policy & Public Affairs Officer
Follow: @PolicyBU on Twitte