Calling all early career researchers- Sense about Science will be running a Standing up for Science media workshop this June.
The workshop will take place on Friday 30 June at the University of Warwick. This free to attend event is a great opportunity for early career researchers and scientists to learn how to make their voices heard in public debates about science.
Attendees will hear from scientists who have engaged with the media, learn from these distinguished scientists about how the media works, how to comment and what journalists expect from scientists. This is a free event and is open to all early career researchers and scientists- PhD students, post-docs or equivalent- in all sciences, engineering and medicine.
The deadline for applications is 14 June. You can find out more information here.
The previous workshop was held in Manchester in April. You can find out what attendees Jade and James thought of the workshop and view photos here.
If you have any questions please email Joanne from Sense about Science.
INASP, an Oxford-based organisation, aims to improve access to, and production and use of, research information and knowledge for sustainable development. Part of their approach is the Journals Online project which increases the accessibility and visibility of developing-country research. The Journals Online project includes a set of journals published Open Access in Nepal, know as NepJOL. On of the journals in the stable of NepJOl is the SAARC Journal of Tuberculosis, Lung Diseases & HIV/AIDS. Journals selected for inclusion on the Journals Online project must be:
scholarly in content, and contain original research;
peer reviewed and quality controlled;
able to provide all necessary content in electronic format (tables of contents, abstracts and PDFs of full text);
published, managed and developed within their respective country.
Yesterday INASP selected a paper published late last year and co-authored by two Bournemouth University academics for a special press release. The press release can be found here! This press release highlights our recently published paper in the SAARC Journal of Tuberculosis, Lung Diseases & HIV/AIDS. Our paper ‘Knowing is Not Enough: Migrant Workers’ Spouses Vulnerability to HIV’ argues that despite having generally a good knowledge and awareness of HIV and risk associated with migration and HIV; migrants’ wives could not discuss sexual health issues with their husbands, thus increasing their vulnerability to HIV and other sexually transmitted infections .
Dr. Pramod Regmi, Post-Doctoral Research in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences is quoted in the press release as saying: “knowledge alone would not be sufficient to fight against the spread of HIV/STI among wives of migrant workers.” This paper is an addition to a range of papers on health and well-being of Nepali migrant workers produced by BU academics [2-6].
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Dhungel, D., Ghale, G., Bhatta, G.K. (2016) Knowing is not enough: Migrant workers’ spouses vulnerability to HIV SAARC Journal of Tuberculosis, Lung Diseases & HIV/AIDS 8(1):9-15.
Adhikary, P., Simkhada, P.P., van Teijlingen E., Raja, AE. (2008) Health & Lifestyle of Nepalese Migrants in the UK BMC International Health & Human Rights8(6). Web address: www.biomedcentral.com/1472-698X/8/6.
Adhikary P., Keen S., van Teijlingen E (2011) Health Issues among Nepalese migrant workers in Middle East. Health Science Journal 5: 169-175. www.hsj.gr/volume5/issue3/532.pdf
Sapkota, T., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2014) Nepalese health workers’ migration to United Kingdom: A qualitative study. Health Science Journal8(1):57-74.
Simkhada, P.P., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Aryal, N. (2017) Identifying the gaps in Nepalese migrant workers’ health and well-being: A review of the literature, Journal of Travel Medicine24 (4): 1-9.
Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Adhikary, P., Bhatta, Y.K.D., Mann, S. (2016) Injury and Mortality in Young Nepalese Migrant Workers: A Call for Public Health Action. Asian-Pacific Journal of Public Health28(8): 703-705.
Congratulations to Dr. Pramod Regmi on his appointment as Visiting Research Fellow in International Health at Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences which is part of Deemed University in Maharashtra, India. Dr. Regmi is currently Post-Doctoral Researcher and Early Career Researcher in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinal Health (CMMPH).
Over the past year FHSS has submitted several grant applications with academics based at Datta Meghe Institute of Medical Sciences. Moreover, we are running a joint BU-Datta Neghe project in Maharashtra on the health and well-being of Nepali migrant workers in India. This collaborative migration project was highlighted in the recent Festival of Learning India presentations in New Delhi. Dr. Regmi has published several papers on Nepali migrant workers and their health and well-being.
Names are the sweetest and most important sound in any language(Dale Carnegie)
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Bournemouth University was privileged to host a Q & A session with James Lovelock, who spoke to a packed lecture theatre where he delighted an audience of students, academics, university staff and local environmental practioners with insights into his life and career as a scientist.
James Lovelock CH CBE FRS is an inventor, an environmentalist, futurist and above all, one of the most influential scientists of our time. James has worked for the Medical Research Council, NASA, Harvard and Yale Universities, but is best known as an independent scientist. James’ many achievements have had a profound effect on our understanding of environment. He developed the electron capture device, which has transformed trace analysis and resulted in being able to demonstrate that CFCs were not being broken down in the environment. This led to the discovery that these chemicals were depleting the ozone layer. However, James is best known for his Gaia theory, which states that the Earth is a self-regulating living-being. This theory has and a profound effect on how we view our plant and has influenced environmental policy at an international level for decades.
Questions were plentiful and James was able to give is views and share anecdotes on a variety of subjects, ranging from where he gained inspiration for the Gaia theory to the future of nuclear energy, the possibilities of cryogenics to life on other planets. The whole audience was captivated by this exceptionally inspiring scientist and after the session James kindly spent time talking to students and signing books.
Many thanks to James for taking the time to visit us! Thanks also to Dr Iain Green and Dr David Foulger for organising such a rare treat and also to those who participated in the session making it a truly memorable occasion.
The vibrant city of Rio de Janiero has played host to some of the world’s best parties – from Carnival, to the 2016 Olympic Games and the 2014 FIFA World Cup. Authorities have spent billions to ready the city, and each time tourists flocked in, local businesses braced for a bumper season. But these high expectations weren’t limited to legal businesses: those working within Rio’s semi-legal, underground economies thought they would benefit too.
Nowhere is this clearer than in Centro, the downtown area of Rio, tucked in the shadow of the newly-constructed Olympic Boulevard. Once home to the historic red light district, Centro has since become the beating heart of big business, with towering office blocks bearing the names of major corporations such as Petrobras, BG, Total, Chevron, Electrobras, BNDES and Vale.
And yet, a closer look at the shop fronts suggests the presence of another kind of commerce. Here, the “termas” – saunas, complete with bar and discotheque – can be spotted near the brothels and love hotels, alongside the “privés” – massage parlours operating in rented, high-rise apartment space – that comprise the infamous commercial sex industry of Brazil. In reality, the seemingly demure finance district of the nation’s former capital has never ceased to be a hub for commercial sex.
The Rose Without Thorn is nestled in a quiet lane, not far from the Saara – a street market that is usually crammed with pedestrians. It was built in 2010, shortly after Rio won the bid for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in 2007, and the bid for the 2016 Summer Olympics in 2009. As an illegal brothel operating within the financial district, it survived, even thrived, alongside the decade-long Olympic facelift. It was here that we – an international research collective, partnered with Observatório da Prostituição (Prostitution Policy Watch) – came to understand the impact of event-led urban reform on Rio’s sex workers.
Rose Without Thorn
From the outside, the house has a nondescript colonial façade. But the music, which ricochets down the narrow staircase entrance and into the street, hints at something more. Inside, working-class men perch on stools, often alone with chopp (Brazilian draft beer) in hand, while women move throughout the house in barely-there lingerie and high-heeled shoes.
One of these women is Thayna (this is her “nome da batalha”, her “battle” or work name), who has worked in the house since the age of 21. Now 24, her work is the sole source of income for her and her two children. As Pedro the manager says: “She is the breadwinner for her family, if she does not work, they do not eat”.
In Brazil, sex work has forever existed as a semi-legal, entrepreneurial pursuit for those in search of financial stability and social security. The profession is officially recognised by the Brazilian Ministry of Labour and Employment’s classification of occupations, which can guarantee certain social securities to those registered as a “profissionais do sexo” (sex professionals). Although the adult, consensual exchange of sex for money has never been criminalised, “houses of prostitution” are still considered illegal.
As such, places such as Rose Without Thorn operate at the discretion of law enforcement and a local elite. As Rafael, a civil servant, explained: “Prostitution in Rio de Janeiro has never occurred without the involvement of police.”
Inside the cubicle-sized office space on the third floor of the brothel, the bass of the funk music is muffled by chatter. Each “programa” (a private session) is recorded in a notebook (35 a page) by a madam perched at a desk, near the top stair. On the Thursday before carnival, she had filled a page and a half by two o’clock in the afternoon, and was hopeful for at least five more.
At the time, Brazil was named as the first Latin American host of an internationally-recognised sporting mega-event, and it was on the brink of economic boom. The Lula oil field (formerly, Tupi old field) was found in 2006, off the coast of Rio de Janeiro, and with it came the promise of economic prosperity. But the nation continued to rely upon the export of raw material commodities – a temporary solution, much like the sporting mega-event – instead of establishing a more sustainable, internal economy.
The ongoing Petrobras corruption scandal deflated political-economic optimism for the future, and by 2016, the state government of Rio de Janeiro was paralysed with possibly its worst recession in history. Amid halted salaries, political tumult and severe economic debt, the promise of the boom has since been long lost.
But people still need to earn to survive, and for some, sex work serves as a viable option for survival. And so, the economies and social networks created around commercial sex have so far survived the fall. As Simone, 54, widower, mother of five, and madam of the house expressed: “We are family too. We live together everyday. I live more with them than my own children.” She is proud yet honest about business, during this tense time:
Rose Without Thorn is famous. It is not very fancy but it is certainly well known. It is the heart of downtown! But after the [Olympic] Games, even we started to feel the crisis. No one has the money to come like before.
Before the bust, the Olympic Games was a highly anticipated business opportunity in Brazil – a time for entrepreneurial creativity and innovation. Yet many of the sex workers who anxiously awaited the boon from foreign clientele found that it did not materialise. Only a few benefited financially from the event, while well-intentioned campaigns urged authorities to crack down on “sex tourism”. The Rose Without Thorn’s manager Pedro said:
Listen, it is an illusion that FIFA or the Olympics are good for business. This is a myth. Some of the biggest [sex-related] businesses in Ipanema went bankrupt during the games. And now it is worse. The economy is a mess, so too is the government. And it all started around the games. The Olympics did not improve the situation. It only furthered the fall.
Instead, what surfaced was a heightened security presence in the street, provided in part by Centro Presente – a quasi-public police force, partially funded by the local commercial and business association. Thayna explained:
Look, it was good. The city was beautiful. The party was fun. I really liked that Centro Presente provided more security in the street. But business here was not great. I expected more. I prepared for more. A lot of money was spent in a city where too many people starve. I work today to give my children a better future, not to leave my daughter in public school. Healthcare is the same. I pay for education and health insurance otherwise my daughter would be without them. To spend our money on tourist fun is hypocrisy.
During the mid-afternoon lull, Thayna ate her lunch on a twin bed. As she kicked through white rice in the foil container in search of another cut of red meat, she was bored with Olympic talk, and excited about the post-carnival time. It was the first week of the unofficial Brazilian new year, and she wanted to see her brothel with a queue. She was confident that, amid Olympic dust and carnival debris, the political-economic crisis that devalued urban land and stunted police salaries will only further cement the presence of sex workers within the city’s financial core.
Names and places have been changed to protect anonymity. The authors would like to especially acknowledge the insightful contributions of Thaddeus Blanchette (Professor, Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro/Observatório da Prostituição), Thayane Brêtas (Research Affiliate, Observatório da Prostituição), and João Gabriel R. Sodré (Civil Servant, Defensoria Pública do Estado do Rio de Janeiro).
The future of transport appears full of fun and flashy possibilities. From super-fast hyperloop transport systems, to self-driving cars and hovering taxis, new technology promises to move us further and faster than ever before. Yet for cities facing everyday problems such as congestion, air pollution and under capacity, the most effective solution could be the humble bus – coupled with the power of data.
Of course, in many cities, technology has already begun replacing printed timetables with live departure boards, using real-time data about buses’ locations sourced from GPS monitoring. But this is just the beginning. There’s one source of data which could offer a live overview of a city’s entire transport network without a single penny of investment. And you’ve probably got it on you right now.
Modern mobile phones contain an array of sensors, including GPS, accelerometer, gyroscope, digital compass and more, which are capable of producing a constant stream of data. Individual units of movement, tracked by a phone’s GPS and processed on mass, can give detailed information on journey times, speed and destinations.
Of course, using this data without compromising users’ privacy is a challenge. When dealing with location information, anonymisation can only take you so far. But there is a neat solution. In exchange for their data, passengers could receive a wealth of benefits, including more flexible routes and timetables, predictive of need at any given hour. The level of service could be directly linked to the amount of data a passenger chooses to share.
By combining these data with efficient ticketing across a range of transport modes, including bus, tram, train, taxi and others, it would be possible to create a flexible and responsive system, which can tailor transport solutions to every person’s needs.
Individuals would be able to dial in their destination as they leave home, to be guided by the fastest, cheapest, healthiest or most environmentally friendly route to their destination on a given day, by whatever means, at a standard unit of price per distance. The routes would be responsive to changing weather and road closures, with flexible timetables and services, to cater for a wet Tuesday when everyone wants to take the bus rather than walk or cycle. Overcrowding could be reduced by balancing the load of commuters across different modes of transport.
The best thing is, the system would constantly be learning and improving. It is relatively straightforward to automatically schedule extra services in real time if, say, there’s an unusually large number of people waiting at a particular stop. But, with sophisticated machine learning, which processes large amounts of historical data to detect patterns, slumps and hikes in demand could be preempted. Allowing a transport network to self-learn using data from its consumers can help it to evolve a better service, while maintaining the modest margins of the provider.
The transport system can also be used as a tool to promote social good. For one thing, price can be used as a powerful influence for positive behavioural change: discounts could be offered for getting off a stop earlier and walking the remaining distance. The bus or tram itself can also be enhanced by making it a place for culture, education and information. Advertising could be complemented or even replaced by community television, public art and educational information, which offer a more positive experience for the captive audience.
All of this potential can be unlocked today: not in the future, but in the here and now. The main challenges are overcoming tradition, using a single ticket across various transport modes and apportioning revenue between a complex tapestry of transport providers within the domain of a single transport authority.
Alongside Bournemouth University, a small digital technology company, We Are Base, is attempting to do exactly that. Together, we are finding ways to leverage data to make public transport a better option than private vehicles in terms of punctuality, flexibility and comfort. We are also collecting and analysing real-time data to demonstrate how a transport network could use machine learning to optimise its customer transport efficiency.
The technology is the relatively easy part; negotiating local politics often proves more difficult. For instance, finding a fair way of distributing ticket revenues among operators involved in a journey which uses more than one mode of transport, potentially across a number of zones and boroughs. Gaining consumer trust is also essential. For such systems to work, the consumer must choose to follow journey suggestions, even though they might not seem to be optimal at the time. This is particularly difficult; after all, how many of us can say that we trust our local bus companies when some still struggle to run the services to a static timetable?
The opportunity for a transport revolution is here – but for it to work it must be aspired to. This starts with consumers and local authorities understanding and seeing the benefits of a self-learning, adaptable and truly flexible local transport system. And given that it’s within reach, they shouldn’t put up with anything less. So, next time someone proposes a flashy new solution to transport woes, just remember that true innovation lies in the hands of the commuters themselves – locked inside their mobile phones.
The academic jobs market is becoming more challenging and competitive post-PhD. With the number of PhD holders increasing, there is enormous pressure on the academic job market and declining academic job prospects for doctoral graduates.
What can I do after my PhD? It is a difficult decision for any PhD student on whether to pursue a career in academia, or consider alternative careers. In our dedicated live Q&A we are bringing forth a panel of experts who have moved outside of academia, to share their top tips and advice on alternate career pathways following PhD studies.
To help all those who are considering options after doctoral studies, jobs.ac.uk is holding a FREE 60-minute live video event via a live YouTube Q&A called ‘Alternative Career Pathways After Your PhD’. Find out more and register today.
Find out more about Bournemouth University (BU) work and research – while enjoying a drink in your favourite pub – during the upcoming Pint of Science Festival.
This is the first time that the world’s largest festival of public science talks has come to Bournemouth, and will see 25 BU scientists take to the stage in pubs across town.
It runs from Monday 15 – Wednesday 17th May, with talks taking place in Chaplin’s Cellar Bar in Boscombe, and at Ojo Rojo and the Goat & Tricycle in Bournemouth town centre across the three evenings of the festival.
Attendees can enjoy talks on a range of themes, from new technologies like 3D printing and how they could revolutionise the way things like jewellery are created, through to the science underlying mental illness and conditions such as autism and schizophrenia.
Selective forgetting, the selfie, internet addiction and whether breathing training can reduce falls will also be explored during the festival in Bournemouth.
BU Lecturer in Cognitive Psychology Dr Shanti Shanker, who has coordinated the Bournemouth events, said: “There is some fantastic research taking place in Bournemouth, and the Pint of Science festival is a great way for people to find out more about it.
“Not only will people hear from researchers directly, they will also have the chance to put their questions to them and delve into these fascinating topics.
“This is the first year that Pint of Science has come to Bournemouth and we really hope people embrace the opportunity to find out more in the comfort of a pub with a pint.”
The international, three-day Pint of Science festival will see thousands of scientists simultaneously standing up and telling the public about their research in over 100 cities across 12 countries.
Tickets are available from the Pint of Science website, with each evening of three talks costing £4.
This week is Mental Health Awareness Week (#MHAW17), which is an opportunity both to increase our knowledge about mental health and learn about ways to improve our well being. Professor Roger Baker, a clinical psychologist and researcher in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences has carried out extensive research into emotional processing, which includes work to help people overcome trauma and understand panic attacks. Around 10% of people will experience a panic attack in their lives and understanding what’s happening can help in coping with and overcoming them. Below he explains what happens during a panic attack and why it’s not a mental illness.
For more information, see Professor Baker’s website.
Yesterday and today we offered sessions on academic writing and publishing at two different higher education institutions in Kathmandu. Yesterday we run a session for staff and postgraduate students at Tribhuvan University, in the Department of Health, Physical & Population Education. Staff in the Department of Health, Physical & Population Education are our Nepali key collaborators in a THET-funded project aiming to improve mental health training in community-based maternity care providers in the south of Nepal.
Today’s workshop was held at Manmahon Memorial Institute of Health Sciences (MMIHS). BU’s Faculty of Health & Social Sciences has been running joint research projects with MMIHS for the past three or four years. The sessions are jointly run with BU’s Visiting Professor Padam Simkhada, who is based at Liverpool John Moores University. These workshops are capacity-building among academics and students in Nepal.
Our sessions are based on our experience in academic writing as well as that of acting as peer reviewers and journal editors. Our sessions are also linked to some of the papers we have published ourselves on the process of academic writing. [1-8] Most of these publications on publishing are in Open Access journals. Hence papers are freely available anybody in Nepal, and elsewhere in the world, of course.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Hall, J., Hundley, V., van Teijlingen, E. (2015) The journal editor: friend or foe? Women & Birth28(2): e26-e29.
Pitchforth, E, Porter M, Teijlingen van E, Keenan Forrest, K.. (2005) Writing up & presenting qualitative research in family planning & reproductive health care, J FamPlannReprod Health Care 31(2): 132-135.
The Physiological Society is offering grants of up to £5000 to support public engagement. The grants, which are available to both members and non-members, are designed to fund innovative and creative projects on any aspect of physiology. They particularly encourage collaborations between science communicators, artists, facilitators of public engagement, and their members.
The society is open to any ideas from you as to how physiologists can engage with the public and are especially keen to receive project applications which fit under their 2017 focus, ‘Making Sense of Stress’, and our 2018 focus, sleep and circadian rhythm.
The grant scheme aims to:
Inspire creative public engagement with physiology
Stimulate physiologists to share their stories, passion and expertise in innovative ways with wider audiences, particularly those that are traditionally hard to reach
Increase dialogue between researchers and the public, in particular on topics such as the relevance of research to health, medicine and performance.
Produce materials and resources which can be used for further public engagement and outreach work.
The scheme is open year-round with two funding rounds. The next deadline for applications is Wednesday 14 June. The review period will take 6-8 weeks.
On Monday May 1st, the Bank Holiday Monday, we were invited to give three separate training sessions for the Nepal Nursing Council and (hosted by) the Nursing Association of Nepal. The three separate topics were (a) maternal mental health and its relevance to nursing in Nepal; (b) conducting focus group research in nursing; and (c) publishing for nurses in international journals. The international team presenting these three sessions comprised Dr. Andrew Lee from the University of Sheffield (photo top), Dr. Bibha Simkhada (photo bottom) from Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU) who is also Visiting Faculty in BU’s Faculty of Health & Social Sciences. Further members of the teaching team comprised LJMU Prof. Padam Simkhada and also BU Visiting Professor and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH).
The presentations were well received and the practical part of the focus group training generated a lively discussion. In their teaching the presenters used a range of papers they had published in the three areas: maternal mental health based on a recently funded THET project, [1-3] writing for publication, [4-11] and focus group research. [12-14] The session was concluded with the inevitable certificate of attendance.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen E., Winter, RC., Fanning, C., Dhungel, A., Marahatta SB. (2015) Why are so many Nepali women killing themselves? Review of key issues Journal of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences1(4): 43-49. http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/JMMIHS/article/view/12001
Simkhada, B., Sharma, G., Pradhan, S., van Teijlingen, E., Ireland, J., Simkhada, P., Devkota, B. & the THET team. (2016) Needs assessment of mental health training for Auxiliary Nurse Midwives: a cross-sectional survey, Journal ofManmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences2(1): 20-26. http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/JMMIHS/article/view/15793/12738
Simkhada, P.P., van Teijlingen, E., Marahatta, S.B. (2015) Mental health services in Nepal: Is it too late? (editorial) Journal of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences 1(4): 1-2.
van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V. (2002) Getting your paper to the right journal: a case study of an academic paper, Journal of Advanced Nursing 37(6): 506-511.
Pitchforth, E, Porter, M, van Teijlingen, ER, Forrest Keenan K. (2005) Writing up and presenting qualitative research in family planning & reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31(2): 132-35. http://jfprhc.bmj.com/content/31/2/132.full.pdf+html
BU research will be prominent at UK Kidney Week this summer in Liverpool. The conference is led by the Renal Association with the International Society of Nephrology (ISN) and the British Transplant Society (BTS). We’re delighted to have been invited to speak at the conference, which is a great opportunity to showcase our research as well as BU’s commitment to developing biomedical research themes. We’re also contributing several abstracts, detailing collaborations with the Universities of Bristol, Oxford and Osnabruck, Germany. The work focuses on the molecular cell biology of human podocytes, cells critical for our kidney’s role in blood filtration. When podocytes ‘fail’, kidney failure ensues.
We use Drosophila (fruit fly) genetics and molecular cell biology to address intractable problems associated with podocyte aging, podocyte dysfunction in diabetic nephropathy and several rare genetic mutations affecting podocytes that cause kidney failure in the young.
The work, was primarily funded by a Kidney Research UK Innovation Award and a British Heart Foundation Fellowship.
The Higher Education and Research Bill – now the Higher Education and Research Act 2017– was finally passed on Thursday. As expected, the House of Commons rejected the Lords amendments, including those relating to the TEF and international students. The government did propose a number of amendments to address some of the issues raised in the Lords, and having been approved in the Commons, these were approved by the Lords, after some discussion.
Although the Lords amendment removing the link between TEF and fees was rejected, the new amendment postpones the differentiated fee arrangements (which would have taken effect in 2019/20, using TEF year 3 ratings) until at least 2020/21.
Another amendment has changed the approval process for inflation raised increases to fees, which will now need approval by both Houses of Parliament (instead of the current “negative” procedure).
TEF year 2 will be subject to a formal and independent review, which will go beyond the “lessons learned” exercise that had been announced before. This will include a review of the ratings and the public interest benefit of the TEF – so may result in substantial changes.
The Office for Students (OfS) can require cooperation between higher education providers and electoral officers a condition of registration – this was to address the amendment inserted by the Lords.
The OfS must take advice from the designated quality assurance body when awarding degree awarding powers (DAPs) and must notify the Secretary of State when granting DAPs to institutions that haven’t previously had a validation agreement with another higher education provider or the OfS.
When authorising use of ‘university’ title, the Secretary of State and OfS must consult with the representative bodies of higher education providers and students.
The grounds for appealing a registration decision by the OfS have been broadened to address a rather woolly amendment in the Lords about appealing decisions because they were “wrong”.
The new transparency duties will now include information that will be “helpful” for prospective international students.
Universities UK and GuildHE wrote a joint letter which generally supported the amendments and the Bill.
Teaching Excellence Framework: So despite hopes that the Lords amendments might result in more sweeping changes to the TEF, we will need to wait until the review, and an opportunity to provide feedback in the summer once the year 2 results have been published.
No more announcements have been made about subject level TEF which was due to be piloted over 2 years – starting with year 3, with submissions due in January 2018. With the general election holding up the year 2 results, timing for the review and guidance for year 3 will be very tight.
Subject to approval in each year, it seems likely now that all universities in the TEF will be able to raise fees by inflation in 2018/19 and 2019/20. It is important to remember that any university that does not qualify for TEF or chooses not to participate will have its fees capped at £9000 – the rises from previous years cannot be banked.
It was originally proposed that year 2 ratings (now due in June 2017) would last for three years – so unless there is a radical overhaul and everyone is required to resubmit in year 3, it seems likely that in year 3 participation may be restricted to those universities who choose to resubmit in the hope of increasing their ratings. So it will be interesting to see what happens to the pilot for subject level, whether more than one model is tested and whether participation is optional.
EU and International Students: The biggest issue in the Bill for UUK and GuildHE, and the issue most debated in the Lords on Thursday was international students. The long awaited consultation won’t happen now until after the election, we’ll see how quickly it will happen then – and what is said in the manifesto.
The House of Commons Education select committee report on the impact of Brexit on HE which recommended an immigration system that facilitates the needs of higher education, including a specialist route for academics other than Tier 2.
Cross-nation collaboration increases citations and combined talents produce more innovative and useful outcome.
The paper emphasises that the researchers themselves need to drive the collaboration. Sectors have different needs and Britain needs to collaborate with the countries with the richest talent and expertise. Funding needs to be well-structured and flexible to allow this.
The paper says that the government should seek to access and influence the 9th Framework Programme (the Horizon successor), alongside new funding sources to incentivise collaborations with high-quality research partners beyond the EU.
UUK call for a cross-government approach to supporting international research and the drawing together of the current disparate funding mechanisms.
The report notes that “Research undertaken with EU partners like Germany and France is growing faster than with other countries – hence while it is vital that the UK takes every opportunity to be truly global in their outlook, the importance of collaboration with EU partners should not be underestimated”.
Almost all the growth in research output in the last 30 years has been brought about by international partnership.
Addressing Collaborative Barriers
Addressing the barriers to research collaboration is more than just funding, the report calls for:
Better information on capabilities and strength of UK researchers
National policy frameworks of all partners must be flexible enough to support international exchange, enabling critical human resources – including technical expertise – to flow between systems.
The report highlights South Korea and Taiwan as attractive collaborators because of their research-intensive economies, strong technology investment, excellent university system, and high-English speaking rate. However, collaboration is challenged by geography, proximity and cultural differences. UUK report that communication problems are a key barrier alongside the uncertainty about research profiles of UK universities and significant differences in research governance.
Policy and funding stability is essential – partners need to have confidence that the policy and funding environment will not be subject to unexpected or dramatic change after they have invested the time and resources necessary to develop productive and beneficial partnerships. Stability and certainty in both policy and funding environment is a key facilitator.
Bilateral agreements with defined funding facilitated by a coordinated application process – the report effectively highlights the difficulties of ‘double jeopardy’ (Roberts, 2006) whereby all partners need to individually secure funding across a sustaining period to both commence and fully complete. Individuals make research choices that further their career and are fundable.
Furthermore, UK research funding beyond the EU is highly dependent on the ODA budget which limits research themes and fundable countries. Post Brexit the UK needs new money without ODA type restrictions to support collaborations with partners not eligible for EU funds.
This week professors Vanora Hundley and Edwin van Teijlingen from the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) were invited to the Primary Healthcare Workshop in Kathmandu. This Primary Healthcare Workshop ‘Delivering Primary Health Care in hard-to-reach areas of Nepal: Opportunities & Challenges’ was organised by the non-governmental organisation PHASE and the Nepal Health Research Council (NHRC). Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen and BU Visiting Professor Padam Simkhada (who is based at Liverpool John Moores University) were invited to offer an international perspective on this workshop held in coordination with the Ministry of Health, Nepal.
Edwin made a comparison between the difficulties in access to primary care, recruiting and retention of staff in remote Nepal and his previous work on maternity care in remote and rural Scotland. He argued that some of these issues are universal, but more difficult to deal with in low-income countries like Nepal. The workshop took place at the Nepal Health Research Council.
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