Category / RKE development framework

*Book now* Research Application training- Spaces still available on the RKE Development Framework Pre-Award Pathway

The research and knowledge exchange (RKE) development framework offers a range of opportunities for academics at all career stages to develop their skills, knowledge and capabilities in relation to research and knowledge exchange. The pre-award pathway offers all of the starting information required by academics and researchers at BU to undertake research bidding.

Research Ethics at BU

All research being conducted at BU falls under the Ethics and Governance policies at BU. This session will offer Academics and Researchers an understanding of the Ethics procedures and Research Governance policies at BU.

10 April 2017 10.00 – 11.00 Lansdowne Campus

Getting started on applying for research funding

This session will explore how best to adapt research in response to the changing external environment. The workshop will provide information on the best routes to funding based upon career stages and also introduce how RKEO can help.

Thursday 13 April 2017 09.00 – 10.00 Lansdowne Campus

Pre-award finance

This session will introduce researchers to Full Economic Costs (fEC), transparant approaches to costing (TRAC) and the BU Financial Regulations. Guidance will be offered on how to cost projects in a way that funders will find acceptable. Training will be provided on producing the ‘Justificaton of Resources’ document required by many funders.

Thursday 13 April 2017 10.30 – 11.30 Lansdowne Campus

BU processes for applying for funding

This workshop will provide a short introduction/refresher on how to apply for external funding at BU. The latest update on the policies and processes will be introduced as part of this short session.

By the end of the session you will be familiar with the processes required to apply for funding at BU.

Thursday 13 April 2017 13.30 – 14.30 Lansdowne Campus

Quality approvals at BU

This course is aimed at those who are, or wish to be, a designated Faculty and UET Activity Quality/Peer reviewers. This session will provide an introduction/refresher of academic review policies at BU.

Thursday 13 April 2017 15.00 – 16.00 Lansdowne Campus

Save the Date: 23rd May 2017 – Health & Wellbeing in the 21st Century – it’s your responsibility

 

On Tuesday, 23rd May 2017, BU’s Research and Knowledge Exchange Office (RKEO) will be hosting a Sandpit event on Health & Wellbeing.

 

Which means…?

We’re seeking to come up with novel research which addresses challenges in health & wellbeing. With increasing pressure on the NHS, we need to consider how we can take responsibility for our own health & wellbeing. Potential areas to address this challenge may include but are not limited to, digital health & technology (apps, devices), sport, healthy diet & exercise, legal considerations (i.e. your body your choice), media, psychology, social care etc.

 

So, who should attend?

We want anyone who thinks they might have something to contribute. We will also be inviting relevant external attendees to contribute to the day.

 

What do I need to prepare in advance? What will the sandpit entail?

Absolutely nothing in advance. During the session, you’ll be guided through a process which results in the development of research ideas. The process facilitates creativity, potentially leading to innovative and interdisciplinary research ideas. These ideas will be explored with other attendees, and further developed based on the feedback received.

 

What if I don’t have time to think about ideas in advance?

You don’t need to do this but it will help. Attendees will come from a range of backgrounds so we expect that there will be lively conversations resulting from these different perspectives.

 

What about afterwards? Do I need to go away and do loads of work?

Well… that depends! The interactive day will result in some novel research ideas. Some of these may be progressed immediately; others might need more time to develop. You may find common ground with other attendees which you choose to take forward in other ways, such as writing a paper or applying for research funding.

 

What if my topic area is really specific, and doesn’t really relate to health?

Your contribution will be very welcome! One of the main benefits of this type of event is to bring together individuals with a range of backgrounds and specialisms who are able to see things just that bit differently to one another.

 

So, is this just networking?

Definitely not! It is a facilitated session with the primary intention of developing innovative research ideas, which also enables the development of networks. It gives you the opportunity to explore research ideas which you may develop over time, together with the chance to find common ground with academics from across BU and beyond.

 

So, how do I book onto this event?

To take part in this exciting opportunity, BU staff should complete the Application Form and return this to Dianne Goodman by Tuesday 2nd May. As places are limited, this will be assessed to ensure good mix of attendees with different perspectives. Places will be confirmed w/c 8th May 2017.

 

By applying, you agree to attend for the full duration of the event on 23rd May (c. 9:30 – 16:00). This event will be held in BU’s Executive Business Centre (EBC).

 

If you have any queries prior to submitting your application, please contact Lisa Gale-Andrews, RKEO Research Facilitator.

 

This event is part of the Research Knowledge Exchange Development Framework.

Writing a Justification of Resources Session 4th May 2017

As part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, RKEO are holding a session on ‘Writing a Justification of Resources’. The session will provide an overview of the Justification of Resources document, and will offer tips for writing this section of the application form. Examples of effective Justifications of Resources will be provided.

Date: Thursday 4th May

Time: 10:00-11:30

Venue: Talbot Campus

Book your space via the RKE Development Framework page for this event.

For further information, please contact Lisa Gale-Andrews, RKEO Research Facilitator.

Applying for funding from NIHR – Patient and Public Involvement Session 5th April 2017

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As part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, RKEO are holding a session on Applying for funding from NIHR – Patient and Public Involvement (PPI). At this session, you’ll hear from a Research Fellow / former PPI Senior Programme Manager at the NIHR about what is meant by PPI, and to understand how this can be applied to your research. You’ll also hear from the NIHR Research Design Service South West PPI Lead on the importance of involving the public and patients in research.

Date: Wednesday 5th April 2017RKEO RKE NIHR

Time: 14.00-16.00

Venue: Lansdowne Campus

Book your space via the RKE Development Framework page for this event.

For further information, please contact Lisa Gale-Andrews, RKEO Research Facilitator.

HE policy update w/e17th March 2017

Brexit:

  • Research Professional illustrates the Brexit threats to research positioning and job losses by highlighting the difficulties facing an EU astronomy consortium. The consortium represents seven countries, led by the UK, but will move headquarters to an EU member state from January 2021. The move means the UK will lose the project’s leadership and the 12 UK universities may not continue post-Brexit. Research Professional notes that while access to research infrastructures is available to non-EU states, the EU membership plays a significant role in decisions on where to locate facilities. Gerry Gilmore (the consortium leader, from University of Cambridge) stated:
    The UK will lose substantial scientific leadership and influence in the EU. There is going to be bad news all around. I don’t think people realise how many new jobs and new opportunities have just been destroyed.”
  • The EU (Notification of Withdrawal) Bill has survived the parliamentary process and received Royal Assent on 16th March (BBC). This bill allows the Prime Minister to notify the EU of the UK’s intention to withdraw from the EU. The Lords made two amendments to the Bill – one relating to Parliament having a “meaningful vote” on the final arrangements and one requiring a guarantee for EU citizens to remain in the UK. The bill was approved by the House of Commons, which rejected the Lords bill and then went back to the Lords under what is called “ping-pong”. The Lords voted again on both issues but the House of Lords majority backed down and the bill was passed. The PM is expected to trigger article 50 later in March.
  • 2018/19 EU student and staff guarantees: During oral questions in the Lords Baroness Royall of Blaisdon pressed the government spokesperson (Viscount Younger of Leckie) when announcements would be made regarding fees and access to loans for 2018/19 EU student starters. Leckie gave a side stepping response: “The noble Baroness makes the important point that there are uncertainties arising from Brexit, but the Government have moved rapidly to give assurances to this sector… “We have also provided similar assurances that EU nationals starting courses in 2016-17 and 2017-18 remain eligible for Research Council postgraduate support. As I have said, we will ensure that students starting in 2018-19 have the information well in advance

International students:

  • The debate over the inclusion of international students in the long-term migrant numbers continues. Even senior ministers are rebelling – Boris Johnson, Phillip Hammond and Liam Fox have all protested, although Jo Johnson continues to toe the party line backing the PM’s stance to include international students within the original immigration statistics. Liam Fox spoke out this week about the value of overseas campuses.
  • On Monday the House of Lords defeated the government on the Higher Education and Research Bill (HERB), approving an amendment to prevent international students being counted as long-term migrants. The government have responded that “the proposed amendment would create a situation where we were potentially unable to apply basic visa checks, or impose conditions on a student visa. It would also mean that fresh primary legislation were needed just to make minor, technical changes to immigration rules.” (Wonkhe)
  • HERB is scheduled to have its third reading in the Lords on 22 March 2017 and then will go back to the Commons. The PM’s stance on international students seems rock solid (Financial Times) and Theresa May is not expected to waiver – the parliamentary ping pong regarding international students will surely make headlines over the coming weeks.
  • Meanwhile there are worries about student recruitment. Politics Home quotes an Office for National Statistics release stating the number of students coming to the UK dropped by 41,000 in 2016.

Higher Education and Research Bill:

  • The HE and Research Bill has finished its third reading in the House of Lords (although it will have to go back if the House of Commons makes any changes, as seems likely).  The report stage in the Lords is on 22nd March – usually only technical or minor amendments are made at this stage.  The current version of the bill as amended by the Lords is here.
  • The surprise amendment on international students is referred to above.
  • The government won the final vote on the proposed amendment that would have required UKRI and OfS to jointly revoke research degree awarding powers, the amendment was defeated. Wonkhe report that Lord Mackay made an impassioned speech noting that it was “extraordinary” that the OfS was not required to have any expertise or experience regarding research, and yet had the unilateral power to revoke research degree awarding powers, but to no avail. The Bill continues to say that research degree-awarding powers should be made by the OfS with advice from UKRI.

With long debates, late nights and a large number of amendments, it is fair to say that HERB has received an excellent level of scrutiny within the Lords. Lord Prior of Brampton notes: “Everyone who has contributed [to the Bill debates] can take some credit for having improved it considerably. For me, it is a good example of the value this House can bring to a Bill of this kind.”

HEFCE 2017/18 funding to universities: The grant letter details the overall funding to the sector for 2017/18. It includes doubled funding for the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (£60m pa), an additional £17m increase for mainstream quality-related research, a reduction of £40m for teaching (including a reduction in PGT FTE funding rate), maintaining the disabled students premium at the 2016/17 level, the inclusion of nursing, midwifery and allied health professions (£32m), cuts to the student premium budget for full time UG of £20m (part time UG funding remains static). Institutions will receive individual allocations in April although with a publication embargo in force until May. Capital allocations will be announced in March.

Student Loans Sale: A parliamentary question tabled by Steve McCabe requested publication of the ‘in-depth market testing exercise associated with the same of the student loan book. Jo Johnson has responded: “The Government ran a market testing process with a cross-section of potential investors in the student loan book from the end of September into November 2016. This sought feedback on potential sale structures and key features of the transaction and informed the design of the sale. This was a commercial rather than a public process and was conducted under non-disclosure agreements. We do not intend to publish a report of the details. Protecting the details of the conclusions of market testing will help the ongoing sale process achieve value for money for taxpayers.

Student Fees: On Thursday 16th the Petitions Committee released its latest decisions regarding recent petitions with a high number of signatures. This included a petition to government to change the University fees from £9250 back to the £3000 fee. The Committee agreed to wait for the Higher Education and Research Bill to complete its passage through Parliament before deciding whether to schedule a debate – effectively this was a dismissal of the petition.

Research Excellence Framework  The responses to the REF2021 consultation were due in by midday on 17th March.

  • There has been a lot of focus on one area, the definition of “research active staff” for the returns – there are some interesting views:
  • HEFCE blog (and BU’s reply) – HEFCE are proposing a negotiated definition for each university, BU is proposing all staff should be returned, including teaching only
  • Royal Society blog on Research Professional – they say staff shouldn’t be returned at all, it should be institutional
  • The PVC (Research and Enterprise) from Hertfordshire says on Times Higher Education that the solution is flawed and that clarity is needed

There are many other issues in the REF consultation, including the portability of outputs, which will have important consequences for institutions and their staff. The HEFCE REF consultation on the implementation of the REF 2021 closed on 17 March 2017.  You can read BU’s response here.

MSCA IF 2017

As the European Commission celebrates the support of over 100,000 researchers through Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions, RKEO are pleased to confirm our arrangements for supporting this high profile call in 2017.

Support

Timeline

As this is a highly popular call, RKEO need to carefully manage the flow of work within RKEO but also for all your colleagues, who work together, to ensure that each application is approved and submitted correctly.

The call will open on 11/04/17, when further information will be posted on this blog.

Please ensure that the Intention to Bid is submitted to RKEO by 30/06/17. You can, of course, let us know earlier than this date that you intend to apply, so that we can provide you, and your potential fellow, with as much support as possible, right up to the closing date of 14/09/17. It is expected that early drafts will be sent to RKEO at the beginning of August, allowing time for all those involved to manage their workloads.

Communication

Once we know that you are thinking of applying, even before submitting the Intention to Bid, we can keep you up to date with announcements from the funder and other sources of help and support.

If you are considering applying and would like to receive updates, please contact Dianne Goodman, RKEO’s Funding Development Team Co-ordinator, so that we can register your interest and provide useful information, such as  the indicative timetable for actions prior to submission. If you are ready to submit your Intention to Bid, you can do this now, via Dianne. The allocated Funding Development Officer can then contact you.

If you have any queries or comments about this  scheme, please contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator: EU & International

NIHR Fellowships Event 25th May 2017 – Book Now

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As part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, RKEO are holding a session on NIHR Fellowships.

The NIHR Fellowship Event will provide information about NIHR’s Fellowship schemes, and offer some hints and tips for a successful application. We are pleased to welcome the following speakers:

  • Professor Jane Sandall – Professor of Social Science & Women’s Health King’s College London, and NIHR Academic Training Advocate (Midwifery Lead)
  • Dr Dawn Biram – NIHR Trainees Coordinating CentreRKEO RKE NIHR
  • NIHR Fellows – Bournemouth University

Date: Thursday 25th May 2017

Time: 14:00-16:00

Venue: Executive Business Centre, Lansdowne Campus

The session is open to all academics, researchers and clinicians who have an interest in applying for NIHR Fellowships.

Please book your space through Eventbrite.

About the NIHR Fellowship Programme: The NIHR is the UK’s major funder of applied health research. All of the research it funds works towards improving the health and wealth of the nation. The NIHR develops and supports the people who conduct and contribute to health research and equally supports the training of the next generation of health researchers. NIHR training programmes provide a unique opportunity for all professionals to improve the health of patients in their care through research. Training and career development awards from the NIHR range from undergraduate level through to opportunities for established investigators and research leaders. They are open to a wide range of professions and designed to suit different working arrangements and career pathways.

Blog by the Vice-Chancellor – what next for the Teaching Excellence Framework

The BBC 2 series “Meet the Lords” could not have been better timed. The House of Lords has flexed its muscles on the Article 50 Bill and this week’s episode coincided with them passing an amendment to the Higher Education and Research Bill (HE Bill) that breaks the link between the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) and fees. Since then another amendment has been passed that would change the nature of the TEF, and bring it under Parliamentary scrutiny.

It would be easy to dismiss these (as some have done) as acts of rebellion by a non-elected chamber that is in the case of the HE Bill, representing vested interests in the face of a genuine government attempt to reform a sector that is badly in need of it. The Department for Education could be forgiven if they had thought that the HE Bill was nearly home and dry. They had published a long list of amendments which had been largely welcomed by the sector. The TEF does not require Parliamentary approval. Universities UK and GuildHE, amongst others, had expressed support for the HE bill as amended and expressed support for the TEF – opposing the addition of more detail as it would reduce flexibility in future negotiations on the detail. But the House of Lords did not agree – they have not sought to add more detail in the TEF, but to change its nature completely. Reading the debates, it is clear that members of the House of Lords, like most of the sector, generally support the objectives of TEF in bringing focus on the quality of education and student outcomes. They support the provision of more and better information about universities for applicants and others. They, like many in the sector, also generally support an inflationary increase in fees.

In the latest amendment, the provisions for the TEF in clause 26 have been removed and the new clause instead requires the Secretary of State to bring forward a scheme to identify whether an institution meets or fails to meet expectations based on quality standards but it “must not be used to create a single composite ranking of English higher education providers”.  The arguments are neatly summarised by Lord Lucas: “Bronze will be seen as failing because these universities will be marked out as the bottom 20%. This is just not necessary. We have succeeded, in our research rankings, in producing a measure of sufficient detail and sophistication for people to read it in detail. It produces quite marked differences between institutions, but nobody reads it as a mark of a failing institution. It is information, not ranking…”.

An earlier amendment removed the differentiation between fees based on different ratings. The speeches in the House of Lords demonstrate that they are opposed to this link for different reasons, for example:

  • Baroness Deech “If we detach fees from gold, silver and bronze, we stand a chance of increasing social mobility under the amendment. If we do not, social mobility will be frozen and ghettoisation will increase.”
  • Baroness Wolf of Dulwich: “I want to cite three groups of academics ….all of which feel, as do students, that in their current state the TEF metrics are not up to the job of determining fee levels and that, until we are sure that we have valid and reliable measures, we should not do this.”
  • Lord Lipsey : “… what seems knocking on bizarre is to plough on with bringing in this link between fees and the TEF before we have got the TEF right….The Government would give themselves the best chance of proving themselves right and the sceptics wrong if they gave time for the TEF to settle down before they brought in the fees link.”
  • Lord Kerslake: “My second reason for not making the link is that the TEF rating will relate to the university, not the subject or course. We will not see subject-level ratings until 2020 and yet we know that it is perfectly possible to have a mediocre course in an otherwise excellent university, and indeed vice versa. It can be argued that the TEF ranking gives an indication of the overall ​student experience at a particular institution, but the variation which so obviously exists within institutions makes that argument quite unconvincing.”

Except for the subject level fee point (which has not become a topic of debate yet), these are all arguments that were made by the sector in responding to the Green Paper and the TEF consultation. These are all things that we have continued to raise as we discuss the implications of subject-level TEF.

So as it stands, the TEF has lost both of its “incentives” – aka its carrot and its stick, which were both in the form of the impact on fees and reputation. It is not at all clear what will happen next – some ideas are given in this Wonkhe blog. In blogs on the Times Higher Education, Maddaleine Ansell of the University Alliance and Sorana Vieru gave very different perspectives.

So what compromise could there be to address all the concerns and yet still preserve the positive aspects of the TEF – i.e. the increasing focus on education and outcomes? I go back to BU’s response to the Green Paper, when we said that the TEF should model itself on the REF.. It should celebrate excellence wherever it is found, there should not be a link with tuition fees and there should be no forced ranking. To achieve that now, a remodelled TEF could include the following features:

  • no link to fees
  • have two rather than three levels of award – perhaps indicating good and outstanding. The last category is those who fail their quality assessment and don’t qualify for TEF.
  • take a different approach to benchmarking that does not force differentiation
  • include a place for commendations

I am not convinced by the argument that no-one would participate in the TEF without the direct financial incentive. That does not hold true for the REF. The REF has increased the focus on impact and had a beneficial impact on research. (We have some reservations about the changes proposed in the latest REF consultation, but that is a separate issue.) The concerns about the TEF would be mitigated substantially if the Olympic rating system and the link to fees were dropped. The sector would be able to engage in a much more constructive debate about subject-level TEF.

The TEF does not need to be thrown out completely – but this is an opportunity to go back to where this started from and ensure that the TEF brings focus on the quality of education and student outcomes.

RKE Development Framework – online materials launched under ‘Funding from the Major Charities’ pathway

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Online materials are now available under the ‘Funding from the Major Charities’ pathway of the RKE Development Framework.

Online sessions for ‘Introduction to the Wellcome Trust’ and ‘Introduction to the Leverhulme Trust’ are now available. The materials are available through myBU. To access the materials please login to myBU, and access the RKEO RKE Funding from major charitiescommunity ‘BU: Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework’. From here, you can navigate through the pathways (see left hand side of screen) to the Funding from Major Charities pathway to find the session materials.

Keep an eye out for upcoming sessions under this pathway including ‘Applying to a major charity – hints and tips’ as well as a Bid Writing Retreat for major charities. Further information on these sessions will be posted on the Research Blog in due course.

Book now- Royal Society Visit 24/5/17

network-logo-royal-societyThe Royal Society will be visiting Bournemouth University on the 24th of May 2017. The Royal Society is the independent scientific academy of the UK, dedicated to promoting excellence in science. The Society is an independent, charitable body and performs a number of roles including influencing policymaking, promoting public engagement with science and funding leading scientists.  Over £40 million is spent annually by the Royal Society across the grant-making schemes. This session will deliver an overview of the Royal Society’s funding schemes and will be relevant to final-year PhD students and researchers from post-doctoral level upwards working in the areas of life and physical sciences (excluding clinical medicine) and engineering.

The presentation will cover the following:

• Early Career Fellowship schemes:
University Research Fellowships, Sir Henry Dale Fellowships, Dorothy Hodgkin Fellowships

• Senior Fellowship schemes:
Leverhulme Trust Senior Research Fellowships, Wolfson Research Merit Awards, Research Professorships

• Industry & Innovation schemes:
Industry Fellowships, Innovation and Translation Awards

• Research Capacity/Infrastructure schemes:
Wolfson Laboratory Refurbishment Scheme, Research Grants

• Collaboration and Travel schemes:
International Exchanges Scheme, Newton International Fellowships

• Newton Fund schemes:
Newton Advanced Fellowship, Newton Mobility Grants

The intended learning outcomes of this session are:

  • To learn about the UK’s Royal Society, its remit and the type of funding offered
  • To be able to determine whether or not the Royal Society is an appropriate funder for your research project

To book a place, please follow the link here. For any queries, please contact Dianne Goodman (dgoodman@bournemouth.ac.uk).

 

 

External Bid Writing Support


dev_framework-300x286[1]RKEO are please to announce that as part of the Research Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, bid writing support is now available from external experts.

How can BU academics access this support?

Academics who wish to access external support need to consult with their faculty Deputy Dean of Research and Professional Practice (DDRPP).  As a first step, please log into myBU and open the “External bid Writers” folder under the “Pathways”  section of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework.

Please read the “Appointing an External Expert- Procedure” documents and complete the “External Support Checklist” along with an “Intention to Bid” form and send this to the relevant DDRPP.  If the request is approved, the DDRPP will send the approved paperwork to RKEO who will then contact the external consultant.  All contracts and legal/financial arrangements will be dealt with by RKEO.

For any questions on this process please contact Dianne Goodman (dgoodman@bournemouth.ac.uk).

Applying for funding from NIHR – Patient and Public Involvement Session 5th April 2017

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As part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, RKEO are holding a session on Applying for funding from NIHR – Patient and Public Involvement (PPI). At this session, you’ll hear from a Research Fellow / former PPI Senior Programme Manager at the NIHR about what is meant by PPI, and to understand how this can be applied to your research. You’ll also hear from the NIHR Research Design Service South West PPI Lead on the importance of involving the public and patients in research.

Date: Wednesday 5th April 2017RKEO RKE NIHR

Time: 14.00-16.00

Venue: Lansdowne Campus

Book your space via the RKE Development Framework page for this event.

For further information, please contact Lisa Gale-Andrews, RKEO Research Facilitator.

NIHR Grant Applications Seminar & Support event is coming to Bournemouth 28th June 2017 – book now

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RKEO are delighted to announce that the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Grant Applications Seminar & Support Event run by the NIHR Research Design Service South West (RDS-SW) is coming to BU.

The session is being held as part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Development Framework, and will offer some insights into what NIHR are looking for in grant applications to their schemes. You’ll hear from NIHR RDS advisers on what makes a good grant proposal, and from Simon Goodwin, Research for Patient Benefit Programme Manager for the South West.  The afternoon session will consist of one-to-one appointments for those who would like to discuss their own proposal with Simon and/or an RDS adviser.  The session is open to academics from all Faculties, and clinicians in the local health service wishing to pursue research in the fields of health and social care.

Date: Wednesday 28th June 2017RKEO RKE NIHR

Time: 10:30-16:00 (please note that 1:1 appointments are available between 13:45-16:00)

Venue: Fusion Building, Talbot Campus

How to book: Registration is FREE and lunch will be provided. Places are limited and will be allocated on a ‘first come, first served’ basis. Find out more and register.

For further information, please contact Lisa Gale-Andrews, RKEO Research Facilitator.

HE policy update w/e 24th February 2017

Jo Johnson spoke at a UUK conference today and made a number of important announcements:

  • New government amendments to the Higher Education and Research Bill. The detailed amendments have not yet been published but a Department for Education factsheet has been provided. The government amendments have been welcomed so far. See the Latest set of proposed amendments (mostly opposition amendments but some government ones too) – this will clearly grow more before the report stage starts on 6th March 2017. See more below.
  • Importantly, he announced that the subject level TEF would have a two year pilot – starting in 2017/18 but also running through 2018/19. Subject level TEF would then be formally implemented in 2019/20, with ratings that are announced around May 2020 with the Year 5 institutional level ratings. Note that it is currently not intended that subject level TEF will result in subject level fees. There was no mention of TEF for post-graduate, which was originally planned to run in year 4, so assessed during 2018/19.
  • Accelerated degrees – Jo Johnson also wrote in the Times about the government response to the consultation on accelerated degrees and credit switching (that closed last July with 1000s of responses) which will be issued shortly, and relevant changes that will be made to the HE Bill.  Apart from the headline grabbing focus on universities being able to raise fees above £13,000 a year, this consultation response will probably contain interesting stuff on credit transfers between universities.  The headline focus on fees is a little bit misleading, because this is in response to sector feedback that it isn’t possible to provide three years of teaching in two years unless fees are increased for those two years (there were many other comments about the impact on extra- and co-curricular activities, as well as cost).  The higher fees would only apply to accelerated degrees, as The Times story makes clear.
  • He also announced a number of other changes regarding institutional and research autonomy which are very helpful – more detail is given below.

HE and Research Bill – As mentioned above, the amendments continue to accumulate for the Lords report stage of the HE bill with the latest government amendments yet to be published. See the latest round up from Wonkhe here. One joint government and Labour amendment (to replace the opposition amendment passed in the House of Lords) defines institutional autonomy, and a number of others require the OfS to protect that autonomy. The definition that is proposed is set out below:

  • There is a new transparency duty – one that did seem to be an omission in the previous drafting. The TEF reflects the new focus on widening participation away from just access to progression and outcomes, but the HE Bill did not reflect this fully in the transparency duty as originally proposed. This has now been picked up, and the proposed amendment (which we have not seen yet) will require providers to publish information on levels of attainment, in addition to application, offer, acceptance and completion rates, broken down by gender, ethnicity and socio-economic background.
  • After the long and energetic discussions in the Lords about the Haldane principle, research autonomy and the many concerns expressed about the role of the Secretary of State, a number of amendments have been tabled 9but not yet published) including one explicitly about the Haldane principle
  • There is a response to the criticism of the limitations on the role of Innovation UK and some of its financial arrangements – we don’t have the detail on all of it but the business focus amendment is set out in the explanatory paper
  • As noted above, the announcement on accelerated degrees requires a change to the HE Bill to allow for higher fees for accelerated degrees – the DfE paper is clear that the overall cost of a degree will not go up – but universities will be allowed to charge more per year for the more intensive short courses.
  • On credit transfer, the proposed amendments will apparently require the OfS to monitor and report on arrangements for student transfer and a power for them to encourage and promote it.
  • There are a number of more technical amendments proposed, including to protect institutions in cases where degree awarding powers may be revoked, to protect Royal Charters and to ensure that the OfS does not meddle in institutional autonomy as regards standards. These changes will be most welcome, and BU, along with most of the sector has called for these changes, and we are looking forward to seeing the detail.

Other proposed opposition amendments include:

  • yet another attempt to change the name of the OfS – this time to the Office for Higher Education Standards. Given that the government have just confirmed that the OfS should not meddle in standards (see above), this amendment seems unlikely to pass.
  • and another attempt to address student loan repayment terms and conditions – this has been raised at every opportunity so far but has not yet been subject to a vote.

The HEFCE grant letter is out, with extensive coverage.  Research Professional report that:

  • Teaching funding will fall, representing nine consecutive years of reductions- it is due to be cut by 5 per cent in 2018-19—and the funds now also have to cover the expansion of medical schools and include trainee nurses, midwives and other health professionals. This is particularly interesting because of the theory that removing the commissioning arrangement will increase student numbers, balanced against concerns in the sector about falling applications and the real-life challenge with increasing student numbers, i.e. placements – On the latter point, Research Professional note the part of the HEFCE letter that “adds that in order to implement the Department of Health announcement that, from September 2018, the government would fund up to 1,500 additional student places in medical schools each year, the funding council should make an initial allocation of 500 places in 2018-19 “based on the capacity for growth and viability of provision in different institutions and be informed by advice from the Department of Health and Health Education England on the distribution of medical placements
  • On PG: “The letter further asks that the funding council ensures it pays for postgraduate courses on a basis that is “consistent with and complementary to” the new postgraduate loan system. In particular the funding council is asked to prioritise science and other high cost subjects.”
  • On TEF: “It asks the funding council to continue funding the introduction of the teaching excellence framework, including the subject-level pilots, for which the budget and approach will be determined later in 2017. The letter further encourages the continued funding of the “high priority” learning gain pilots” – which may give us an idea of where TEF metrics may be headed
  • On schools: “On social mobility, government asks the funding council to continue encouraging “innovative” forms of engagement with schools, including work to identify which institutions are sponsoring or establishing schools and the support they require to achieve it.” This sounds like a slight backing away from compulsory sponsorship of schools? Or maybe just preparation for identifying those who don’t comply.
  • On research:  “the letter says that detailed allocations for the £4.7 billion of additional investment pledged in the autumn statement will be finalised in early March. The funding council is expected to distribute the additional research and knowledge exchange funding allocation in 2017-18. The £100 million announced for technology transfer, meanwhile, will be based on competitive mechanisms that the funding council will develop with the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.”
  • And on student wellbeing: “The letter further asks the funding council to implement recommendations made by the Universities UK taskforce on violence, sexual harassment and hate crimes, which advocated the embedding of a zero-tolerance culture towards such incidents on campus. It also recommends the creation of an evidence base around mental health needs and services for staff and students.” The latter cross refers to a UUK good practice guide.
  • Other issues include plagiarism, credit transfer, REF, degree apprenticeships, Prevent and efficiency.

BTEC students – the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) have issued a report on BTECs and Pearson have blogged for them.  The report concludes that “Students arriving at university with BTECs account for much of the growth in students from the lowest participation neighbourhoods and other under-represented groups over the past decade. But those with BTECs face a ‘glass ceiling’ – for example:

  • only 15 BTEC students were accepted at the four most selective higher education institutions in 2015; and
  • under 60 per cent of students with BTECs at Russell Group universities complete their course.”

The report makes the following policy recommendations:

  • As the proportion of pupils achieving the highest BTEC grades (equivalent to three A-Levels) more than doubled from 17% to 38% between 2006 and 2013, the Government should evaluate whether the current system of external verification of BTECs is fit for purpose.
  • Universities should issue collective guidance on which BTECs are most valuable to students in terms of progression, as they have already done for A-Levels.
  • More prestigious universities with low numbers of BTEC students should consider bespoke access courses for BTEC students aimed at helping them adjust to the methods of teaching and assessment that are common in higher education.

Lifelong learning – The University Alliance issued a report on lifelong learning which calls for a number of actions, including setting up a UCAS style system for adult learning courses, reintroducing individual learning accounts and providing additional loans. They also mention accelerated degrees and suggest broadening the apprenticeship levy to cover such course.

Essay Mills – Jo Johnson called this week on universities to do more to stop students buying custom written essays online. He has asked the QAA to prepare guidance for universities and information for students to help combat the use of ‘essay mills’ websites as well as other forms of plagiarism and for the QAA to take direct action against those marketing the services. It looks as if the guidance will focus on making sure that universities have policies and sanctions in place.

“The Universities Minister has asked for guidance aimed at universities and information for students to help combat the use of these websites, as well as other forms of plagiarism. The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has also been tasked to take action against the online advertising of these services and to work with international agencies to deal with this problem.

The Minister is calling for the guidance to include tough new penalties for those who make use of essay mills websites, as well as the need to educate students about the potentially significant negative impacts on their future career if they are caught cheating.

Universities Minister Jo Johnson said: “This form of cheating is unacceptable and every university should have strong policies and sanctions in place to detect and deal with it“. Essay mill websites threaten to undermine the high quality reputation of a UK degree so it is vital that the sector works together to address this in a consistent and robust way.””

Brexit – The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published the terms of reference and membership of its “high level stakeholder working group on EU exit, universities, research and innovation”.

“The overarching purpose of the group is to provide a forum for BEIS, DfE, DExEU, and a broad range of UK representatives of the universities, science, research and innovation communities to discuss issues of common interest in approaching the UK’s exit from the EU. The emphasis will be on considering all factors related to research and innovation that need to be taken into account as government policy develops.”

Membership includes Jo Johnson, Madeleine Atkins, Nicola Dandridge, and the chairs of Million Plus, the Russell Group, GuildHE and the University Alliance, a couple of VCs and PVCs from the devolved administrations (Heriot-Watt, Ulster, Cardiff)  and representatives of a number of science bodies such as the Royal Academy of Engineering, the Campaign for Science and Engineering and others, CBI, RCUK, UKRI.  And Sir Mark Walport in his current role as the Government Chief Scientific Adviser.  Interestingly, none of the bodies represented are arts or social sciences bodies, which continues to demonstrate the apparent assumption in all of these groups on research as an activity that is only relevant to STEM.

Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) have intervened following a complaint to OIA from students that didn’t receive sufficient notice that compulsory modules had been introduced to their course. While UEA was not considered by OIA to have breached its rules the CMA have asked UEA to change its policy and consider the introduction of compulsory modules as a substantial change which would require greater timeliness of notice in future. CMA’s intervention is seen as a landmark intrusion by some. The CMA request is discussed further by Jim Dickinson and Paul Greatrix on Wonkhe. UUK also have a blog on the subject.

Developing an Effective Search Strategy Workshop on 22/02/17 – Places still available

research toolsPlaces are still available at the Research & Knowledge Exchange Development Framework workshop – Developing an Effective Search Strategy on 22nd February 2017 from 10:00 – 12:00 at the Lansdowne campus.

This workshop will be delivered by Chris Wentzell, Faculty Librarian for HSS, with the following aims and objectives:

  • Begin to develop a systematic search strategy
  • Use and access library resources; Know about visiting other libraries
  • Know how to make Inter Library Requests
  • Be able to set up citation alerts
  • Use citations smartly

Please register for this event via Oganisational Development. Once you have reserved your space,  the location will be confirmed via a meeting request. Tea and coffee will be provided.