Weekly HE Policy Update


EPSRC funding for dementia detection

Eight new research projects that will explore a variety of techniques and technology aimed at improving detection and diagnosis of dementias, are to receive over £8 million in funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). University’s £1m study of eyeball link to Alzheimer’s (BBC News)


Marking boycott over pensions 

The University and College Union says they will halt any planned exams and stop students from receiving; coursework, formal marks or feedback during industrial action, involving members at 69 UK universities which will start on 6th November. The row centres on attempts by Universities UK to reform the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS).Marking boycott set to affect ‘thousands of students’ (The Daily Telegraph)


International students

The government, and not the public is ‘afraid’ of international students, while the current policy on student visas is causing ‘terrible damage’, according to Keith Vaz MP. The home affairs select committee chair co-hosted a debate on the issue of student visas to help form the committee’s report, which will be published prior to the 2015 general election. Keith Vaz: Government Is ‘Afraid’ Of International Students (The Huffington Post)

Scottish Students

Scottish students are being forced to take out record levels of debt after the Scottish government cut the grants they could claim by 40%. Official figures show that total student borrowing jumped by 69% for the last academic year up to £430m, the highest ever level. The heaviest burden is being carried by the poorest students after ministers cut overall spending on grants for living costs from £53m to £36m last year. Ministers under fire as £35m of cuts to student grants revealed (The Herald Scotland), Scottish student borrowing soars by 69% to record levels (The Guardian)


Postgraduate loans

A national postgraduate loan system would be ‘eminently affordable’, according to research from the Institute for Public Policy Research. The analysis models the impact on the exchequer of a loan scheme similar to that available for undergraduates. If postgraduates were asked to repay their loans on earnings above £15,000 a year (rather than £21,000 as with the undergraduate loan), the report estimates that only 6.9 per cent would not be recovered. The total cost of unpaid loans would be £44m, compared with £4.2bn for undergraduate loans. Postgraduate loan system would be ’eminently affordable’  (FT)

Private education salary boost

A report from the Institute for Fiscal Studies reveals that state school-educated graduates are earning significantly less than their privately educated peers, even when they are employed in the same roles. Even among graduates who went to the same university, studied the same subject and left with the same class of degree, those who went to private schools still earn 7 per cent more than state-educated students three and a half years after graduation.  Private school graduates ‘out-earn state counterparts’ (BBC News)


Social Mobility

Research by the Institute of Education has shown that parents’ level of education has a particularly strong effect on men’s incomes in the UK and in a handful of other countries. Although the study focused primarily on men, it also found that women in England and Northern Ireland born to parents who were early school-leavers earn 11 per cent less than the daughters of graduates, even if they have the same qualifications. Parents’ education ‘has greater effect’ in unequal countries (THE), British men earn 20 per cent more if a parent went to university (Telegraph)