Weekly HE Policy Update


Global competition

Key East Asian nations are emerging as ‘powerhouses’ in global higher education and research, leaving countries such as the UK, Canada and the US at risk. UK universities under increasing threat from Asian institutions  (The Financial Times)

Innovation and funding

An article by the BBC discusses how innovation is funded and how a mix of state and private funding is something academics should welcome, particularly to ensure that taxpayer funding research is able to translate into the commercial world.  Oxford’s robots and the funding of innovation (BBC News)


University Donations

The total value of donations worth £1 million or more to British universities fell last year, however, higher education remains the UK’s biggest recipient of major gifts. The annual Million Pound Donors Report from the bank Coutts, puts the total value of seven- and eight-figure donations to the sector during 2013 at £552.1 million, compared with £570 million during the previous year. The drop followed the end of the government’s three-year match-funding scheme for university donations. Overall value of big donations to universities falls (THE), Multi-million pound giving to universities increases (Telegraph)


A study from the Institute for Fiscal Studies has found that pupils from less affluent backgrounds do not perform as well at universities compared to their peers from more affluent backgrounds, despite arriving at university with similar A-level grades. Institute for Fiscal Studies 



With “huge reluctance and regret”, the NUS has pulled its backing from this month’s ‘free education’ demonstration due to issues around access and liability insurance. NUS pulls support for ‘free education’ march (THE)


Marking boycott

University lecturers have begun a marking boycott. The dispute is concentrated in 69 older institutions, where academics face having their pensions cut. Students may not see an immediate impact but the effect is likely to escalate, especially in universities that normally schedule end-of-term exams. Lecturers stop marking in pensions dispute (The Times), Universities warned over boycott pay docking (BBC News)


Student loans

Ministers have ruled out an urgent review of the sustainability of the student loans system despite being advised to do so by the Business, Innovation and Skills Committee. Government rules out student loans review (THE)

UCAS analysis

New analysis asserts that demand for studying at university is now at a record high. UCAS entry rates to higher education for 18 year-olds from the most disadvantaged neighbourhoods in England have now reached 17 per cent.  One explanation for this is that a combination of the economic crisis and wider socioeconomic trends mean that young people believe it has never been more difficult to find a good job without a degree.  Additionally, the analysis shows that getting a place at a selective university has become around one A-level grade easier since the trebling of tuition fees. Rise in fees has made university entry easier (The Times) What’s behind the surprising success of raising tuition fees? (New Statesman)