HE Policy Update



A review – REF Accountability Review: Costs, Benefits and Burden, has looked at the institutional costs of the REF. The review revealed that institutions’ own total spend on the REF exceeds £230 million, of which £55 million went on preparing impact statements and £19 million for panellists’ time. REF 2014 cost almost £250 million (THE).

International Students

A Professor of international higher education at the UCL Institute of Education has spoken at the UK Council for International Student Affairs conference. He argued that universities must collect “hard evidence” to prove that the UK is no longer a welcoming place for international students if the sector is to effectively challenge government policies on immigration. Universities ‘must collect hard data’ on barriers to overseas students (THE).

NUS President

Megan Dunn, president of the National Union of Students, has spoken about the government’s plans to convert maintenance grants to loans. She has said the policy change is a calculated, regressive move by the government and that maintenance grants are a necessity, not a luxury. Maintenance grants are a necessity, not a luxury (THE).


Teaching Excellence Framework

A senior lecturer at Brighton University has written in the Guardian, critiquing the government’s plans to introduce a Teaching Excellence Framework. The piece suggests that evaluating universities for teaching will likely lead to a data driven culture where academics make decisions on the basis of whether it’s ‘good for the Tef’. What’s worse than a Ref for teaching? An Ofsted for universities (THE).



Data published by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills reveals that 85 per cent of English private school leavers who turned 19 in 2012-13 were in higher education, compared with 66 per cent of state school students. Access gap between private and state school pupils widens (THE).


Disadvantaged Students

Universities in England have agreed to take more students from disadvantaged homes, fair access watchdog Offa says. Institutions have also agreed to spend £750m on outreach activities, bursaries and waiving fees for poorer youngsters. Universities agree to take more disadvantaged students (BBC News).

Tuition Fees

The number of universities charging £9,000 a year is growing, according to a published report by the universities’ access watchdog. The study by Offa shows the number has gone up from 130 to 139 in the past year. Number of universities charging £9,000 a year is growing, says watchdog (The Independent).


Student Visas

In a confidential letter to other ministers, Theresa May has apparently argued that universities should “develop sustainable funding models that are not so dependent on international students”. The letter is also reported to claim that students should be required to demonstrate a higher degree of financial backing as a condition for receipt of a higher education visa than is currently required. The Home Office has refused to comment on the leaked documents. Home Secretary proposes tougher rules for student visas (BBC News).