Policy Update



The National Union of Students will support a major demonstration against austerity and for free education, in a reversal of a decision which was taken over just a month ago. NUS backs national fees demonstration and censures president (THE).


Student Debt

In a new report, The Institute for Fiscal Studies says the loss of maintenance grants which was announced by the chancellor of the Exchequer in this month’s Budget, will see the poorest 40 per cent of students in England leave university with debts of up to £53,000, rather than up to £40,500. You can view the report here.


An article in the Guardian Higher Education Network discusses the new responsibilities that universities will face regarding stopping events happening that could potentially draw people into terrorism. The article suggests that the vague guidelines will perpetuate stereotypes and limit debate. The article also mentions that placing such a heavy responsibility on lecturers will subvert the pedagogic relationship between lecturers and students in the university setting. How do you spot a student extremist in a university? (Guardian Higher Education Network).

EU Membership

Universities need more positive and persuasive arguments for EU membership, according to Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute.  He has argued that universities should focus on benefits of international collaboration and the importance of big research projects. The pro-EU case must be about more than just funding (Research Fortnight).


Consultation- Alternative Providers

The outcome of the ‘Alternative Providers of Higher Education: Improving Quality and Value for Money’ consultation led by BIS has been published. Some key outcomes reveal that the government will require all alternative providers to provide KIS data from 2016/17 as well as requiring students at alternative providers on courses eligible for student support to have their English language skills assessed at minimum international level B2 on starting the course. You can view the consultation outcome here.



The inability of universities to demonstrate the effectiveness of initiatives aimed at improving participation, retention and student success is “increasingly untenable” as the teaching excellence framework approaches according to HEFCE. Hefce to ask for data on outcomes of access and attainment schemes (THE).


The Institute of Economic Affairs, has published a report calling for the abolition of the Research Excellence Framework, used by the funding councils to allocate an annual £1.6 billion of quality-related research funding to UK universities. The authors argue that the REF “uses significant resources and distorts resource allocation within the higher education sector away from teaching and knowledge dissemination”. News blog: right-wing thinktank close to Sajid Javid calls for scrapping of REF (THE).


Graduate Employment

Female graduates are more likely to find jobs after they leave university than their male peers, but those men who do find work enjoy higher starting salaries, the latest statistics on graduate employment show. Female graduates find more jobs, while men win higher pay (The Guardian).