HE policy update for the w/e 30th November 2018

Lots of news this week  – and some negative headlines as a result.

TEF update

Have you been following the changes to the TEF announced in February?  Are you up to date with the metrics and proposed structure.  Did you know that year 5 has been postponed?  We have prepared some slides on TEF which will bring you up to date – you can see them via the Policy pages on the intranet.

Unconditional offers – the next phase of the debate

Sarah wrote a long piece on unconditional offers last week, and this week we have this year’s data from UCAS.  The headline of the report is that unconditional offers were made to a third of young applicants in England, Northern Ireland and Wales in the 2018 admissions cycle   The actual report is here.  The report also notes that most unconditional offers (i.e. around two thirds of those made) were made to those aged 19 and over – i.e. post qualification.  This share has fallen since 2013 when it was 98%.

  • The report shows an increase to 68,000 in 2018 from 3000 in 2013.  But also, there are separate figures, of 66,315 “conditional unconditional offers” – i.e. those which become unconditional if the student picks the university as their firm choice.  In 2013 apparently no-one was making those.   As some students (quite a few) got both sorts, overall the data says that 34.4% of 18 year old applicants) (87,540) got at least one “unconditional” offer in 2018.
  • The report also notes that “In 2018, 18 per cent of offers made to young people for creative arts and design courses were unconditional, compared to 0.3 per cent for medicine and dentistry courses. This reflects that an audition or portfolio review is normally a core part of the assessment for a creative arts and design course. The demonstration of potential via this form of assessment often carries more weight in reaching an admissions decision than examination results.”
  • The Wonkhe analysis of who gets the offers shows that the biggest group receiving unconditional offers is the lowest POLAR quintile and that this year the difference is sharper than in previous years.  That sounds like good news, if you believe that unconditional offers should be used contextually to help students who may have other reasons for struggling to achieve the grades that reflect their potential.
  • This is also interesting: “In 2014 and 2015, applicants predicted AAA were most likely to receive an unconditional offer, but in 2018, applicants predicted BBC became the most likely. Applicants with higher predicted grades are, however, much more likely to receive a conditional unconditional offer.”.
  • “In 2018, almost one in three applicants predicted 11 points (equivalent to BBC) received an unconditional offer. Around one in ten applicants predicted 6 points or fewer (equivalent to DDD or below), and around one in 20 applicants predicted 18 points (equivalent to A*A*A*) received an unconditional offer.”

Jess Moody tweeted a SWOT analysis from 2014 from the Guide produced by the SPA (Supporting Professionalism in Admissions) National expert Think Tank.  Interestingly this guide also included some advice (which does not appear to be being followed consistently):

  • Type of acceptance – it would be inappropriate to add conditions to an unconditional offer, including type of acceptance as a condition, but providers will presumably want to avoid all these offers becoming applicants’ insurance. Much of the guidance available for applicants suggests applicants choose a lower offer as insurance, so providers may need to consider what strengths incentivise placing them as firm without affecting the character of the offer itself. [and this is the section of unconditional offer making that UCAS reports is growing fastest]
  • Published criteria – to be transparent, providers should publish the criteria for making unconditional offers: these will need to be clear in order to minimise complaints, appeals or calls for similar treatment from those not eligible.
  • Inadvertent discrimination – it is highly likely some groups will be advantaged over others by this approach, so providers should consider what steps to take in advance to limit discrimination, unnecessary barriers and unfairness, what procedures to have in place to consider mitigating circumstances in cycle, and what monitoring to undertake to review afterwards.
  • Reputational impact – how this approach will be perceived within schools/colleges and by applicants themselves could affect perceptions of the HE provider, its academic standing and its recruitment health. Negative perceptions could significantly undermine recruitment strategies and have a longer term impact in advisors’ minds. A clear communication strategy may help. Understanding the effect on key feeder schools/colleges would be useful, particularly if some would not benefit from the approach. Assume the press will take an interest and be prepared for queries.
  • Student performance – there should be a thorough risk analysis of any impact on students’ A-Level or other examination performance. It is quite possible that the risk to high achieving students is minimal; that a conditional offer is not their main driver and they would most likely continue to revise hard and perform as well. However, this cannot be assumed to be a constant across all students and the varying risk for different groups or for different levels of achievement should be analysed. It may also be worth considering whether there may be any progression issues in cases where students do decide to drop one or more of their examinations, or simply underperform in them, and if so whether there are any support arrangements required to ensure such complacency does not persist into their HE studies and that it does not hinder future career prospects.

Potentially the important section of this report is section 6 – the impact on A level grades.

  • “Previous research by UCAS4 revealed how 18 year old applicants studying for A levels while applying to university tend to achieve, on average, grades lower than those they were predicted to achieve. Typically, among applicants who are studying for three or more A levels, achieved grades tend to be between one and two grades lower across their A levels, than those they were predicted to get”…” In each year, a greater percentage of applicants missed their predicted attainment than met or exceeded it. Furthermore, in each year, the percentage of applicants who meet or exceed their predicted grades has decreased. Since 2013, the percentage of applicants who miss their predicted grades by more than 3 A level points has increased, with nearly one in four applicants missing their predicted grades by this margin in 2018”.
  • “Many factors are associated with the probability of an applicant not achieving their predicted attainment. The most important factors affecting attainment include prior attainment at GCSE and equivalent level, the predicted A level grades, and the subjects being studied, the type of school attended, and various background characteristics of the applicants. Holding an unconditional firm offer was also shown to affect attainment, with those holding an unconditional firm offer found to have a higher probability of missing their predicted attainment by two or more grades. This was the case even after controlling for many of the other factors associated with A level attainment.”

But there is an alternative modelling approach in Annex A to the report which suggests thatA.2 Less than 2 per cent of applicants who missed their predicted A levels by two or more grades in 2018, did so as a result of holding an unconditional firm”

So what does all this mean – that you can’t generalise about “bums on seats” and poor quality universities filling spaces on poor quality courses with students who aren’t up to it and shouldn’t really be there, with all the consequent hype about negative impact on quality of teaching in universities etc. that we reported last week.  Because the “conditional unconditional” offers are being made to mid-range students – not just “anyone”.  It is hard to argue that BBB students are low potential students who are being “bribed” into taking up a university place that they will not be able to make the most of.  Which is where the bums on seats argument always goes – people taking up places they shouldn’t have been offered, doing useless courses at poor universities, etc. etc.  BBB offers don’t look like that.

We have not seen (other than anecdotal) evidence for the long term impact of dropping grades at A level – that would need to control for prior attainment and other factors – as well as for patterns over over-prediction by schools.  These and other issues were described in a blog for Wonkhe by David Kernohan in August.

UCAS have the following conclusion:  The analysis cannot stop here. In accordance with good practice, many universities and colleges are tracking the progress and outcomes of students admitted with unconditional offers, and benchmarking them against students admitted to the same programmes through conditional offers. As this evidence base builds, providers should share their findings, to enable a nuanced debate about the future use of unconditional offers to young people.”

There is a blog here from the VC of Portsmouth University that responds to the negative press:

  • “If our outputs are good – if our graduates succeed in life and work – who cares whether they arrive because of unconditional offers or AAA offers? Equally, if we recruit students who are not successful we will be judged accordingly.
  • The government’s approach is akin to assessing the quality of gyms on the basis of the fitness of their members when they join. They would only admit very fit people in the first place and this would clearly not measure the benefits of going to the gym. It would more reliably measure prior attainment and social background.
  • Most importantly, if the government is prescriptive about universities’ admissions criteria, it will increase the risk that many students who can benefit from university will not be allowed to go. Who benefits from this?
  • The general principle is clear: universities should be held to account on how well our students do during their studies and after they leave, not on how well they do before they arrive. This is the only way to determine whether public investment in universities is value for money.”

This is clearly a debate that will continue to run….

Graduate outcomes

On Tuesday the negative headlines were all about the latest IFS analysis of salary data – “the impact of undergraduate degrees on early-career earnings”.  Although this may be a misleading title – the report itself says that there is not necessarily a causal link….

Main findings (from DODs)

  • Those who attend HE earn a lot more on average than those who do not. At age 29 the average man who attended HE earns around 25% more than the average man (with five A*-C GCSEs) who did not. For women the gap is more than 50%.
  • A large portion of this difference can be explained by differences in pre-university characteristics: a typical HE student has higher prior attainment and is more likely to have come from a richer family than someone who does not attend. They would therefore be expected to earn more, even had they not gone to university.
  • Once we account for differences in pre-university characteristics, we estimate the average impact of attending HE on earnings at age 29 to be 26% for women and 6% for men. If we focus on the impact of graduating, these returns rise to 28% and 8% respectively.
  • There is strong evidence that the earnings of men who attend HE continue to grow faster than their non-HE counterparts after age 30. For women, the divergent trends in earnings by education type after age 30 are less clear.
  • Subject choice appears to be a very important determinant of returns. For men, studying creative arts, English or philosophy actually result in lower earnings on average at age 29 than people with similar background characteristics who did not go to HE at all. By contrast, studying medicine or economics appears to increase earnings by more than 20%. For women, there are no subjects that have negative average returns
  • We estimate that 67% of men and 99% of women (85% of students) attended universities that have significantly positive returns on average by age 29.

In accompaniment to this report, Universities Minister Sam Gyimah has also released a statement, outlining that despite the vast majority of graduates earning more at the age of 29 than those who do not go to university,

  • “there are still cases where students aren’t necessarily choosing the institution (or course) that will deliver the best returns”.
  • The Office for Students, the new regulator we have set up to look out for students’ interests, has the power to crack down on institutions delivering poor outcomes for students. The graduate earnings premium could be even higher if all prospective students have the best information possible about where and what they study when making choices. The research we’re publishing today, alongside other data like the Teaching Excellence Framework and our Open Data prize, will help make this a reality.”

Sample press coverage:

BBC: This latest report could raise some very awkward questions. Is it reasonable to charge students £9,500 regardless of course or university when there are such different outcomes in earnings? And is it sustainable to have such a high level of fee and debt, when for so many, particularly men, the returns can be marginal or non-existent?  [of course the graduates don’t have to pay it back, under the current system, but it may (and obviously is) prompt the government to ask whether they should fund them]

The Independent: Male students at a top university receive hardly any boost to their future earnings compared with peers who chose to avoid higher education altogether, government figures suggest.  The University of Glasgow, a member of the Russell Group which represents the most selective universities in the UK, makes no significantly positive returns for male attendees, the data finds. It comes as Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) research shows one in three male students attend an institution that gives them no significant advantage in terms of salary over their non-graduate peers.

Some interesting points from the report:

  • The returns to HE also differ considerably for different types of students . Attending HE only increases the age 29 earnings of lower prior attainment men (based on GCSE grades) without a STEM A-level by 4%. This compares to 20% for their peers who also do not have a STEM A-level but have high GCSE grades. The return is low because students with lower prior attainment are more likely to take low-returning subjects like creative arts, communications and sport science, and are more likely to attend lower-returning universities.  However, this is not the only explanation: even when they study the same subject or at the same type of university as their peers who have higher prior attainment, they experience lower returns.
  • This is a particularly important when considering the impacts of expansion in the HE system: in our period of study, 70% of all students with five A*-C GCSEs that did not attend university fell within this lower prior attainment, without STEM A-level group.
  • Men with higher prior attainment and a STEM A-level have an estimated return of 5%, which might be lower than expected. This is hugely varied: studying law, medicine or economics increases their earnings by around 20%, and the return to attending a Russell Group for this group is around 10%. On the other hand, studying arts English, communications, psychology, languages and history, or attending Post-1992 or Other universities actually appears to result in lower earnings for this group than they would have achieved had they not gone to university (of course, these individuals may be making these choices for reasons other than to try to maximise their earnings). These particular estimates should be treated with caution, as overall only 5% of individuals in this group do not go to HE, and they are likely to be quite unusual – indeed, they have very high average earnings of around £40,000 per year by age 29.
  • Among women, the overall returns to HE are high for all groups, though some similar patterns emerge. Higher prior attainment women without a STEM A-level have higher returns than their lower attainment peers. Unlike for men, there is little evidence of lower prior attainment women without a STEM A-level experiencing lower returns when studying the same subject as their higher attaining peers. Instead, the lower returns for this group appear to be driven by a higher propensity to study lower (although still significantly positive) returning subjects such as social care, sociology or education, and because they are more likely to attend lower-returning universities.

They also note:

  • It is important to highlight one of the drawbacks of our data: we are not able to observe hours worked, and so instead we investigate annual earnings. This is likely to be particularly important in our estimates of the returns to HE for women, which are likely to at least partly reflect the fact that women who attend HE are much less likely to work part-time and so have higher earnings directly as a result of working more hours
  • There are three main caveats that should be attached to our results, however.
    • First, the results should not be interpreted as definitively causal. Whilst we are able to move beyond the existing literature by making use of rich data and sophisticated estimation techniques, unobservable differences that could affect earnings may remain between individuals taking different education options, such as different preferences over, for example, potential career paths or different levels of passion or enthusiasm for working and studying. Generally speaking, the academic literature that has looked at this issue finds the potential bias to be relatively small when thinking about overall returns (Card, 1999), but to be larger when looking at different subjects and institutions Kirkeboen et al., 2016; Andrews et al., 2017).
    • Second, we are only able to look directly at earnings up to age 29, which is clearly very early in the careers of graduates. We provide evidence to show that the earnings differential between graduates and non-graduates is still growing at that point, which suggests our estimated returns are likely to understate the potential lifetime differences in earnings between graduates and non-graduates.
    • Third, our estimates of the returns to HE are solely pecuniary. Whilst these are likely to be a major component of the return to HE, we are not estimating non-pecuniary returns, such as improved health, a more pleasant work environment, reduced crime or increased civic participation

Wonkhe analysis by David Kernohan:

  • But it is Sam Gyimah’s interventionist language that worries me most. If he expects OfS to intervene based on these findings (which was the impression he gave me) then he needs to be clear that an age 29 salary detriment is due mostly or entirely to the quality of HE provision. Without controlling for region or qualification status, and without a proper historical treatment of the data, this assertion can’t safely be made. We are seeing the effects of poor quality salary data in policy already – as institutions like the University of Bolton would perhaps most easily address OfS registration conditions by upping sticks and moving to Bloomsbury.
  • Statements and press releases have included, at least in passing, the idea that salary might not be the only measure of higher education success. The idea of hard-working nurses and diligent social workers – or the artists and writers that contribute to our idea of a civilisation – is waved at us as a token alternative to a purely salary driven metric. But without the corollary that they should perhaps earn more, and that in many cases it is within the gift of the government to make that happen.
  • I’ve always held the position that this is interesting research data, but it is not useful for policy making or application decision making. But Sam Gyimah feels it is “better than nothing” for both those use cases. It isn’t – it is actively unhelpful. For all the prestige that the IFS brand offers, this is political data designed to act as a signal in the still fondly hoped for HE market.

Alternative funding systems

So while the focus on value for money continues, HEPI have published a paper on a possible alternative structure by Johnny Rich:

  • In order to balance the cost more fairly between students, taxpayers and employers, the paper proposes that, instead of students borrowing money to pay for tuition, businesses should pay a levy for each graduate they employ. The amounts would be equivalent to the student loan repayments made under the current funding system in England.
  • Revenue from graduate levies would be paid directly to the higher education institution where each graduate studied. Institutions would be financially sustainable because they would share an investment in the future employability of their students, rather than because they maximise their student intake.
  • The paper has been written in a personal capacity by Johnny Rich, a higher education specialist who is also Chief Executive of Push, a not-for-profit outreach organisation, and the Engineering Professors’ Council.
  • Rich also argues for a redistribution of funds between higher education institutions based on their ability to attract and support students from poorer backgrounds. This would give institutions an incentive to support social mobility and ensure access money is spent more effectively.

The BBC cover it here

Policy – the future?

Dods Political Consultants have produced a series of guides exploring what can be expected from political developments in the following areas over the next six months. Internal readers should click here to link to the guides which cover:

  • Business and Employment
  • Health and Social Care
  • Justice and Home Affairs
  • Defence, International Development and Foreign Affairs
  • Environment and Rural Affairs
  • Energy and Utilities
  • Financial Services
  • Housing, Communities and Local Government
  • Science, Technology and Digital
  • Transport and Infrastructure
  • Welfare

Brexit update

The latest update from UUKi looks so far positive – we quote below

Withdrawal agreement – The Withdrawal Agreement, concluded two weeks ago, confirms that (if the agreement is ratified) the UK stays in Erasmus+ and Horizon Europe and during the transition period, and nothing changes in the immigration rules for EEA citizens or for UK nationals in EU member states, who retain their legal status as EU citizens.  The Withdrawal Agreement still needs to be approved and ratified by both the EU – at the emergency EU Council summit on November 25 and by the European Parliament – and also by the UK Parliament, and that is, of course, by no means guaranteed. Attached you will find an e-mail from UUK Chief Executive, Alistair Jarvis.

 Political declaration for a future UK-EU relationship and the successor programme – The draft political declaration for a future UK-EU relationship has been ‘agreed in principle’ today. The full document is available here. This document creates the basis for future participation in EU programmes such as Erasmus and Horizon 2020 and shows a willingness on both sides for this to happen (11). Although it recognises that free movement will end there is an agreement to work towards visa-free travel for ‘short-term visits’ (52) and to consider conditions for entry and stay purposes such as ‘research, study, training and youth exchanges’ (53).

UUK is in regular contact with the UK Government, EU officials and European stakeholders to stress the importance of the successor programme to the sector and our strong desire to associate. The European Commission adopted its proposal for the successor scheme to Erasmus+ in May, and the European Parliament has since published its response to the proposal. Attached you’ll find an overview of the amendments the Parliament proposed. You can find the full report here. The main amendments the Parliament has proposed are to:

  • Keep the name Erasmus+ (instead of Erasmus)
  • Triple the budget to € 47 billion (the Commission’s proposal was to double to € 30 billion)
  • Include extra measures and methods to ensure more inclusion in the new programme such as having national agencies develop a multiannual national strategy to foster inclusion
  • Start using Structural Funds to finance high-quality proposals that cannot be financed by Erasmus due to lack of budget, without the need to submit a new application

Current resources:

In the meantime, UUK has published a briefing on “no-Deal” Brexit.

If the Brexit negotiations end without a deal in place, then: 

  • there would be great uncertainty on whether any commitments agreed as part of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement on citizens’ rights and continued participation in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ still apply
  • there would be no agreement on implementing a transition period between the date of Brexit and 31 December 2020, during which time it was envisioned that freedom of movement would essentially still apply
  • there would be no certainty on what the UK’s future relationship with the EU would look like, including in areas like the mobility of citizens and access to EU programmes

Any impact from a no deal Brexit could result in the following outcomes taking effect on 29 March 2019:

  • the residency and work rights of EU nationals already working in universities would be unclear EU nationals 
  • entering the UK could be treated as third country nationals, subject to non-EEA immigration rules and requirements 
  • the UK’s ability to participate in Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+ could cease, because there would be no legal obligation for the UK to pay any financial settlement on exit 
  • the continued mutual recognition of professional qualifications covered by the current EU Directive would be uncertain

The government has already committed to a number of stability measures beyond March 2019 (including technical notices) that UUK has actively lobbied for. These are set out below. 

  • EU citizens’ rights: the Prime Minister has said that “even in the event of no deal” the rights of EU citizens living in the UK “will be protected”. The UK government has committed to the roll out of the EU settlement scheme in advance of the March 2019, indicating a possible direction of travel in the event of a no deal.
  • Horizon 2020: in July 2018, the UK government extended a commitment to underwrite payments of Horizon 2020 awardsso that it covers grant applications for funding streams open to third country participation (i.e. multi-beneficiary grants) that are submitted after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019. In September 2018, UKRI launched an online portal for UK based recipients of Horizon 2020 funding to log details of their grants.
  • Structural Funds: the same government guarantee of EU funding also underwrites the UK’s allocation for structural and investment fund projects under the EU budget period to 2020, and managing authorities will continue to sign new projects until programme closure. 
  • Erasmus+: In July 2018, the UK government extended a commitment on EU funding to also underwrite the payments of all competitive grants to include centralised Erasmus+ actions (e.g. collaborative projects). On mobility specifically, the government has also agreed to extend its underwrite, although subject to agreement with the EU, until the end of 2020, as set out in the government’s Technical Notice on Erasmus+ in the UK if there’s no Brexit deal.
  • EU student fee status/financial support: governments across the UK have confirmed that EU students starting a course in 2019/20 (the first cycle post-Brexit) will still be eligible for home fee status and for financial support as per existing rules. These announcements have not been caveated as being subject a Brexit deal being agreed, and UUK has been informed by the Department for Education that these commitments (for England) would be honoured even in the event of no deal. 
  • Qualifications recognition: the Brexit White Paper states that the government wants to establish a system on mutual recognition of professional qualifications (MRPQ) that covers the same range of professions as the existing MRPQ Directive. 

Further, UUK suggests that universities consider taking the following action in order to prepare for a possible no deal scenario: 

  • speaking with European partners regularly to share understanding of the impact of no deal and collaboratively plan for such an outcome
  • being mindful of how courses are described to prospective students in terms of fee/loan status and qualifications recognition 
  • working with existing staff with non-UK nationalities and considering communication to this group around the publication of the EU Settlement Scheme 
  • These suggested actions are set out in more detail in the following section, covering: EU citizens’ rights and migration rules; participation in the Horizon 2020, Erasmus+ and Structural Funds programmes, and on student fees and qualifications. 

Grade inflation

In a week of difficult headlines for the sector, the second set were about grade inflation.

UUK issued a report: from the press release:

 “A wide range of factors behind the increase in the number of graduates receiving first and upper-second class degrees.  This report by UUK, GuildHE and QAA, the Quality Assurance Agency for Higher Education, on behalf of the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) looked at the reasons behind the increase in the number of graduates receiving first and upper-second class degrees.

Key findings show that a wide range of factors could be driving the increase in upper degrees, including additional investment in teaching and learning and heightened student motivation. However, there is a risk that a continued increase in the number of top degrees may undermine confidence in the value of a degree from a UK university, making the classification system less useful for employers and students.” 

  • The average percentage of upper degrees awarded by an institution in 2016/17 was 74%, ranging from 52% to 94%.
  • The average percentage point change in the proportion of upper degrees between 2010/11 and 2016/17 was 11 points, ranging from a fall of 11 points to an increase of 34 points. There was an increase in the proportion of firsts, from 15% to 25%.
  • Over half (54%) of institutions had an increase in the proportion of upper degrees of 10 points of more between 2010/11 and 2016/17

And this is a real risk, as the report says:

Online polling of 2,063 UK adults by BritainThinks for UUK in May 2018 provides further indication of public attitudes towards the value of a university education within this context:

  • 5% agreed that ‘being a graduate is less impressive now because more people have degrees than in the past’.
  • 61% agreed that ‘a university degree is only worth doing if it will help you get a better job’.
  • 55% agree that ‘people going to universities can get better jobs than those who don’t’

Is it really grade inflation?

“Grade inflation has been defined as ‘an upward shift in [student grades] over an extended period of time without a corresponding increase in student achievement’ (Rosovsky and Hartley 2002: 4). Applied to the UK, this would mean an increase in upper degree awards without improvement in student attainment. Quality assurance systems aim to maintain the integrity and consistency of standards, for example through internal moderation and external examining. However, the charge of grade inflation implies that these processes do not counter (or are imbued by) educational cultures and/or financial and market incentives that have softened rigour.

Proving whether the upward trend in grades is inflation or as a result of improvement in student performance is highly complex and imbued by debates between different educational philosophies. To test whether grade inflation is real requires accurate knowledge of a student’s divergence from an expected outcome, while accounting for the impact of teaching and learning and student motivation on attainment.”

There is lengthy analysis of many factors which are relevant to assessment and it is worth a read if you are interested in this area.

The recommendation is that: “Higher education institutions should make a statement of intent to protect the value of qualifications over time by:

  • Publishing analysis of institutional degree outcomes, supported by appropriate external assurance, in a ‘degree outcomes statement’ or equivalent.
  • Publishing and explaining the design of the degree classification algorithm, including where it deviates from accepted norms of practice.
  • Ensuring that assessment criteria meet and exceed sector reference points and reviewing the use of data in quality assurance processes.
  • Supporting the professional development of academics working as external examiners to help maintain standards and the value of qualifications.
  • Reviewing the structure of the degree classification system to ensure that it remains useful for students and employers.”

“The statement should be taken forward through a UK-wide consultation by UKSCA, including appropriate national approaches and variations. The consultation should aim to establish a common framework for taking forward the statement including:

  • a framework for institutional review of practice and data
  • common principles for algorithm practice
  • a shared sector metric on degree outcomes
  • recognition of a common description of degree classification criteria
  • terms of reference for a review of the classification system
  • a timeline for action”

Reporting: the Guardian

This consultation has been announced and will run until 8th February 2019 – BU will prepare an institutional response.

And remember that the current year 4 TEF includes grade inflation data, which will be published for all institutions in January.

Consultations & Inquiries

Click here to view the updated consultation and inquiries tracker. Email us on policy@bournemouth.ac.uk if you want to chat or contribute to any of the current consultations.

Other news

From Wonkhe:

  • The father of former student Ed Farmer, who died while taking part in a student society initiation, has called for students involved in future ceremonies to be expelled. The Independent, the BBC, The Telegraph, the Guardian and the Mail Online all have the story.
  • David Gardner argues in the Financial Times that universities “risk their reputations through links to repressive regimes”.

From Research Professional: Observers of how universities are thought of outside the academic bubble would do well to listen to the phone-in on the Jeremy Vine Show on Radio 2, on the subject of unconditional offers.  While people who work in higher education (and early-morning policy journalists) might scratch their heads and wonder why the government would want to push a clearly doomed policy like accelerated degrees, the discussion on Vine’s programme shows how discontent over university funding has gone mainstream. Higher education funding policy is now at the mercy of different varieties of populism, and universities will find that very difficult to combat from the quadrangle or the boardroom.


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