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HE Policy Update for the w/e 17th November 2022

We’re keeping the news as light as possible this week and running a catch-up feature on the important research announcements that didn’t reach you over the summer period.

Autumn statement

You can read the detail behind the headlines on the autumn statement here.

Education Select Committee – new chair

Robin Walker has been elected as the Chair of the Education Committee, beating Caroline Ansell, David Simmonds, and former schools minister Jonathan Gullis. Walker did a stint as Minister of State for School Standards (2021-22) as well as other non-education junior ministerial roles. He’s also participated in APPGs on Apprenticeships, Financial Education for Young People, Youth Employment & Outdoor education, and was recently elected as the vice-Chair for the APPG for Students.

The Education select committee is responsible for scrutinising the work of Government and holding them to account for education matters. In this Walker has stated he is keen to learn from different parts of the UK as well as internationally. He states he will continue Halfon’s (the previous Chair) work on skills, SEN, attendance and levelling up. However, he intends for the Committee to also focus on childcare, safeguarding and the cost pressures facing schools and families. There’s been no mention of HE. Walker has described himself as a constructive critic of the Government and stated he is passionate about creating opportunity for businesses and for people to escape benefit dependency

Walker is from a political family, his father was also an MP. He went to a private school and read history at Oxford, and he interned in a US Congressman’s office. Prior to his political career he ran his own public relations business, staying on as an advisor after his appointment to parliament. Ultimately, he had to resign his advisory position following a complaint that he was contravening lobbying rules. Prior to parliamentary appointment he was also the press agent to previous local Dorset MP Oliver Letwin. He was the first in his family to attend university and his siblings both work in education – one in SEN and the other in a literacy role. He states he is acutely aware of the challenges and costs of childcare. He also supports a rich curriculum and believes schools should teach a wide range of subjects including STEM, creativity, outdoor education, RSHE, languages, and the arts

In his School’s Minister stint he states he: Presided over the return to school after the pandemic; co-wrote the White Paper including the levelling up premium & Education Investment Areas; prioritised deprivation in the funding formula & delivered the largest ever cash increase in schools funding; Co-chaired the Attendance Action Alliance bringing together the Childrens’ Commissioner, schools and councils to tackle severe absence; reformed the National Tutoring Programme to be schools-led; supported early delivery of manifesto pledge on £30k starting salaries for teachers; made preparations for the first successful exam series in 3 years, and previously he launched the Natural History GCSE.

Walker has a clear focus on schools and children. It remains to be seen how quickly he’ll find his feet with the tertiary and skills agenda. The Chair of a select committee is a driving force in what a committee selects for their inquiries. This may mean HE matters feature less or simply continue in the vein Halfon started. Or he may delve into new waters to grasp the agenda. Focussing on deprivation and access to HE would be an obvious starting point.

Research – round up

A round up of the key news and announcements.

Science superpower lacks cape

The Lords Science and Technology Committee published “Science and technology superpower”: more than a slogan?, their report following the inquiry into Delivering a UK science and technology strategy. The report states that the Government’s unfocused strategy means that science policy has been let down by short-termism and a proliferation of disparate strategies without an overarching vision. They go on to state that there are a large number of government bodies with unclear remits and interactions, which means that it is often unclear who owns a specific policy. At the time of writing, there was no science minister, which further blurs lines of accountability. [There is now, although the division of responsibilities between George and Nus has yet to be clarified.]

The report points to the lack of an implementation plan as a key weakness and a barrier to becoming a high-tech, high-growth economy. Of course, with a new PM and even more ministerial changes to come the impetus behind the UK as a science superpower may wane. The Lords call on the incoming Cabinet to maintain the commitment to R&D funding and the focus on science and technology– it will be fundamental to economic growth and improving public services.

The Lords highlight areas of critique:

  • Internationally, the Government’s own-collaborate-access framework was meant to clarify policy on strategic areas of technology, but the Committee thought it was poorly understood and inconsistently applied. The failure to associate with Horizon Europe and cuts to Official Development Assistance have damaged the UK’s reputation as a collaborative partner, and risk damaging its science base.
  • The Government hopes to leverage private sector funding to reach the 2.4% target. It has identified areas for reform, such as public procurement, regulations, and pension rules, but these are perennial suggestions and the Committee was unconvinced that this attempt would more successful. Industry has been insufficiently engaged with the Government’s strategy.

The full recommendations to Government can be read on pages 56-61. The Government was due to respond to the Committee’s report by now. However, given the political disruption it isn’t surprising the response is late.

Baroness Brown of Cambridge Chair of the Committee, reiterates the key points in her statement:

  • The Government has high ambitions for science and technology, which the Committee welcomes…But science policy has been far from perfect. R&D is a long-term endeavour which requires sustained focus and an implementation plan. But we found a plethora of strategies in different areas with little follow-through and less linking them together. There are numerous bodies and organisations with unclear or apparently overlapping responsibilities, and more are being added in the form of the National Science and Technology Council and the Office for Science and Technology Strategy. It is often unclear who is accountable for individual policies, and critically, for delivery. 
  • The Government has suggested areas of reform to increase private sector investment in R&D such as public procurement for innovation, regulatory reform, and R&D tax credits. But these areas are perennial suggestions. New ideas – and specific details – developed with business are needed if this time the outcomes are to be different.
  • “On the international stage, the failure to associate to Horizon Europe, and recent cuts to Official Development] Assistance, have damaged the UK’s reputation. The UK cannot be a science superpower in isolation; relationships must be repaired.
  • UK science and technology remains strong and respected around the world, but they will not deliver their full potential for the UK with an inconsistent and unclear science policy from Government. A new administration must retain the ambition for science and technology and develop a clear plan for delivery.

More superheroes – selecting a cape

Centre-right think tank, Onward, published under the same theme – Rocket science: how can the UK become a science superpower? making recommendations for the UK to become a true “science superpower”. Their researchers identified four characteristics of science superpowers which they say should guide the UK’s own ambitions:

  1. First, science superpowers prioritise academic foundations. That is to say, competitive R&D investment, well-regarded research institutions and strong intellectual property assets.
  2. Second, science superpowers have deep knowledge networks, in that they host the best research, attract the most promising scientists, and lead global regulation of technologies.
  3. The third trait of science superpowers is absorptive capacity: the ability to absorb ideas within the real economy for economic benefit.
  4. Fourth, science superpowers typically exert their scientific influence overseas through technology exports– the sale of high-tech products and services, including intangibles, overseas.

They argue that, to become a science superpower, the UK science ecosystem must be reformed to meet five key tests:

  1. Strategic direction. The Government should be more assertive in deploying R&D funding in areas of UK comparative advantage or to address a strategic weakness.
  2. Applying ourselves. The UK’s higher education system should do much more to encourage application of research, and businesses should respond by increasing their own R&D intensity, increasing demand for scientists within the domestic economy.
  3. Policy certainty. Private investment in R&D should be encouraged by giving businesses simpler, long-term incentives providing a stable policy environment that allows companies to plan investments with certainty.
  4. Relentless adoption.The UK should do more to support businesses and individuals to adopt cutting edge technologies so we can fully realise the benefits of technology.
  5. Exporting influence. UK firms could do much more to export their products overseas, particularly intangibles, and to set standards for future technologies to get ahead of these emerging markets.

Onward’s Head of Science and Technology, Matt Burnett said: The COVID-19 pandemic showed us just how important science is for our health security. We need to seize this moment and invest in science and technology to solve the other problems we face such as climate change and the energy crisis. The new Prime Minister should put science and technology at the top of their agenda, lest we be unprepared for the next global crisis.

Lord Bethell, Minister for Technology, Innovation and Life Sciences (2020-21): Working at the frontline of the pandemic innovation, I realised at first hand the huge power of the science at our great universities, and the lack of depth in our industrial capacity to turn that science into deployable solutions. This report is an excellent start to a conversation about how we can use our traditional strengths at the lab-top to turn Britain emphatically into one of the world’s great science superpowers.

Rt Hon Lord Hague, Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs (2010-2014): An excellent contribution to what should be our most vital national debate. Ensuring science is at the core of our society and economy is indispensable to the UK’s future prosperity. Failure in this field would be fatal to future growth.

George Freeman, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Life Sciences (2014-16); Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science, Research and Innovation (2021-22), and now Science Minister again (2022): The path to faster growth and better wages starts and ends with science and innovation. The UK is already a Science Superpower in discovering new ideas and building thriving knowledge networks, but we could do much more to apply them for the benefit of the UK’s strategic and economic priorities. This excellent report sets out a bold plan to lift our scientific ambitions and secure our future – it is essential reading for the new Conservative Prime Minister.

Review of UKRI

The independent review of UKRI, led by David Grant, has been published. The report calls for more effort on realising the benefits of a single body rather than a cluster of research councils. Ministers and UKRI leadership have expressed their support for the review’s 18 recommendations, which include investment in harmonising IT systems, clarifying roles and responsibilities within UKRI and with BEIS, and further focus on demonstrating outcomes from their funding.

Recommendations

  • In delivering its efficiency plan, UKRI should aim for simplicity, integration, harmonisation and agility of its systems. These should be objectives of any monitoring framework or performance indicators used to monitor progress and delivery.
  • In delivering its efficiency plans and developing its operating model, UKRI should clarify the roles and responsibilities between the Corporate Hub and the councils. This process should ask if the right functions are centralised or devolved and should explore appropriate reductions in size, for example in the Corporate Hub.
  • In delivering its efficiency plans, UKRI will need to invest in capability, IT systems and infrastructure in the short term that will improve efficiency in the long term, ensuring that the ambition set out in the UKRI DDaT Strategy 2020-23 is implemented. This will require UKRI to ensure that it retains the right technical and project delivery capability across the organisation.

The interim report was published in January and there’s a thank you letter to David from the Secretary of State. The Government has promised to respond to the specific recommendations within the report later in the year.

Wonkhe have a blog but a reader comment doesn’t agree and believes the blog to be too forgiving of UKRI.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: I welcome Sir David’s recommendations. To support our ambition to establish the UK as a true Science Superpower, we have given UKRI its largest funding settlement ever, with over £25 billion across the next 3 years. Our ambitions for a world-class research and innovation system require a world-class funder, which is why we will work closely with UKRI to deliver these recommendations and ensure they are equipped and ready to support those goals.

Review of Research Bureaucracy

And another independent review, this time led by Professor Adam Tickell (VC, Birmingham) considering Research Bureaucracy. Who was set this agenda:

Unnecessary bureaucracy diverts and hampers research, and the work of individual researchers and research teams. Ultimately, it diminishes the returns from research funding.

You can read a summary of the consultation responses here.

Seven Principles

The Review developed seven principles to cut unnecessary bureaucracy which they state should inform the government response and future action across the sector:

  1. Harmonisation– Reducing the volume of administration through the use of common processes between different funders to make essential work easier.
  2. Simplification– Reducing the complexity of individual processes to address unnecessary bureaucracy.
  3. Proportionality– Ensuring that the obligations placed on researchers and institutions are commensurate with the size of the risk or reward.
  4. Flexibility– Supporting and embracing excellence wherever it is found and not excluding research that does not fit within narrowly defined parameters.
  5. Transparency– Communicating the rationale for systems and processes which have a bureaucratic burden.
  6. Fairness– Developing approaches to systems and processes that support fairness, rather than erode it.
  7. Sustainability– Cutting bureaucracy in ways that avoid destabilising the system to deliver a more efficient system over the long term.

The Review focussed on aspects of the research system where there was consistent feedback on the need and scope for change. As a result the review identified six themes where there is believed to be scope for significant positive change:

  1. Assurance

Information provided to funders and regulators to demonstrate that research is carried out in accordance with funding terms and conditions. The principle of ‘ask once’ should be paramount throughout the assurance system.

Findings

The Review identified the following key issues with regard to assurance bureaucracy:

  • Overall, there are too many requirements relating to assurance bureaucracy and they are often complex and duplicative;
  • Uncertainty in the sector about how to manage assurance issues contributes to risk aversion and over-compliance in institutions’ internal assurance processes;
  • A lack of trust, coordination, partnership working and knowledge exchange on assurance throughout the research sector;
  • An incremental growth of bureaucracy – changing priorities have meant that, over time, new assurance requirements have been introduced. However, few attempts have been made to remove or reduce redundant assurance requirements.

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Government departments that fund research should work together to ensure there is greater alignment of assurance approaches, removing duplication. UKRI should take forward action to achieve greater alignment and coordination across UKRI Councils;
  • Government should facilitate closer working with other funders, including charity funders, to increase coordination and reduce assurance burdens on the sector;
  • Funders and research organisations should develop collective approaches and resources to support institutions in managing their assurance processes; and
  • Funding bodies should explore the function and benefits of self-certification and/or earned autonomy for institutions with a robust track record of assurance
  1. Applying for Funding

Funding applications were one of the most cited causes of unnecessary bureaucracy by organisations and individuals in the Review’s call for evidence.

Findings

  • The Review heard concerns from researchers and research managers about the length and complexity of application processes;
  • The overall success rates for research grant applications are low – often around 20%. Given this, single stage processes which require applicants to provide all the information at the outset mean that for a majority of applicants this information is unused and ultimately wasteful;
  • Two stage application processes may deliver improvements across the system but may present funders with resourcing challenges or take more time and UKRI and others are piloting these approaches now. The Review received a range of views on how best to manage the prospect that more streamlined application processes could lead to higher numbers of applications;
  • There is already evidence of funders tackling these issues in a variety of ways, but there is scope to go much further. 

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Funders should experiment with application processes to reduce burdens for applicants, (including two-stage application processes) where the information required increases in line with the likelihood of being funded;
  • Funders should work together to increase standardisation across their application processes in terms of the use of language and the questions they ask where appropriate. UKRI should facilitate this across Research Councils in the first instance;
  • Funders should review what adaptations will be needed to assessment processes to take account of changes to application models. This should include the information necessary for national security assessments alongside innovative approaches from the use of peer reviewer triage to limit the number of applications requiring full peer review to experimenting with new models such as randomly allocated funding;
  • Funders should ensure that application processes support their commitments to equality, diversity and inclusion;
  • Funders should remove the requirement for letters of support from applications in most circumstances.
  1. Grant Implementation and In-Grant Management

Research is inherently unpredictable so the review suggests areas where more flexibilities may be beneficial, once a research project is underway:

Findings

  • The period between issue of award letter and start of a research project can be too short, leaving little time for procurement, recruitment and financial administration;
  • Conversely, the time taken to get agreement from research funding organisations to changes to a project or to the profile of funding can be too long;
  • It is often unclear to funding recipients what the purpose is of information requested in project monitoring;
  • Contracting and collaboration agreements are a major source of delays because many research organisations prefer to use their own version rather than standard formats such as Brunswick or Lambert Agreements.

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Funders and recipients should ensure there is adequate time for the completion of all necessary tasks (including providing assurance information) between the issue of the award letter and the start of the project;
  • Universities and research organisations should wherever possible use standard templates for contracts and collaboration agreements, recognising that this would not just be faster, but would also facilitate third-party collaborations;
  • Wherever possible, funders should build in flexibilities including no cost extensions within manageable parameters to reduce delays in addressing project changes and the number of queries funders receive;
  • Ethical and other regulatory approvals should be the responsibility of the lead partner on a multi-institution research project and counterparties (including in the NHS) should not require additional duplicative approvals.
  1. Digital Platforms

Every aspect of research bureaucracy depends on digital platforms and the extent of the sector’s reliance on them can heighten the impact of any flaws in their design or function.

Findings

  • There is a challenge in creating digital platforms that are capable of supporting institutional diversity and keeping pace with change in UK research without being overly complex
  • There is scope for greater harmonisation of digital platforms. However, this will also be limited to a degree by the differing nature and objectives of individual funders;
  • Greater inter-operability and data sharing between systems could significantly reduce bureaucracy;
  • There is currently a window of opportunity to deliver vastly improved services across key funders as UKRI, NIHR and Wellcome amongst others move away from older platforms;
  • Funders are continuing to drive forward programmes to reduce bureaucracy in their systems and processes. Through the Simpler and Better Funding programme, UKRI is piloting a new digital platform – UKRI Funding Service – which from 2024 will deliver end to end functionality for all Research Council grant applications.

Recommendations

To address these issues the review recommends that:

  • For the higher education sector, Jisc should lead on the creation of sector-wide groups responsible for overseeing the development and further integration of the research information ecosystem, including research management data;
  • Funders, universities and regulators should ensure interoperability and improved data flows are considered as integral to the design and implementation of any new digital systems;
  • For existing systems, approaches to improving the flow of data between different platforms should be explored using, for example, application programming interfaces, point to point integration and machine learning.
  1. Institutional Bureaucracy

There are strong links between bureaucracy related to requirements of funders, regulators and government and each research institution’s own systems, processes and approaches. Research organisations, particularly universities, need to address their own unnecessary bureaucracy to support the Review’s aim of freeing up researchers to focus on research.

Findings

  • Institutional bureaucracy was the most cited source of unnecessary bureaucracy by individuals in the Review’s call for evidence;
  • There is a culture of risk aversion within universities. Whilst much of this is understandable, it has a negative impact on the processes for decision making;
  • Risk aversion has, in some cases, led to unnecessary approval hierarchies which can cause major delays and operational difficulties;
  • Use of generalist professional services department to provide key elements of research support – for example, legal services – can lead to longer delays because of a lack of familiarity or confidence with handling research grant agreements or contracts.

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Wherever possible, research organisations should examine the feasibility of delegating research-related approvals to research managers and officers who are closer to research;
  • Universities UK should bring universities together to find new platforms and methods for working together on research management issues such as increasing risk appetite, streamlining burdens including through greater  standardisation;
  • If they do not already have them, research organisations should establish “Trusted Funder” policies to enable projects to proceed at risk, within certain parameters.
  1. Communications

There are a number of communications issues in relation to unnecessary bureaucracy. Funders can address antipathy towards necessary bureaucracy by communicating more clearly why it is required and what they do with the information. A lack of clarity can lead to “gold plating” by institutions who are trying to manage regulatory and other requirements.

Findings

  • Frustration with necessary bureaucratic requirements may be related to how widely the rationale and role of particular R&D funding systems and processes are communicated and understood;
  • There is also scope to increase awareness of existing tools and methods that can reduce bureaucratic burdens, e.g. persistent digital identifiers;
  • Uncertainty about the introduction and approach to implementing new requirements could be addressed through proactive communication and engagement by funders and regulators;
  • In addition, the review heard that government and funders could go further to engage with the sector on the specifics around implementation of new requirements to identify the most efficient approach;
  • There were a series of specific concerns with regard to the approach to communications with the sector including use of jargon and inconsistent language, working to ensure communications are received by the right audiences (for example, not just Vice Chancellors or Pro Vice-Chancellors of Research) and timeliness in relation to submission deadlines

Recommendations

To address these issues they recommend that:

  • Government, funders and regulators should undertake wide ranging consultation with research organisations prior to the introduction of new regulatory or other requirements;
  • Government and funders should proactively communicate on new and emerging regulatory issues. The Research Collaboration and Advice Team (RCAT)i model providing support on national security matters is good practice in this regard;
  • Funders should ensure important messages about research are sent to research office contacts as well as Vice Chancellor/Pro-Vice Chancellor Research.

What’s next?

The Government should formally respond to the review and likely support certain elements while ignoring others.

The review also said that there should be consideration of the governance and other arrangements needed to ensure the longer-term change required to fully deliver on this vision is in place. Alongside ongoing monitoring and evaluation to keep bureaucracy at bay in the future.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: The work of our exceptional researchers will not reach its full potential while the research system is bound up by excessive red tape. The findings of Professor Tickell’s thorough review shine a light on the huge opportunity for improvements in this field. I am confident this report will act as the stimulus needed for institutions, funding bodies, regulators – and for government – to come together and make the progress required.

Author of the Bureaucracy Review, Professor Adam Tickell, said:

UK research is world-leading, however… there are huge opportunities to improve how our research system works. The Review has unearthed excessive bureaucracy across the system.

It will now take a collective effort involving individuals, institutions, funders, regulators and government to realise the potential benefits of change while ensuring the vital checks and balances in the system are not lost. I hope this report signposts the way forward and provides the impetus needed.

Chief Executive of UK Research & Innovation, Ottoline Leyser, said:

We warmly welcome this thoughtful and excellent review…The review’s recommendations, and the principles that underpin them, strongly align with ongoing work at UKRI, such as our Simple and Better Funding Programme. By working in partnership across the UK research and innovation system we can catalyse transformational change, maximising the value from record-breaking levels of public investment in R&D.

The recommended changes will allow essential research – from healthcare development to studies in environmental science – to be delivered unhindered by excessive red tape, supporting the UK’s ambition to maintain its competitiveness, and secure its position as a science superpower.

The Russell Group respond to both independent reviews, Stephanie Smith, Head of Policy (Research and International) at the Russell Group, said:

Freeing up unnecessary bureaucracy will require a joint effort from all parts of the research system, and the Tickell review makes a number of welcome recommendations to improve coordination and standardisation across the sector, streamline the funding application process and free up time for grant holders to focus on research.

Alongside the Grant review of UKRI, it is positive to see a focus on how we can ensure the UK research sector is as efficient and effective as possible so world class research can thrive and we are ready to tackle the major challenges we face, from productivity to climate change. It is vital that we maintain this momentum and we look forward to working with Government and the wider sector to deliver early action to implement these changes, which will benefit researchers, funders and universities.

Blog: James Coe reviews Adam Tickell’s Independent Review of Research Bureaucracy and finds much to admire – while still being filled with questions on how this relates to the future of research.

Not on the Horizon…

It is incredibly unlikely that the UK will associate to Horizon Europe.

There are no signs of any resolution to the political issues which are preventing association. There is no sign that the UK Government has the ability or desire to resolve them.

And there is no sign of any change in position from the European Union to enable association.(Source.)

While this news didn’t come as a shock to anyone in the summer and it still doesn’t now. However, it is still disappointing to have reached this point. During the summer the Government announced the details of the UK’s plan B (assuming affiliation to the EU research programmes doesn’t make it over the Horizon). All the details are here including this suite of temporary transition measures:

  • the Horizon Europe Guarantee – If we are unable to associate, we will fund applications that are submitted to a Horizon Europe funding call with an EU final call deadline date before the point of non-association, are successful in the EU evaluation and meet the eligibility criteria of the guarantee. This includes those where grant signature dates fall beyond the end of 2022. This would pick up where the current guarantee has left off, so there is no gap, and no eligible successful applications would go unfunded
  • funding for successful, in-flight applications – We will support UK entities with eligible in-flight applications to Horizon Europe (to calls that have closed or are open at the point of non-association, where such applications are not being evaluated by the EC), by assessing such applications domestically, to ensure the best get funded should the EC no longer carry out the evaluation
  • uplifts to existing talent programmes – We will increase funding for our best existing talent schemes covering a broad range of disciplines via National Academies and UKRI. This will be followed by the creation of our bold new UK fellowship and award programme, designed to retain and attract top talent in the UK.
  • uplifts to innovation support – We will increase funding for a range of our best innovation schemes targeted at small and medium sized businesses (SMEs), delivered by Innovate UK, and go on to create exciting new mechanisms, ensuring they are bigger, bolder with less bureaucracy and more flexibility
  • the Talent and Research Stabilisation Fund – We will use formula funding to support a range of eligible UK institutions who have been most affected by the loss of Horizon Europe talent funding. The fund will enable eligible research organisations and universities to support talent retention and target funding vulnerabilities at a local level
  • Third Country Participation – Around two-thirds of Horizon Europe calls are open to UK researchers and companies as Third Country applicants, as part of consortia with at least 3 other applicants from EU member states or associated countries, provided they bring their own funding. As this is a priority for businesses and researchers, the government will fund all eligible UK entities participating in any such consortia signing grant agreements before 31 March 2025.The government will consider our approach to funding for Third Country Participation beyond this date and make an announcement by October 2024

Wonkhe have a blog. And there’s a parliamentary question on the topic:

  • (1) the change in the level of collaborative scientific funding for UK organisations if the UK does not participate in the Horizon Europe programme, and (2) reports that the UK is losing out on £100 million as a result of not participating

Student KE involvement

For anyone playing word bingo with today’s policy update we’re approaching a full house on ‘independent’ reviews. The OfS commissioned independent researchers to conduct an evaluation of the ‘Student engagement in knowledge exchange’ programme. The programme aims to support 20 projects to develop and share understanding of effective practice in student engagement in knowledge exchange, and to inform ongoing policy and investment.

OfS have published three summary reports providing interim findings from the evaluation of projects within the competition, for the reporting periods to May 2021, November 2021 and March 2022.

The final evaluation report is expected to be published next summer (2023).

Research England Funding Budgets 2022-25

The Russell Group issued a statement in response to the Research England funding budgets 2022-25: We particularly welcome the stable allocations over the spending review period which give the sector much needed certainty, and the boost to schemes proven to deliver returns, like the Higher Education Innovation Fund… The increase in quality-related (QR) funding will allow universities to plan long term and pursue high-risk high-reward discovery research – which underpinned breakthroughs in graphene, genomics, and laid the foundations to develop the Oxford-AstraZeneca Covid vaccine… However, despite this increase, its value has declined in real terms over the past decade. [The value of QR funding declined by 22% in real terms between 2010/11 and 2020/21.]

ARIA top appointees

Ilan Gur and Matt Clifford MBE were appointed as CEO and Chair of new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA). Ilan Gur (CEO) will set the agency’s agenda, direct its initial funding of high-risk programmes and engage the domestic and international R&D sector. As Chair, Matt Clifford will support the work of the CEO as he takes post on 15 August, acting as the steward for ARIA’s effective governance.

Ilan Gur obtained a PhD in Materials Science and Engineering from the University of California, Berkeley. He is a Schmidt Futures Innovation Fellow, an advisor to the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation in support of the Moore Inventor Fellowship, and a judge for MIT Technology Review’s TR35 award

Matt Clifford MBE is co-founder and CEO of Entrepreneur First, an international investor in technical talent that has helped to build technological companies worth over $10 billion. Clifford is also co-founder and non-executive director of Code First Girls, has served as a Council Member at Innovate UK, and is a Trustee of the Kennedy Memorial Trust. Before starting Entrepreneur First, Matt worked at McKinsey & Co and earned degrees from the University of Cambridge and Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Kwasi Kwarteng (was Business Secretary) said: The appointment of Ilan Gur as ARIA’s first CEO is a huge victory for the future of the agency, and for the UK. He has a distinguished track record in translating exceptional talent and ideas into commercial success, and his leadership will ensure the funding of high-risk programmes that will continue to push the boundaries of science and technology. Under Dr Gur’s leadership and with the support of the brilliant Matt Clifford, ARIA will ensure the benefits of research and development will be felt in our society and economy over the course of generations. By stripping back unnecessary red tape and putting power in the hands of our innovators, the agency has the freedom to drive forward the technologies of tomorrow.

ARIA blog: With a new ARIA Chair and Chief Executive in place James Coe argues it’s time for the sector to take a step back and allow the new research funder to succeed or fail on its own terms in a Wonkhe blog. And another blog summing up the key known information about ARIA.

Defence

The Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Alan Turing Institute have jointly launched the Defence Centre for AI Research (DCAR), to tackle problems related to advancing artificial intelligence capability.

Research England Executive Chair

Kwasi Kwarteng (was Business Secretary) selected Professor Dame Jessica Corner as the preferred candidate for the role of Executive Chair of Research England. Professor Corner will be responsible for quality related research funding to English universities, largely informed by the results of the Research Excellence Framework exercise, as well as funding for knowledge exchange activities. She will also lead Research England’s role in ensuring the health and stability of English universities in their research and innovation activities. She will be part of the UKRI senior leadership team working closely with UKRI’s Chief Executive, UKRI Board and the other Executive Chairs to collectively oversee UKRI’s strategy, funding programmes and infrastructure.

Professor Corner has a background in nursing and as an academic specialising in cancer palliative care. Recent employment includes Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange at the University of Nottingham. She was awarded a DBE in 2014 for services to Health Care Research and Education and was elected as a Fellow of the Academy of Medical Sciences in 2015.

Business Secretary Kwasi Kwarteng said: I am delighted to name Professor Dame Jessica Corner as preferred candidate to steward Research England through the years to come. I look forward to working closely with her and the UKRI leadership team to ensure the continued success of the world leading research carried out by our universities, building on the UK’s reputation as a science superpower.

I would also like to thank Dr David Sweeney for his tireless work for the research sector as inaugural Executive Chair of Research England and previously at HEFCE. I wish him the very best for his retirement.

Professor Jessica Corner said: I am delighted to be chosen as the preferred candidate for the role of Executive Chair of Research England at this time of huge opportunity for the country’s truly outstanding research base…I look forward to supporting our national community of researchers as they continue to explore, discover, and innovate to transform lives across the globe.

Alan Turing Institute: Director of Innovation

Simon Reeve was appointed as Director of Innovation at the Alan Turing Institute. He is the former VP of Technology and Innovation at Lloyd’s Register Group and Director of Commercial Engagement at long-term Turing partner Lloyd’s Register Foundation. He has previously had a relationship with Turing through his work supporting the Foundation-sponsored data-centric engineering programme. As Director of Innovation Reeve will support Turing’s goal to develop solution to problems using AI and data across several areas:

  • Increasing the impact of the Institute in delivering positive change to society through entrepreneurship and commercial application of data science and AI
  • Providing innovation leadership to the Institute’s team and its vibrant partnership network, in cooperation with the executive leadership team, in support of its research and innovation strategy and goals
  • Promoting and facilitating engagement and partnership between the Turing’s community, private and public sector businesses, government, and non-government bodies, to accelerate innovation opportunities, delivering data and artificial intelligence science solutions in support of the Turing’s mission.

Quick research news

  • Government Office for Science – Sir Patrick Vallance to stand down as Government Chief Scientific Adviser at the end of his five-year post in April 2023.
  • Nine new commissioners have been appointed to the Commission on Human Medicines (CHM) to serve for four years. Three commissioners, Ms Susan BradfordProfessor Jamie Colemanand Dr Jamie Fraser, whose four-year tenure ended this year, have also been reappointed. The CHM provides independent expert advice to ministers on the safety, quality and efficacy of medicines, and promotes the collection and investigation of information relating to adverse reactions for human medicines. It is an advisory non-departmental public body, sponsored by the Department of Health and Social Care.

The nine new commissioners are:

  • Professor Tony Williams, professor of translational medicine at Southampton University
  • Professor David Hunt, chair of neuroinflammation medicine, Wellcome Trust senior clinical fellow and honorary consultant in neurology, University of Edinburgh
  • Professor David Dockrell, chair of infection medicine/director of the Centre for Inflammation Research, University of Edinburgh
  • Dr Gerri Mortimore, associate professor in post-registration health care, University of Derby
  • Professor Paul Dargan, consultant physician and clinical toxicologist at Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust and professor of clinical toxicology at King’s College London
  • Dr Vanessa Raymont, senior clinical researcher, University of Oxford and R&D director and honorary consultant at Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust
  • Mrs Julia Cons, Independent Chair, National Individual Funding Request Panel for NHS England
  • Professor David Moore, professor of Infectious Diseases & Tropical Medicine, London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine and Consultant Physician at The Hospital for Tropical Diseases, UCLH.
  • Professor Rui Providencia, associate Professor, Institute of Health Informatics, UCL

Blogs

The QAA released an interesting review of global research and interventions on grade inflation. DK had a read on Wonk Corner.

The first Research England funding allocations since REF 2021 results were published see a welcome increase in income for most providers. James Coe and David Kernohan looked into the details.

Parliamentary Questions

Access & Participation

NEON and the BBC report on the Social Mobility Foundation’s warning that the cost of living could create a “two-tier” university system.

  • The Social Mobility Foundation has said it’s “concerned” those from poorer backgrounds may have to work while affluent peers enjoy the “uni experience”. “It’s never been a level playing field,” Sarah Atkinson, the chief executive says. “But we’re looking at a two-tier system for this cohort,” she adds.
  • Alongside extra work, Sarah says more students from lower socio-economic backgrounds worry about money and live at home while studying .In recent weeks, students’ unions have said they are having to step in to help students cope with the rising costs of food.

Read more from the BBC article here.

Other news & latest reports

Video games degrees: Increasing the number of students studying for a degree in video games.

Graduate underemployment: What is the scale and impact of graduate overqualification in the UK?  looks at how graduate outcomes have changed over the past 30 years, and the job quality of overqualified graduates.

Local Gaps: The Centre for Progressive Policy (CPP) has published a report on the educational attainment gap and local economic outcomes, in which they look at how to transform educational opportunities to support inclusive growth.

Economic Growth: UUK published a report exploring ways in which universities can contribute to economic growth, and make several recommendations such as establishing collaborative hubs for skills development, building on the Help to Grow scheme, and the rapid expansion of University Enterprise Zones (UEZ).

Research theft: Research Professional – the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity has warned that cybersecurity researchers will increasingly be at risk of having their findings stolen by third-party actors.

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Conversation article: sport-induced traumatic brain injury – families reveal the ‘hell’ of living with the condition

BU’s Dr Keith Parry contributes to this article from The Conversation, sharing the experiences of family members of those with brain injuries as a result of sport…

Sport-induced traumatic brain injury: families reveal the ‘hell’ of living with the condition

San Francisco 49ers running back Jeff Wilson Jr (centre) in action against Los Angeles Rams linebacker Leonard Floyd (left) and Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald (right) an NFL game in California in 2022.
EPA-EFE/JOHN G. MABANGLO

Matthew Smith, University of Winchester; Adam John White, Oxford Brookes University, and Keith Parry, Bournemouth University

This article is part of the Insights Uncharted Brain series.


Jill* looked drained as we sat down to speak about her late husband. It had been a long day. It was February 2020, and we had been conducting interviews at the Concussion Legacy Foundation family huddle.

Despite being tired, Jill, 47, was keen to be interviewed. She wanted to share what she had gone through and hoped her story might help others. We sat down in a quiet corner of the foyer of the Rosen Centre hotel in Orlando, Florida, and I listened to her speak for over 90 minutes.


You can listen to more articles from The Conversation, narrated by Noa, here.


She told me all about her husband, Michael, a larger-than-life character who was the “life and soul of the party”. She spoke about how he had played many sports and had experienced multiple diagnosed concussions playing American Football and lacrosse – but this never dimmed his enthusiasm for sports.

Jill described how his behaviour gradually changed. How he forgot simple tasks. How he became aggressive. How his behaviour had become so erratic, she didn’t feel they were welcome at social events anymore. She said:

You’re just watching somebody you love disappear before your eyes and it’s hell.

Then one day she was on the phone to her husband while he was at work and the call went quiet. Jill rushed to his office, only to find that he had taken his own life.

Jill was one of the 23 interviews we conducted with family members over the three days our research team spent at the Concussion Legacy Foundation event. Our conversations provided an insight into what it was like living with a former athlete with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease similar to Alzheimer’s that has been caused by repetitive head impacts in contexts like sport and the military.


This story is part of Conversation Insights

The Insights team generates long-form journalism and is working with academics from different backgrounds who have been engaged in projects to tackle societal and scientific challenges.


The people we spoke to had been through so much. The confusion, hurt and despair of seeing the mind of someone they love gradually deteriorate seemed overwhelming. But we also saw some positive signs, such as how they wanted to share their stories to help others, and how there appeared to be a shared determination to change things for the better and to make sport safer so other families wouldn’t have to go through what they’d experienced.

Head injuries in sport

Chronic traumatic brain injury associated with boxing has been known about for around 100 years. In 1928, Harrison Martland first described chronic traumatic encephalopathy in retired boxers. It was first referred to as “punch-drunk syndrome” or “dementia pugilistica” and sometimes develops in boxers as a result of long-term sub-clinical concussions (not detectable by the usual clinical tests).

In 2002, neuropathologist Bennet Omalu examined the brain of Mike Webster, a former National Football League (NFL) player who died from a heart attack after his physical and mental health had rapidly deteriorated. Subsequently, former NFL players sued the league, claiming that they had received head trauma or injuries during their football careers, which caused them long-term neurological problems.

The VA-BU-CLF UNITE Brain Bank at Boston University is the largest tissue repository in the world focused on traumatic brain injury (TBI). In a 2017 study into the first 202 donated brains, high rates of CTE were found, with 177 diagnosed with CTE, including 110 of 111 from the NFL players (99%). The brain bank now has over 1,000 brains from donors as young as 14 who have been exposed to brain traumas, primarily from playing sport. Studying these brains is crucial, not only for preventing, diagnosing and treating CTE, but also understanding the long-term consequences of concussion and traumatic brain injury.

Subsequent research from Boston University’s CTE Center in 2019 found that every year of playing full tackle American football increases the risk of developing CTE by 30%. So for every 2.6 years of playing, the risk of developing CTE doubles.

But the problem is not isolated to American sports. Compared with most other sports, rugby union has a relatively high injury rate, including at school level in the UK where it is often a compulsory sport. In addition, it has been reported that there is about one brain injury per match in international rugby.

Demise of England’s ‘lions’

In football, concussion often results from accidental head impacts (like head-to-head collisions or collisions with the goalposts). But a growing number of studies have shown that detrimental sub-concussive impacts (a bump, blow or jolt to the head that does not cause symptoms) may result from repeatedly heading the ball. And there have been an increasing number of high-profile examples in recent years who have been raising awareness of this issue.

In late 2020, three incidents shifted attitudes on the dangers of football. First, Norbert “Nobby” Stiles, a member of England’s 1966 Fifa World Cup winning team, died. Stiles had been diagnosed with dementia and the cause of this disease was linked to repeated heading of the ball in his career.

Then, it was announced that Sir Bobby Charlton, another World Cup winning hero, had also been diagnosed with dementia. He was the second member of his family to suffer with this disease as his brother, Jack (who played in the same winning team) had died earlier in the year after his own battle with dementia.

Bobby Charlton was thus the fifth of the 11 starting players in the 1966 final to have been diagnosed with neurological diseases. Media reports have linked all of these cases to the repeated heading of footballs during their playing careers.

But the first case that drew attention to the link between football and traumatic brain injury was that of Jeff Astle. Following his death in 2002, the coroner’s verdict at the inquest into his death at the age of 59 recorded a verdict of “death by industrial disease”, linked to heading heavy, often rain-sodden, leather footballs. Astle’s health had deteriorated – he had struggled with an eating disorder and was unable to recognise his children.

Astle’s daughter, Dawn, has become a leading figure in the campaign to protect footballers. She presented evidence to the 2020 DCMS committee on concussion and brain injury in sport. Her submission to the committee included the following comment:

My dad choked to death in front of me, my mum and my sisters. Please think about that for one minute. He choked to death because his brain had been destroyed. Destroyed because he was a footballer. I don’t want any other family to go through what my family went through, and continue to go through every day. Please don’t let my dad’s death and all the other footballers deaths be in vain. My dad was my hero and my best friend. His death will haunt me forever.

Families speak out

In February 2020, our team of five researchers were invited by Chris Nowinski, the CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, to Orlando. The CLF is an international non-profit organisation that aims to support athletes affected by head injury, and to assist patients and families by providing personalised help to those struggling with the outcomes of brain injury.

Our interviews were conducted at their “family huddle”, which was a support event for family members to allow them to share stories and connect with others who have had similar experiences.

We were given the opportunity to talk to family members, and build trust and rapport. This gave us a greater insight and understanding of their world. We conducted interviews with the partners, parents, siblings and the children of the deceased athletes.

Our research, published in The Qualitative Report, was presented as an ethnodrama (playscript) to best allow the stories of the family members to be heard. This also showed the distinct temporal phases that these family members went through, and by sharing these stories we hope this raises awareness of the powerful emotions they have experienced.


Uncharted Brain, podcast series

This article is accompanied by a podcast series called Uncharted Brain: Decoding Dementia which examines new research unlocking clues to the ongoing mystery of how dementia works in the brain. Listen to the full series via The Anthill podcast.


Disbelief and confusion

Many of the people we spoke to said the initial stage, when they started to see changes in the behaviour of their loved one, created very strong emotions because they couldn’t understand why this was happening. They had seen someone they loved decline in front of their eyes. Alice, 68, reflected on seeing this change in her husband: “He went from functioning perfectly, to struggling to remember or do anything he was so used to doing.”

People went on to recall specific instances when this behavioural decline became noticeable. For example, David told us this about his brother: “Once when he went to the airport to pick up my aunt. He proceeded to drive her around, and she finally said, ‘Where are we going?’” He replied that he didn’t know.

There was evidence of a mounting feeling of hopelessness that declines in neurological functioning were causing. Another striking, distressing example was this story Sophie told about her husband:

One weekend, I had 12 big black trash bags to go out to the garbage. And I told him when I got up and went to work on Monday morning, I said, ‘those are going out to the trash tomorrow’. I came home after work and he had unpacked every trash bag … I just sat there and cried … I’d worked a 12-hour day. I said, ‘why did you unpack all that trash?’ and he couldn’t tell me why. He just didn’t know.

Others reinforced other emotions at seeing this happening to their loved one. Emily explained how she felt: “I do think at the start you are in this sense of disbelief because the person you love is doing these things that are out of character.” And Evelyn reflected on the sadness of seeing such changes:

I was shocked, but also felt like the world had been turned upside down. We were so happy. I remember just sobbing.

Researchers have previously highlighted the emotional consequences that family members experience when they witness the decline of their loved one. For example, one 2019 study involving interviews with 20 wives of either current or retired professional American football players, revealed their serious concerns about the cognitive, emotional and behavioural decline of these players. Some wives identified behavioural changes that included rage, reduced positive social interactions and various erratic behaviour, like starting risky business ventures.

As we also found, deterioration in cognitive functioning meant that those affected by traumatic brain injury were no longer able to carry out simple household tasks and often struggled with language problems.

Anger, guilt and fear

Another study, which examined families who have experienced a severe traumatic brain injury outside of sport highlighted the difficulties caused by the uncertainty of the situation – both in terms of the progression of the illness and how to support and deal with the cognitive, physical and behavioural changes exhibited after the injury.

All of this presents huge challenges to families. Negotiating appropriate treatment is hard and the emotional and physical exhaustion of dealing with these difficulties just keeps mounting up for the people involved.

Our participants explained the toll it took on them as they saw first-hand the severe changes in behaviour as their loved one experienced further decline. For example, Katherine said she felt drained and responsible. “It’s hard because you don’t know what’s happening,” she said. “So you just blame yourself and think you are the reason. And that’s not good for your own wellbeing.”

Helen spoke about her intense feelings as her partner drank as a response to his condition:

I was so angry at him for making the same choices over and over with drinking though. Like, “you’ve drank so much that you fell down the stairs in front of me at home, are you kidding me?” And it hurt, you know, and left a lot on my plate, so I was really, really, angry. And that didn’t help things.

Changes in behaviour created further problems for family members, such as how their loved one was perceived in social situations. Elizabeth described one specific incident at a party:

We went to a catered event, and he would take the top of the [burger] bun off, take the meat out to eat, put the bun back, and then go to the next one. And someone caught him and was like, “what is he doing?” Of course, we never got invited back to any of those people’s homes. No one wanted to have anything to do with him because they couldn’t understand him.

Laura also spoke about the implications of a lack of understanding of this condition, highlighting how others would misinterpret her husband’s actions. This led to feelings of sadness as they became socially isolated from their friends. She said: “When we went to events, a lot of people thought he was an alcoholic, because he could have one cocktail and then he’d fall. They had no idea that the falling had nothing to do with that one drink that he had. And it became very sad because people didn’t want to have us around.”

Our participants also spoke of the burden as a result of effectively becoming their partner’s primary caregiver. Sophie spoke about the struggles she faced with supporting her husband with daily tasks. “I couldn’t physically handle him,” she said. “At that point he was unstable. He would shuffle, and fall, and he couldn’t get in and out of the shower. He was also incontinent, and I couldn’t handle him by myself. I felt so weak.”

Evelyn also spoke of these experiences, highlighting that the physical size of her partner caused significant strain. “The sheer problem with these guys was their physical size. As the disease progressed, he fell probably 10-15 times a day, and we’d have to figure out how to get him up. I was both physically and mentally exhausted,” Evelyn said.

Meanwhile, others spoke of the physical fear of danger they felt. Like Emily who told us:

I did become scared of him. I hate to say that, but I did. He made me sign some papers and I had no idea what they were. He was just escalating and escalating, and he was standing over me and I just knew if I didn’t sign that paper, I was in physical danger. Which was an awful thought to have about your own husband that you love.

Moving forward

Our interviews gave family members the chance to reflect on their time living with and caring for their loved one, and also, how they might approach the situation differently. Helen told us she wished she had taken more time for herself, and advised anybody going through a similar situation to “get into therapy, to help you process everything and to let you have an outlet”.

Katherine agreed, saying: “You’ve got to try and take some time for yourself. I remember I took a trip with a girlfriend once and I was scared to death the whole time I was gone, but I went, and we had a wonderful time, and I’m so glad I did it. You know, trying to keep some semblance of normalcy in your life for yourself, for your own good. Try to keep yourself healthy, eat healthily, work out. Keep yourself well because there really was nothing, I could do for him except be present. I couldn’t make him well.”

Other family members reflected on the dangers of certain sports. For example, Alice highlighted how her awareness had increased, giving her the knowledge and understanding to allow her to come to terms with her husband’s situation. She realised there were “significant pathologies” that he had no control over that affected his decision-making.

His brain was still functioning, and he was still able to make decisions, just the wrong parts of the brain were directing his decisions. That totally makes sense now, so that’s been a huge relief, that he wasn’t just an asshole in his own right, he really just couldn’t control it.

While our data contained accounts full of sadness, participants also reflected on different ways they were moving forwards in a positive way after experiencing the death of a loved one. Laura detailed the benefits of attending the huddle and being with people who had been through similar struggles: “Everyone here is in the same boat. It may not have looked exactly the same for us, but we don’t have to explain for once. And just the support I’ve got from the people here has been great.”

Others talked about how the support helped the grieving process and inspired them to get involved and help other families. For example, Evelyn spoke of the need to make changes at a junior sport level: “I’m just so concerned this horrible disease is hitting younger and younger people, yet no one knows about it … giving people the information to be able to make the correct decision is super important.”

The final word goes to Elizabeth, who had become involved in the support work of the CLF, and spoke of her new found purpose to help others. She said it helped make her loss “bearable” because “millions” might benefit and “hopefully not have to experience the kind of tragedy that affected our family”.

I feel like part of the reason this happened is for me to be part of raising more awareness and be a part of this movement towards new culture change. I can help families navigate … the difficult waters of dealing with this. And so, I feel like it speaks to sort of a calling … I have in life or part of my purpose.

Consequences

What is clear to us after concluding this research project is that greater recognition of the challenges faced by both those living with diseases of the brain, such as CTE, and their carers is needed.

We heard about the devastating losses and tragedies. But we were also privileged to highlight more positive stories that showed how people were able to move forwards and help others to create a constructive change in sport so others won’t have to suffer.

It also illustrates how neurodegenerative disease resulting from head trauma as a consequence of impact sports has far reaching effects – not only the athletes, but also those around them. This represents a growing public health concern and societal problem.

It shows that greater recognition of the challenges faced by both those living with diseases of the brain, such as CTE, and their carers, is needed.

We hope their stories will stimulate discussion and be used to support people who might be going through similar experiences. Our findings might be used to help practitioners, sporting governing bodies and charities such as the CLF, to understand more fully these negative emotional responses and, in turn, consider strategies that might be developed to support people. In turn, these organisations must also act to address the causes of head injuries to make sports safer.

All names in this article have been changed to protect the anonymity of those involved.


For you: more from our Insights series:

To hear about new Insights articles, join the hundreds of thousands of people who value The Conversation’s evidence-based news. Subscribe to our newsletter.The Conversation

Matthew Smith, Senior Lecturer in Sport and Exercise Psychology, University of Winchester; Adam John White, Lecturer, Oxford Brookes University, and Keith Parry, Deputy Head Of Department in Department of Sport & Event Management, Bournemouth University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Upcoming research communication training opportunities

Find out how engaging with the media can help lead to research impact and learn more about working with The Conversation in upcoming online training sessions:

Engaging with the media for impactWednesday 23rd November, 2pm – 3.30pm (online)

Explore how working with the media can raise the profile of your research and lead to impact. Take away practical tips on talking to journalists, tracking the impact of media coverage and finding the best ways to reach your target audiences.

Book now

Writing for The Conversation – Wednesday 7th December 2022, 2pm – 3pm (online)

BU is a partner of The Conversation, a news analysis and opinion website with content written by academics working with professional journalists. Find out more about writing for The Conversation and have the chance to pitch your article ideas to one of their editors.

Learn how to consider the news potential of your expertise, how to look for story hooks and angles from the news or your research, and how to write a quality pitch.

Book now

The sessions take place as part of the Research and Knowledge Exchange Framework (RKEDF) – advance booking is essential.

To find about more about research communications and to book onto the upcoming sessions, please visit the Research Impact, Engagement and Communications Sharepoint site

Funding Development Briefing 23/11/22 Spotlight on: NIHR

What are Funding Development Briefings?

Each session will cover the latest major funding opportunities, followed by a brief Q&A session. Sessions will also include a spotlight on a particular funding opportunity of strategic importance to BU. Sessions will be on Wednesdays, from 12 pm for half-an-hour. The same link can be used each week to join here.
Next Weds 23 November 12:00-12:30, we will cover NIHR (overview).
Date Spotlight Funding Opportunity Briefing Research Facilitator Lead
14/09/2022 Innovate UK SMART Grants Innovation & Infrastructure
21/09/2022 NERC Pushing the Frontiers Life Sciences
28/09/2022 23/24 Horizon Europe Work Programmes EU & International
05/10/2022 ESRC Humanities & Social Sciences
12/10/2022 EPSRC Innovation & Infrastructure
19/10/2022 Wellcome Trust Life Sciences
26/10/2022 HALF TERM
02/11/2022 MSCA Overview of Actions EU & International
09/11/2022 No spotlight
16/11/2022 UKRI FLF All
23/11/2022 NIHR Overview Life Sciences
30/11/2022 Horizon Europe Societal Challenges EU & International
07/12/2022 Leverhulme Trust Humanities & Social Sciences
14/12/2022 KTPs (Business Engagement and Knowledge Exchange Managers) Innovation & Infrastructure

Sessions will be recorded and made available after the session for those who cannot attend.

RIP Quantitative Research: Using Game Based Learning to Teach Qualitative Research

The Mysterious Methods of a Murderer 

During the summer I came up with the idea of creating an innovative teaching tool focusing on qualitative research methods. It was not much of a jump to go to my love of cosy murder mysteries and decided to create a murder mystery game which uses different methodologies as key characters in the game with the student group as the detective.

I enlisted the help of Richard Williams to help me. We wanted to create an immersive experience which used game-based learning to engage the learners in this seminar.

We asked colleagues to play different characters in different scenarios and be filmed, such as, the murder scene, interrogations, secret recordings and the reveal scene. I also wrote diaries and love letters as learning materials with plenty of clues in.

The notion is that each character in the game is a research method or related to research in some way. The characters of the game are, Dr Phenomenology, Professor Grounded Theory, Dr Autoethnography, Professor Biography, Dr Ethnography and Professor Quantitative. Other key characters are also included, Mr Relativism and Mr Positivism, Associate Professor Co-Production and Dr Values as well as Professor Ethics.

The story is as follows; a funding bid is being written to explore why people commit murder. During the write up of the funding bid Professor Quantitative is poisoned. Each character in the game has a unique motive to murder Quantitative and suspicions are high.

To play the game, the learners need to work in teams to investigate who done-it! They are given clues to take them to different places in the building where they will find different materials (films made by us, a virtual simulation of the murderer’s office and also written materials). They have quizzes, puzzles and questions to answer as they navigate the game to help consolidate their learning.

Last week we played the game with third year social work students. The student feedback from playing the game was extremely positive, saying it was fun, engaging, immersive and most importantly, they felt that through playing the game they learnt a lot about qualitative research methods.

Some feedback is as follows:

“It was a fun and different way to learn”

“It was very engaging and interactive; made me develop critical ways of thinking”

“Each character was given a good back story which helped me to learn more about the different types of research”

“The humour helped with engagement and made the experience enjoyable and memorable”

“It was easy to understand, very engaging and inclusive for all”

Please contact me if you are interested in talking more about this game or wish to use it with your students.

Dr Louise Oliver (AKA Sherlock Cumberbatch)
Senior Lecturer in Social Work
LOliver@bournemouth.ac.uk

Ageing and Dementia Research Forum – 24th November – End of life care

We are holding our second ageing and dementia research forum for those interested in research in this area. The forum is an opportunity to get together to chat about research and share experiences in a safe and supportive environment. Specific topics are discussed but there is also time for open discussion to mull over aspects of research such as project ideas and planning, ethical considerations and patient and public involvement.

The next forum meeting is approaching so if you would like to join us, please email adrc@bournemouth.ac.uk so we can send you the meeting details.

Date, time, and campus Research areas
24th November 2022

15.30-17.00

BG601, Bournemouth Gateway

Lansdowne Campus

Hadeel Alhatamleh ‘End of life care for people with dementia in hospitals’

If you would like to discuss your research ideas at a future meeting, please email Michelle mheward@bournemouth.ac.uk

We look forward to seeing you there.

Ageing and Dementia Research Centre

Introduction to Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) for Researchers – free event

Introduction to Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) for Researchers

Date: Tuesday 10 January 2023
Time: 10:30 – 12:30

This event is aimed at people who are new to PPI or setting up their first PPI project, and is free for students and staff from the NIHR, NHS, UK universities, public sector institutions and registered charities based in the UK.

It will help them to discover the support available to plan, deliver and build PPI into their research, and highlight how PPI improves research for patients, services users and carers.

REF Champion Roles – Vacancies!

We are recruiting to a number of champion roles to help support preparation for our next REF submission. The roles are recruited through an open and transparent process, which gives all academic staff the opportunity to put themselves forward. Applications from underrepresented groups (e.g. minority ethnic, declared disability) are particularly welcome.

We are currently preparing submissions to thirteen units (otherwise known as UOAs). Each unit has a leadership team with at least one leader, an output and impact champion. The leadership team are supported by a panel of reviewers who assess the research from the unit. This includes research outputs (journal articles, book chapters, digital artefacts and conference proceedings) and impact case studies.

We currently have vacancies in the following roles:

Output Champion –
17 – Business and Management Studies
27 – English Language and Literature
34 – Communication, Culture and Media Studies, Library and Information Management
Impact Champion –
12 – Engineering

All roles require a level of commitment which is recognised accordingly with time to review, attend meetings, and take responsibility for tasks.

Undertaking a UOA role can be enjoyable and rewarding as two of our current champions testify:

“As UOA Outputs Champion you develop a detailed knowledge of all the great work that colleagues are doing related to the subject, and the different outlets used for disseminating their work.  As an outputs committee member, you also get to know what research is going on across BU, and it’s interesting to see the differences between disciplines.  It’s a good way develop your knowledge of the bigger picture of BU’s research, and also to understand the importance of REF and how it works in practice.  You do spend quite a bit of time chasing colleagues to put their outputs on BRIAN for REF compliance but hopefully they forgive you!”

Professor Adele Ladkin – UOA 24 Output Champion

“As a UoA 17 impact champion, I work closely with the UoA 17 impact team to encourage the development of a culture of impact across BUBS. I try to pop into Department / research group meetings when I can to discuss impact, and I’ve enjoyed meeting people with a whole range of research interests. Sometimes it can be tough to engage people with impact – understandably; everyone is busy – so it’s important to be enthusiastic about the need for our BU research to reach the public. Overall, the role is about planting the seeds to get researchers thinking about the impact their work might have in the future (as well as the impact they have already had, sometimes without realising!)”

Dr Rafaelle Nicholson – UOA 17 Impact Champion

 How to apply

All those interested should put forward a short case (suggested length of one paragraph) as to why they are interested in the role and what they think they could bring to it. These should be clearly marked with the relevant role and unit and emailed to ref@bournemouth.ac.uk by Friday 18th November 2022.

Further detail on the roles, the process of recruitment and selection criteria can be found here:

Output Champion Impact Champion
Role Descriptor Role Descriptor
Process and criteria for selection Process and criteria for selection

For further information please contact ref@bournemouth.ac.uk, a member of current UOA Team with queries.

Value propositions during service mega-disruptions: Exploring value co-creation and value co-destruction in service recovery.

New Research Publication

Assiouras, I., Vallström, N., Skourtis, G., & Buhalis, D. (2023). Value propositions during service mega-disruptions: Exploring value co-creation and value co-destruction in service recovery. Annals of Tourism Research, 97, 103501. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2022.103501 

Abstract

This paper explores value co-creation and co-destruction by focusing on the role of value propositions, practices, and institutions in the tourism ecosystem during COVID-19. Customers that had experienced travel cancellations were interviewed. The findings indicate that during service mega-disruptions, customers re-evaluate resources and value propositions by prioritizing eudemonic well-being, demonstrating at the same time sympathy for the tourism firms’ well-being. However, consumers expect reciprocity, honesty, transparency, and flexibility from tourism firms. The service mega-disruption of COVID-19 provoked a misalignment of practices and routines that led to value co-destruction. This paper proposes that value co-creation can be achieved during a service mega-disruption when actors demonstrate more altruism, solidarity, and shared intentions to maximize or protect the well-being of the ecosystem’s actors.

 
 
 

 
 

What is the Metaverse?

What is the Metaverse?

What is the Metaverse? Expert Panel Online Discussion Tickets, Thu 1 Dec 2022 at 14:00 GMT | Eventbrite

The Metaverse has attracted a great deal of attention and investment over the last 2 years, fuelled in part by coronavirus restrictions on face to face contact, and the opportunity to enrich the internet virtual meeting experience. The fact that the global social media giant Facebook acquired the virtual reality headset developer Oculus and has now changed Facebook branding to “Meta” gives some indication of the business potential of the Metaverse.

For many people in business, the Metaverse is not yet in use as a business tool or a vehicle for improving their internet presence with a Web 3.0 immersive (3D) experience. This panel brings together a selection of leading Metaverse solution providers with a diverse range of approaches and business applications. Each expert panel member has been asked to provide a short (60 second) video to illustrate what their Metaverse looks like and what it is designed to do for business.

This diverse set of Metaverse uses and approaches will set up a panel discussion designed to explore what the Metaverse is today, how it is being used, its value to business and how it is likely to evolve in the future.

The types of metaverse application covered in this panel discussion include :-

• Conferences, Exhibitions and Social Networking

• Brand Identity and Consumer retail experiences

• 3D virtual meeting spaces

• Mirror worlds and NFTs (non fungible tokens)

Our speakers will share their thoughts on these business applications and what are the next likely developments. To join the discussion, add your questions and comments in your chat facility.

Moderator

David Wortley, Virtual Conferences Director, IORMA; Vice President of the International Society of Digital Medicine (ISDM); Founder and CEO of 360in360 Immersive Experiences

David Wortley is the Founder of 360in360 Immersive Experiences and the Virtual Conferences Director at IORMA. In his previous role as Founding Director of the Serious Games Institute (SGI) , David was a Metaverse pioneer and hosted the world’s first hybrid conference in the launch event for the SGI in 2007. At the SGI, he also explored the potential of the Metaverse for mixed reality and integrating real and virtual worlds.

His areas of special interest are technologies for preventative healthcare, collaboration, virtual reality and interactive rich media knowledge sharing. He a professional virtual event facilitator, webinar host and publisher.

Expert Panel

Hanene Maupas, CEO of MEXT B2B Metaverse

Hanene is an experienced Chief Executive Officer with a demonstrated history of working in the semiconductor and internet industry. Skilled in Management and Sales & Marketing, Strong business development professional graduated from Ecole centrale de Lyon, PhD.

Jennifer Drury, Founder, BrandLab360

In 2016 Jennifer co-founded the company with brand owner Dan O’Connell. BrandLab360 is an innovative digital software solution designed to streamline the wholesale fashion industry, consisting of an intelligent omni-channel back office, bespoke virtual reality showrooms and an immersive digital trade show and fashion network.

BrandLab360 was one of the early adopters of Metaverse technology, using platforms which enable companies of all sizes to elevate their business using virtual reality and gamification.

Stephanie (Hoffmans) Palomino, CPO and General Manager of @Room3D

Stephanie is CPO and General Manager of @Room3D, a @TMRW Foundation Company. She was the former CEO of redlab.group, one of the Top 50 German creatives, according to Business Punk magazine, Author of ‘The Lean-Back Perspective’ and Art Director of logic iOS game Queenrulesgame.com.

For more information about IORMA’s series of webinars and the opportunities to speak in and sponsor, go to IORMA Events.

New monograph by Professor Hywel Dix explores the cultural ramifications of Brexit

Compatriots or Competitors? Welsh, Scottish, English and Northern Irish Writing and Brexit in Comparative Contexts is the first study of the distinctive literatures and cultures that developed in Wales, Scotland, England and Northern Ireland since political devolution in the late 1990s, especially surrounding Brexit. The book argues that in conceptualising their cultures as ‘national’, each nation is caught up in a creative tension between emulating forms of cultural production found in the others to assert common aspirations, and downplaying those connections in order to forge a sense of cultural distinctiveness. It explores the resulting dilemmas, with chapters analysing the growth of the creative industries; the relationship between UK City of Culture and its forerunner, the European Capital of Culture; national book prizes in Britain and Europe; British variations on Nordic Noir TV; and the Brexit novel. The study builds on 3 years of research and is published this week by University of Wales Press.

 

International Research Collaboration Opportunities

Collaboration with Norway

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and Research Council of Norway (RCN) have signed a Money Follows Cooperation (MFC) agreement to foster collaboration between researchers in both countries.

RCN and the participating UKRI research councils (AHRC, ESRC, EPSRC, MRC and NERC) have reciprocally opened their agreed national research funding opportunities to collaborative applications involving researchers from the other country to be funded as international co-investigators.

This enables eligible UK principal investigators to submit collaborative applications with co-investigators employed by Norwegian institutions. The inclusion of Norway co-investigators is possible in specific funding opportunities that do not expressly forbid international collaboration and do not provide alternative support for international co-investigators. They must fit the normal definition of a co-investigator on a research project, assisting the grant holder in the management and leadership of the project.

General conditions and budget will differ depending on the funding opportunity to which an application is being submitted.

You should refer to the specific participating research council’s guidance to applicants and funding opportunity guidance for further information on eligibility and application submission, for more details and conditions visit UKRI website.

Under this agreement, UK researchers are also able to take part in RCN funding opportunities as international co-investigators. UK researchers wishing to take part as international co-investigators in applications submitted to RCN should refer to RCN’s website for further information and contact details.

Collaboration with Switzerland

I the meantime, on Thursday 10 November UK has signed major science co-operation agreement with Switzerland.

According to the information available on Government’s web page, UK and Switzerland sign Memorandum of Understanding deepening the relationship between the two countries’ world-leading research and innovation communities.

The memorandum outlines the principles of the relationship, and specific forms of cooperation, including coordinated or joint initiatives, programmes or projects, meetings, workshops, conferences or symposia, exchange of information and documentation, mobility, visits and delegations, and strategy and coordination meetings.

The memorandum will encourage particular focus on cooperation in ‘deep science’ and ‘deep tech’, including life science, energy technology, AI and space.

Congratulations to Dr. Orlanda Harvey on her new publication

This morning the editor of the international journal Sociological Research Online email to inform us that the paper “Using a range of communication tools to interview a hard-to-reach population” has been accepted for publication [1].  This methods paper, on the topic of conducting in-depth interviews, grew out of Orlanda’s postdoctoral research into support for people who are recreational (non-medical) users of Anabolic Androgenic Steroids (AAS).  This is the seventh paper from her PhD research [2-7].

Well done,

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery & Perinatal Health (CMMPH)

 

References:

  1. Harvey, O., van Teijlingen, E., Parrish, M. Using a range of communication tools to interview a hard-to-reach population, Sociological Research Online (accepted).
  2. Harvey, O., van Teijlingen, E. (2022) The case for ‘anabolics’ coaches: selflessness versus self-interest? Performance Enhancement & Health10(3) August, 100230
  3. Harvey, O., van Teijlingen, E., Parrish, M. (2022) Mixed-methods research on androgen abuse – a review, Current Opinion in Endocrinology & Diabetes 29(6):586-593.
  4. Harvey, O., Parrish, M., van Teijlingen, E, Trenoweth, S. (2021) Libido as a reason to use non-prescribed Anabolic Androgenic Steroids, Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy 29(3):276-288,DOI10.1080/09687637.2021.1882940
  5. Harvey, O., Parrish, M., van Teijlingen, E., Trenoweth, S. (2020) Support for non-prescribed Anabolic Androgenic Steroids users: A qualitative exploration of their needs Drugs: Education, Prevention & Policy 27(5): 377-386. DOI 10.1080/09687637.2019.1705763
  6. Harvey, O., Keen, S., Parrish, M., van Teijlingen, E. (2019) Support for people who use Anabolic Androgenic Steroids: A Systematic Literature Review into what they want and what they access. BMC Public Health 19: 1024 https://doi.org/10.1186/s12889-019-7288-x https://rdcu.be/bMFon
  7. Harvey, O., (2019) ECR Spotlight: From Social Work to Studying SteroidsHED Matters 2(2):16-19.