Posts By / ebamburywhitton

Committee inquiries: open calls for evidence

Below is a list of committee inquiries with current open calls for evidence. Please contact Emma Bambury-Whitton if you would like to discuss submitting evidence

Commons Select Committee inquiries

Lords Select Committee inquiries

Joint Committee inquiries

Public Bill Committees


Policy Update

Technical education

HEFCE has published a report on employer demand for intermediate technical higher education. The report finds that employers generally recruit graduates from Level 6 for technician roles despite not requiring this level for the job, and this practice is increasing. Recruiting graduates from Level 6 is largely due to prestige of degrees and the ready supply of graduates. You can view the report here.

Safe spaces

Speaking during prime minister’s questions, Theresa May said it was “quite extraordinary” for universities to ban the discussion of certain topics which could cause offence. She warned that stifling free speech could have a negative impact on Britain’s economic and social success. Theresa May hits out at universities ‘safe spaces’ for stifling free speech.  (The Telegraph).  

 TEF panel members

The members of the Teaching Excellence Framework panel have been announced. The panel includes academics, students, employers and widening participation experts. It is said that the The Department for Education will likely make further appointments by the end of September to strengthen employer representation. You can view the list of panel members here.

 Research metrics

A new Forum for Responsible Metrics is being set up as a partnership between HEFCE, Research Councils UK, Wellcome, Universities UK and Jisc. The forum will develop a programme of activities to support the responsible use of research metrics in higher education institutions and across the research community in the UK. New Forum for Responsible Research Metrics launched (HEFCE).

 HEFCE stats

HEFCE has published its Higher education in England 2016: Key facts report. The report finds that approximately three-quarters of all undergraduate students are studying subjects in the arts, humanities and social sciences, while almost one in four postgraduate students is studying a business-related subject. You can view the report here.

 The Department for Education

The Department for Education has published data on initial participation rates for higher education from 2006/07 to 2014/15. The data finds that participation rates rose 1.7% between 2013/14 and 2014/15, with an increase of students across the majority of age groups. The report also estimates that there has been an increase of 1,900 mature students entering higher education between 2013/14 and 2014/5. You can view the report here.

Changes to the Research Landscape

The upcoming changes to the research landscape have been in the limelight once again. The Higher Education and Research Bill had its second evidence session on Thursday 8th September which touched on the parts of the Bill that will have implications for research.

The session was joined by Phil Nelson, Research Councils UK; Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, Innovate UK and Professor Ottoline Leyser, The Royal Society. The following points were raised and discussed in the session.

  • UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) will allow for the research councils to be greater together than they are separately
  • It is important to ensure the individual identities of the different research councils are not lost under UKRI
  • How knowledge and research information transfers to government as a whole is crucial- aside from information exchange between research councils.
  • The UKRI is missing an executive committee, the Board will not be able to provide the correct oversight concerning detail and how the organisation will interact with government.  This should be included in the Bill
  • UKRI will help with the business view of research, it will help businesses use the latest knowledge and innovation
  • The Bill does a good job of offering assurances around dual support and the protection of it
  • The UKRI will help with disparities between councils that currently exist
  • The Bill should include more detail around how the Office for Students (OfS) and UKRI will work together, for example with the provision for PGR students. The Bill should precisely outline the involvement that research should have with teaching as a way to help the connection between the OfS and UKRI
  • The focus on interdisciplinary research will help with societal challenges
  • UKRI will also help with ensuring collaboration at a strategic level
  • There are concerns that Social Sciences and the Arts and Humanities may be at risk in UKRI. The Bill could do more to protect these areas.
  • If any changes to individual research councils are proposed, they should be consulted on

Additionally, Jo Johnson MP has written to Lord Selborne in response to the Future of Innovate UK inquiry by the Science and Technology Committee. The letter makes the following points

  • Bringing Innovate UK into UKRI will ensure we have the structures in place to exploit the knowledge and expertise we have for the benefit of the whole country
  • Collaborative projects, supported by Innovate UK, with two or more academic partners have twice the economic return compared to those with no academic partners
  • Innovate UK is not, and will not become, the commercialisation arm of the Research Councils
  • We have included multiple safeguards, such as specifying its business-focused mission on the face of the Bill, specifying a board which both balances both research and business interests and which will include a specific innovation champion.

HE Policy Update


The Times Higher discusses the reputational damage that could occur if leading institutions opt out of the TEF. The Times Higher argues that opting out would mean that teaching-focused institutions, who have the most to gain from the TEF, could once again find themselves losing out in an environment where research is king. Who suffers if leading universities opt out of the TEF? (THE).

The government has released an updated timetable for the TEF-


September- TEF panel announcement and publication of DfE Technical Consultation response

October- Submission portal open (guidance published; metrics available)

Mid-November – Early December- Provider briefing events


January- Deadline for submissions

February to May- Assessment period

May- TEF awards announced


If Switzerland is formally kicked out of Horizon 2020 after February 2017, there is fear that the consequences will see severe damage on their ability to attract leading researchers and, thus, weaken a nation that relies on innovation to maintain standards of living. What lessons does Switzerland hold for the UK post-Brexit? (THE). However ETH Zurich president has said the whole European research system would suffer if it no longer includes the UK and Switzerland. European research system ‘cannot afford’ to lose Swiss and UK elite (THE).

Oxford University

Oxford University’s intake of new students this autumn will have the highest proportion of state school pupils for at least 40 years. The university has offered 59.2% of places to pupils from state schools, up from 55.6% of places taken last year. Oxford University to have ‘most state school students for decades’ (BBC News).

Graduate jobs

The Association of Graduate Recruiters’ annual survey reveals that the number of graduate jobs on offer shrunk by nearly 8 per cent this year as employers reacted to Brexit and shifted their focus to apprenticeships. Graduate jobs market shrinks 8% after Brexit vote, survey says (THE).

 Brexit inquiry

On 8 September the EU External Affairs and EU Internal Market Sub-Committees will hold a joint double evidence session launching their new inquiry “Brexit: future trade between the UK and the EU”.  You will be able to watch the session live here.

Disabled students

The number of disabled students studying at HE providers is increasing year-on-year. In 2014-15 over 6,000 UK first-degree entrants were reported as having a mental health problem – an increase of 160 per cent since 2010-11. However, there are concerns around support for disabled students, as those with a disability were typically two to four percentage points less likely to be awarded a first or 2:1. Dismantling barriers to success for disabled students (HEFCE).


HE Policy Update


UCAS is considering a clearing overhaul which would allow students to reject their offers and throw their name back into the hat for a better course. The changes would apply to those applicants who have performed better than expected or changed their minds about where they want to study. Major changes to clearing could see students ‘throw their name back into the hat’ after A-level results. (The Telegraph).

Graduate tax

A blog on Wonkhe highlights the disadvantages of a graduate tax, including that many students would pay much more under this system. The post comes after Owen Smith, Labour leadership contender, proposed he would fund university education through a graduate tax system.  The graduate tax: higher education’s zombie idea (Wonkhe).


A post on Wonkhe looks into what we know about the new NSS. The post discusses the nine new questions on student engagement, optional banks, and the question on student unions. Information, information, information: how is the new NSS shaping up? (Wonkhe).

French universities

Former French president Nicolas Sarkozy has outlined the higher education reforms he would make if elected president in 2017. He has said that universities should be selective in choosing candidates for undergraduate and masters courses as well as being able to set their tuition fees without any limit imposed by government. Sarkozy proposes ‘explosive’ university reforms (Research Professional).


A HEFCE blog post looks at what it is like to graduate in a recession. The last recession in the UK resulted in the proportion of 2007-08 graduates in professional roles falling by 3 percentage points compared to the previous year. However, after a further 12 months of economic contraction, the impact on the graduates of 2008-09 was worse as the rate fell by 4 percentage points. What happens if you graduate in a recession? (HEFCE).

Visa applications

According to figures from the Office for National Statistics there has been a fall in the number of students from outside the European Union applying for visas to study at UK universities. Number of visa applications for university study falls (THE).


The Times Higher reports that British universities will not immediately press the government to seek associated country status in European Union research programmes after Brexit, but will instead explore all options to find a politically acceptable solution. Brexit: UK considers alternative options to EU research association (THE).

HE Policy Update

EU funded projects- Brexit

The Government has announced that the Treasury will underwrite funding for approved Horizon 2020 projects applied for before the UK leaves the European Union. This includes cases where specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU. You can view the full announcement here.

Maintenance grants

Labour has announced it would restore grants to help young people in England stay in further and higher education. This would mean a return for education maintenance allowances (EMA) which was scrapped by the coalition government in 2010. It would also mean reversing the decision to turn maintenance grants into repayable loans. Labour promises return of student maintenance grants (BBC News).

A-Level results

A record number of students were placed in UK universities and colleges as A-level results were released, with acceptances up 2.9 per cent year-on-year. Ucas said that 423,880 applicants had secured a place as of midnight on 18 August, an increase of 11,800 on the same point in 2015. Record number of students win university places (THE).

Graduate wages

The Institute for Fiscal Studies has published a briefing note on graduate wages. The report reveals that despite the recent fall in the average graduate real wage, their wage relative to school-leavers’ has remained relatively unchanged. The report also reveals that UK firms have become less hierarchical over time: instead of having a few skilled managers to dictate how a larger number of unskilled workers should work, now more managerial decisions are decentralised and made by skilled workers.

 Language departments

It has been warned that more university language departments could face closure if student recruitment continues to decline. Ucas data shows that the number of applicants placed on to European language and literature courses at UK higher education institutions on A-level results day was down 7.8 per cent year-on-year, with an intake of 3,080 being a record low for recent years. University language departments ‘at risk’ as recruitment slumps (THE).

Teaching quality

Jo Johnson, the universities and science minister, has written about teaching quality in The Daily Telegraph. He writes “there is unacceptable patchiness that requires our attention and, if we are to make sure that our university system retains its world-leading status, we simply cannot stand still”. Universities must wipe out mediocre teaching and drive up student engagement (The Telegraph).


EU Funding Post-Brexit

Over the weekend, the UK government announced a commitment to EU funded research projects when the UK leaves the European Union.

The announcement confirms that the Treasury will underwrite funding for approved Horizon 2020 projects applied for before the UK leaves the European Union. The Treasury went on to say “As a result, British businesses and universities will have certainty over future funding and should continue to bid for competitive EU funds while the UK remains a member of the EU.

The announcement has been heavily criticised since it only relates to funds won whilst the UK is a member of the EU, but falls short of making any commitments for when the UK leaves the EU. Scientists for EU have commented on the announcement “the reason why the Chancellor’s announcement is decidedly underwhelming is that they represent no boost to science, but rather the most minimal assurances possible.”

However, it is hoped that the announcement will ensure the UK is not viewed as a risk to European partners and therefore will help to maintain stability across the research community.

HE Policy Update

National Student Survey

Eighty-six per cent of the more than 300,000 final-year UK undergraduates who responded to this year’s NSS survey said that they were satisfied with their course, the same as the all-time high recorded in the 2014 and 2015 results. National Student Survey 2016: satisfaction scores stay high in £9K fee era (THE).

Mental Health

According to a YouGov survey of 1,061 students, one in three female students in the UK has a mental health problem, this is compared to a fifth of male undergraduates. One in four students suffer from mental health problems (YouGov).

Home Office Visas

The recent two-year visa pilot scheme which eases visa rules for those applying to master’s courses at the University of Bath, the University of Cambridge, the University of Oxford and Imperial College London has been criticised for focusing on the Southern English elite. Home Office visa pilot criticised for focus on southern English elite. (THE).

HESA Stats

HESA has released its ‘overview of the academic year 2014/15’ stats. The stats reveal that: 90 per cent of UK and other EU domicile leavers were in some form of employment or further study six months after leaving, UK HE providers had a total income of £33bn of which 47 per cent came from tuition fees and 45 per cent of students studied science subjects with the most popular subject area being business & administrative studies. Overview of the academic year 2014/15 (HESA).

Sutton Trust

A poll of 11-16 year-olds by the Sutton Trust suggests that a growing proportion of pupils think it’s likely they will go on to university, up from 71% in 2003 to 77% today. However, the poll also suggests that even before entering sixth form, pupils who say they are likely to go to university are worried about the £9,000 annual tuition fees and about the cost of living as a student. Most expect to go to university but worry about fees (The Guardian).

HE Policy Update

REF Review

The outcome of Lord Stern’s independent review makes 12 recommendations for the future of the REF. Notably, the report suggests that all research active staff should be returned in the REF and should be allocated to a unit of assessment. You can view the report here. Wonkhe has a piece which analyses how the sector has reacted to the recommendations.

Home Office

The Home Office released some updated guidance on Tier 4 of the points based system. The guidance reveals a two-year pilot scheme which eases visa rules for those applying to master’s courses at the University of Bath, University of Cambridge, University of Oxford and Imperial College London.  The pilot means that students applying to study a Masters course for 13 months or less at these institutions will be allowed to stay in the UK for six months after the end of their courses to find a graduate job here. You can view the guidance here (pg 92).


Chris Husbands, the Vice-Chancellor of Sheffield Hallam University, has been named as the first chair of the Teaching Excellence Framework. Professor Husbands, will lead the assessment panel that will make decisions on university ratings in the second and third year of the TEF (2017-18 and 2018-19), which will decide whether universities are allowed to raise their fees in line with inflation in 2018-19 and 2019-20. Chris Husbands appointed as TEF chair. (THE).  

 The Department for Education

In the recent report by the Department for Education Widening participation in higher education: 2016, the government reveals that 85% of private school pupils went to higher education, compared with 62% of those from state schools by the age of 19 in 2013-14. The figures also reveal a drop from 66% to 62% in state school pupils progressing to university between 2012-2013 and 2013-2014. You can view the report here.

Party Conferences

 The 2016 Party conferences have been announced

  • Green Party of England and Wales – Friday 2 September to Sunday 4 September 2016 at the University of Birmingham
  • UKIP – Thursday 15 to Saturday 17 September at the Bournemouth International Centre, Bournemouth
  • Liberal Democrats – Saturday 17 September to Wednesday 21 September at the Brighton Centre, Brighton
  • Labour – Sunday 25 September to Wednesday 28 September 2016 at the ACC Liverpool, Liverpool
  • Conservatives – Sunday 2 to Wednesday 5 October at International Convention Centre, Birmingham
  • Scottish National Party – Thursday 13 to Saturday 15 October at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre, Glasgow


Brexit and Bills- what it means for the HE Sector and Research.

With a new Prime Minister, new Government department restructures, the second reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill and Brexit, there is a lot of change around the corner for universities and research.

Now that responsibility for higher education has been transferred to the Department for Education, whilst research and science are under the remit of the newly named Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, there are concerns that universities and research and science will become unaligned. The government has attempted to dilute some of these fears by ensuring that the Minister of State for Universities and Science, which is still held by Jo Johnson MP, jointly looks after both universities and science across both government departments.

In addition, leaving the European Union has already sparked concerns for the higher education sector, and in particular for research. On the 25th July Jo Johnson MP attended the European Science Open Forum in Manchester. He spoke of reports that UK participants are being asked not to lead or participate in Horizon 2020 project bids and went on to reassure that the UK remains an EU member during the 2-year renegotiation period, which includes the rights and obligations that derive from this. He also stated that the UK remains fully open to scientists and researchers from across the EU.

Concerns among the sector are still very much present, the Times Higher Education reported worries around possible changes to the way the European Research Council (ERC) could distribute funds. Currently, money is distributed on the basis of excellence, meaning the UK does comparably well in relation to other EU nations, however this could change after Brexit if the ERC decided to run a more redistributive approach- rather than excellence focused. Additionally, the Guardian found cases of British academics being asked to leave EU funded projects or to step down from leadership roles because they are considered a financial liability.

The second reading of the Higher Education and Research Bill also touched on the implications of leaving the EU. Jo Johnson MP said that he is working closely with Brussels, and is grateful to the commitment of his European counterparts that the UK will not be discriminated against. Justine Greening, the new Secretary of State for Education confirmed that the new UK Research and Innovation body (UKRI), which will see the research councils being grouped together, is critical in providing a unified voice to represent the interests of research and innovation when negotiating our new relationship with the EU.

The Higher Education and Research Bill has also prompted concerns around Innovate UK, with the Bill controversially proposing it is included in the new UKRI. This change has not gone unnoticed and the The House of Lords Science and Technology Committee recently ran an inquiry into the implications. The committee has informed the government that the plans to incorporate Innovate UK into UKRI are “wrong and endanger its important business-facing focus.” The inquiry argues that innovation is not a linear process and merging Innovate UK with UKRI runs the risk of linking innovation with science and research too formally. The inquiry is currently waiting for a reply from the Universities and Science Minister, Jo Johnson MP.

In addition, the outcome of Lord Stern’s review of the REF has been published. The report sets out 12 recommendations for the REF, but broadly supports the REF as a way to deliver quality-related research funding. You can view my previous blog post about this here.

Lord Stern’s REF Review- the outcome

The outcome of Lord Stern’s independent review of the REF has been published. You can view the report here. The recommendations from the report are as follows.

1.       All research active staff should be returned in the REF (and allocated to a unit of assessment).

2.       Outputs should be submitted at Unit of Assessment level with a set average number per FTE but with flexibility for some faculty members to submit more and others less than the average (this hopes to shift the spotlight from the individual to the Unit of Assessment).

3.       Outputs should not be portable (to encourage a long- term approach to investment).

4.       Panels should continue to assess on the basis of peer review. However, metrics should be provided to support panel members in their assessment, and panels should be transparent about their use.

5.       Institutions should be given more flexibility to showcase their interdisciplinary and collaborative impacts by submitting ‘institutional’ level impact case studies, part of a new institutional level assessment(for a more strategic approach).

6.       Impact should be based on research of demonstrable quality. However, case studies could be linked to a research activity and a body of work as well as to a broad range of research outputs.

7.       Guidance on the REF should make it clear that impact case studies should not be narrowly interpreted, need not solely focus on socioeconomic impacts but should also include impact on government policy, on public engagement and understanding, on cultural life, on academic impacts outside the field, and impacts on teaching (the report recommends that research leading to impact on curricula and/ or pedagogy should be included).

8.       A new, institutional level Environment assessment should include an account of the institution’s future research environment strategy, a statement of how it supports high quality research and research-related activities, including its support for interdisciplinary and cross-institutional initiatives and impact. It should form part of the institutional assessment and should be assessed by a specialist, cross-disciplinary panel. (Institutional-level environment statement will allow for a more holistic view of the HEI).

9.       That individual Unit of Assessment environment statements are condensed, made complementary to the institutional level environment statement and include those key metrics on research intensity specific to the Unit of Assessment.

10.   Where possible, REF data and metrics should be open, standardised and combinable with other research funders’ data collection processes in order to streamline data collection requirements and reduce the cost of compiling and submitting information (to reduce burden and improve transparency).

11.   That Government, and UKRI, could make more strategic use of REF, to better understand the health of the UK research base, our research resources and areas of high potential for future development, and to build the case for strong investment in research in the UK (to help with the UKRI’s aim of being the strategic voice for research in the UK).

12.   Government should ensure that there is no increased administrative burden to Higher Education Institutions from interactions between the TEF and REF, and that they together strengthen the vital relationship between teaching and research in HEIs (the report notes that successful institutions do not separate teaching and research missions, a common dataset that can describe university research and teaching staff is recommended).

HE Policy Update

Jo Johnson MP

It has been announced that Jo Johnson MP will remain as the Minister for universities and science. His ministerial role will be a joint role across the Department for Education and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Conor Burns MP

Conor Burns MP (Bournemouth West) has been announced as the Parliamentary Private Secretary to Greg Clark MP at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Higher Education and Research Bill

The Higher Education and Research Bill passed its second reading this week by 294 votes to 258. Justine Greening, the new Education Secretary who led the reading said there will be a flexible approach to degree awarding powers, for instance through the use of probationary periods or by restricting them to certain subject areas for some institutions. Gordon Marsden, shadow higher education minister said that market exit risked undermining confidence in the overall system. You can view the progress of the Bill here.


Research by UCAS has revealed that children who know at the age of 10 that they want to go to university, are twice as likely to go to a selective one than those who decide at 16. Early university ambitions pay off, survey suggests (BBC News).

 Tuition Fees

Jo Johnson has published a written ministerial statement that formally sets out tuition fee rises for course of study in the 2017/18 academic year beginning in August 2017. The statement reveals that:

  • If an institution has achieved a TEF rating of Meets Expectations and has an access agreement with the Office for Fair Access (OFFA), the maximum tuition fee cap for full-time courses will be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) and will therefore be £9,250 in 2017/18.
  • Loans for living costs will also be increased by forecast inflation (2.8%) in 2017/18.
  • For students living away from home and studying outside London, the maximum loan for living costs for 2017/18 will be £8,430.

There has been a lot of discussion and debate about the rise in tuition fees in the media this week. Please see our intranet page for a breakdown and analysis.

HE Policy Update

EU referendum

The Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP released a statement on 28th June on ‘higher education and research following the EU referendum’.

  • He confirmed that EU citizens currently studying in the UK, or starting their courses in September 2016 will continue to receive loans until they finish their courses.
  • There will be no immediate changes concerning immigration rules of British students living in the EU, and European students living in the UK.
  • There are no changes to students studying in the EU, beneficiaries of Erasmus+ or those considering applying in 2017.
  • There will be no immediate effect on those applying to or participating in Horizon 2020.

Any future changes to the above will depend on the negotiations between the UK and EU.

Jo Johnson also spoke at the Wellcome Trust on ‘Leading the world in the new age of global science’.

  • He said that the prospect of Brexit inevitably poses new challenges at a time when research itself is becoming more collaborative and more global, and that our task now is to chart a course that protects the UK’s status as a full-spectrum scientific power.
  • The government will be creating a new annual £1 million Newton Prize. The prize will be awarded for the best science or innovation projects that promote the economic development and social welfare of Newton partner countries, or address the problems of poor people around the world.
  • The government want the REF and the TEF to be mutually reinforcing and will ask institutions to consider how they promote research-led teaching in their TEF submissions.
  • Jo Johnson also announced he would be concerned about any discrimination against UK participants in Horizon 2020.

Jane Forster has written a blog about the next steps for higher education in light of the EU referendum result, you can view the blog on the Bournemouth University website.

Graduate Employment

The DLHE survey for 2014/15 has been published. The Times Higher has reported that the proportion of UK university leavers in work or further study has hit a record high, with more graduates going into professional jobs, but that there is a growing gender pay gap, with male graduates earning significantly more on average than their female counterparts. However The Telegraph reports that over 50,000 new graduates are in non-graduate jobs, including lollypop ladies, factory workers and hospital porters.

Irish Higher Education

Irish universities risk losing part of their funding if they fail to tackle gender inequality under proposed reforms to improve women’s promotion chances in academia. Institutions would also be unable to apply for research funding if they failed to achieve at least a Silver Athena SWAN award within seven years. Improve gender balance in Irish HE or face fines, says review (THE).

Student Loans

The Petitions Committee has granted a debate on ‘stopping retrospective changes to the student loans agreement’ following the petition on the subject receiving over 100,000 signatures. The debate will take place on 18th July at 4:30pm and will be led by Helen Jones MP, Chair of the Petitions Committee. You can watch the debate via this link.


An article in the Times Higher Education claims that an industry-wide, university-student “contract to educate” must be implemented. This should incorporate as binding terms the representations made by the university to the applicant/student-consumer, and include the essential comparative data that students need to begin to overcome the information asymmetry problem. The TEF: trading standards whose time has come (THE).

Brexit: The future for UK Higher Education

Since the announcement last Friday 24th June that the UK had voted to leave the EU, some light has been shed on the implications for UK universities.

The Minister for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson MP released a statement on 28th June on higher education and research following the EU referendum.

  • He confirmed that EU citizens currently studying in the UK or starting their courses in September 2016 will continue to receive loans until they finish their courses.
  • There will be no immediate changes concerning immigration rules of British students living in the EU, and European students living in the UK.
  • There are no changes to students studying in the EU, beneficiaries of Erasmus+ or those considering applying in 2017.
  • There will be no immediate effect on those applying to or participating in Horizon 2020.

Brexit should therefore not result in any immediate changes. However, there could be significant changes in the years to come, although this will depend on the arrangements negotiated between the UK and EU. The negotiations could begin when a new Prime Minister is announced, this will definitely be by October 2016, but could be as early as September with the conservative contenders due to launch their leadership bids imminently.    They could take up to two years, or even longer (if the EU partners all agree).

Although there is uncertainty ahead about the impact of Brexit for UK higher education, there have been some positive reports about the possible future of the sector’s relationship with the EU. On the 28th June, the Italian Prime Minister said he wanted to find a way for UK students to gain passports while they studied for degree courses. Additionally, the Independent has outlined some reasons to be optimistic about the future relationship of the UK universities and the EU, and states that as long as the UK government commits to higher education, and recognises the role it plays, the future for the sector could remain bright.   An article including quotes from the Minister in the THE is also interesting.

Our Vice-Chancellor has commented in an updated statement and Jane Forster has written a blog on what happens in HE after the vote.

HE Policy Update

EU referendum

With the UK having voted to leave the EU, the higher education sector has responded with lots of material about what it means for universities.

THE has reported that a Brexit will have sparked a huge amount of uncertainty for the future of research funding, student fees and hiring of staff from the European Union.

The Independent reports academic’s fears around a new form of Brexit – a brain exit or brain drain –  that could hit Britain’s universities and the wider scientific community.

Wonkhe comments that universities must find a way to argue for the importance of higher education in the UK inside or outside of the EU.

At present, what we do know is that the immigration status of EU students and staff based at BU and in other European countries has not yet changed. We are likely to find out more about the implications when the two-year negotiation process between the UK and other Member States begins- we do not yet know exactly when this will be, but it could be this Autumn with the appointment of a new Prime Minister.

Work experience

The National Centre for Universities and Businesses has published a report exploring business practices and processes around work experience offers. The report highlighted that work experience is used heavily as a recruitment tool, however where work experience is gained is of less importance to employers than the development of transferable skills that the experience of work fosters. You can view the report here.

HE & Research Bill

The Vice-Chancellor of Regent’s University London has warned the Higher Education and Research Bill will meet with “substantial opposition” and may not make it through the House of Commons in its current form. HE bill ‘will face substantial opposition in Parliament’ (THE).


The TEF could radically reshape the hierarchy of UK higher education, with small campus universities and post-92s outperforming many of the elite Russell Group. TEF ‘set to reshape hierarchy of UK higher education’ (TEF).

If you would like to provide any direct feedback on any of the consultation workshops we have been running, please have a look at the consultation intranet page for more information and links to the relevant documents.


HE Policy Update

Digital Skills

The House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee have released a report warning that 12.6 million UK adults lack basic digital skills and that the country is facing a “digital skills crisis”. The report suggests the Government should encourage universities to provide ‘code conversion courses’ to help graduates from non-computer science backgrounds to enter the tech sector with a recognised qualification. You can view the report here.


HESA have published data on students in alternative providers in England during the academic year 2014/15. The findings show that just over 50,000 students were enrolled at alternative providers in 2014/15. The majority of students (54%) were enrolled on business and administrative studies designated courses. You can view the data here.

 Student Loans

A petition opposing a retrospective rise in the cost of student loans that obtained 120,000 signatures in just a few days has been rejected by the government. Government throws out student loans petition (The Guardian).


Ministers campaigning to leave the European Union say that they will “continue to fund EU programmes in the UK until 2020” in the event of a Brexit, including research funding. Brexit government ‘would fund EU research programmes until 2020’. (THE).


Formulaic distribution of funding council support for English universities’ efforts to widen participation is set to end. Instead of receiving funding according to the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds that they have, universities would instead have to apply for support from the National Collaborative Outreach Programme. Hefce reshapes support for widening participation. (THE).

A reminder that we have a workshop taking place on Monday 20th June 2016 09:30-11:00- P401. The workshop will address the  TEF and DLHE consultations. In particular the workshop will be looking at the following consultation questions:

TEF: Q3 Benchmarking, Q4 Coverage and timescales, Q5 Split by characteristics, Q6 Contextual information, Q10 Assessment process, Q11 Years of available data.

DLHE: Q6-9 Linked Data, Q18-22 Presentation and financing, Q29 Personal Data, Q42-44 Links to previous surveys, Q54-57 Salary, Q106-107 Cost v value, Q108-111 Cost base, Q114-115 3rd Party Methodology, Q116-121 Added Value, Q122 Implementation, Q123-124 Onward uses of data, Q125-127 Current uses of data.


Committee inquiries: open calls for evidence

Below is a list of committee inquiries with current open calls for evidence. Please contact Emma Bambury-Whitton if you would like to discuss submitting evidence.

Commons Select Committee inquiries

Joint Committee inquiries

HE Policy Update

Student Loans 

It has been reported that some graduates are not informed when their student loans have been paid off resulting in repayments being taken from their accounts, despite clearing their debt. Graduates who keep on paying after they’ve cleared their student debts (The Guardian).

Skills White Paper

BIS is planning to publish a Skills White Paper, which will propose the recommendations from a review into technical and professional education pathways led by Lord Sainsbury. No technical and professional education pilot until 2019/20 (FE Week).

OfS and UKRI

BIS have published their business cases for the Office for Students (OfS) and UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). The documents reveal that the OfS will cost approximately £31 million to run annually, considerably more than the joint £26.6 million running costs of HEFCE and OFFA in 2015. BIS has also predicted a £4 million transitional cost falling in 2017-18 for setting up the UKRI.


UCAS have published their first equality reports for individual universities. This is the first time application and offer data at the institutional level has been made available and broken down by sex, ethnicity and socio-economic background. The data reveals there are many factors that can affect the statistics for individual universities, such as the courses they offer, where they are located, and how they assess different exam subjects. Universities will often have a student profile driven mainly by the demographics of the local population if that is their main recruitment area. You can view the data here.

Student Academic Experience

HEPI and HEA have published their annual findings from their report on the student academic experience. The report reveals that many students would opt for high contact hours above small class sizes. The report also reveals that students care about high-quality teaching and staff who continuously develop their skills. You can view the report here.

 Jo Johnson MP

The Universities and Science Minister Jo Johnson spoke at a HEPI event focusing on the student journey. Jo Johnson set out the rationale for the HE reforms saying how students now expect to meet more of the costs of their education through their future earnings and therefore have a sharper eye for quality and value for money. You can read his full speech here.

EU research funding

UUK have published a report claiming that EU research funding generates more than 19,000 jobs across the UK, £1.86 billion for the UK economy and contributes more than £1 billion to GDP. You can view the report here.