Category / REF Subjects

REGISTRATION NOW OPEN: Second Annual FMC Postgraduate Researcher Conference 2018

Firstly, we would like to take the opportunity to say thank you to all of the researchers who took the time to submit their abstracts for next month’s Second Annual FMC Postgraduate Researcher conference. The conference committee was particularly delighted to see the exceptional quality and diversity in submissions this year, and only further underlines the level of research being undertaken here in the Faculty of Media and Communication. We will respond to all applicants by Friday 9th November (today).

Conference Keynote Speaker – Dr Sam Goodman

In addition to this year’s fantastic collection of papers, we would like to say a massive thank ‘brew’ and warm welcome to our own Dr Sam Goodman, Senior Lecturer in English & Communication here in the Faculty, who will be delivering the keynote to close our conference:

Critical Drinking: Approaches to Interdisciplinary research practice through British Beer Culture (details below)

In addition to Sam’s talk, there will be a complimentary optional beer tasting, comprising of three tasters of modern British Beers that have been chosen to pair thematically with the subjects under discussion. So come along and ease the ‘ale-ments’ of researching with this fantastic closing event.

Although the tasting is free of charge to all FMC staff and postgraduates, we would kindly ask you to register as early possible, as places are limited, and it would be ‘un-beer-able’ if you were to miss out!


Registration is now open to all FMC staff and postgraduates, and can be accessed via the Conference’s Event Bright Page here:

Through this link you will find registration for both the conference and the additional optional beer tasting. All of our conference speakers are required to register, so if your abstract is successful we still ask you to register (link above).  If you have any questions or queries regarding registration or the tasting please do not hesitate to email Alex:

With a larger and more diverse line-up of papers, talks, and events than ever before, we can’t wait to see all of you at this year’s Second Annual FMC Postgraduate Researcher conference on the 5th December.

The Conference Team

Alexandra P. Alberda

Graphic Medicine and Curatorial Practice

T: @ZandraAlberda

Stephen Allard

Socio-digital Poetics

T: @fictiondissy

Melanie Brown

Copyright Law and Cultural Heritage


Sustainable Seas

Colleagues with an interest in the sustainability of the seas may be interested in this summary of an Environmental Audit Committee Sustainable Seas session.

Click this link to read the summary. The summary has been provided by Dods political monitoring consultants and is only available to BU staff and student readers.

Alternatively you can view the session on Parliament TV here.

Creating Impact on Business Practice and Strategy

The future of YouTube was a co-created research project between Emma Parrett, Strategic Partnerships Director at OMD UK and Dr John Oliver (FMC). OMD are a strategic communications and planning agency that employs over 8,500 people in more than 120 offices globally and are the most awarded agency network in the world.

One of OMDs clients are YouTube and the challenge they faced was how to develop long-term market insight and strategic solutions in a rapidly changing media environment.The project combined imaginative and systematic thinking in a way that provided a unique insight into future media environments and how YouTube could compete using multiple strategic options.

The impact of the project and the scenario planning methodology has influenced OMD’s business practices in a number of ways. They believe that their media planning team were better able to make sense of often conflicting macro-environmental trends and are now able to find more advanced strategic insight. Additional positive outcomes were evidenced by increased usage of scenario planning, as well as staff and client understanding of a methodology which they ultimately regarded as a way of obtaining strategic solutions in a rapidly changing business environment.

Dr Oliver commented that the benefits of academics working with industry professionals to create knowledge and instrumental impact on business practices has been evidenced in this project. ​

Furthermore, the YouTube project has been written up and published in both industry and academic journals and the level of publisher downloads has run into the thousands.

The article can be accessed at:

seca mBCA Body Composition Demonstration – 4th December, 2pm, RLH

BUCRU will be hosting a demonstration by Seca UK who will be showing BIA body composition analysers.  Tuesday 4th December at 2pm, R508, Royal London House. The standing mBCA 515 and portable mBCA 525 are multi-frequency, and offer medically precise measurements of fat mass, fat free mass, visceral fat in litres, hydration status, energy, fat-mass to muscle-mass ratio, segmental skeletal muscle mass, BIVA Chart, phase angle, and cardiometabolic risk, with results presented in just 17 seconds in a motivational and visually appealing format.  seca mBCA BIA products are clinically validated against the “gold standard” for body composition – MRI, ADP, DEXA, NaBr, D20.


The demonstration will last approx. 45-60 minutes, which will be sufficient time to view the demonstration and analyse the results and plenty of time for questions/discussions.


Please email BUCRU to advise if you plan to attend.


Supporting literature & validation papers for the mBCA 515 available upon request.

HE policy update for the w/e 2nd November 2018

The Budget

As previously trailed in the media the Autumn Budget was focused on demonstrating the end of austerity. There wasn’t much in the way of HE announcements, however paperwork released with the budget confirms that the Government intends to continue to freeze the maximum tuition fees at the current £9,250 level (UUK report this means £200 million less funding for the sector by 2023-24). Previously announced increases to research and development funding (£1.6 billion more) were reiterated:

  • £1.1 billion through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
  • £120 million through Strength in Places fund
  • £150 million for research fellowship schemes
  • Funding for 10 university enterprise zones, and for catapult centres

Of the above £50 million is committed to Artificial Intelligence to attract and retain the world’s top talent through the Alan Turing Institute AI Fellowships. The first fellows are expected to be in place by Autumn 2019.

Additional funding for mental health was also announced. Alongside this was one-off capital investment for schools (£400 million) and £10 million to trial the regional retention of early career maths and physics teachers. On apprenticeship training contributions the Chancellor reduced the contribution SMEs have to pay to 5% (from 10%). Finally, private providers will be afforded the same VAT exempt status as public universities (source).

However, this could all change if Brexit isn’t delivered as currently intended (Research Professional call it The Phantom Budget).

In the debates Greg Clark said that the two core themes of the Budget were repairing the economy from the effects of the financial crash and preparing the country economically for Brexit. Following questions he reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to zero-emissions cars and sustainable sources of energy, including marine energy – which is currently lagging behind. Meanwhile a spokesperson for the Opposition claimed the schools funding announced was insulting and that much of the Budget’s other spending commitments were repackaged money from prior announcements. Research Professional agree with the repackaging comment stating that only £55 million of the £1.6 billion is new money:

David Davies (Conservative) spoke about the University loans system, he said it had failed to deliver a market in university education, with the least valuable courses at the worst universities costing precisely the same as the most valuable course at the most prestigious university. He said the whole system needed to be revamped and turned into a proper graduate-contribution system with honest accounting, clear rules and no retrospective changes to the interest rates or other terms. Long term he felt the UK should move away from loans all together and that would have a liberating psychological impact on young people.

A contribution from one of our local MPs, Richard Drax (South Dorset), was to praise the mandatory rate relief on public toilets as a means of empowering young and old people to be more active.

This parliamentary question delves into the spending breakdown of the 2018 budget research promises.

Student Loan Sales – Research Professional say:  Meanwhile, there is also confirmation in the red book that further tranches of the existing student loan book are to be sold off.

  • “In December 2017 the government completed the first in its programme of sales of pre-2012 income-contingent student loans, expected to raise £12bn by 2021-22,” it says. “The sale raised £1.7bn, reducing PSND [public sector net debt], and was assessed as value for money by the National Audit Office. The government will now extend the sales programme by a further year, increasing total proceeds to £15bn.”
  • When selling student loans, ministers are basically trading in an uncertain money flow for an upfront but smaller sum. The NAO may have described the first sale of the loan book as “value for money”, but plenty of others have not, because they disagree with UK government definitions of success in this area.
  • Indeed, in an analysis published yesterday, the Office for Budget Responsibility says: “The sale of the first tranche of Plan 1 loans…involved the government exchanging loans with a face value of £3.5bn for £1.7bn in upfront cash.
  • “Only part of the £1.8bn difference reflected the size of the expected write-offs. This does not strengthen the public finances in any meaningful sense—it is simply an alternative way to finance the budget deficit, and a relatively expensive one at that given current borrowing costs.” Not necessarily such great value, then.
  • And here is the rub, as Hamlet might have said: the Office for Budget Responsibility has costed the “fiscal illusion” of the student loan book presentation in 2018-19 at a £12.3bn positive variance for the Treasury. If this were to be presented as a direct cost in the public accounts, it would all but wipe out the fiscal windfall of reduced public sector borrowing requirements, which is now covering the government’s promises on funding for the NHS, universal credit and the “end of austerity”.
  • The Office for Budget Responsibility says that the presentation of student loans in the public accounts would flatter the deficit to the tune of £17.1bn by 2023-24. You can see why the government is keen not to talk about this openly, preferring the euphemism of an international conference on the valuation of human capital. Never mind Brexit, the student loan book on its own has the potential to sink this budget forecast.

Boom and bust…

When the OfS was a twinkle in Jo Johnson’s eye. the then Universities Minister) was keen to show he could play hard ball and willing to let struggling universities dissolve into insolvency.

It is reported this week that the removal of the student number cap has hit some universities harder than others. There has been fiercer competition for the same pool of students, set within the backdrop of a population drop in the number of young entrants. The result has been a shift with some students on lower expected grades finding they can trade up to access medium or high tariff institutions.  The Times reports that Surrey and Swansea have doubled their undergraduate numbers and Coventry, Reading and Aston have expanded above 50% growth.

The press has reported that the less successful institutions are turning to unconditional offers to increase recruitment (it’s not clear whether there is such a straightforward link between unconditional offers and “bums on seats”, despite what the Minister says, but UCAS are preparing a report on it).

Meanwhile Brexit and unwelcoming messages on immigration and the hostile environment, coupled with the removal of post-study work visas for international students are factors too.

In the last 18 months Universities have been facing challenges from MPs on issues such as quality, free speech, and graduate outcomes and have been berated (by some) for surviving and flourishing during the period of austerity. The rhetoric surrounding the current review of Post-18 funding suggests a rebalancing of funding and refocus towards technical education, refreshed apprenticeships and alternatives to the HE route – potentially further reducing the pool of young people choosing to progress to university. Meanwhile the January 2019 UCAS deadline looms…

The press has trailed several stories of unnamed universities who are struggling financially and at risk of closure (see iNews). The Daily Mail report three universities – one in the North West and two on the South Coast and cites location as a reason they are unable to attract students in high enough numbers. The article says that in 2016-17 19 English universities were in deficit, most of which are former polytechnics. There were only 7 in deficit in 2015-16. The Daily Mail’s tone is to let the struggling institution’s go bust.  Wonkhe also comment on the universities in deficit stating that since the 2012 higher fees 17 universities have had a 10% decline in student numbers, and 5 universities’ recruitment intake is down by 20%. The Times suggests ‘more than a dozen’ universities are on the brink. The article goes on to name London Met (35% decline), the University of East London and Kingston University (26% decline), Southampton Solent and Cumbria (24% decline), Bedfordshire and Huddersfield (18% decline) – the declines are all measured since the introduction of higher fees.

Some media reports note the shock an area would undergo should a university close through bankruptcy. Matt Waddup, UCU said:

  • “Along with schools and colleges, universities are the beating heart of their local communities and it is difficult to overstate just how important the spending power of staff and students is for local economies.” (Source.)

The Times reports Alan Palmer from MillionPlus picking up on the dire consequences for social mobility within an area:

  • “Universities are vital investors in some of the most disadvantaged parts of the country, providing not just educational opportunities to people who thought higher education was out of reach for them, but research expertise to support local businesses to grow and to create new jobs.”

Vital to an institution’s acceptance on the OfS register of HE providers is a student protection plan which outlines the arrangements for students should the institution have to shut. However, iNews quote Mary Curnock Cook (previous UCAS Chief Executive) who doesn’t believe the student protection plans will adequately safeguard students, she said: “a student protection plan will do little to offer additional assurance to students”.

The BBC explore Would a university really be allowed to go bust?

  • The government has to say that it would allow universities to crash – otherwise it would in effect be offering a blank cheque…But it would be a brave education minister who would let it happen, without stepping in with emergency bailouts, merger deals, property sell-offs or new management…Imagine the wrath of students and their parents if they had been allowed to start a course at a university, when the minister knew it was in serious financial trouble. There would be legal challenges, campaigns by local MPs and businesses, battles over fee refunds, and accusations about why the government didn’t act to prevent a collapse. There is a deep inherent contradiction in creating a market with the risk of financial extinction, but also keeping information away from students who are being asked to invest their future.

The BBC piece goes on to dissect the ramifications for the rest of the HE sector suggesting it might lead to an overall downturn in numbers:

  • The word that’s being mentioned is “contagion”. A bit like a banking collapse, a university going bust would send a shockwave through the rest of the sector, threatening confidence in other institutions. Applications to other universities might tumble, putting other places at risk and raising questions about the wider student finance system in which millions of people are borrowing and repaying. Lenders who assumed that universities were a safe bet might get nervous and reduce the credit on which other universities are relying. Those living on a deficit would find themselves in deeper water… Universities will also be deeply anxious about perception. If they’re seen to be financially at risk it would be a killer blow to recruitment and the perception would soon become a dangerous reality.

Note: the link to the Daily Mail article requires the reader to scroll down until they reach the text in the blue box entitled Unpopular universities on brink of going bust. The Daily Mail have a separate scathing comment piece on all things wrong with universities (and why they should be allowed to go bust if they can’t make the numbers add up).

Social Mobility

Social Mobility Commission – If you’ve been following the recent parliamentary questions you will be aware that MPs have been clamouring to find out who the newly appointed Social Mobility Commissioners are. The members of the previous Commission all resigned in protest at the Government’s lack of progress and commitment to the social mobility changes they sought to achieve. Dame Martina Milburn was appointed as the Chair of the Social Mobility Commission earlier this year and she will be assisted by the 12 Commissioners announced this week:

  • Alastair da Costa, Chair of Capital City College Group
  • Liz Williams, Group Director of Digital Society at BT
  • Farrah Storr, Editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan
  • Harvey Matthewson, Volunteer, and part-time Sales Assistant at Marks & Spencer
  • Jessica Oghenegweke, Project co-ordinator at the Diana Award
  • Jody Walker, Senior Vice President at TJX Europe (TK Maxx and Home Sense in the UK)
  • Pippa Dunn, Founder of Broody, helping entrepreneurs and start ups
  • Saeed Atcha, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Xplode magazine
  • Sam Friedman, Associate Professor in Sociology at London School of Economics
  • Sammy Wright, Vice Principal of Southmoor Academy, Sunderland
  • Sandra Wallace, Managing Partner UK and Joint Managing Director Europe at DLA Piper
  • Steven Cooper, Outgoing Chief Executive Officer of Barclaycard Business

The Government’s news story says: Their appointments build on Dame Martina’s vision to bring greater ethnic, gender and age diversity to Commission by tapping into a diverse range of backgrounds. The Social Mobility Commission will be officially relaunched on 11 December.

On the appointments Damian Hinds, Education Secretary, said:

  • This new team of commissioners brings together established business men and women, policy makers, academics and young people all with important perspectives to bring. The Social Mobility Commission will benefit from the expertise of this diverse mix of individuals, all of whom will bring their own unique stamp to what social mobility means in their lives.

Dame Martina said:

  • I am delighted to welcome a record number of Social Mobility Commissioners who will work to make England a fairer society… Many of our new Commissioners had modest starts in life and know the barriers that young people must overcome to become successful. They are also individuals with the skills, resources, and energy to drive real change around the country, united by a passion for fairness and an ability to make a real difference to people’s lives.

This link describes the Social Mobility Commission’s role and responsibilities and this is the best page to use if you wish to follow the work of the Social Mobility Commission.

Education Spend – Social Economic Differences eradicated – The Institute for Fiscal Studies published a briefing note on Social Economic Differences in Total Education Spending in England. Dods say that the report finds differences in funding by social class have now vanished. Changes to the distribution of school funding, increased staying-on rates and reforms to HE funding mean that there was no difference in the amount of public money spent in total on educating the poorest and richest pupils who were taking their GCSEs in 2010. This has happened despite the facts that richer pupils remain much more likely to enrol in HE and that public subsidy for HE remains substantial.

The report also finds that, since 2010, the funding system has become even more beneficial to lower-income students relative to the better off. This is partly because of school funding reforms, partly because post-16 participation rates have risen, and partly because funding for school sixth forms (where better-off children are more likely to study) has been cut relative to funding for colleges (which are more likely to serve poorer students).

The key findings are:

  • Socio-economic differences in total education funding had evaporated by 2010. Amongst pupils taking their GCSEs in Summer 2010, those in the richest and poorest socio-economic quintiles received about £73,000 in total funding across all stages of education
  • School funding has become much more targeted towards poorer pupils. In 2003, there was already a £3,500 funding advantage in total school funding in favour of pupils from poorer families (looking over 12 years of schooling). As a result of various reforms to the school funding system, this grew to £9,500 by 2010, with pupils in the poorest quintile experiencing about £57,700 of school funding in total.
  • Participation in 16–18 education is now near universal. In 2003, pupils from richer families were about 11 percentage points more likely to stay in post-16 education than those from poorer families. By 2010, participation was over 95% amongst all groups, reducing this gap to 2 percentage points.
  • This change in participation has more than halved the socio-economic gap in post-16 funding. In 2003, pupils from richer families ended up receiving about £2,800 more in total post-16 spending than those from poorer families. For pupils taking their GCSEs in Summer 2010, this gap had shrunk to £1,200.
  • Children from poorer families are much more likely to attend colleges rather than school sixth forms. Amongst those taking their GCSEs in Summer 2010, about 58% of pupils from poorer families attended a further education or sixthform college as opposed to 21% who attended a school sixth form.
  • Socio-economic gaps in higher education participation narrowed over the 2000s. Amongst pupils taking their GCSEs in 2003, children from richer families were about 33 percentage points more likely to go on to higher education. The participation gap narrowed slightly to about 28 percentage points for pupils taking their GCSEs in Summer 2010.
  • Pupils from richer families benefit more from long-run public subsidies to higher education. This is because they are more than twice as likely to go to higher education.
  • Pupils from richer families would benefit more from the abolition of tuition fees
  • Reforms since 2010 are likely to have increased total funding in favour of pupils from poorer backgrounds. Reforms to post-16 funding have tended to favour colleges, which poorer pupils are more likely to attend, rather than school sixth forms.

IFS conclude that, the shift in the pattern of total education spending by socio-economic group and phase of education fits well with the recommendations from the latest academic work on the effects of education resources. However, it is therefore disappointing that these seemingly positive changes in the distribution of education funding do not seem to have translated into big reductions in the attainment gap between richer and poorer pupils. These differences in participation remain substantial, at over 25 percentage points between pupils from richer and poorer backgrounds.

Both the Guardian and Politics Home cover this story.

Care Leavers Covenant – Last week we anticipated the launch of the Care Leavers Covenant. The Covenant is a promise made by private, public or voluntary organisations to provide support for care leavers aged 16-25 to help them to live independently. The Covenant, run by Spectra First, is part of the government’s ambition to improve care leavers’ outcomes so they go on to lead happy and successful lives. More than 50 businesses, charities and every Government department in England are reported to have signed up. In addition to the private and voluntary sector offers of support, the package of support for care leavers includes:

  • 12-month internships from each Government department in Whitehall with over 100 starting in January 2019;
  • Support from universities, such as bursaries and accommodation, with Cambridge, Leeds, and Manchester cited as ‘committing to supporting care leavers’. This package is in response to data stating only 6% of care leavers aged 19 to 21 go on to higher education. (Research Professional have more on the 9 universities supporting the Covenant);
  • Resources and tools from Barclays Life Skills to help care leavers to manage their money better, as they often lack the safety net of financial support from their families.

The Guardian article: There’s a lot of stigma: why do so few care leavers go to university? touches on the immediate challenges facing care leavers. Sadly the article doesn’t tackle unconditional offers –  which in the past were oft awarded to care leavers to provide certainties around accommodation and progression allowing them to leave prior care arrangements behind with sufficient security to access HE. It is a shame that this should be lost in the general

Student Loans Company

The Student Loans Company (SLC) has been in the spotlight since Steve Lamey left the organisation in 2017. The Education Select Committee questioned the new Chief Executive Paula Sussex this week in an accountability hearing about the organisation’s leadership and governance, fraudulent claims, overpayments and improvements made. BU readers can access a summary of the session provided by Dods political monitoring consultants here. The session didn’t shy away from recent controversy including the SLC’s use of social media to determine whether estranged student claimants really were estranged from their families. The Tab has the SLC ‘spying’ story here.


OfS Commitment to (good) Mental Health – Nicola Dandridge spoke at the all-party parliamentary group for students this week focussing on supporting students’ mental health. She said mental health is a priority for the OfS and they will work to improve support for students by:

  • challenging registered providers to improve their support for their students’ mental health, for example through access and participation plans
  • funding activities that directly support students, including a guide to help universities prevent student suicides, and the £6 million Challenge Competition for innovative projects to combat the rise in student mental health issues
  • delivering a £1.5 million collaboration with Research England that will support postgraduate research students
  • working in partnership with providers, charities and other organisations to encourage good practice through the University Mental Health Charter and the Universities UK Mental Health in HE Advisory Group
  • improving the data and evidence around what the problems are, what causes them and what works best to address them, such as new analysis published today that shows how different characteristics impact on graduates’ anxiety, life satisfaction and happiness.

Nicola said:

  • “All students deserve to get the support they need to cope with times of mental ill health and distress. But there are times when that support does not get to where it is needed, when it is needed. Every time I meet with groups of students and student unions, the challenge of mental health is raised, and the members of the OfS Student Panel have also raised it as a priority. I know many universities and colleges are already working hard to improve their support services for mental health and wellbeing, but all have a responsibility to provide the right support for mental health and wellbeing. Mental health and wellbeing are complex issues, but universities are full of people who excel at working with complexity. So I believe that – with the challenge and support provided by the OfS – higher education providers can and will address these issues, so as to enable their students to flourish and unlock their potential.

OfS blog: Work effectively with partners to support students’ mental health, regulator tells universities.

Wellbeing – the latest – A new blog on student and graduate subjective wellbeing this week considers how it will be measured in future iterations of the Graduate Outcomes survey. The blog talks of actions universities can take and how the Graduate Outcomes data can be combined and compared with other sources.

Also this week Guild HE published Wellbeing in HE which describes what member institutions are doing to support student wellbeing:

  • the research finds that approaches to supporting long-term well-being are variable, with both areas of good practice, and capacity for improvement It…highlights the importance of developing holistic strategies, which support students throughout higher education, from their academic experiences to their accommodation and social opportunities.

Mental Health APPG – Psychology Graduates – The all-party parliamentary group for Mental Health met this week to debate the APPG’s recent report:  Five Year Forward View for Mental Health. They welcomed the £2billion funding for mental health announced in the Budget. Graduates featured twice in the debate as a potential solution to the workforce crisis via the creation of new roles and routes into mental health employment.

Jeff Smith (Labour) said:

  • Health Education England’s plan commits to 19,000 more people working in mental health by 2021, but between March 2017 and March 2018 the number of mental health staff in the NHS increased by just 915 people. That does not look like progress is on target…There is a huge interest in mental health among young adults. Until we undertook the report, I did not realise that psychology was the third most popular undergraduate course for students starting university in 2016. We should make it easier for those capable, ambitious and keen graduates to work in NHS mental health services. …[Dr Poulter] made the point earlier that recruiting more psychologists for specific therapies, such as dialectical behaviour therapy or cognitive analytic therapy, would mean that people had a wider choice about the type of therapy they received, instead of, as often happens, just being prescribed cognitive behavioural therapyif they are able to get a prescription at allbecause it is the only therapy available.

Helen Whately (Conservative) said:

  • Secondly, the question of workforce came up time and again as the biggest barrier to achieving the ambitions of the five year forward view for mental health. There is a desperate need to train, recruit and retain more staff at every level. We simply cannot make meaningful improvements to services without the staff to deliver them; there must be new routes into the NHS workforce, making use of psychology graduates—as has been mentioned—and psychotherapists, and bringing in more people with lived experience of mental illness, who do valuable work.


There are not any open consultations and inquiries relevant to BU at the moment. You can view the current consultation tracker and email us on if you’d like to discuss anything related to consultations and inquiries.

Forthcoming: The Education Select Committee’s report following their inquiry into Value for Money will be issued on Monday 5th November. Leaked content suggests it’ll be an interesting read with features on fees transparency and degree apprenticeships possibly creating a big bang!

Other news

Free Speech: And just because we couldn’t bring you a policy update without mentioning free speech Vice have an article highlighting Sam Gyimah’s claims that haven’t been substantiated and suggesting that seeing universities as a ‘marketplace of ideas’ ironically serves right wing political aims.

Sam’s Apps and Gender Gaps: Earlier this year Sam Gyimah launched a £125,000 competition for companies to develop apps and digital tools to help prospective students make better decisions about which institution to study at, through the LEO (graduate outcomes) data. The Minister has unveiled the final five prototype apps and websites from his competition but not yet announced the two finalists will receive an additional £150,000 each to develop their design into a final product. The media covering the apps include: ITV and the Independent. Sam was inspired to create his app competition by the  IFS research which revealed particular sets of graduates have poor economic employment outcomes.

Sam’s competition has been criticised by some within the HE sector because it fails to recognise the non-HE dependant factors which influence the LEO data. Adding to this is a new report out by LSE which predicts a widening of the gender pay gap gulf:

  • Girls born in 2000 are aspiring to do jobs that are paid 31 per cent lower than males…on the other hand, [boys] have higher aspirations than previous male generations in terms of income, to the point where the gender pay gap could actually become larger than it is at present if these aspirations are fulfilled.
  • The study concludes that a persistent lack of women in highly paid jobs in areas such as science, technology, engineering, finance and politics is due to girls internalising social norms, rather than a result of their innate preferences. This conclusion emerges from the researchers finding that time, rather than childhood factors, is what has altered the tendency for males and females to choose different types of jobs.  Social movements or campaigns are essential to encourage girls to aim higher, it suggests.
  • Boys’ current aspirations, from those born in 2000, are increasingly geared towards jobs with “significantly higher levels of competitiveness and larger incomes” compared to previous generations and their current female peers.

The paper’s author, Dr Grace Lordan of LSE’s Psychological and Behavioural Science Department, said:

  • “More and more we actively encourage our girls to pursue occupations that are currently dominated by males. However, boys are rarely encouraged to pursue occupations where females have had higher shares. The asymmetry of the gender revolution needs to be considered. This becomes more important given that we expect jobs that are traditionally female to expand over the next decades – for example, the nursing and caring professions.” 

Source:  Dods report on – Cross Cohort Evidence on Gendered Sorting Patterns in the UK: The Importance of Societal Movements versus Childhood Variables  by Grace Lordan of LSE ‘s Psychological and Behavioural Science Department LSE ‘s Centre for Economic Performance and IZA and Warn N.Lekfuangfu of Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok is a working paper published by IZA Institute of Economics.

Board diversity: Wonkhe report on Advance HE release of two new frameworks to support diversity in higher education providers’ board level recruitment.

  • The Board Recruitment Framework is designed to support institutions in recruiting board members, with guidance on best practice in producing inclusive materials that encourage a diverse range of applicants and don’t inadvertently exclude people.
  • The Diversity Principles Framework offers guidance for higher education providers and executive search firms working together on board appointments. It’s one of the outputs from the 2017-18 board diversification project funded by HEFCE and others. The push for recruiters to support diversity came from 2017 research by Simonetta Manfredi.

Gap Years: An unusual parliamentary question on gap years:

Q – Grahame Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effectiveness of gap years in improving educational outcomes for students.

A – Sam Gyimah: The department has not made any recent assessment of the effectiveness of gap years in improving educational outcomes for students. In 2012, we published a study that examined the characteristics of gap-year takers, their motivations, what they did and what effect it had on their longer-term outcomes: LINK

ESRC new appointees: Research Professional report  on the two senior professors from University College London and the University of Sussex will be in charge of strategy and research at the Economic and Social Research Council.

Immigration: Research Professional investigate the proposed Tier 2 visa changes and find thousands of university staff would have been ineligible to work in Britain on the minimum salary threshold criterion.


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Nepal paper by Lesley Milne (CMMPH)

Congratulations to Lesley Milne, senior lecturer in midwifery, on the acceptance of her latest paper on maternity care in Nepal.  This new paper ‘Gender inequalities and childbearing: A qualitative study of two maternity units in Nepal’ will appear soon in the Open Access publication: Journal of Asian Midwives [1].   This is the second publication from a qualitative research study undertaken in two birthing facilities in Kathmandu Valley to examine barriers to women accessing these services from the perspective of hospital staff [2].

The study received financial support from Wellbeing of Women and the RCM (Royal College of Midwives) as Lesley won their first International Fellowship Award.   The study was a collaboration led by Lesley in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) with two of FHSS’s Visiting Faculty, namely Prof. Padam Simkhada who is based at Liverpool John Moores University and Jillian Ireland, Professional Midwifery Advocate based at Poole NHS Hospitals Foundation Trust.

Well done!

Profs. Vanora Hundley & Edwin van Teijlingen





  1. Milne, L., Ireland, J., van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V., Simkhada, P.P. (2018) Gender inequalities and childbearing: A qualitative study of two maternity units in Nepal, Journal of Asian Midwives (accepted).
  2. Milne, L., van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V., Simkhada, P., Ireland, J. (2015) Staff perspectives of barriers to women accessing birthing services in Nepal: A qualitative study BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth 15:142 .

Icons and Inspirations: Alan, Tamsin and Alex

Left to right: Alan Sinfield, Tamsin Wilton and Alexander Doty

Whilst researching a new Level 5 ‘Media Perspective’ unit (Life Stores and the Media) for the Department of Media Production, I decided to discuss the concept of ‘dissident reading’ within the lectures, relating the work of Alan Sinfield in this area.  In doing this, I not only checked out if our library had the relevant book Cultural Politics – Queer Reading, which we did, but also I thought that I would just check out (online) what Alan is working on now.

Alan Sinfield had been a catalyst in my research journey, as way back in 2004 when I was in the final stages of my PhD, Alan had invited me to speak at a research seminar workshop at the University of Sussex.  I remember that Alan was a little critical of my interest in the ‘carnivalesque’, but largely supportive. That seminar offered me a great experience in developing my ideas for the eventual PhD at Bournemouth, and it provided me with a much-needed psychological boost, as the PhD submission date loomed. I remember at the time I had asked Alan some probing questions regarding his new research interests. Alan’s work was fundamental in developing gay and lesbian studies in theatre and popular culture. He replied that he was working on something new, concerning ageing.  It was remiss of me to not follow up on this, despite having more contact with the University of Sussex in other areas later on, such as working with Sharif Molabocus who contributed to two of my edited collection books, and also working there as an external PhD examiner.  On searching for Alan’s latest work, I discovered that he had passed away last year, aged 75.

In thinking through my meeting with Alan in 2004, I had not realized that soon after this he would retire, as Parkinson’s disease would effect his speech.  Now I maybe understand Alan’s interest in writing about ageing, at a time when his life must have been changing.  The loss of Alan also made me think about others in the LGBT and queer studies media research community who I have met that are no longer with us.

Before I was accepted to study my PhD at Bournemouth, I had applied to the University of the West of England.  When the panel interviewed me, I met Tamsin Wilton, whose ground-breaking book was entitled Immortal, Invisible: Lesbians and the Moving Image. While I did not get the doctoral scholarship at UWE, Tamsin confided in me that her research was mostly done within her own time, suggesting that at that time the department thought her work was ‘too radical’. Tamsin passed away in 2006, only a few years after we met, and I remember thinking how much we have lost in her passing, her work was revolutionary, and she genuinely encouraged me to press on with my research, in times when LGBT studies were less popular.

Besides the loss of Alan Sinfield and Tamsin Wilton, I cannot forget the sudden loss of Alexander Doty. Similar to meeting Alan and Tamsin early in my research journey, I briefly met Alex when he was presenting at the feminist Console-ing Passions Conference in Bristol in 2001, a conference that I would eventually co-organise this year at Bournemouth. In 2001, I was studying for an MA at Bristol, and I had never been to an academic conference before, but we were required as students to help out. I remember attending Alex’s paper on the TV series Will and Grace, and I had a brief conversation with him over coffee. Somehow, I made some links between his ideas, and those that I was studying, and I am forever grateful to Alex for his work, and his non-pretentious demeanour. Although if I am honest, I was a little in awe of him, and at the time I could have never imagined that I could have published my academic work.

So I think, often we encounter inspirational researchers along the way, at conferences, seminars, symposiums, and even in interviews. For me, the loss of Alan Sinfield, Tamsin Wilton and Alex Doty, almost seems too much to bear, as clearly they had far more to offer, despite their remaining stellar work. In the manner where I discussed the legacy of Pedro Zamora (the HIV/AIDS activist) and the meaning of a life cut short, theoretical and political ideals potentially live on. Our task is not only to remember all that potential, but also to continue it in any way we can.


The Impact of Digital Strategy and Business Transformation

In April 2017 Dr John Oliver co-hosted a business engagement event on Digital Strategy and Business Transformation with The Hackett Group (London). The Hackett Group are leading management consultants providing expert advice on digital transformation and benchmarking to major corporations and government agencies, including 97% of the Dow Jones Industrials, 89% of the Fortune 100 and 59% of the FTSE 100.

The event formed part of a British Academy/Leverhulme Trust funded research project and was attended by senior business executives from the likes of Ofcom, the Financial Times, Astrazeneca and Bell Pottinger. At the time, the delegates commented that it was an “excellent event” that provided different perspectives on digital transformation and new ideas on how to manage strategic digital transformation within their firms.

After 18 months, a clearer picture has emerged of the impact that the presentation of findings and subsequent discussion has had on business practice. Chris Davenport, a Senior Director at The Hackett Group, recently commented that “the event influenced our strategic approach to the development of a new Digital Strategy and Analytics service for our clients. This new consultancy service has been now been launched and several of our FTSE100 clients (among others Tesco, John Lewis and Unilever) have gained insight from this. Some of these clients have already decided to invest millions of pounds into resources creating many new jobs in Digital services and Analytics departments in their firms and we expect many more to follow”.

The research findings have been published in several practice management journals, whilst the academic papers are in the final stages of peer review.

FHSS student awarded Chiropractor of the Year 2018-19

Congratulations to Amy Miller!   At the British Chiropractic Council’s annual conference 13-14th October, Bournemouth University PhD student Amy Miller was awarded the British Chiropractic Association’s award of ‘Chiropractor of the Year 2018-19’ for her contributions to research and engagement. 

Amy is based in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences  (FHSS).  Her PhD is investigating an inter-professional student-led breastfeeding clinic for student learning, and breastfeeding outcomes and experiences.  Amy is supervised by Associate Professor Sue Way, Senior Lecturer in Midwifery Dr. Alison Taylor and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen all based in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH). The British Chiropractic Association’s award for Chiropractor of the Year recognises individuals who have made a significant contribution to the profession.



Journal of Asian Midwives

As co-editor of the Journal of Asian Midwives I receive occasional updates from the Aga Khan University (AKU) library in Pakistan on the number of downloads of articles published in the journal.   The journal is fully Open Access and does not charge a submission or processing fees!  All articles in the Journal of Asian Midwives are stored online in the AKU Institutional Repository.  The latest update with data until end of September 2018 informed us that there had been: 18,462 downloads, from 167 countries/regions, across 56 articles.  Nearly 20,000 downloads is not bad for a fairly new journal, which only published its inaugural issue online in 2014.

What is interesting is that the detailed download figures show that Bournemouth University is the highest ranking university of all the downloading organisations.  Listed as fifth on the download list, Bournemouth is behind two commercial organisations, the Pakistan library network and Bangladesh-based Icddr-B.  The latter is one of the largest NGO (Non-Governmental Organisations in the world based on staff numbers.  Of course it helps that Bournemouth academic staff and PhD students have published five scientific articles in the past four editions of the journal [1-5].


Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health)


  1. Ireland, J., van Teijlingen, E., Kemp, J. (2015) Twinning in Nepal: the Royal College of Midwives UK and the Midwifery Society of Nepal working in partnership, Journal of Asian Midwives 2 (1): 26-33.
  2. Mahato, P., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Angell, C. (2016) Birthing centres in Nepal: Recent developments, obstacles and opportunities, Journal of Asian Midwives 3(1): 18-30.
  3. Baral, YR., Lyons, K., van Teijlingen, ER., Skinner, J., (2016) The uptake of skilled birth attendants’ services in rural Nepal: A qualitative study, Journal of Asian Midwives 3(3): 7-25.
  4. Sharma, S., Simkhada, P., Hundley, V., van Teijlingen, E., Stephens J, Silwal, R.C., Angell, C. (2017) Evaluation a Community Maternal Health Programme: Lessons Learnt. Journal of Asian Midwives. 4(1): 3–20.
  5. Mahato, P., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Angell, C. (2017) Determinants of quality of care & access to Basic Emergency Obstetric & Neonatal Care facilities & midwife-led facilities in low & middle-income countries: A Systematic Review, Journal of Asian Midwives 4(2):25-51.

Parliament – nursing and midwifery

Nursing and midwifery both featured in Parliament last week.

Last Wednesday the First Minister of Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, announced an increase in bursaries (to £10,000) for Scottish student midwives and nurses to help cover accommodation and living expenses.

The Royal College of Midwives Scotland Director, Mary Ross Davie, commented: “This is great news and a forward thinking and important announcement…Let us not forget that in England student midwives and nurses do not get any bursary at all, which makes this increase for Scotland even more progressive. This also comes on the back of the best pay award for NHS midwives and nurses in the UK, another important step to ensuring we retain the midwives we have…I would urge the government in England to rethink their decision to take away bursaries in England.”


Suzanne Tyler, Executive Director for Services to Members at the Royal College of Midwives, responded to the announcement: “The announcement is simply great news for student midwives in Scotland…It frankly should shame the Government in England who have taken away bursaries for England’s student midwives, who also have to pay tuition fees.  This leaves them tens of thousands of pounds in debt when they qualify. 

This is even more worrying given the large shortage of midwives in England, and sits at odds with the Government’s commitment to bring 3000 more midwives into the NHS in England. The RCM [Royal College of Midwives] repeats its call for this Government to give our student midwives and nurses their bursaries back. So that we can attract people into the profession and so that the Government can meet their promise of 3000 more midwives for England.”

There were also two relevant parliamentary questions:

Q – Paula Sherriff: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, how many mental health nursing students have started degree apprenticeships in the 2018-19 academic year.

A – Anne Milton: In the 2017/18 academic year reported to date (from August 2017 to April 2018), 260 apprenticeship starts were recorded for the standard ‘Registered Nurse’. This is the level 6 degree apprenticeship approved for delivery on 9 May 2017. Mental health nursing remains an optional element within the nursing apprenticeships.

Additionally, there have been 640 apprenticeship starts reported to date (from August 2017 to April 2018) for the standard ‘Nursing Associate’ (level 5 apprenticeship standard, approved for delivery on 20 November 2017; note that we class apprenticeships at level 6 and above as ‘degree-level’). There were no starts on these standards in the 2016/17 academic year. Full final year data for the 2017/18 academic year will be available in November 2018 and data covering 2018/19 will be available in January 2019.

In England, there have been 64,830 apprenticeship starts in the Health, Public Services and Care sector subject area reported to date in the first three quarters of the 2017/18 academic year (August 2017 to April 2018). This data can be accessed at the following link: .

We want to increase the number of nursing apprenticeships and now have a complete apprentice pathway from entry level to postgraduate advanced clinical practice in nursing. This will support people from all backgrounds to enter a nursing career in the National Health Service (NHS).

We are working closely with employers, Health Education England and ministers in the Department of Health and Social Care to make sure the NHS is fully supported to recruit apprentices, both in nursing and in a range of various occupations.


Q – Paula Sherriff: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, how many students started mental health nursing degree courses in the 2018-19 academic year.

A – Matt Hancock: The Universities and Colleges Admissions Service (UCAS) collect data on acceptances to mental health nursing degree courses.

Acceptances for 2018/19 entry can still be made until the end of clearing on 23 October 2018.

The final number of acceptances for mental health nursing degree courses for 2018/19 will be available following the publication of end of cycle data by UCAS in December 2018.

Final Safeguarding Adults ESRC seminar: Fusion in practice

The final seminar in our ESRC seminar series  concerning the development of legal literacy and adult safeguarding was held at the Friends’ Meeting House in London on the 11thOctober bringing together three years exploration of meanings, interpretation and learning from the implementation of the Care Act 2014. The series brought together expertise in adult safeguarding from the universities of Bournemouth, Bedford, East Anglia, Chester and led by Keele University, alongside practitioner expertise from 39 Essex Chambers and PASA-UK (Practitioner Alliance for Safeguarding Adults).

The morning session was chaired by Prof Jonathan Parker, who introduced the retired high court judge Sir Mark Hedley to begin the day by examining professional power and responsibility and the complexities of decision-specific capacity and the need for care, brought to life through a range of often heart-wrenching cases. Prof Paul Kingston (Chester) and Luke Joannou of the Royal British Legion then considered the topical area of safeguarding in the charitable sector that highlighted contemporary demands for good governance brought to the fore by recent cases involving Oxfam and Save the Children. The final session of the morning was presented by Kenny Gibson, the recently appointed head of safeguarding for NHS England. Kenny, only 120 days in post, articulated some of the changes NHS England was making to roll out understanding and improve practice in safeguarding across the workforce.

Prof Michael Preston-Shoot (Bedford) chaired the afternoon session. The Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, the former minister who ushered through the Care Act 2014 began the afternoon, reflecting on transformative approaches to care and Winterbourne View. He was followed by Prof Jill Manthorpe (King’s College, London) who presented aspects of her research group’s work on whether or not powers of entry would be beneficial for practitioners working in adult safeguarding; a fraught and contested area of practice that raises the importance of debate in this area. Bridget Penhale (UEA) then took us back into the history of identifying elder abuse – a very recent history – showing the political twists and turns, and the ways this has added to calls for a UN Convention of the Human Rights of Older People. The afternoon was completed by Alex Ruck Keane (39 Essex Chambers) who took us back to the beginnings of the seminar programme and the elusive processes in developing adequate definitions to negotiate this complex practice milieu.

As the series drew to a close we have turned attention to sustainability, dissemination and taking forwards the learning. One of the central elements of the three years has been to raise awareness and knowledge amongst the next generation – public, professional and academic – of adult safeguarding and to identify and challenge blurred lines within society. One way of doing so has been to ensure spaces are available for students, at all levels of study. As an example of our BU fusion approach, promoting the interface of research, education and practice, final year Sociology & Criminology student, Andreas Bubier-Johnstone joined the seminar, his interests developing through the degree programme. His reflections are useful:

As a third year Sociology & Criminology student wanting to pursue a future career in Adult Safeguarding I found the seminar overall a tremendous help. On arrival I was greeted by many fantastic minds, and felt instantly welcome. All of the speakers provided me with new and, more importantly, useful information, whether it was from textbook legalities and standard protocols, to their own personal experiences; it was both fascinating, and stimulating. I found the overall diversity of the speakers, something of great interest. Being able to gauge information from different people, and perspectives was a great touch in showing different fields and how they function.

What I took away from the day simply was clarity. I knew after the seminar was over, that I really did want to pursue a career in adult safeguarding. It gave me a new founded drive, speaking to people who are developed in the field really has given me a boost, and hunger to achieve my future career goals. The people who attended the seminar were all very helpful, and provided me with information on how to further achieve my goals for the future.

Jonathan Parker and Andreas Bubier-Johnstone