Category / REF Subjects

Congratulation to BU nutritionists

This week Elsevier  Publishers sent the proofs for a book chapter written by two Bournemouth University nutrition researchers: Fotini Tsofliou and Iro Arvanitidou in collaboration with an academic colleague from Greece: Xenophon Theodoridis.  The chapter ‘Toward a Mediterranean-style diet outside the Mediterranean countries: Evidence of implementation and adherence’​ will appear in 2021 in the second edition of the book  The Mediterranean diet edited by Victor R. Preedy and Ronald R. Watson

Congratulations!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH)

CALL FOR CONTRIBUTORS: Comics in the Time of COVID-19 (edited collection)

An edited collection on graphic medicine and graphic storytelling related to the COVID-19 global pandemic

Editors:

Alexandra P. Alberda

Anna Feigenbaum

William Proctor

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to infect millions, kill people around the world, dismantle political, economic and cultural infrastructures, and disrupt our everyday lives, we have seen a surge in amateur and professional creative activity in the comics medium. From blogs to Instagram, superheroes to public health, educational comics to graphic memoirs, etc., artists are engaging with a variety of genres, narratives, platforms and styles to tell stories.

This edited collection seeks to bring together a range of creative work, along with practice-based and critical reflections on what it means to make, share and read comics in the time of COVID-19. Bridging the fields of comics studies, memoir studies, graphic medicine and data storytelling, this collection also aims to explore our definitions of ‘what counts’ as graphic medicine and graphic storytelling.

We invite submissions in the form of comics, graphic chapters, interviews and other alternative formats, along with more traditional academic chapters.

Themes include but are not limited to:

-Histories, Comics and Global Health

-Comics, Superheroes and COVID-19

-Graphic Memoir and Self-Narrative

-Data Comics and COVID-19

-Political cartoons and other types of commentary

-Genre, narrative and style in COVID-19 comics

-Online publishing platforms and environments

-Shifting economies of comic creation and distribution

This collection aims to take a transdisciplinary and transnational perspective, with contributions written for the broadest audience. We particularly encourage submissions from comics artists, PhD and early career scholars, those from underrepresented communities in academia and people from the Global South.

For a gallery of existing COVID-19 comics graphicmedicine.org is a great resource: https://www.graphicmedicine.org/covid-19-comics/ Also, check out the hashtag #covid19comicsforgood

Please submit a 300-word abstract, script or description of your proposed contribution to covid19comics@bournemouth.ac.uk by May 31st, 2020.

COVID-19 funding and research

To support the response to COVID-19 the Research Design Service South West (RDS SW) has put together a useful resource page to help researchers. This includes relevant funding calls as well as more general information about the pandemic.

Don’t forget, your local branch of the NIHR RDS is based within the BU Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU)

The BUCRU/RDS office is currently closed due to Coronavirus.  Staff are still working and able to offer research advice remotely, call us on 01202 961939 or send us an email.

BU midwifery paper cited in WHO report

Last week the Regional Office for South East Asia of the WHO (World Health Organization) published its strategy for strengthening midwifery [1].  The report highlights how Bangladesh, India and Nepal have recently introduced midwifery education. They joined DPR Korea, Myanmar, Sri Lanka and TimorLeste in establishing midwives as an independent cadre of the health workforce.

This report cited our 2015 paper on midwifery developments in Nepal which appeared in the Journal of Asian Midwives [2].  The lead author Jillian Ireland is a Visiting Faculty in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) and Professional Midwifery Advocate at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, my other co-author, Joy Kemp, is Global Professional Adviser at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM).  The paper reflects on the RCM Global Midwifery Twinning Project in Nepal.  The paper argues that the presence of a strong professional association of midwives in a country yields double benefits. On one side, the association provides inputs into framing policies and developing standards of care, and on the other, it ensures quality services by continuously updating its members with information and evidence for practice.

Bournemouth University’s work in Nepal is ongoing with a project run by CMMPH helping to develop midwifery education and training the trainers funded by the German aid organisation GIZ (Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit).

 

References:

  1. World Health Organization. Regional Office for South-East Asia (2020) Regional Strategic Directions for strengthening Midwifery in the South-East Asia Region 2020–2024, Delhi: World Health Organization. Regional Office for South-East Asia.
  2. 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. http://ecommons.aku.edu/jam/vol2/iss1/5/

 

COVID-19 and the rise of Virtual Conferences

Yesterday we had a conference paper accepted by the EUPHA (European Public Health Association) International Conference.  When the paper was originally submitted to the EUPHA Health Workforce Research Section Mid-term Conference we had opted for an oral presentation in person at the conference in Romania this summer.  However, with the COVID-19 pandemic travelling to Romania to attend this conference is not an option for many (if not most) academics.  Therefore the organising committee took the initiative to re-arrange it as a virtual meeting.   Further good news for us is that participation will be free.

Of course, I am aware that some of the strengths of attending conferences include having unexpected discussions (often in the bar) with fellow academics and being away from the day job.  At the moment being forced to choose between postponing or cancelling a conference or changing to a virtual meeting conference organisers may want to reflect on  “… ask how conferences make a difference.”  This question was  originally raised in the book Academic Conferences as Neoliberal Commodities by Donald Nicholson [1].

We should have moved to more virtual meetings and  online conferences much sooner, but it is easy to say with hindsight!  The COVID-19 crisis has thought us that virtual classrooms, internet-based tutorials, Zoom meetings and online conferences can work, albeit with their limitations.  It is worth considering the return of investment of a conference [2] not just for the conference organisers (and funders) but also  individual academics as less travel will be saving time  and society as reducing  travel, especially international flights, will improve our carbon foot print.

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH)

 

References

  1. Nicholson. D.J. (2017) Academic Conferences as Neoliberal CommoditiesPalgrave Macmillan.
  2. Nicholson. D.J. (2018) Guest post by Donald Nicolson: The problem of thinking about conferences and Return on Investment (ROI) 

 

Motor Neurone Disease

Last night I watched the film ‘The Theory of Everything’ on television. This Oscar-winning film about the live of the brilliant scientist Stephen Hawkins, who was diagnosed with Motor Neurone Disease (MND). MND is also known as Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) or, as it is known in North America, Lou Gehrig’s disease, named after a famous American professional baseball player who died of MND in 1941.  MND is a group of diseases that affect the nerves (motor neurones) in the brain and spinal cord that tell your muscles what to do. Two decades ago we did some research on the impact on carers of people living with MND in Scotland [1].


Watching ‘The Theory of Everything’  reminded me of Professor Holger Schutkowski in the Department of Archaeology, Anthropology & Forensic Science at Bournemouth University who died two weeks ago.  He spent the last year of his life in a wheelchair and on his memorial website (click here for link) is a request from his family to donate to the MND Association.  Holger was a great colleague, intelligent, kind and passionate about his work and the world of academia.  Holger was someone whom you could have proper academic and political arguments.  I found this out in Kathmandu in 2013 as I didn’t really know Holger very well before I went to Nepal with him an BU trip.

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH)

 

Reference

  1. van Teijlingen E, Friend E, Kamal, AD (2001) Service use & needs of people with Motor Neurone Disease & carers in Scotland, Health & Social Care in the Community 9: 397-403.

Psychological skills for health workers in Nepal

Yesterday  Dr. Shanti Shanker (Lecturer in Psychology), BU Visiting Faculty Jillian Ireland and I produced a short three-minute video for health care workers in Nepal on the topic of living with uncertainty and the COVID-19 virus. Hopefully this will be the first in a series from our Bournemouth University team.  The video is based on work funded by GCRF in the United Kingdom and supported by two NGOs (non-Governmental Organisations): (a) Sheetal Astitva and  (b) Green Taral Nepal as well as Symbiosis International (Deemed University).

This video can be accessed here!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
CMMPH

Nepal publication: Smoking & suicide ideation

Published earlier this week in the Nepal Journal of Epidemiology a BU co-authored paper on ‘Cigarette smoking dose-response and suicidal ideation among young people in Nepal: a cross-sectional study’ [1].   The authors conducted a cross-sectional questionnaire-based survey with 452 young people in Nepal’s second largest city Pokhara.  The study matched participants by age and smoking status. The mean age was 21.6 years and 58.8% were males. The overall rate of suicidal ideation in our cohort was 8.9%. Smokers were slightly more likely to report suicidal ideation than non-smokers (aOR 1.12). The risk of developing suicidal ideation was 3.56 (95% CI 1.26-10.09) times more in individuals who smoked greater than 3.5 cigarettes per week (p=0.01).
The paper concludes that the rate of suicidal ideation was slightly higher among smokers and a dose-response relationship  existed linked with the number of cigarettes smoked per week. Being aware of the link between smoking and
suicidal ideation may help health care professionals working with young people to address more effectively the issues of mental well-being and thoughts about suicide.  The Nepal Journal of Epidemiology is an Open Access journal hence this public health  paper is freely available to readers across the globe.

Reference:

  1. Sathian, B., Menezes, R.G., Asim, M., Mekkodathil, A., Sreedharan, J., Banerjee, I., van Teijlingen, E.R., Roy, B., Subramanya, S.H., .Kharoshah, M.A., Rajesh, E., Shetty, U., Arun, M., Ram, P., Srivastava, V.K. (2020) Cigarette smoking dose-response and suicidal ideation among young people in Nepal: a cross-sectional study, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 10 (1): 821-829 https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/28277

New FHSS nutrition publication

Congratulations to FHSS academics Dr. Fotini Tsofliou and Prof. Carol Clark on the acceptance for publication of their latest article ‘Effects of lunch club attendance on the dietary intake of older adults in the UK: a pilot cross-sectional study’ [1].  This paper is forthcoming in the journal Nutrition & Health (published by SAGE).

 

Reference:

  1. Tsofliou, Fotini; Grammatikopoulou, Maria; Lumley, Rosie; Gkiouras, Konstantinos; Lara, Jose ; Clark, Carol (2020)  Effects of lunch club attendance on the dietary intake of older adults in the UK: a pilot cross-sectional study.  Nutrition & Health (accepted)

COVID-19 Pandemic: Public Health Implications in Nepal

Our editorial today in the Nepal Journal of Epidemiology highlights some of the key issues related to COVID-19 related to a low-income country such as Nepal [1].  There are various Public Health challenges to preventing the spread of COVID-19 in South Asia including Nepal. Learning from the  COVID-19 outbreak in China, there will be slowdown of economic activity with damaged supply chains which impact upon the public health systems in Nepal. Moreover, there is limited coordination among different stakeholders in healthcare management with few policies in place for infection prevention and control, shortage of testing kits and medical supplies (shortages of masks, gloves), and poor reporting are major challenges to be tackled in case of the COVID-19.

All South Asian countries are vulnerable to a mass outbreak with high population density in cities which is challenging to create social distancing, made worse by generally poor hygiene and often low (health) literacy. Additionally, some COVID-19 cases remain asymptomatic; so it is difficult to predict the epidemic outbreak that may introduces further difficulty in diagnosis of newer cases. Finally, healthcare workers across the globe were infected at high rates during the MERS and SARS outbreaks, so Nepal has to initiate health workers’ training including simulation exercises to provide health staff with a clearer picture of the complexities and challenges associated with COVID-19 and containing potential outbreaks.

This editorial has a very different time span between submission and publication than the one highlighted last week on the BU Research Blog (see details here!).  This  COVID-19 editorial took exactly one month between submission and publication, the one mentioned last week took  three-and-a-half years between submission and publication.

 

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

Reference:

  1. Asim, M., Sathian, B., van Teijlingen, E.R., Mekkodathil, A., Subramanya, S.H., Simkhada, P. (2020) COVID-19 Pandemic: Public Health Implications in Nepal, Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 10 (1): 817-820. https://www.nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/28269

Congratulations to Psychology colleagues

This week the journal BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth  accepted a new paper written by three Bournemouth University Psychologists.  The paper ‘Be Quiet and Man Up: A Qualitative Questionnaire Study into Men Who Experienced Birth Trauma’ is written by Emily Daniels, Emily Arden-Close and Andrew Mayers [1] . The paper, using online questionnaires, argues that fathers reported that witnessing their partner’s traumatic birth affected them. They felt this affected their mental health and relationships long into the postnatal period. However, there is no nationally recognised support in place for fathers to use as a result of their experiences. The participants attributed this to being perceived as less important than women in the postnatal period, and maternity services’ perceptions of the father more generally. Implications include ensuring support is available for mother and father following a traumatic birth, with additional staff training geared towards the father’s role.

This paper adds to the growing pool of publications by Bournemouth University staff on men and maternity care.  Earlier research work has been published in The Conversation [2] and  the Journal of Neonatal Nursing [3-4].

 

Well done!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal health (CMMPH) and Associate Editor BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth

 

References:

  1. Daniels, E., Arden-Close, E., Mayers, A. (2020)  Be Quiet and Man Up: A Qualitative Questionnaire Study into Men Who Experienced Birth Trauma, BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth  (accepted).
  2. Mayers, A. (2017) Postnatal depression: men get it tooThe Conversation, 20 November https://theconversation.com/postnatal-depression-men-get-it-too-87567
  3. Ireland, J., Khashu, M., Cescutti-Butler, L., van Teijlingen, E., Hewitt-Taylor, J. (2016) Experiences of fathers with babies admitted to neonatal care units: A review of the literature, Journal of Neonatal Nursing 22(4): 171–176.
  4. Fisher, D., Khashu, M, Adama, E, Feeley, N, Garfield, C, Ireland, J, Koliouli F, Lindberg, B., Noergaard, B., Provenzi, L., Thomson-Salo, F., van Teijlingen, E (2018) Fathers in neonatal units: Improving infant health by supporting the baby-father bond & mother-father co-parenting Journal of Neonatal Nursing 24(6): 306-312 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jnn.2018.08.007

New Social Work textbook edited by BU Sociologist

Introducing Social WorkThe international social science publisher SAGE published a new textbook this week under the title Introducing Social Work. This textbook, edited by BU’s  Professor in Sociology Jonathan Parker, has a contribution from FHSS lecturer  Dr.Sally Lee and FHSS PhD student Orlanda Harvey.  A total of 29 chapters cover a wide-range of social work issues in 424 pages.

 

Congratulations!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

HE Policy Update as at 25th March 2020

Welcome to your new mid-week update! If you missed our admissions special last week, you will also not have seen that we are moving away from Friday afternoon e-mails because we want to support your wellbeing. Nothing much has changed on admissions yet, by the way, so that one is still worth reading.

 Government Updates

Parliament is commencing recess early today (at close of business on Wed 25 March). This will allow MPs to return to their homes and self-isolate with their families. In normal circumstances, recess would end and parliamentarians would return on Tuesday 21 April, however they are not expected to return this year. The Houses of Parliament are ill-equipped to continue normal business remotely. The beautiful, old buildings are crumbling and do not have the high-tech infrastructure to manage remote voting systems. There was much talk of a need for electronic voting in the tight votes over Brexit (with MPs coming in from hospital in wheelchairs or appearing a very few days after having babies) but they haven’t found a way yet. Select committees may be able continue remotely via video link. Home broadband is so much more reliable than trying to get a Wifi signal in Parliament!

The Coronavirus Bill 2019-20 has completed its stages in the House of Lords (just after 4pm on 25th March) and has gone for Royal Assent. The Coronavirus Bill gives the executive wide ranging and unprecedented powers, which will allow them to continue to govern without Parliament over the next few months if necessary.

The House of Commons Library has published a research briefing covering the education provisions in the Coronavirus bill in more detail. The Explanatory Notes and Impact Assessment explain more on the financial implications of the Government’s powers to close educational institutions. Should the government decide to compensate providers, it may be able to provide funds to “approved (fee cap)” institutions using powers under s39 of the Higher Education and Research Act (“Financial support for registered higher education providers”). For “approved” providers these powers could not be used – it is assumed that wider powers for the government to deploy public funds would apply, but this is not certain.

The impact assessment also suggests that, should a provider be sued for breach of contract or under customer protection rules regarding the provision of accommodation or education, force majeure is believed to apply. The Bill also gives the Office for Students a specific power to disregard its conditions of registration for providers.

Research Professional report that the Government’s response to the Augar review:  “has been kicked even further down the path after chancellor Rishi Sunak told cabinet that the 2020 comprehensive spending review, due this summer, would be delayed because of the pandemic. The Augar response is expected to be published alongside the review.

University education in the pandemic

Monday night announced the lockdown for the UK population, meanwhile three Ministerial letters winged their way to English HE and FE institutions and apprenticeship providers. The Universities Minister wrote (link on Wonkhe here):

  • to curtail the practice of unconditional offers
  • to offer DfE support as institutions move towards online provision
  • clarification on Tier 4 visa issues which will arise from shifting to online provision
  • mitigation for enrolment difficulties (with support from the Home Office, the British Council, UCAS, and Ofqual)
  • student residences and support services particularly for students who are unable to return ‘home’ such as care leavers, estranged students, and international students.

Within the FAQs it was stated that DfE will be working closely with the HE sector and OfS, as regulator, to ensure that we understand the potential financial implications of the issues and risks Covid-19 is bringing to bear on the sector, and to keep abreast of developments.

Summer Exams

The Minister issued a Written Ministerial Statement on the impact of Covid-19 on summer exams. Below is the sector stakeholder reaction to the impact of summer exam cancellations: 

The heads of University Alliance, the Russell Group, GuildHE, and MillionPlus  put out a joint statement confirming that universities will do all they can to support students and ensure they can progress to university:

  • We know many students are anxious about what the cancellation of exams and assessments might mean. Our message to students is: we understand and universities are here for you. Universities are committed to doing all they can to support students and applicants and ensure they can progress to university. This will involve being flexible and responsive in their admissions processes. We want to reassure students who have applied to university, or are thinking of doing so through clearing, that every effort will be made to ensure they are not disadvantaged in any way by the decision not to go ahead with exams this summer.

Association of Colleges (AoC), Chief Executive, David Hughes said:

  • “The cancellation of the 2020 summer exam series is the right decision. However, it will have unsettled the many thousands of students who were preparing for exams and assessments in the full range of qualifications and they will need reassurance about alternative arrangements which support their progression plans. The whole education system will need to work together to ensure that no young person is disadvantaged as a result of the cancellation. There are many challenges to overcome to achieve that, but this is also an opportunity to reconsider some aspects of our high-stakes exam regime. We are working with the Department for Education and Ofqual to ensure that the particular challenges faced by colleges and students are understood. Any decisions about assessment and accreditation for the students affected need to take into account the college context because nearly two thirds of all 16-19 year old students study in colleges. Colleges are determined to play their part in helping to safeguard the educational and progression opportunities of every student affected.”

The AoC also made the following recommendations:

  • The guarantee of a place in post-16 education for every student affected by the cancellation of the 2020 summer exam series.
  • Additional resources to increase teaching time for all 16-19 year olds in 2020/21, make up for the lost teaching time in 2019/20 and support catch-up classes and skills development.
  • A national record of achievement and reference system for recording students’ capabilities and achievements in a common and comprehensible way as they transfer between institutions.
  • The development of national online tests in English, maths and other subjects, to support receiving post-16 institutions in advising and guiding students to make appropriate choices for 2020/21.
  • A revision of the English and maths condition of funding in light of the cancellation of GCSEs this summer.
  • Employer agreed skills standards and accreditation requirements for entry-level employment in various sectors and the use of nationally approved skills tests to provide the evidence of students’ skills that employers need.

Teach First wrote to the Secretary of State for Education, calling for:

Support for disadvantaged children to learn at home

  • Internet providers to lift data caps for vulnerable households.
  • Technology firms to provide safe devices for children most in need to be able to study.
  • Energy companies to provide electricity for disadvantaged pupils to learn from home.

Fair exam grades

  • Many young people face uncertainty about their exam grades and futures. We must ensure that steps are taken to award grades fairly and prevent further increases in inequality. Marks linked to past performance could disadvantage hard working pupils, teachers and improving ‘turnaround’ schools.

Long-term support to recover

  • When schools return support must be weighted towards those serving disadvantaged communities. This must be a priority to prevent the attainment gap between rich and poor pupils from growing.

Finally HEPI have a blog – School performance tables are cancelled – should university league tables be cancelled too?

Unconditional offers

On unconditional offers, the Minister’s letter on 20th March followed our update last Friday and, as predicted, criticised those providers who had switched offers to unconditional in reaction to the news about exams.  It was followed by a request on 23rd March to put a two week moratorium on any unconditional offers.

As Research Professional report the Government was unprepared for this quick response from some within the sector. During the pause period the DfE will continue to develop the methodology of how grades will be awarded to students not sitting exams and consider how the application process should be run. The Minister has threatened that any institutions not complying with the ban will undergo regulatory interventionWe will use any powers available to us to prevent such offer making on the grounds that it is damaging to students and not in their interests.  UUK have supported the intervention.

On practical matters UCAS have extended the admissions deadline. Students usually have to decide which university offers to accept by early May. UCAS have confirmed the deadline will be extended by two weeks. UCAS states: Universities and colleges will also have additional time to assess applications and adjust their processes in these unprecedented times… We will email students this week with information on their new May decision deadline, and ensure they understand they have additional time over the coming weeks to make their decisions.

Research Professional (RP):

  • The government is clearly not on top of the situation. On 18 March, rather than mandate the closure of universities, Williamson said that he would support the decisions of vice-chancellors. Less than a week later, universities are being threatened with regulatory action… Vice-chancellors will have acted not out of malice but with the best of intentions to offer comfort to anxious applicants—that’s what comes of sending mixed messages.
  • Donelan says that switching offers to unconditional “risks destabilising the admissions system, increasing financial uncertainty and volatility for all institutions at a time when universities are already facing significant pressures”. The minister wants universities to “avoid actions which might not be in students’ best interests simply to maximise their intake over other universities”.
  • That was probably not the idea behind the switch to unconditional offers, but in a sign of how quickly the world is changing…

The Government’s edict that no new unconditional offers can be made has stimulated debate. Some speculate they may capitalise on the pause to take future action banning all or most unconditional offers (the OfS Admissions consultation has been understandably paused for now). Many lament the impact of the ban on the disadvantaged students who were always intended to be the main recipients of unconditional offers to alleviate some of the turbulence in their lives.

Meanwhile the DfE has reminded students and parents that they are not obliged to accept an unconditional offer and even if they have they can release themselves to explore other options during clearing. DfE state that the release process was introduced last year to support student choice and promote flexibility, and nearly 30,000 students used this functionality.

The OfS press release language is very interesting – they have assumed right up front that NO unconditional offer is in the best interest of a students – they may relax that when they come up with their guidance, but we shall see.

  • ‘Universities and colleges must stop making offers that are not in the best interests of students. They should not make any unconditional offer or amend existing offers for at least two weeks while Ofqual develops the details of the new system.
  • ‘Many universities and colleges have been responding to the enormous challenges of coronavirus with innovation and ingenuity. But it is critical that every university and college puts the student’s interest first in these difficult times. 
  • ‘So, I want to make it very clear to any university or college – and its leaders and governors – that if any university or college makes unconditional offers or adjusts any offer to students during this two week moratorium we will use any powers available to us to prevent such offer making on the grounds that it is damaging to students and not in their interests.

So although they have not done anything about it yet, except issue a review and now a short-term suspension – you could read this as them having already made up their mind and expecting to judge the sector retrospectively against the outcome.

We will let RP have the final word: As higher education pauses admissions activity, it is time now for the government to come up with a workable solution. No more mixed messages: some clarity is needed. As the government has realised on the economy and social distancing, a laissez-faire approach will not see us out the other side of this crisis.

Media coverage: The BBC, The Times and FE Week.

Research in the pandemic

The Under-Secretary of State for Science, Amanda Solloway issued a letter thanking the HE sector for the Covid-19 research and urging institutions to prioritise supporting colleagues (employment terms and conditions) who are working on mitigating this crisis. Skills Minister Gillian Keegan wrote to colleges and training providers and Scottish HE minister Richard Lochhead also issued a letter.

REF 2021 will be pushed back to adjust for the effects of Coronavirus. Currently, the 31 July 2020 census date will be retained. However, the final submission deadline will be delayed. No date for the submission has yet been set but universities have been told they can expect an 8 month notice period when the new date is announced. BU is continuing with the mock REF exercise but will review future timelines as appropriate.

Student Loans

The Student Loans Company has confirmed third term payments will be made as normal even with most teaching moving online.

Zamzam Ibrahim, NUS National President, commented:

  • NUSis pleased that the Department for Education and the Student Loans Company have responded to the strong concerns that we and our member students’ unions have raised in the last week by confirming third term payments will be made as normal, despite the many changes to teaching arrangements made by universities in response to the pandemic. We will continue to work with them to ensure clear communication to students and to ensure students are treated fairly. 
  • Where a students’ family income falls significantly in the year of study, they can ask for a reassessment of their student finance if they are not already receiving the maximum levels of support, and so students should contact the relevant student finance agency as they may be able to receive more support.
  • Students’ income will already be affected as many rely on part-time jobs in hospitality and retail – while we welcome the Chancellor’s commitment to support those who lose employment income we are concerned that those students who are self-employed or who work in the gig economy will not be supported, and most full-time students cannot claim benefits. We need to ensure a safety net is in place for these students, either by extending the wage protections or ensuring access to hardship funding in universities and colleges.

Several parliamentary questions relating to student loans repayments were asked this week. Most have already been superseded in the Government’s announcement that repayments will continue as normal but be reassessed and cease if an individual’s income drops below the repayment threshold.

Last, Peter Lauener was appointed as Chair of the Student Loans company. He replaces Andrew Wathey who was in the role on an interim basis.

The Student Loans Company has announced the temporary closure their contact centre. They state:

  • [We are] closing our customer contact centres temporarily for new and existing students, and for any customer in repayment.
  • The closure of our customer contact centres will not impact summer term maintenance payments to students or tuition fee payments to education providers. These payments will be made as normal. New and existing students in England and Wales can continue to apply for student finance and we will continue to process any applications that have been received as quickly as we can.
  • We are working to restore service at our contact centres as soon as we can and we will provide further information on this over the coming days.

Brexit

A poll on Coronavirus set out to measure the public’s support for the Government’s actions to limit the spread of the virus. It shows favour for a practical potential policy U turn on extending the Brexit end of transition phase. You Gov say: despite it being one of the most dramatic debates in British politics just weeks ago, a majority of the public (55%) would now support extending the Brexit transition period as negotiations have now had to be delayed. A quarter (24%) are still opposed, while 21% say they don’t know.

You can read the full poll analysis here.  An interesting further point is made about the need for the Government to appeal to the young to ensure they understand the seriousness of the crisis and follow social distancing (and now lockdown) requirements. You Gov say: While Boris is still divisive, the public are warming to Rishi Sunak and Chris Witty. Because of this, the Government needs think carefully about its messengers to make sure they are best cutting through with the public.

Parliamentary Questions

Covid-19 Support for Universities

Q – Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support universities during the covid-19 outbreak. [32182]

A – Michelle Donelan: The Department for Education has indicated that it will not be possible to answer this question within the usual time period. An answer is being prepared and will be provided as soon as it is available.

Covid-19 – Student Accommodation/Online Learning (both due for answer on Thursday)

Q – Rosie Duffield: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will take steps to ensure that universities allow students to terminate their accommodation contracts early without incurring financial penalties during the covid-19 outbreak.

This is due for answer on Thursday – here is the link to follow the response. If you have trouble accessing the response (sometimes they change the link when they add the answer) contact us and we’ll locate it and send it over to you

Q – Stuart Anderson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether he is taking steps to ensure that online access to learning is put in place for pupils and students at schools and higher education institutions that have not developed online resources; and if he will make a statement. [34409]

Disability: Q – Sharon Hodgson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment his Department has made of the effect on the health and wellbeing of students in higher education with visual stress of the removal of colorimetry funding for those students.

A  – Michelle Donelan: The department is in discussion with the Association of Dyslexia Specialists in Higher Education as to whether any additional types of assistance would be appropriate for students with a diagnosis of visual stress.

And there is one on brain injuries disability funding.

Access: Q – Baroness Royall of Blaisdon: To ask Her Majesty’s Government, further to the Written Answer by Viscount Younger of Leckie on 6 November 2018 (HL10959), whether they are now in a position to ensure that higher education providers have access to free school meals data at the start of the undergraduate admissions cycle as part of measures to widen access to higher education.

A – Baroness Berridge:

  • Everyone with the talent and capability to succeed in higher education should have the opportunity to benefit from a high-quality university education, regardless of age, background or where they grew up.
  • So that providers are identifying talent in areas of disadvantage, they need to use good-quality and meaningful data. We encourage higher education providers to use a range of measures including individual-level indicators, area data (such as Participation of Local Areas, Index of Multiple Deprivation or postcode classification from ACORN), school data, intersectional data such as Universities and Colleges Admissions Service’s (UCAS) Multiple Equality Measure, and participation in outreach activities.
  • We are actively considering how we can make available free school meals data, taking in to account relevant data protection legislation, and will continue to work closely with UCAS and the Office for Students to this end. In general, we are looking to make data as illuminating as possible.
  • The government believes that every young person with the potential should have the opportunity to access higher education, if it is right for them. A person’s background or start in life should not determine their future.

Disability Employment Gap: Q – Marco Longhi: To ask the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, what steps she is taking to support people with mental disabilities (a) into and (b) to remain in employment. [30042]

A – Justin Tomlinson:

  • The Government is committed to reducing the disability employment gap and seeing a million more disabled people in work by 2027.We help disabled people, including those with mental health conditions and learning disabilities, return to and stay in work through programmes including the Work and Health Programme, the new Intensive Personalised Employment Support Programme, Access to Work and Disability Confident.

Mental Health: Q – Preet Kaur Gill (Birmingham, Edgbaston): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, pursuant to the oral statement of 18 March 2020, what steps he is taking to ensure that children and young people whose educational institution is closed are able to access mental health services provided through those institutions. [32157]

A – Vicky Ford (Chelmsford):

  • The department is working with NHS England and Public Health England who are providing guidance on seeking mental health support, including guidance for parents and carers of children and young people on addressing mental health and wellbeing concerns during the COVID-19 outbreak. Where in place, mental health support teams are also actively considering how they continue to deliver a service to support children and young people.

Industrial Strategy: Q – Alex Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what progress has been made on meeting the objective in the Ageing Society Grand Challenge to ensure that people can enjoy at least 5 extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035. [29943]

A – Helen Whately:

  • Delivering the Ageing Society Grand Challenge (ASGC) mission will require complex systems thinking across a number of areas and we are already working closely across Government, industry, academia and the voluntary sector to do this.
  • We have invested £98 million through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund Healthy Ageing programme to enable businesses, including social enterprises, to develop and deliver services and products to support people as they age. We have also announced Andy Briggs as the ASGC Business Champion and our plans to establish the UK Longevity Council.
  • In 2019, the Department published the consultation document ‘Advancing our Health: Prevention in the 2020s’, which has the ASGC mission at its core and sets out the commitments to contribute towards achieving it.

Skills Gaps: A question on skills gap vacancies and whether qualifications and apprenticeships can fill the gaps.

Free Speech: Q – Marco Longhi (Dudley North): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps he is taking to protect freedom of speech and promote diverse debate within universities. [30031]

A – Michelle Donelan (Chippenham):

  • This government has committed to strengthen free speech and academic freedom and ensure our universities are places where debate can thrive. My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has made it clear that if required he will look at changing the underpinning legal framework. We have made it clear that if universities do not uphold free speech, the government will.

Student Accommodation

Safely managing student accommodation through the crisis is a tricky process for the HE sector. Thorny issues include: ensuring adequate safeguards where students are self-isolating and moving back to the family home is not possible or inappropriate; requirements for students to continue paying for accommodation or pay retainers whilst not in residence; student evictions as providers close down student residences; concerns over 2021-22 contract pressures. Here are two blogs on student accommodation. On Research Professional Fiona McIntyre reports that universities have been told to pressure firms in charge of private halls of residence to make sure no student is left without a place to stay during the coronavirus epidemic, while the Student Loans Company has said that third-term payments will proceed as planned.

And on Wonkhe Eva Crossan Jory from NUS describes the crisis facing student rents resulting from coronavirus, and what universities, private halls operators and government should do to avert it.

Wonkhe also report that: Student accommodation providers Unite and Liberty Living have promised not to charge students for accommodation for term three if email notification is received before 10 April. Arrangements will be made to support students who need to stay on in accommodation through term three and beyond.

Student Trust

HEPI have a blog from Mary Curnock Cook on Connectedness, Trust and Student Engagement. Excerpts:

  • A new report from Enlitened, part of the Student Room Group, looks at how ‘connected, engaged and supported’ undergraduate students are in the UK. In a classic virtuous circle, the report suggests that feeling connected is highly correlated with trust, and trust increases with awareness of and confidence in university resources. Addressing these areas quite directly could help universities significantly improve theirstudents’ overall experience, as well as helping prepare them better for the world of work. It goes without saying that in the current coronavirus crisis, universities resorting to remote working and online learning will soon feel the pinch if they don’t have some connectedness-credit in the bank.
  • The research suggests that only just over half of students feel ‘connected’ to their university. Connectedness is a wider and more nuanced concept than student experience because it signals a whole range of propensities from supporting the university more generally, being prepared to help it out or give it the benefit of doubt when things go wrong, to getting actively involved in the university’s success. But it goes further than this because this new research indicates that connected students are more likely to trust their university, and when they trust their university, they will be more likely to seek support with emotional and wellbeing issues as well as more prosaic issues such as academic or financial support. 
  • Feeling connected and trusting the university will also help overcome the lack of confidence and shyness that respondents cited as some of the key barriers that stop them from accessing support. This is important as 63 per cent of respondents reported to have kept their mental wellbeing concerns to themselves in the last year, without seeking help from their university. With the findings showing that third year respondents are more likely than both second and first year students to keep concerns around anxiety, stress, depression, and academic and financial issues to themselves, trust and self-confidence seems to erode rather than deepen as students progress through their courses. Unsurprisingly, students with disabilities are even more likely to hold back from asking for help.

Also buried in the report is an astonishingly low engagement level with student unions (which also score relatively poorly on the National Student Survey). Given that peer support is often the first port of call for students in distress, it’s worrying that only 12 per cent of respondents said they trusted their student union and only 3 per cent would go to them for information and support.

Friends and family remain the most trusted source of support for students for a range of anxieties and concerns but it’s worth noting that students are also likely to turn to online resources. The anonymity of online help is often a draw for students shy or lacking in confidence to seek face to face help… With universities across the sector reporting huge increases in demand for student support services, online resources and apps can be vital in making sure that students know about and connect with their university services when they need help.

BU has two 24/7 anonymous online platforms and support services – the Employee Assistance Programme for staff and Big White Wall which supports staff and students. There is also a wellbeing section on the staff intranet.

Inquiries and Consultations

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

New consultations and inquiries this week:

Other news

Student Nurses: Next week student nurses will join the ‘front line’ to support the NHS as the nation battles Covid-19. The Times covers whether they should be paid.

Home Working: As the majority of the nation converts to home working on a more regular basis than usual the Office of National Statistics have published their research which investigates to what extent different people within the labour market work at home, either on a regular or occasional basis (pre-crisis).

Of the 32.6 million in employment, around 1.7 million people reported working mainly from home, with around 4.0 million working from home in the week prior to being interviewed for the survey.

  • Around 8.7 million people said that they have worked from home; this is less than 30% of the workforce.
  • Some industrial sectors, such as transportation and storage, accommodation and food services, and wholesale, retail and repair provide relatively few opportunities for people to work from home.
  • Other industrial sectors, such as information and communication, professional, scientific and technical activities, financial and insurance activities, and real estate activities, provide far more homeworking opportunities.
  • Occupations requiring higher qualifications and experience are more likely to provide homeworking opportunities than elementary and manual occupations.
  • Younger workers are the least likely to be working from home, whereas those who continue to work beyond State Pension age are increasingly likely to be working from home.

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JANE FORSTER                                            |                       SARAH CARTER

Policy Advisor                                                                     Policy & Public Affairs Officer

Follow: @PolicyBU on Twitter                   |                       policy@bournemouth.ac.uk

BUCRU & RDS SW

  

Please note that Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) and NIHR RDS SW (Research Design Service South West) offices are currently closed due to Coronavirus.  Staff are still working and able to offer research advice remotely,

Please contact bucru@bournemouth.ac.uk in the first instance.

We are looking forward to working with you all face to face when this is over.

Latest CMMPH publication by Dr. Alison Taylor

Congratulations to Dr. Alison Taylor in the Centre for Midwifery,Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) whose third PhD paper  has just been accepted by the International Breastfeeding Journal.  Alison’s paper ‘Commercialisation and commodification of breastfeeding: video diaries by first-time mothers’ reminds us that many of aspects of our lives are increasingly commercialised in post-modern society.  Although breastfeeding is perhaps a late comer to this process in recent years, it too has seen significant commercialisation facilitated by social media and our obsession with celebrity culture.

This paper explores how the commercialisation and commodification of breastfeeding impacts mothers’ experiences of breastfeeding.  The paper highlights that women preparing for breastfeeding are exposed to increasing commercialisation.  When things do not go to plan, women are even more exposed to commercial solutions. The impact of online marketing strategies fuelled their need for paraphernalia so that their dependence on such items became important aspects of their parenting and breastfeeding experiences.   Dr. Taylor and her co-authors  offer new insights into how advertising influenced mothers’ need for specialist equipment and services. Observing mothers in their video diaries, provided valuable insights into their parenting styles and how this affected their breastfeeding experience.

The International Breastfeeding Journal is an Open Access journal owned by Springer.

 

References:

  1. Taylor, A.M., van Teijlingen, E., Alexander, J., Ryan, K. (2020) Commercialisation and commodification of breastfeeding: video diaries by first-time mothers, International Breastfeeding Journal (accepted).
  2. Taylor A, van Teijlingen, E.,Ryan K, Alexander J (2019) ‘Scrutinised, judged & sabotaged’: A qualitative video diary study of first-time breastfeeding mothers, Midwifery 75: 16-23.
  3. Taylor, A.M., van Teijlingen, E., Alexander, J., Ryan, K. (2019) The therapeutic role of video diaries: A qualitative study involving breastfeeding mothers, Women & Birth 32(3):276-83. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S1871519218300064

Donning the ‘Slow Professor’

Congratulations to the Bournemouth authors who published the paper ‘Donning the ‘Slow Professor’: A Feminist Action Research Project’ earlier this month [1].  This paper was published in the journal Radical Teacher.  The paper argues that the corporatisation of Higher Education has introduced new performance measurements as well as an acceleration of academic tasks creating working environments characterised by speed, pressure and stress. This paper discusses findings from a qualitative, feminist participatory action research (PAR) study undertaken by an interdisciplinary team of women academics at a modern, corporate university in England. The study illuminates how corporatized HE erodes faculty autonomy, degrades learning environments, damages professional satisfaction and health. Strategies for resistance and liberation developed through the PAR process are discussed.

The writing collective for this paper comprised: Sara Ashencaen Crabtree, Ann Hemingway, Sue Sudbury, Anne Quinney, Maggie Hutchings, Luciana Esteves, Shelley Thompson, Helen Jacey, Anita Diaz, Peri Bradley, Jenny Hall, Michele Board, Anna Feigenbaum, Lorraine Brown, Vanessa Heaslip,  and Liz Norton.

Reference: Ashencaen Crabtree, S., Hemingway, A., Sudbury, S., Quinney, A., Hutchings, M., Esteves, L., Thompson, S., Jacey, H., Diaz, A., Bradley, P., Hall, J., Board, M., Feigenbaum, A., Brown, L., Heaslip, V., Norton, L. (2020) Donning the ‘Slow Professor’: A Feminist Action Research Project , Radical Teacher, Vol. 116

Nepal reproductive health paper published yesterday

Congratulations on the latest paper published yesterday by Dr. Preeti Mahato in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Reproductive Health (CMMPH) and colleagues.   This paper ‘Factors associated with contraceptive use in rural Nepal: Gender and decision-making’ [1], is freely available for the next 49 days through our personalized link: click here

 

This research paper in the journal Sexual and Reproductive Healthcare reports on a secondary analysis of pas a quantitative cross-sectional study in four villages of a hilly district in Nepal.  This authors found that gender was associated with current/ever use of contraceptives but decision-making was not found associated with current/eve use of contraceptives.  And, as perhaps was to be expected, socio-economic factors such as husband’s and wife’s education; and indicators showing sharing of childcare responsibilities were found to be associated with contraceptive use.   the paper concludes that educational, health promotional and family planning programmes involving husbands are needed to promote use of contraceptives.


Preeti’s co-authors are based at Dorset County Hospital in Dorchester, at CMMPH and at Singapore Clinical Research Institute/Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore.

 

Reference:

  1. Mahato, P., van Teijlingen, E., De Souza, N., Sheppard, Z. (2020) Factors associated with contraceptive use in rural Nepal: gender and decision-making, Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare 24: 100507 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.srhc.2020.100507