Category / Fusion themes

HE Policy Update for the w/e 19th October 2018

Policy impact – some steps you can take and why it’s a good idea (despite appearances)

We wrote a blog on this topic  – you can read it here.

Choosing a university

The Ofs have published a survey that shows the role of parents and friends in applicant decision making.  There’s a big research paper by CFE Research.  

The OfS respond to the survey:

  • There are a huge number of different things that you could consider when thinking about higher education. And as CFE emphasised, ‘there are limits to the amount of information processing that people can undertake’. Often when we’re faced with more information than we feel we can process, we just switch off because it is overwhelming. The solution is not to throw more and more information out there, but to support and empower people to find the information that is important to them and to make sense of it.
  • We’ve started work shaping and defining what our approach to improving information, advice and guidance will look like. It is vital that our approach in this area draws on the best and most reliable evidence. Most importantly, this will mean adopting an approach informed by an understanding of how people make decisions in the real world, supported by the latest thinking and technology. It will be rooted in behavioural psychology approaches, and driven by research and collaboration directly with students and those who advise them.
  • We are taking the first steps in developing a new resource to better support decision making about higher education. This new resource would help students navigate and understand available information and data, and would be integrated with other key sources of information. It would use personalisation to ensure that students can quickly identify and find the information that is most important for them. This would be combined with carefully designed data visualisations that would make engagement with key datasets easier.
  • Our aim is to create a resource that can support a seamless journey through available information and which responds to individual needs. This is an ambitious project, but our research shows that it is needed. The next steps will be to build on the research we have already carried out with prospective students, parents and teachers, and develop prototypes to test with them. If the outcomes of this testing give us a clear way forward, we will begin building the new resource in the spring.

Sector issues: Graduate Outcomes

Prospects have published a series of reports on graduate outcomes since September.

What do graduates do? draws on DLHE data to take a first look at the outcomes of first degree completers in the six months after completing their studies. It breaks the degrees down into sensible programme groups and dissects the outcomes for each. It looks at the 2016/17 year noting the political volatility surrounding early Brexit and the snap general election. There is a good introduction section which gives an overview:  The graduate labour market remains robust and by some measures is as strong as it has been for some time. Some details on the destination of first-degree graduates:

Page 14 talks of the valuing of work placements and page 15 has an interesting discourse on social mobility and the influence of careers provision, including how universities may need to brand their careers provision differently to attract those from lower social economic groups who had a disappointing or negative prior experience of careers support.

Wonkhe summarise the report:
[It] finds the graduate unemployment rate to be 5.1%, the lowest in 39 years.
Starting salaries for graduates rose 2.9% over the last year, from £21,776 to £22,399.
Plus there are 7,895 more graduates in professional roles. Skills shortages appear to have helped job prospects, especially in fields such as IT, engineering, accountancy and marketing.

However, there were small but increasing numbers of graduates on zero-hours contracts – 4% of those employed, up from 3.6% last year. Retail employs the highest number of graduates in non-graduate roles. While 12.8% of graduates went to work in retail, around two-thirds of them were in jobs below a professional level.

Wonkhe also have a guest blog on the report written by Charlie Ball, Prospects’ Head of HE Intelligence.

Resilience

Prospects also published Graduate resilience in the labour market (in conjunction with Lancaster University) which explores graduate ‘resilience’, specifically looking at how students transition after graduating. It explains that developing a graduate’s commercial awareness and improving their connection with employers could ensure they are prepared to make the transition from university into the workplace, and meet the demands of employers. And that: recommendations are made to improve marketing strategy, student engagement and developing graduate confidence.

The key findings in this report are:

  • 57% of respondents stated that confidence issues affected their transition after graduating.
  • 45% were concerned over a lack of relevant experience.
  • 43% of respondents felt they lacked soft skills.
  • There was a difference between genders, with women more likely to report they lack of relevant experience and soft skills.
  • There is a disparity between faculties regarding their graduates’ resilience.
  • There is little connection between having a 2.2 degree and unemployment/underemployment.
  • Graduates with a 2.1 classification were most likely to be unemployed in this study.
  • Of the seven students who identified as having a disability, 86% reported issues with confidence, 43% felt they lacked relevant experience and 71% felt they lacked softer skills.

Teaching Employability

What’s the best way to teach employability? draws on a study at Essex University to consider whether generic or bespoke discipline specific employability modules are most effective. The study found negative results and concluded there were no significant advantages in contextualising employability teaching as opposed to a standard generic approach:

  • No improvement in student engagement, performance, satisfaction or inclination to take work experience was evident following the completion of a degree-specific credit bearing module.
  • Integrating intellectual degree content into employability modules was neither useful nor valued by students.
  • Students reported a preference for the more practical rather than intellectual aspects of the teaching.
  • Students showed no preference for a contextualised rather than pure employability module.

However, the students did like:

  • Providing graduates with labour market information relevant to their degree was met with positive response.
  • Students also valued recruitment tips and meeting professionals and employers.

Transitioning from study to work

Finally, in partnership with the University of Salford, What factors contribute to a successful graduate transition?, looks into humanities, arts and creative arts graduates to better understand what the transition from university into the workforce is really like for graduates. They state: Finishing university represents a massive change for individuals as they leave the security of their student identity. This can be a turbulent time of adjustment, but research indicates that there is steady improvement in the circumstances of graduates in the first two years after completing their degrees.

Universities can support graduate transition in many ways, for example by ensuring careers support is still available for graduates, as well as embedding a strong infrastructure that helps students understand career planning and employability before they leave.

The key findings are:

  • Movement and change is commonplace in early graduate careers: 58.9% of graduates changed their job and/or career status between 6 and 16 months after graduating.
  • Changes in career ideas after graduating is normal: at 16 months post-graduation, only 25.9% stated their career plans hadn’t changed since finishing university.
  • Many graduates are proactive when faced with initial challenges in finding fulfilling work; examples include moving into self-employment, undertaking further study, and venturing overseas.
  • The support of family and friends is vital for graduates, as well as engaging in career conversations with people they trust.
  • Location matters. Those living in small towns with fewer graduate opportunities can feel stuck if they feel there are fewer suitable opportunities.
  • Career attitudes are influenced by graduates’ social background, e.g. 91% of higher-class respondents were confident discussing their skills/strengths and 85% were confident at an interview; in comparison, just 68% of lower-class graduates agreed to both those statements.
  • Gender differences were also evident. For example, men (81%) report greater confidence at interviews than women (75%), but 83% of women said they were proactive in taking action about their career in contrast to 56% of men.
  • Graduates can sometimes blame themselves incorrectly when a hoped-for career doesn’t materialise quickly. Graduates need to be aware of wider labour market issues that may make a certain career harder to get into.
  • Graduates need support to reflect on how their degree-level skills and knowledge can transfer into areas of work unrelated to their degree subject.

There is a separate report on the transition from PhD study to employment.

National Hate Crime Awareness Week

As National Hate Crime Awareness Week begins, Yvonne Hawkins explains in a new blog post how the Office for Students is working with universities and colleges, students and others to eradicate hate crime on campus.

Student safeguarding and welfare is a priority for the Office for Students. We are shining a spotlight on key issues, support improvements in policy and practice, and identify ‘what works’ to ensure that interventions and initiatives deliver maximum impact and benefit.

Fees and funding: FE Spending

Robert Halfon MP, Chair of the Education Committee, has written to the Chancellor of the Exchequer to highlight the stark disparity between funding for pre- and post-16 education and urge the Government to ‘look very carefully’ at the core level of funding for FE ahead of the Budget and Spending Review.

In a letter to the Chancellor Halfon states that ‘it cannot be right that a funding ‘dip’ exists for students between the ages of 16 and 18, only to rise again in higher education’. He continues that ‘successive governments have failed to give further education the recognition it deserves for the role it pays in our national productivity puzzle’.

The Committee is currently conducting an inquiry into the level and distribution of school and college funding and last week heard from a panel on the current issues faced by the FE sector.

Q – Grahame Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, with reference to the press Association of Colleges’ release entitled AoC update on college pay, published in July 2018, if he will he take steps to close the £7000 a year pay disparity between teachers working in further education colleges compared with their counterparts in schools.

A – Anne Milton:

  •  The further education (FE) sector – including FE colleges – has a different legal status and relationship to the government when compared with schools. FE colleges are private sector institutions, independent of the government. It is for individual FE employers to agree local pay structures with unions, based on local needs.
  • The department values all of our teachers and leaders in FE who change lives for the better. Since 2013, we have invested over £120 million in the FE workforce, including investing in workforce development through the independent Education and Training Foundation (ETF).
  • Having enough highly-skilled FE teachers in place to deliver high-quality, work-relevant skills training is essential, particularly for the successful delivery of T Levels and apprenticeships. This is why we have committed up to £20 million to help providers, teachers and leaders prepare to deliver T Levels. This includes launching Taking Teaching Further, a £5 million programme to attract industry professionals to teach in FE.
  • FE providers help to make sure people have the skills they need to get on in life, which is why we have protected base rate funding for 16 to 19 year olds until 2020. However, we acknowledge that FE faces cost pressures. This is why the department has been actively engaging with the sector to look closely at how we fund providers to ensure that the system supports sustainable, high-quality education. We will be looking carefully at these issues in the Spending Review.

Q – Grahame Morris: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the validity of the findings of the Institute for Fiscal Studies 2018 annual report on education spending in England that funding for further education has been reduced more than other areas of education since 2010.

A – Anne Milton:

  • The Institute for Fiscal Studies report uses published data on funding and student numbers to derive a trend in real terms expenditure per student. Their report shows that funding for school pupils aged 5 to 16 will be more than 50% higher in real terms per pupil in 2020 than in 2000. The government chose to prioritise pre-16 schooling because that is absolutely fundamental to later learning and achievement.
  • We have protected the base rate of funding for 16 to 19 year olds for all types of providers until 2020. Our commitment to the 16 to 19 sector has contributed to the current record high proportion of 16 and 17 year olds who are participating in education or apprenticeships.
  • We are investing in the sector to support providers to deliver the new T level qualifications from 2020. This will mean an additional £500 million every year once they are fully rolled out. We recently announced a further £38 million for the first wave of T level providers to invest in equipment and facilities to support the roll-out of T levels.
  • We are currently considering the efficiency and resilience of the further education sector and assessing how far existing funding and regulatory structures meet the costs of delivering quality further education.

Adult learning – changes afoot

Currently progressing through Parliament are a set of Statutory Instruments which aim to transfer adult education functions of the Secretary of State for Education to Combined authorities. This applies to Liverpool, Greater Manchester, Cambridgeshire and Peterborough, Tees Valley, the West Midlands, and the West of England who all have an elected metro mayor. These statutory instruments will devolve control of the adult education budget from the Government to each combined authority from August 2019, meaning from the 2019/20 academic year, Mayors and Combined Authorities would be responsible for adult education funding, and management for learners.

This may be of interest locally when Bournemouth, Poole and Christchurch combine.

Proposed transferred functions:

  • education and training for persons aged 19 or over and others subject to adult detention
  • provision of facilities to support the learning aims of those aged 19 or over
  • payment of tuition fees
  • functions related to apprenticeship training
  • functions related to persons subject to adult detention

Joint responsibility between Secretary of State and Combined Authority for:

  • encouragement of education and training for persons aged 19 or over and others subject to adult detention
  • provision of financial resources

Access and Participation

The Government has published the final research report Implementation of Opportunity Areas: An Independent Evaluation which aim to improve social mobility. The area delivery plans can be viewed here. The nearest opportunity area to BU is West Somerset: their plan.

HEPI issued a policy note by Professor John Raferty ex-VC of London Met University who reflects on turning around a struggling institution and focuses on his social mobility mission including increasing the number of his institution’s BME students entering highly skilled graduate employment by an increase of 56%..

Parliamentary Questions

This week there was a parliamentary question on the requirement for HE provisions to work with Electoral Registration Officers to support students to register to vote and respond to requests for information. A question on comparative take up of engineering and physics careers by gender and divided between Scotland and England (the Minister didn’t compare).  Another Brexit and Horizon 2020 question (with a familiar response) and one on the Russel Group favoured European Skills Passport.

On mental health in Universities:

Q – Luciana Berger: To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will meet the Secretary of State for Education to discuss mental health in universities. [177826]

A – Matt Hancock:

  • The Department of Health and Social Care and the Department for Education continue to work closely on the needs of all young people, including university students.
  • The University Mental Health Charter announced in June 2018 is backed by the Government and led by the sector, and will drive up standards in promoting student and staff mental health and wellbeing. The Charter, which will reward institutions that deliver improved student mental health outcomes, will develop in an iterative process, shaped by co-production with students, staff and partner organisations. Prospective students and their families will be able to identify providers who

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Consultations

Here is the link to all BU’s consultation responses. Recent submissions cover Access and Participation, the REF guidance, and Student Numbers.

Other news

Contract Cheating: The Conversation talks plagiarism and considers whether international students are more at risk.

Loneliness: The Government have published their loneliness strategy ‘a connected society’ with schools and the education sector centre stage in its aims to enable meaningful social interactions. Key points:

  • A review of best practice to identify and support young carers
  • DfE partnering with the National Apprenticeships Service to encourage employers to offer placements to young people with SEN or disabilities
  • DfE publishing guidance for schools on maximising the use of their premises for beneficial community purposes
  • Embed loneliness into the relationships education curriculum in schools
  • DfE commitment to improve mental health support for students in HE, and establish a working group with the sector to review support for students transitioning into university

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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)

References:

  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.

SAIL meet in Hunstanton

Last week saw the bi-annual meeting of the Stay Active and Independent for Longer (SAIL) Research Team. Research colleagues from Belgium, the Netherlands and France travelled to Hunstanton, Norfolk to meet with UK partners from Norfolk County Council, University of East Anglia and Bournemouth University. The project is in 4 phases: Explore, Design and Develop, Test and Evaluate. October 2018 will see the SAIL project move into the third phase: Test. The visit to Hunstanton provided an opportunity to see at first hand the challenges which face the area in terms of supporting an aging population now and in the future. The Mayor of Hunstanton hosted an evening reception in the Town Hall to welcome the SAIL Research Team and to learn more about the progress which is being made.

Prof Ann Hemingway & Prof Adele Ladkin  meeting the Mayor of Hunstanton with Charlotte Watts, a project partner from Norfolk County Council.

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

Congratulations to Dr. Alison Taylor

Congratulations to Dr. Alison Taylor whose PhD paper ‘The therapeutic role of video diaries: A qualitative study involving breastfeeding mothers‘ has just appeared online [1].  This paper, in Women and Birth (published by Elsevier), was co-authored with her PhD supervisors Prof. Emerita Jo Alexander, Prof. Kath Ryan (University of Reading) and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen.

The paper highlights that despite breastfeeding providing maximum health benefits to mother and baby, many women in the United Kingdom do not breastfeed, or do so briefly.  Alison’s study explored in a novel way the everyday experiences of first-time breastfeeding mothers in the early weeks following birth.  Five UK mothers were given a camcorder to capture their real-time experiences in a video diary, until they perceived their infant feeding was established. This meant that data were collected at different hours of the day by new mothers without a researcher being present.  Using a multidimensional approach to analysis, we examined how five mothers interacted with the camcorder as they shared their emotions, feelings, thoughts and actions in real-time. In total mothers recorded 294 video clips, total recording time exceeded 43 hours.

This paper focuses on one theme, the therapeutic role of the camcorder in qualitative research. Four subthemes are discussed highlighting the therapeutic impact of talking to the camcorder: personifying the camcorder; using the camcorder as a confidante; a sounding board; and a mirror and motivator. The paper concludes that frequent opportunities to relieve tension by talking to “someone” without interruption, judgement or advice can be therapeutic and that more research is needed into how the video diary method can be integrated into standard postnatal care to provide benefits for a wider population.

Alison is Senior Lecturer in Midwifery and a member of the Centre for Midwifery, Maternatal & Perinal Health.

 

 

Reference:

  1. Taylor, A.M., van Teijlingen, E., Alexander, J. & Ryan, K. The therapeutic role of video diaries: A qualitative study involving breastfeeding mothers, Women Birth (2018), (online first)  https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2018.08.160

HE Policy Update for the w/e 5th October 2018

Conservative Party Conference

The Conference ended with the PM’s speech, in which she declared the end of austerity and tried to fight back on Brexit.  This came after a predictably colourful speech from Boris Johnson calling for the party to be more positive – and #chuckchequers.  Neither talked about HE.

Education was on the agenda at the conference, though.  Damien Hinds gave a speech mainly focusing on schools.  He listed three key imperatives (all Ps):

  • Progress – “each generation should have better opportunities than the last and every year we need to raise our sights higher and we need to reach wider”
  • The prospects and prosperity of the country – productivity depends on education of this generation
  • Preparedness – being ready for an uncertain world. He mentioned global trade and technological change

And to deal with these challenges, he said that the plan was to focus on:

  • Academic standards (and there is an ongoing row about his statistics)
  • Basic essential skills (32 primary schools and 21 colleges to be centres of excellence for early literacy and post 16 Maths)
  • Behaviour management (£10m to support best practice in this area)
  • And of course, vocational and technical education (and announced a £38m capital pot for investment in colleges delivering T-levels)
  • Careers advice – doubling the number of trained careers leaders in schools
  • Reviewing level 4 and level 5 qualifications that are the direct alternative to university (this is not new, see below)

He also talked about character, workplace skills and extra-curricular activities.

  • “..we need to move forwards with our reforms. We need to ensure that the vocational and the technical, are absolutely on a par with the academic. We need to make sure that we extend our reforms in all regions, in all parts of the country. That all parts of our society have equal opportunity, that everywhere we see raised expectations and raised aspirations, and when that happens, then we will be able to say, this is a world class education for everyone.”

Level 4 and 5 qualifications have been discussed a lot recently  – see the August report  by Professor Dave Phoenix, VC of South Bank University has written for HEPI “Filling in the biggest skills gap: Increasing learning at Levels 4 and 5”.

The DfE are conducting a review of classroom-based, level 4 & 5 technical education launched in October 2017 (interim findings here) which will inform the ongoing Review of Post-18 Education.

Industrial Strategy – Creative Industries

A new £8 million funding competition will enable virtual, augmented and mixed reality experiences – also known as immersive content – to be created faster and more efficiently by UK content creators.  The competition is part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund’s audience of the future programme. Up to £33 million is available to develop new products and services that exploit immersive technologies.  Funding is provided by UK Research and Innovation through Innovate UK.

Immigration

Also while the Conservative Party Conference was going on, announcements were made about future immigration rules post Brexit.

From Dods:  a White Paper outlining how the system will work to be published in the autumn, ahead of legislation next year. The proposals largely mirror the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee from September, and offer no preferential treatment for EEA citizens coming to the country. Notably, there is a commitment under the new system not to cap the number of student visas. (there is currently no such cap)

Under the proposals:

  • The passports of short-stay tourists and business people from all “low-risk” countries would be scanned at e-gates – currently only EU citizens can do this
  • Security and criminal records checks would be carried out before visits, similar to the system of prior authorisation in the US
  • Workers wanting to stay for longer periods would need a minimum salary, to “ensure they are not competing with people already in the UK”
  • Successful applicants for high-skilled work would be able to bring their immediate family, but only if sponsored by their future employers
  • The new system will not cap the number of student visas

Theresa May said:

  • “The new skills-based system will make sure low-skilled immigration is brought down and set the UK on the path to reduce immigration to sustainable levels, as we promised. At the same time we are training up British people for the skilled jobs of the future.”
  • “Two years ago, the British public voted to leave the European Union and take back control of our borders. When we leave we will bring in a new immigration system that ends freedom of movement once and for all. It will be a system that looks across the globe and attracts the people with the skills we need. Crucially it will be fair to ordinary working people. For too long people have felt they have been ignored on immigration and that politicians have not taken their concerns seriously enough.”

And meanwhile, at the conference, the Home Secretary announced a new “British values” test for those applying for UK citizenship, which will be “significantly tougher” than the current test, which he said was like a pub quiz, and would be accompanied by strengthened English language tests.

Degree apprenticeships

The Office for Students (OfS) has published new analysis of degree apprenticeships.

  • Compared with other levels of apprenticeships and higher education generally there were relatively few degree apprentices in 2016-17, but the number of starts are growing. In 2016-17 there were 2,580 degree apprentices registered in higher education, of which 1,750 started their apprenticeship that year.
  • The two most popular degree apprenticeships are:
    • Chartered Manager – 34 per cent of entrants
    • Digital and Technology Solutions Professional – 29 per cent of entrants.
  • Most of the degree apprenticeships currently available are within the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) subject grouping. Within the arts, humanities and social sciences subject areas, the majority of degree apprentices are taking chartered management courses.
  • There was a roughly equal number of young and mature entrants undertaking degree apprenticeships, with young students (entrants under 21) more likely to be going into science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) apprenticeships.
  • There were more males entering degree apprenticeships than females, but relative to similar higher education courses there is a slightly lower proportion of males.
  • Apprenticeships at all levels had lower proportions of entrants from minority ethnic groups, than entrants to similar higher education courses.
  • Apprenticeships have a lower proportion of entrants with a declared disability than entrants to higher education.
  • The North West and North East of England have the highest proportion of the working age population entering degree apprenticeships, with London having the lowest density.

30 per cent of degree apprenticeship entrants come from areas underrepresented in higher education, slightly higher than the proportion entering similar full-time higher education courses (26 per cent).

Graduate Outcomes and Employability

The Office for Students (OfS), has launched its first Challenge Competition, inviting providers to develop and implement projects to identify ways of supporting the transition to highly skilled employment and improving outcomes for graduates who seek employment in their home region.

The OfS intends to support a range of projects that will deliver innovative approaches for graduates and particular student groups, to contribute to improved outcomes and local prosperity. Through this process we want to identify:

  • what interventions work best in a variety of different regional and local contexts to support progression into highly skilled employment
  • what interventions work best for different types of students and graduates
  • findings that can continue to shape sector-wide debate and inform interventions to capitalise on graduate skills and knowledge for the benefit of individuals and for economic prosperity.

Providers with successful bids will be expected to form a network to share, discuss and disseminate key information among themselves and with the OfS, strategic partners, and the wider sector as required.

Metrics and ratings – graduate salaries

From Wonkhe: ONS has released its annual estimates of the value of the UK’s “human capital” – and if you like to promote higher education on the basis of pay premia, it’s not great news for the sector. The headline news is that back in 2004 the average premium for “first and other degrees” was 41%, but by 2017, it had reduced to 24%. The same has happened for “masters and doctorates” – where the pay premia has declined from 69% in 2004 to 48% in 2017. Although the premia for graduates is still significant, the downward trend will provide ammo to those who argue that “too many people are going to university”, ONS says that “one explanation for this could be a large increase in the proportion of the population with a university degree”.

Metrics and ratings – Learning gain

On Wonhke, David Kernohan wrote on 30th September about learning gain “Plenty ventured, but what was gained?”.

  • David notes: Some projects have held final conferences and events. Others (notably two large scale national projects) either concluded early or have never been publicly spoken of.  It’s a far from glorious end to an initiative that set out with a great deal of ambition – to measure “the distance travelled: the improvement in knowledge, skills, work-readiness and personal development demonstrated by students at two points in time” – a goal that would probably represent the most significant finding in the history of educational research.

The learning gain projects were expected to lead to discussions about a new TEF metric for learning gain – or at least to a set of tools and methodologies that providers would over time start to adopt to support their TEF submissions –because learning gain is an important element of the TEF, but one that it is not currently reflected in the metrics.

  • So the article continues: Project after project reported issues with lack of engagement from students and staff. Why would a student complete a test or exercise that had no bearing on their degree, and that was of uncertain benefit? And why would an academic recommend such a course of action to their students while unsure of the underpinning motivation?
  • And David concludes: …learning gain is measurable. But it is measurable only in terms of the way an individual student understands their own learning. Interventions like learning diaries and reflective writing can prove very useful to students making sense of their own progress. What learning gain may not be is comparable – which on the face of it makes perfect sense. In what world could we say that a student of economics has learned the same quanta of learning as a student of the piano?

And so on 2nd October, Yvonne Hawkins of the OfS responded, also on Wonkhe:

  • he’s wrong to say that the programme is coming to an end – the first phase has concluded, and planning for a second phase that draws on the learning from phase one is already underway. I must also take issue with his rather eeyorish view of the wider learning gain endeavour.

So what are the next steps as set out by the OfS? They are “committed to developing a proxy measure for learning gain”. And it “will form part of a set of seven key performance measures to help us demonstrate progress against our student experience objective”.  And how will they get there?  There will be evaluations of the projects that did go ahead, and then there will be a conference, and recommendations to the OfS board in March 2019 about the next phase of work.

So watch this space….

Freedom of speech

Another week another article on free speech by the Minister– this time on Research Professional to coincide with the Conservative Party Conference.

  • He starts with some context: a cultural shift is taking place, and diversity of thought is becoming harder to find as societal views become highly polarised between the left and the right. A culture of censorship has gradually been creeping in, and a monoculture is now emerging where some views are ‘in’ and others are clearly ‘out’. Social media has exacerbated this trend by giving rise to echo chambers that restrict opposing points of view and legitimise threatening and abusive behaviour.
  • So what is the problem? In universities and colleges, we are witnessing the rise of no-platforming, safe spaces, trigger warnings and protests. These may all be well intended and have their place in fostering free speech, but they are also all too easy to be appropriated as tools to deny a voice to those who hold opinions that go against the sanctioned view.
  • It’s perhaps put in rather strong terms: This is catastrophic for democratic debate and puts at risk the fundamental right to be heard that many have fought and died for.
  • And the example – from 2015: I am increasingly alarmed by reports of individuals and groups preferring to support those who seek to restrict others’ right to speak than to protect the fundamental right for all to be heard. This was the case at Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2015 when the university’s Feminist Society came out in support of the university’s Islamic Society after its members aggressively disrupted a talk by Maryam Namazie, a feminist campaigner and human rights activist.
  • So what next? That is why I am supporting an initiative coordinated by the Equality and Human Rights Commission to create new free speech guidance to ensure future generations are exposed, without hindrance, to the stimulating debates that lie at the very core of the university experience.

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International Conference on Migration Health (Rome)

Two days ago Bournemouth University Visiting Professor Padam Simkhada presented our paper ‘Problems faced by Nepalese female migrants workers in the Gulf Countries: A quantitative survey’ at the International Conference on Migration Health in Rome, Italy [1].  The study reports on the health and other problems experienced by Nepali women migrants at their work place during foreign employment in Gulf Countries.  The paper is building on earlier research with the charity Pourakhi in Kathmandu which helps women who return from working abroad in trouble.  The first paper was publish earlier this year in the journal BMC International Health & Human Rights [2].  

The conference presentation was co-authored with BU’s Dr. Pramod Regmi and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, Ms. Manju Gurung from Pourakhi, Ms. Samjhana Bhujel from Green Tara Nepal, and Padam Simkhada, who is professor in the Public Health Institute at Liverpool John Moores University.

 

References:

  1. Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Bhujel, S, Gurung, M., Regmi, P. Problems faced by Nepalese female migrants workers in the Gulf Countries: A quantitative survey’ [Abstract: 238] presented at Internat. Conf. Migration Health, Rome, 1-3 Oct. 2018, http://istmsite.membershipsoftware.org/files/Documents/Activities/Meetings/Migration/FOR%20WEBSITE%20-%20ORAL%20accepted%20abstracts%20-%20session-bookmark.pdf
  2. Simkhada, P.P., van Teijlingen, E.R., Gurung, M., Wasti, S. (2018) A survey of health problems of Nepalese female migrants workers in the Middle-East and Malaysia, BMC International Health & Human Rights 18(4): 1-7. http://rdcu.be/E3Ro

‘Traces of Play’ in concert at SMC 2018 and NYCEMF 2018

I recently presented my multichannel electroacoustic composition ‘Traces of Play’ in two international concerts. The first was at the esteemed music computing conference SMC 2018 (Sound and Music Computing) in Limassol, Cyprus. The programme featured a range of music encompassing fixed media, instruments + electronics, improvised, and mixed media works. Held in Limassol’s Rialto Theatre, this was the first ever multichannel loudspeaker concert to be staged in Cyprus. It was an honour to be involved.

 

The second concert was at the NYCEMF 2018 (New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival). The festival programme, scheduled over a number of days at the Abrons Arts Centre, New York, featured many established names alongside emerging artists, and this was a great opportunity to share and promote BU practice-based research. As well as diffusing (spatialising) my own work, I presented music on behalf of two composers: Antonino Chiaramonte, a doctoral researcher in the Faculty of Media and Communication here at BU; and David Berezan, Professor of Composition at the University of Manchester.

 

If you would like to experience surround-sound electroacoustic music in concert, we have four experimental music concerts running this year as part of the University Music programme. The first takes place on Wednesday 17th October at 7pm in the Allsebrook Lecture Theatre, Talbot Campus, and features Owen Green from the University of Huddersfield. Owen’s research focuses on improvising and composing with computers.

International students on British drinking habits – ‘people don’t know when to stop’

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Thomas Thurnell-Read, Loughborough University; Lorraine Brown, Bournemouth University, and Philip Long, Bournemouth University

Of the 2.3m students starting courses at UK universities each autumn, well over 400,000 are international students from non-UK countries.

The scale and importance of international students to the UK higher education sector is now well established. Yet we know very little about how students from non-UK countries experience and interact with the heavy drinking culture that predominates on and near many universities.

Many international students often come from cultures marked by moderation or abstinence around alcohol. And concerns have been raised that activities centred on alcohol may exclude international students.

We’ve conducted new research to reveal the perceptions of British drinking cultures held by international students studying on postgraduate courses at a UK university. In focus groups and interviews, students from countries including Nigeria, the US, China, Turkey, Poland, Germany and Greece told us of their experiences of drinking culture at university.

The British ‘like to drink’

The British Council, and many city and university marketing teams, often promote the British pub as a safe and friendly leisure space in their bid to market studying in the UK to international students. The students we spoke to were aware of the iconic image of the British pub. They spoke of their desire to participate in what they saw as being an important part of British culture. Others spoke with excitement of being able to try British real ale and craft beer as a part of their experience of living and studying in Britain.

Having seen depictions of British pubs in television, film and, increasingly, social media, most international students were aware of alcohol consumption being important to British culture before they came to the UK. This prior perception was confirmed by their initial experiences on arrival. Our interviewees felt that getting drunk was an important part of British cultural life and reported being initially surprised that drinking to excess was an expected part of university life.

Despite these concerns, drinking alcohol was an important part of the social lives of many international students. Many had enjoyed their experiences of socialising in bars and pubs. For others, whose degree programme cohorts were predominantly fellow international students, the pub was a space in which they could view and interact with British culture and British people – such as non-student locals.

Drinking cultures in contrast

International students made ready comparisons with the drinking habits and attitudes of their own cultures. Many told us about how people drink alcohol and get drunk in their own cultures. But they contrasted this with the tendency of “going too far” and of “not knowing when to stop” that was perceived to be a major characteristic of British drinking culture.

That said, many interviewees had enjoyed learning about the practice of buying “rounds” of drinks, using “cheers” before drinking and the lack of table service in Britain. They saw this as a fun and a pleasurable part of getting to know local culture.

International students say they are shocked at the amount of booze consumed by Brits at university.
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As identified in other research, gender is an important feature of how students view drinking and drunkenness. Concern was expressed in our study about a perceived lack of control among some British women when drinking alcohol. Words such as embarrassment and shame were used by both male and female interviewees to define the boundary between fun, sociable drinking and excessive drunkenness.

Interviewees expressed surprise that public vomiting and urination or collapsing in the street were so widely tolerated and even in some cases expected and celebrated by British students.

Finding the balance

Most students felt capable of negotiating their involvement with student drinking culture by choosing times, spaces and styles of drinking that suited their own tastes. This involved a clear preference for drinking as part of other events such as eating a meal out with friends or watching televised sport in pubs. At social events where heavy drinking was the main activity, some would try to enjoy “one or two” drinks but leave once other people became noticeably drunk.

But while many students spoke of the pub as a welcoming and relaxed space for socialising with friends, bars and nightclubs were said to be intimidating places where they felt at risk of violence or harassment. Many students witnessed fights.

Female international students had particular concerns – several spoke of their strategies to stay safe when out at night. The avoidance of the streets at night due to a fear of potential violence or aggression was also highlighted in a previous study that looked at levels of racism experienced by international students.

That said, UK drinking culture is changing. More than a quarter of young adults in the UK do not drink alcohol.
“Sober campuses” during fresher’s week are becoming more prevalent, as are teetotal university halls. And many students are eager for advice on avoiding or moderating the pressure to drink heavily while at university. But only time will tell whether this is a trend that is set to remain.The Conversation

Thomas Thurnell-Read, Lecturer in Cultural Sociology, Loughborough University; Lorraine Brown, Associate Professor, Department of Tourism and Hospitality, Bournemouth University, and Philip Long, Honorary Visiting Research Associate, Bournemouth University

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