On the 13 November 2019, BU hosted a one day interdisciplinary conference addressing a range of perspectives and concerns relating to human fertility control. The event was opened with a keynote presentation from Clare Murphy, Director of External Affairs at the British Pregnancy Advisory Service on ‘Compelling choices: decision-making around contraception in the UK today’. This was followed by a series of contributions – including presentations from charitable, medical and academic stakeholders – with coverage of emergency and long-acting reversible contribution; population control through nudging behaviours; recognition of a legal right to family planning and discussion of abortion care and regulation. The conference was organised by Jeffrey Wale, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Humanities and Law and was funded by an ACORN award aimed at supporting Early Career Researchers. One of the central aims of the event was to start up conversations, generate new links and to establish a network of interested parties.
Category / Fusion themes
Breathe – in four weeks the general election will be done and dusted, meanwhile we’ve listed the key information sources and looked at the education related pledges made so far. Of course, the HE sector has been busy too with research funding, postgraduate satisfaction, student accommodation, more free speech, value for money, and widening participation under the microscope this week.
- UKRI has challenges because the core funding is ‘tight’ – which has consequences for the system
- The 2.4% GDP research and development (R&D) spend target is a ‘stretch target, but not necessarily a crazy one.’ He emphasised that the target was for the economy as a whole, and two thirds of R&D happens in the private sector. He felt using public money to ‘crowd in’ private investment was a sound policy. With both the Government and Opposition backing the 2.4% target he stated the sector should be very pleased about this strong cross-party consensus.
- UKRI ready to administer the Government’s promise to underwrite UK involvement in European funding, however he couldn’t say how this will ‘play out,’ he would be arguing strongly for UK science, and was already ‘heavily involved’ in policy discussions.
- On international engagement we was more reticent – ‘We’ve got to think hardheadedly,’ he said, ‘and consider what benefits will come from any links we make.’ There should not just be memoranda of understanding and photo calls just for the sake of it.
- Kingman was positive about Darpa and didn’t see it as a sign the government want greater control of research funding: ‘I see this as part of a wider jigsaw…It should be wholeheartedly welcomed.’
- On talent Kingman stated: Developing the next generation of researcher is a priority for UKRI. Those working in science are pressured to deliver results quickly. To do so, ‘we need incredibly talented people…and we need to worry about people as much as money.’ UKRI are focused on encouraging and supporting early career researchers and believe research (especially science) needs to be seen as a positive option by people before they leave school. He also stated UKRI should ‘own it’ because there is much to do on equality, diversity and inclusivity.
- Kingman was in favour of REF and believes research has benefited from the system. He agreed REF isn’t perfect and need to continue to develop but that, for him, there was still a strong case for the dual support system, regardless of the legal obligation to continue it, and that we ‘shouldn’t put all our eggs in one basket of project research.’
- Kingman was not in favour of prescriptive regional funding, and believes research should be funded wherever it was found.
On Wednesday the PM made a speech on ‘unleashing the potential of the whole country’ in which stated he would double funding for R&D to £18bn in the “biggest ever increase in support for R & D”. Theresa May’s government committed £7 billion extra R&D funding over five years as part of the 2017 Industrial Strategy, and set the target of reaching 2.4% by 2027. Earlier this year, Johnson said he would “double down on our investment in R&D”, and committed to making an extra investment of £2.3 billion in 2021/22. The science, research and innovation community support the 2.4% target but few believe it is achievable without considerable levels of private investment. With the new announcement that the Conservatives would commit to £18bn this would provide a major boost. Of course, there are not yet details about how this spending will be balanced between competing areas of R&D.
Other commitments made in the speech included investing more in electric vehicle technology and creating a Britain that would lead the world in tackling climate change and reach net zero by 2050. In his own words: “not because we hate capitalism, not just by gluing ourselves to the tops of tubes trains or whatever, as important as that may be, but because it is precisely companies like this one [the London Electric Vehicle Company] that make the brilliant technical breakthroughs that will enable us to cut CO2 and go carbon neutral by 2050”.
Venki Ramakrishnan, President of the Royal Society, responded to the announcement: “Successful science is not based on money alone. We will also need to maintain full participation in European funding schemes and the collaboration that they promote, rather than trying to replace them.” (Source: Wonkhe/Financial Times.)
Postgraduate Student Satisfaction
AdvanceHE have published the 2019 Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES).
The Office for Students has announced that they will have a new measure of postgraduate satisfaction so this is likely to become an area of focus for the regulator.
- “Overall satisfaction is high and has remained consistent over several years. The one exception to this was in 2018, when a temporary dip in satisfaction appears to be related to UCU (University and College Union) strike action. Despite the strong scores, satisfaction levels remain slightly below those reported by undergraduates through the National Student Survey (NSS).
- …institutions across the sector score particularly highly for providing effective resources (e.g. library, IT, subject-specific) and information, although organisation (logistics, guidance, communication) and assessment (criteria and timeliness) continue to be rated least positively. …The main specific aspect that requires attention is how to provide opportunities for postgraduate taught (PGT) students to be involved in decisions about how their course operates, which scores consistently lower than all the other measures in the survey.
- In 2019, for the first time, we have conducted detailed analysis of the open comments, specifically around suggestions for improvement. This analysis identified some key areas of consistency with the quantitative analysis, building a clear picture of some areas to prioritise across the sector. In particular, these included how teaching staff provide support and how the course is organised.
- A relatively small proportion, 20%, had considered leaving their PGT course to date, which compares favourably with similar data collected at undergraduate and postgraduate research (PGR) level – and is an endorsement of the levels of support provided across the sector.
- In terms of ethnicity, the results go against the stark White/BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) contrast that we have previously found at undergraduate level. Instead, there is a more nuanced picture, with Black, Chinese and White students reporting strong satisfaction levels, contrasted by evidence of a more disappointing experience for Asian and Mixed students, as well as those of “Other” ethnicity. A particular challenge for investigating the concerns of these cohorts lies in the fact that they are comprised of a range of different subgroups, each of which may be facing their own particular issues.
- There is a strong picture among overseas students, who tend to report a very positive experience. One of the factors contributing to this is that overseas students tend to spend little time working for pay. Our analysis shows that time spent working for pay can link strongly to a greater likelihood of leaving the course, and hence the high levels of retention among overseas students are likely to be strongly linked.
- Motivations for choosing an institution can vary, but analysis highlights how the type of motivation can be linked to the subsequent quality of the experience. Where students have chosen an institution based on reputation (of tutors, course or institution) or content of course, they tend to go on to be much more satisfied than those for whom the choice may have been a more restricted one – e.g. based on the location of the institution of whether there was funding available.”
According to PTES, Black postgraduate taught students are more motivated to progress to a higher-level qualification than white students – which is interesting in the context of the recent Leading Routes report which found that only 1.2 per cent of UKRI-funded PhDs over the last three years went to Black or Black mixed students.
The OfS have published an insight brief on mental health – Mental health: Are all students being properly supported? It highlights that students who report a mental health condition are more likely to drop out of higher education, less likely to progress into skilled work or further study, and graduate with a first or 2:1 – compared to students without a declared mental health condition.
- PT students from deprived areas are most likely to report mental health conditions
Whereas PT students from advantaged areas were least likely to report a mental health condition
- Black students with a declared mental health condition have low continuation and attainment rates.
- Full time students declaring a mental health condition has more than doubled in the last five years (1.4% in 2012-13 to 3.5% in 2017-18)
- Females are more likely to report a mental health condition (4.7% females report; 2% males report)
The report does mention the distinction between a clinically diagnosed mental health condition and the broader mental ill health/distress.
Participation and Attainment
School Families: The Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) has re- launched the Families of Schools Database. This is an online database for schools to compare themselves against other institutions nationally by a range of criteria (e.g. levels of free school meals pupils, or similar disadvantage/poverty area measures). It aims to help schools understand more about their disadvantage attainment gaps. Every school in England has been placed into ‘families’, based on the characteristics of pupils who attend them. The EEF hopes schools will use this as a springboard to learn from, and collaborate with, the most successful schools in their ‘family’ of similar schools.
Analysis published by the EEF found that the national disadvantage gap would be significantly reduced if schools are able to help their disadvantaged pupils reach at least the average performance achieved by their 30 most similar schools.
Educational Cold Spots: just before Parliament entered purdah Robert Halfon questioned whether the extension to the DfE Opportunity Areas which tackle the national cold spots (including West Somerset) was a suitable use of Government funding and whether it provided value for money. However, the Government have reconfirmed their commitment and stated that the funding is beginning to boost GCSE grades.
Social Mobility: The Sutton Trust has published their Mobility Manifesto aiming to influence politicians to embrace social mobility at the heart of their election campaign. It covers fairer school admissions, early education, widening access to universities, banning unpaid internships, degree and higher apprenticeships, and best practice in widening access in employment. Below is the light touch summary on each. Incidentally in the run up to the vote for the new speaker of House of Commons, The Sutton Trust CEO wrote to all the candidates to urge them to commit to tackling unpaid and unadvertised internships in Parliament.
HEPI and UPP (a major student accommodation provider) have published Somewhere to live: Why British students study away from home – and why it matters examining the ramifications of the choice of most students to move away from home to study. Excerpts:
- ‘There are many problems with the residential university. It is expensive – and becoming ever more so. It disadvantages those students who do not live away from home and those young people who never get a chance to attend university. It can alienate and exclude others, especially the communities who live around the campus. And yet, residence is undeniably popular and remains desirable, despite its costs. By tracing its history, we can also consider its future, and how it might come to serve the interests of all.
- Demand for student accommodation remains strong, with many young people still wishing to leave home to benefit from a fully immersive higher education experience.
- The report considers how the issue of the value-for-money of accommodation has emerged as a key area of focus for both the NUS and the OfS in the wider context of the affordability of going to university.’
The report also looks to the future and how diversity drives need – what student accommodation should be like in the future; what proportion of students should live away from home; how costly should it be to live in bespoke student accommodation; and what support should be on offer?
Here are the key points:
- For the overwhelming majority of UK undergraduates, attending university means leaving home. It is certainly a distinctive feature of British higher education, and one that marks Britain out from both its nearest neighbours and its most obvious comparators.
- In Britain, in the academic year 2017-18, just over 80% of full-time students left home for study. On average, 36% of European students live in their parental home. In America nearly 40% of students live at home and 77% attend college in their home state.
- Student accommodation is now worth something like £53 billion in the UK. Struggling to keep up, even traditionally residential universities are having to invest millions in providing new housing – with Cambridge borrowing nearly £1 billion and Oxford recently agreeing a joint venture with Legal and General worth £4 billion.
- Residence has an effect on the host communities, who may find themselves irritated, changed and outpriced by the students who live within them.
- ‘Commuter students’, do not always have such rounded and fulfilling experiences as other students, and they sometimes do not benefit from their higher education as much as those students who reside at university.
- If universities are to remain residential for most, they still need to think about those who are excluded or disadvantaged precisely because they do not share the same benefits as the overwhelming majority who do study away from home.
- Although there are some examples of good practice, universities as a whole must do better at providing appropriate information about accommodation to prospective students. This means offering accurate details about the true cost of living.
- Universities should review how they support their students: both those who live on campus and those who do not. There is a need to better integrate commuter students.
- The design of accommodation should be reviewed by universities and other providers alike. As a report published in 2019 outlines, many developments have not been designed with student wellbeing in mind.
- Both government and accommodation providers need to address an increasingly unsustainable rise in rents.
- Universities should review how their accommodation policies affect the local community and how their resources can be shared.
Freedom of speech
The Policy Exchange have had another “go” at free speech in universities in their report, enticingly titled “Academic Freedom in the UK”..
It starts with an allegation of political discrimination which *may* be violating academic freedom and confirms that there is really no evidence of a problem:
Britain’s universities are world-leading. Yet there is widespread concern that, instead of being places of robust debate and free discovery, they are being stifled by a culture of conformity. Universities have a particular role in upholding free speech in society more broadly, with academic freedom central to this. The danger is that academic freedom is being significantly violated due, in particular, to forms of political discrimination.
There has to date been a lack of good evidence, specific to the UK, which confirms or disconfirms whether academic freedom is being infringed beyond a small number of high profile cases. In addition, beyond statements like the ‘Chicago Principles’, which affirm the value of free speech in universities, there is a relative lack of policies which would protect academic freedom. The link between academic freedom among faculty and freedom of speech amongst students has also not been thoroughly explored in a UK context.
New polling by Policy Exchange supports three key findings.
- There is evidence of a chilling effect for undergraduate students. For instance, on Brexit, only 4 in 10 (39%) of Leave-supporting students say that they would be comfortable espousing that view in class.
- Despite such chilling effects, a significant proportion of students are consistently supportive of academic freedom. This figure is likely to be between 3 out of 10 to a half of students.
- Support for academic freedom is significantly affected by the context in which one considers the issue. In particular, it is affected by whether one is exposed to narratives that affirm either the need to create safe spaces for disadvantaged groups who have been subject to systemic oppression, or the value of free speech in preventing censorship and in promoting liberty and the free exchange of ideas. These findings reinforce the need for, and value of, policies which protect academic freedom
But it goes on to set out a framework anyway. The key to this seems to be the Chicago Principles, as referred to above, plus a system of “champions” across the sector and a new charter-mark for viewpoint diversity.
- Adopt an academic freedom commitment, such as the Chicago Principles, that clearly states that ‘debate or deliberation may not be suppressed because the ideas put forth are thought by some or even most members of the University community to be offensive, unwise, immoral, or wrong-headed’.
- Appoint an Academic Freedom Champion (AFC), reporting directly to the Vice-Chancellor, with the power to investigate complaints of political discrimination across the Higher Education Institution (HEI), and to recommend actions as appropriate.
The Office for Students should:
- Appoint a National Academic Freedom Champion who would have the power to investigate allegations of academic-freedom violations from academics and lead on enhanced monitoring requirements or other sanctions where appropriate.
- Impose an obligation on HEIs to have a senior person responsible for protecting academic freedom in each HEI, and to have an Academic Freedom Code of Practice.
The Government should:
- Establish a statutory duty of non-discrimination for political and moral beliefs and judgments for the purposes of employment in higher education.
- Extend the existing statutory duty to ensure freedom of speech and academic freedom to include students and Student Unions, as well as those involved in governance in HEIs.
Civil society should:
- Incorporate academic freedom as a criterion against which universities are measured in international rankings of universities.
- Establish an Academic Freedom charter organisation, awarding kitemarks to HEIs for their demonstrated commitment to political anti-discrimination and viewpoint diversity.
The report has been criticised by David Kernohan on Wonkhe: who calls the underlying research a “terrible survey” and says that “The recommendations are nonsensical.”
This section is interesting (page 15):
Are academics brainwashing students?
When asked how most students acquired their opinion on the Peterson and Greer cases, 68% said social media. This was by far the most important influence on student opinion on these issues, with parents well down the list at 14%. New partisan online news sites like Vox, Buzzfeed, Breitbart, the Mail or the Guardian came in at 8%. University lecturers and schoolteachers both scored a paltry 1%. This suggests that the content of what students are learning is not directly shaping their worldviews on the speech issue. A further data point in favour of this interpretation is that older students (those 20-25) were 19 points more likely than 18-19 year olds to back the free speech position over emotional safety. It must also be emphasised that more research is needed to test this finding as some of this effect may be due to mature students. While it is reassuring that students do not appear to be directly influenced by their University experience to oppose free speech, given the range of opinions on this issue, it is important for universities to consider how their policies, structures and culture can encourage support for free speech rather than inadvertently suppress it.
A limitation of this polling is that it does not probe the social influence that lecturers may exert on students, through the way that they speak about and present politically-salient topics in their teaching. For instance, it is unknown whether the 6 in 10 Leave-supporting students who do not say that they would be comfortable expressing that view in class are cautious of how other students would react, or of how their lecturers may react. Further work is needed on this too.
And an interesting Times article – Students have every right to ban speakers – explores a very different perspective of how politically and media savvy Gen Z students are, how they care about world issues, and how they avoid the pitfalls of being drawn into furious Twitter rows that older generations are floored by.
General Election 2019
We list below some sources of information on the election:
- If you’re sceptical about all the claims and counter-claims, the Full Fact website is useful
- The Institute for Government have a useful website: This includes some comment but also what they call “explainers” on how processes work, for example on “purdah”:
- The Institute for Fiscal Studies website is also useful: they are publishing analysis of promises and comparisons between the parties.
- Also funded by the Nuffield Foundation, the National Institute of Economic and Social Research is publishing analysis
- The House of Commons library has stopped publishing research briefs until after the election but their back catalogue is available, including their work on education funding and Level 4 and 5 education (from 4th November)
- On HE you can expect analysis and comment from the usual sources, e.g. HEPI, Wonkhe, Research Professional
- We also like the BBC poll tracker and they also have a useful glossary.
- Dods have published 10 target seats to watch (none are local to BU) – the party that achieves the swing to win the constituency may well reveal national trends and predict the election outcome.
HEPI’s latest is about how manifesto promises don’t really mean much for HE:
“Finally, it is also worth remembering that the biggest higher education policies tend not to feature in election manifestoes at all. That was true of:
- Tony Blair’s introduction of tuition fees;
- Tony Blair’s tripling of tuition fees;
- David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s tripling of tuition fees; and
- George Osborne‘s abolition of maintenance grants.”
Last week there was a lot of press coverage about students voting tactically and it is rumbling on – HEPI referred to it in a student voting report: this has been widely cited as a storm rages on social media about student voting. For the record, students can register both at home and at their university address but it is illegal to vote twice. BU and SUBU have been working together to promote student registration and we will be sharing impartial information with students about policies nearer the time. The voter registration deadline is midnight on 26th November.
Sky News has announced they will hold a 3 way head to head debate on 28th November between Johnson, Corbyn and Swinson (Swinson a late add to the line-up after the Lib Dems complained to ITV about their exclusion).
Finally, in parliamentary news, last week Sir Lindsay Hoyle was elected the new Speaker of the House of Commons. He is a Labour MP and former deputy speaker. He has pledged to be a “neutral” speaker and highlighted his desire to restore respect to the Commons. He also stood on the platform of safeguarding the welfare of MPs and staff.
Candidate selection closed on 14th November.
- BCP have announced the candidates in Bournemouth East, Bournemouth West, Christchurch, Mid Dorset and North Poole and Poole:
- Dorset Council have announced the candidates for North Dorset, South Dorset, West Dorset (and they overlap with some of the above too)
Party Education pledges so far
These all come with a pinch of salt because the manifesto pledges have not yet been published…
Labour’s pledges sit within their National Education (cradle-to grave) Service (which they have been talking about for a long time and which are therefore relatively well developed), They plan to:
- expand adult education and lifelong training, including:
- increasing reach of basic skills provision (on Tuesday they published research stating the number of adults currently learning is at its lowest point since 1996, and the number of people achieving basic skills qualifications has plummeted since 2011).
- Retraining for adults (improve job chances, tackle displacement through automation/AI, and address skills shortages/meet changing needs of industry and the climate emergency) they expect to reach an extra 300,000 people per year and “throw open the door” for adults to study.
- Ensure vocational education is considered on a par with a university degree, in particular they aim to increase the flexibility adult learners receive to resolve the mature tensions.
- Support adults studying with 30 hours of free childcare for all 2 to 4 year olds.
- They also state they will involve employers in designing qualifications to ensure the training equips them with the right skills.
The ‘free’ education covers:
- any adult without A-level or equivalent qualification to attend college and study for free;
- every adult a free entitlement to six years of study for qualifications at level 4-6 (undergraduate degrees and equivalents such as Higher National Certificates and Diplomas, Foundation Degrees, Certificates and Diplomas of Higher Education in areas such as rail engineering technicians, nursing associates, and professional accounting technicians);
- provides maintenance grants for low income adult learners to complete their courses;
- gives workers the right to paid time off for education and training;
- Make sure everyone has access to the information they need to return to study through a national careers advice service.
Angela Rayner also told BBCR4 Today programme that a Labour Government would crack down on high wages for vice chancellors, and abolish university tuition fees. It will be interesting to see if this makes it into the manifesto. Labour’s ‘rescue plan’ for the NHS also includes a promise to restore bursaries for student nurses and tackle the staffing crisis. There are also proposals to extend statutory maternity leave to 12 months, legislate for menopause friendly workplace policies and fine firms who fail to report on gender pay gaps.
Healthy Young Minds: Labour have also pledged £845 million to put a qualified counsellor into every school across the country, to combat the long waiting times for treatment and the lack of mental health services available to young people. The commitment is considered timely as it dovetailed the publication of the National Education Union’s league table of underfunded schools which found that there are just 18 out of 533 Parliamentary constituencies where per-pupil funding will be above its 2015 level in real terms.
The Liberal Democrats have proposed a “skills wallet” providing every (English) adult with £10,000 to spend on education and training throughout their life. People would get the money in three instalments: £4,000 at 25; £3,000 at 40 and another £3,000 at 55. Individuals, their employers and local government will be able to make additional payments into the wallets. Access to free careers guidance will also be provided. They intend to fund this by reversing government cuts to corporation tax – returning the business levy to its 2016 rate of 20%. However, they would consult on their proposal and therefore would not bring it in until 2021-22.
Liberal Democrat Shadow Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Secretary, Sam Gyimah, (ex-Conservative Universities Minister, of course) stated:
- “By stopping Brexit and investing in our Skills Wallets, Liberal Democrats will empower people to develop new skills so that they can thrive in the technologies and industries that are key to the UK’s economic future and prosperity.”
The Conservatives have been tight lipped about their manifesto intentions (not unexpected – they published their 2017 manifesto far later than the other parties). So far they have proposed a National Retraining Scheme for adults needing to update their skills for work. Prior to purdah Johnson also made the schools funding pledges. On Thursday they promised to cut immigration numbers ‘overall’ after Brexit if elected to government. Home Secretary Priti Patel said the party would not set an “arbitrary” target if it wins the election, having failed to meet previous targets, but the policy ambition is in line with the Conservative’s agenda for a points-based system based on skills and other factors. And they intend a NHS visa scheme (reduced application cost, 2 week decision fast track, 5 year visa) to run alongside the introduction of the points based system in 2021. The scheme has been criticised because it fails to consider worker retention and critics feel it doesn’t address how dependent the UK is on clinicians from abroad. Priti stated: “We will reduce immigration overall while being more open and flexible to the highly skilled people we need, such as scientists and doctors.”
They Conservatives have also attacked Labour’s immigration policy in their own published report by the Conservative Research Department. They argue that Labour’s official immigration policy is to ‘maintain and extend free movement rights’, which includes closing down all detention centres, providing unconditional rights to family reunions, scrapping immigration targets and maintaining and extending free movement of peoples , including outside of the EU through facilitating an open-borders policy. It notes that Labour voted against specifically ending free movement (Public Bill Committee Immigration and Social Security Coordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill fifth sitting motion).
The Conservatives claim there are leaked Labour documents whereby Corbyn’s team have been reviewing ways of extending visa schemes to allow thousands of unskilled immigrants access to the UK. Finally the Conservative paper refers to immigration under the previous Labour Government where between 2003 and 2008 there was a 91% increase in employment levels accounted for by foreign nationals. Dods report that the Conservatives have been pulled up on their claims and Shadow Home Secretary Dianne Abbott stated it was “more fake news from the Conservative party’s make-believe research department”.
The SNP campaign focuses on the NHS and pledges an NHS protection Bill which “would explicitly prevent any future UK government from signing up to any agreement that made the NHS, in any part of the UK, a bargaining chip of any kind in any future trade deals”. This is in response to Trump’s interest in access to the NHS in a US/UK trade deal (which the Conservatives have strenuously denied). They also push for a second Scottish independence referendum. Labour who, should they be in a position to form a minority government would rely on the support of the SNP, have suggested they would permit another independent referendum however, Corbyn has been heavily criticised this week as he will not commit to a timeframe for it to be held.
Lots if interest groups will also publish their calls for policies:
MillionPlus have published their Manifesto entitled; The soaring twenties: investment, innovation and inclusion in UK higher education. They ask parliamentary candidates to commit to six key pledges that will boost the country by embracing, engaging and enhancing what modern universities have to offer to students and the economy. Key Pledges:
- Increase current levels of investment in line with inflation and guarantee sustainable resourcing for universities to provide world-leading education for students
- Restore maintenance grants for students from lower income backgrounds
- Reform the student visa system to attract global talent to study across the UK
- Invest 3% of GDP in research and innovation to boost our national productivity
- Improve student financial support so mature and part-time students can better access higher education in a way that works for them
- Recognise modern universities as being at the heart of technical education and pivotal providers for a skilled public service workforce
The British Academy has published a Manifesto for the Humanities and Social Sciences setting out 6 priorities for the Government to tackle. It includes supporting a sustainable HE sector and highlights that skilled arts, humanities and social science graduates fuel the service sector (80% of the economy) and asks for a funding system which maintains the breadth of subjects at both FE and HE. You can read the other priorities such a research environment and global talent here.
The final word
And the Institute for Fiscal Studies are warning the main parties about their ambitious spending pledges being made during this election campaign. Lord Gus O’Donnell, President of the Institute for Fiscal Studies, spoke on BBC R4 Today to explain that spending pledges could only be met by increased taxes. He said:
- “When you look at the big capital spending increases – it’s about £50bn for Labour, £20bn for the Conservatives – do we have the capacity? The civil servants who are writing their briefing packs for the incoming ministers for various parties will be thinking, ‘well what could you spend this on’? ‘What’s, as it were, shovel ready? Will you get good value for money if you rush at it this quickly?’ So I think there’ll be lots of bottlenecks.”
Pay Gap: Thursday was Equal Pay Day where, due to the 13.1% pay gap, women have (on average) effectively stopped earning for the rest of the year. The Fawcett Society have launched a campaign today “right to know” which would allow women the right to have access to equivalent male counterparts salary details. They have a Bill drafted and will be pushing for MPs to introduce it in the new Parliament. The Lib Dems have also pledged to compel large companies to publish data on employment demographics for gender, BAME and LGBT employees.
Labour have pledged to eradicate the gender pay gap by 2030 through measures such as fines for organisations that fail to report on the subject, and by extending the reporting requirement from firms with 250 or more employees to those with more than 50.
Value for Money: HEPI have a new blog by Sir Nigel Carrington (VC, University of the Arts, London) on the multifaceted nature of value for money in degree provision. While this is a topic where we’ve regularly heard all the arguments this is a nice simple blog that brings the points together.
Multi-skilled engineers: IMechE have published an article, Adapt or Perish, on the growing trend (and challenge) of multidisciplinary engineering teams. The changing job market and AI revolution is creating a need for engineers to be technically fluent in a wider range of areas alongside collaboration and problem solving skills. Early-career engineers stated that they left university without skills such as coding and augmented reality, and that their degrees were often out of sync with the future needs of the industry.
The article states that embracing life-long learning will become a way of life for engineers at all career stages as new, disruptive technologies come into play. However, the research suggested that there is currently a mismatch between what higher education is delivering at masters level and what industry actually needs.
Italian or Chips?: This week’s best read has to be the (statistically modelled) article demonstrating how the Brexit leave / remain voting significantly correlates with the dominant type of fast food restaurant in the constituency area. Fish and Chips correlate with a leave vote, Italian with a remain. Without spoiling the amusement factor it is worth noting that Fish and Chips dominant constituencies also tend to be less diverse, and that the influence of holding a degree trumps all culinary effects. Worth a look at the map just to see the startlingly regional patterns in takeaway preference!
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Yesterday saw the latest publication based on Bournemouth University (BU) migration research. The international journal BMC Public Health published our quantitative paper ‘Psychological morbidity in Nepali cross-border migrants in India: a community based cross-sectional study’ . This scientific article highlights that since Nepali migrants can freely cross the border with India and hence work and stay there, they are largely undocumented. The majority of these Nepali migrant workers is involved in semi-skilled or unskilled jobs with limited labour rights and social security, which predisposes them to psychological distress. The paper assessed the prevalence of and factors associated with psychological morbidity among Nepali migrants upon their return from India.
Just a few days ago the UN Migration Agency in Nepal IOM (International Organization for Migration) published ‘Research on the Health Vulnerabilities of the Cross-Border Migrants from Nepal‘, an online report to which BU academics (Aryal, Regmi & van Teijlingen) had contributed . Just recently we had published the qualitative sister paper on Nepali migrants working and living in India. . Whilst Dr. Nirmal Aryal was the lead author on a paper highlighting the need for more research specifically focusing on adolescents left behind by migrant workers . Earlier this year BU PhD graduate Dr. Pratik Adhikary published his latest paper from his thesis, the paper is called ‘Workplace accidents among Nepali male workers in the Middle East and Malaysia: A qualitative study’ and was published in the Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health .
Last year was also a very good year for BU migration research, including a systematic review on sex trafficking (perhaps the worst kind of migrant workers) , an earlier research paper by Dr. Adhikary with his PhD supervisors , and one paper on Nepali female migrants workers in the Middle-East & Malaysia . Earlier BU academics published on general health issues and accidents among Nepali migrant workers in Malaysia, Qatar & Saudi Arabia [9-10], Nepali migrants in the UK [11-12] , other papers included: a call for action on Public Health ; a systematic review ; a paper on migrant workers’ spouses ; migrant health workers in the UK [16-17]; migration and tourism industry [18-20]; migrants and space in Italy [21-22]; an anthropological perspective on migration ; a media studies’ perspective ; and archaeological perspective ; and a socio-economic perspective . No doubt there are several other publications I have forgotten or I am simply unaware missed in this list.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health
- Dhungana, R.R., Aryal, N, Adhikary, P., KC, R., Regmi, P.R., et al. (2019) Psychological morbidity in Nepali cross-border migrants in India: A community-based cross-sectional, BMC Public Health 19:1534
- International Organization for Migration (2019) Research on the Health Vulnerabilities of the Cross-Border Migrants from Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal: International Organization for Migration.
- Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E., Mahato, P., Aryal, N., Jadhav, N., Simkhada, P., Syed Zahiruddin, Q., Gaidhane, A., (2019) The health of Nepali migrants in India: A qualitative study of lifestyles and risks, Journal of Environmental Research & Public Health 16(19), 3655; doi:10.3390/ijerph16193655.
- Aryal, N., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Mahat, P. (2019) Adolescents left behind by migrant workers: a call for community-based mental health interventions in Nepal. WHO South East Asia Journal of Public Health 8(1): 38-41.
- Adhikary P, van Teijlingen E., Keen S. (2019) Workplace accidents among Nepali male workers in the Middle East and Malaysia: A qualitative study, Journal of Immigrant & Minority Health 21(5): 1115–1122. https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10903-018-0801-y
- Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E., Sharma, A., Bissell, P., Poobalan, A., Wasti, S.P. (2018) Health consequences of sex trafficking: A systematic review, Journal of Manmohan Memorial Institute of Health Sciences, 4(1): 130-149.
- Adhikary P, Sheppard, Z., Keen S., van Teijlingen E. (2018) Health and well-being of Nepalese migrant workers abroad, International Journal of Migration, Health & Social Care 14(1): 96-105. https://doi.org/10.1108/IJMHSC-12-2015-0052
- 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 & Malaysia, BMC International Health & Human Rights 18(4): 1-7. http://rdcu.be/E3Ro
- Adhikary, P, Sheppard, Z., Keen, S., van Teijlingen, E. (2017) Risky work: accidents among Nepalese migrant workers in Malaysia, Qatar & Saudi Arabia, Health Prospect 16(2): 3-10.
- Adhikary P., Keen S., van Teijlingen E (2011) Health Issues among Nepalese migrant workers in Middle East. Health Science Journal 5: 169-75. www.hsj.gr/volume5/issue3/532.pdf
- Adhikary, P., Simkhada, P.P., van Teijlingen E., Raja, AE. (2008) Health & Lifestyle of Nepalese Migrants in the UK BMC International Health & Human Rights 8(6). Web address: www.biomedcentral.com/1472-698X/8/6
- van Teijlingen E, Simkhada, P., Adhikary, P. (2009) Alcohol use among the Nepalese in the UK BMJ Rapid Response: www.bmj.com/cgi/eletters/339/oct20_1/b4028#223451
- Aryal, N., Regmi, PR., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Adhikary, P., Bhatta, YKD., Mann, S. (2016) Injury and Mortality in Young Nepalese Migrant Workers: A Call for Public Health Action. Asian-Pacific Journal of Public Health 28(8): 703-705.
- Simkhada, PP., Regmi, PR., van Teijlingen, E., Aryal, N. (2017) Identifying the gaps in Nepalese migrant workers’ health & well-being: A review of the literature, Journal of Travel Medicine 24 (4): 1-9.
- Aryal, N., Regmi, PR., van Teijlingen, E., Dhungel, D., Ghale, G., Bhatta, GK. (2016) Knowing is not enough: Migrant workers’ spouses vulnerability to HIV SAARC Journal of Tuberculosis, Lung Diseases & HIV/AIDS 8(1):9-15.
- Scammell, J., 2016. Nurse migration and the EU: how are UK nurses prepared? British Journal of Nursing, 25 (13), p. 764.
- Sapkota, T., Simkhada, P., van Teijlingen, E. (2014) Nepalese health workers’ migration to United Kingdom: A qualitative study. Health Science Journal 8(1):57-74.
- Janta, H., Ladkin, A., Brown, L., Lugosi, P., 2011. Employment experiences of Polish migrant workers in the UK hospitality sector. Tourism Management, 32 (5): 1006-1019.
- Dwyer, L., Seetaram, N., Forsyth, P., Brian, K. (2014) Is the Migration-Tourism Relationship only about VFR? Annals of Tourism Research, 46: 130-143.
- Filimonau, V., Mika, M. (2017) Return labour migration: an exploratory study of Polish migrant workers from the UK hospitality industry. Current Issues in Tourism, 1-22.
- De Martini Ugolotti, N., 2016. ‘If I climb a wall of ten meters’: capoeira, parkour and the politics of public space among (post)migrant youth in Turin, Italy. Patterns of Prejudice, 50 (2), 188-206.
- De Martini Ugolotti, N., 2015. Climbing walls, making bridges: children of immigrants’ identity negotiations through capoeira and parkour in Turin. Leisure Studies, 34 (1), 19-33.
- Mai, N., Schwandner-Sievers, S. (2003) Albanian migration and new transnationalisms, Journal of Ethnic & Migration Studies 29(6): 939-948.
- Marino, S., Dawes, S., 2016. Fortress Europe: Media, Migration and Borders. Networking Knowledge, 9 (4).
- Parker Pearson, M., Richards, C., Allen, M., Payne, A. & Welham, K. (2004) The Stonehenge Riverside project Research design and initial results Journal of Nordic Archaeological Science 14: 45–60.
- Chowdhury, M., 2014. Migration, Human Capital Formation and the Beneficial Brain Drain Hypothesis: A Note. Migration & Development, 3 (2), 174-180.
Last week the IOM (International Organization for Migration) in Nepal, the UN Migration Agency published a new report online: Research on the Health Vulnerabilities of the Cross-Border Migrants from Nepal. This report mentioned the input and advice of Bournemouth University (BU) staff, including Dr. Nirmal Aryal, who worked on the report prior to his appointment at BU and who is listed as Co-Investigator, furthermore listed as Resource Persons are: Dr. Pramod Regmi and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen. Working with the charity Green Tara Nepal (GTN) on this study has been good for IOM and BU. All of use have worked on the report in different kind of ways and to different degrees. The publication suggested a corporate authorship as ‘International Organization for Migration’, which is great for the status of the report as it is a UN agency. We feel part of this as BU academics and feel we are part of the team despite this not being a BU publication!
Professor Edwin van Teijlingen
International Organization for Migration (2019) Research on the Health Vulnerabilities of the Cross-Border Migrants from Nepal, Kathmandu, Nepal: International Organization for Migration. Available at : https://nepal.iom.int/sites/default/files/publication/Research_on_The_Health_Vulnerabilities_of_The_Cross_Border_Migrants_from_Nepal_0.pdf
Professor Ann Hemingway and Dr Katey Collins will be sharing their latest research at a lunchtime seminar session on Wednesday (13th November). All are very welcome to attend. The session will run from 1:15 – 2:00 in B321, Bournemouth House. Please feel free to bring your lunch.
A balanced diet is essential for good health. In 2003, the World Health Organisation launched a global campaign to promote fruit and vegetable consumption well-known as the five-a-day mantra. Despite the clear health benefits and prominent media campaigns, still only one in ten children, and less than a third of adults consume this much.
Dietary habits are shaped at a young age and behaviours established in childhood persist through later life. As such, exposure to vegetables at a young age is instrumental to their acceptance and consumption.
VeggiEAT and Veg+ projects led by Prof. Heather Hartwell (FoM) have researched factors related to increased vegetable consumption, and the team were excited to share this research with school children in the local community as part of this week’s ESRC Festival of Social Science.
Hosted by Hill View Primary school, we spent Wednesday afternoon with 90 year 3 pupils (7-8 year olds), discussing how great vegetables are for our health and the planet. The children’s enthusiasm was at times deafening when we conducted a ‘Do you know your vegetables’ quiz using Turning Point handsets! Children were asked to taste some common vegetables in a variety of preparations (raw, cooked, baked) and many were surprised that vegetables they thought they didn’t like they actually did when prepared in a different way. ESRC Festival of Social Science funding provided gardening equipment, and every child was able to plant a broad bean seed and will be able to follow its germination and growth through to harvest in the Summer. Finally, the children did some ‘vegetable art’, designing a sign for their new ‘allotment’. We will get the best designs professionally printed and are looking forward to returning to the school in December to present these signs and see how their seedlings are growing.
The event was a great opportunity to see first-hand the impact that our research can have and has already led to discussions around the development of the next research research grant application, to further our understanding of the most effective interventions to increase children’s acceptance and consumption of vegetables.
Our interdisciplinary team included Dr Jeff Bray and Natalia Lavrushkina (FoM); Dr Fiona Cownie (FMC); Prof. Katherine Appleton (FST); Matt Fancy (RDS) and Clare Dunn from the Schools Liaison Team
We will have a seminar session with the guest lecture, Dr Sachiyo Kwakami (Fukui University, Japan) on the 27th November. This session will be held as a Skype meeting at EB206.
Dr Kawakami is a PostDoc researcher who is specialised in the field of ’Consensus Building in communities, and she has been working on the research projects on ‘Learning and collaborative problem solving attitudes’ in Fukui area.
During this session, we will discuss ‘potential functions of a community and citizens’ collaboration’ and the impact of ‘collaborative work as the management platform’ to contribute to the local issue solving (e.g., problem recognition of high-radio active waste disposal and how to support marginal settlements in the deprived area).
This session will provide unique topics in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as ‘Goal 3: Good Health and Well-being’, ‘Goal 9: Sustainable Cities and Communities’ and ‘Goal 17: Partnerships for the Goals’.
This session also aligns with BU2025 strategic investment areas (SIAs), Simulation & Visualisation and Assistive Technology.
The BU ECRs, PhD researchers, and MSc students are welcome to this session.
The session will be facilitated by Dr Hiroko Oe with a contributor, Mr. Gideon Adu-Gyamfi (MSc International Management).
*For more details, please email to firstname.lastname@example.org😇
- 11 November 2019 at 2pm
- 15 November 2019 at 11am
Please note the links won’t be active until just before the starting time.
Your local branch of the NIHR RDS (Research Design Service) is based within the BU Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU) on the 5th floor of Royal London House.
We can help with your application. We advise on all aspects of developing an application and can review application drafts as well as put them to a mock funding panel (run by RDS South West) known as Project Review Committee, which is a fantastic opportunity for researchers to obtain a critical review of a proposed grant application before this is sent to a funding body.
Come as early as possible to benefit fully from the advice
Feel free to pop in and see us in person, call us on 61939 or send us an email.
Background call for evidence:
Life span has increased over recent decades, but health span, the period of time people live in good health, has generally not kept pace, and so older people are living longer with ill health. This increased duration of ill health, both physical and psychological, and often compounded by loneliness, can be challenging for individuals; and the increasing number of people affected is placing pressure on health services and social care, threatening to overwhelm the funding mechanisms, and failing those in need.
Increasing health span has been adopted as a policy objective by the UK Government in the Industrial Strategy’s “Ageing Society” Grand Challenge, which aims to ensure that people can enjoy at least five extra healthy, independent years of life by 2035. This House of Lords inquiry will seek to determine whether the Government’s ambition to increase health span is achievable in principle, and which approaches may be most successful in practice.
Interdisciplinary research is at the heart of our BU2025 strategic plan, and moving into a new role can offer opportunities to work with others. The call for from the House of Lords Science and Technology Healthy Ageing Committee enabled me to partner with a new colleague, and for us to both think about our disciplines in different ways. Taking the ideas we discussed for submitting written evidence, we are now in the process of applying to a charity for a funded PhD student to take the work forward.
BU policy team
Interdisciplinary written submissions to the Committee kept our BU policy advisors, Jane Forster and Sarah Carter busy! BU researchers Katherine Appleton, Samuel Nyman, Debbie Holley and Vanessa Heaslip all submitted evidence.
Dr Samuel Nyman, Department of Medical Sciences and Public Health,
A multidisciplinary approach to promote physical activity and exercise among older people
Dr Samuel Nyman is a leading researcher on preventing falls and promoting physical activity among older people. With a background in health psychology, his interests include the use of behaviour change techniques to promote exercise among older people and people with dementia. Dr Nyman was consulted for his expertise by Haringey Council in October 2016, for his input into the council’s Physical Activity for Older People Scrutiny Review. This directly led to recommendations that were agreed by the council.
This evidence is submitted in response to the government’s call, so that policy makers are aware of the need for a multidisciplinary perspective for promoting physical activity and preventing falls. This will include the use of psychological knowledge on behaviour change but also the expertise of others including urban planners to make environments more conducive for physical activity among older people.
His evidence can be read here:
Professor Katherine Appleton
Professor Katherine Appleton is a Chartered Psychologist and Registered Nutritionist. She has researched human eating behaviour since 1998, with a special interest in the older population since 2006. Much of her research focuses on the optimisation of human health and well-bring in the normal population considering nutrition, physical activity and their impact on behaviour.
Her evidence can be read here:
Professor Debbie Holley and Associate Professor Vanessa Heaslip
In our submission, we reflected on the role of technology in healthy ageing, and suggested some ‘tech’ futures areas for consideration.
Technologies to provide a solution for loneliness (e.g. the virtual tea party) and virtual health care can provide efficiencies for the NHS as well as improved access for marginalised communities. However, key barriers are the spread and access to technology (especially rural communities) the skill set (and costs) necessary for the ageing population to engage with this technology, alongside the upskilling of the current NHS workforce to work virtually need careful consideration. Some barriers can be directly addressed by Government 5G and NHS workforce priorities; there is a clear role for charities; other barriers will need universities and industry to work together to engage with agile and rapid prototyping and testing. The methods of procurement need to be revisited, currently excellent SMEs are filtered out – working across with the Department of Business could provide ways of supporting innovation. Further work with experts is needed to invest in effective scaling solutions across the sector, and learning from examples/solutions/suggestions are contained in the text below. More of the same is not going enable the huge changes that demographic pressures are bringing to bear on an already stretched NHS; and work of effective data capture is needed to identify and bring the policy makers lens onto those belonging to marginalised groups.
The link to our full evidence submission here:
So an extension (or flextension) to article 50 has been granted, no-one has died in a ditch and a general election has been called for 12th December. So now what? It is all up to the electorate.
And 10 of the 21 Tory rebels have been reinstated and can stand as Conservative candidates in the election.
New PhDs: BEIS and CDMS have announced investment in new PhDs and researchers as part of a £370 million pledge to transform healthcare, improve mental health diagnosis and build more sustainable transport. Government and private investment means 2,700 new PhD places split between biosciences and AI will be created.
£200 million will fund 1,000 new PhD places over the next 5 years to study AI which they suggest could help diagnose life threatening diseases like cancer earlier and make industries, including aviation and automotive, more sustainable. The students will work with businesses including AstraZeneca, Google, Rolls-Royce and NHS Trusts.
£170 million will fund 1,700 places to study PhDs in biosciences. These projects are intended to help to tackle issues such as feeding the world’s growing population, developing renewable, low-carbon sources of energy, and helping people stay healthier for longer.
- PM Boris Johnson said: “The UK has educated, trained and developed some of the best scientists in the world – and we must continue to lead the world in AI and technology with our incredible talent and innovative breakthroughs. That’s why we’re investing millions of pounds to create hundreds of new AI and bioscience PhDs, so new research and development can thrive here in the UK and solve the biggest challenges that face us – from climate change to better healthcare.”
- Digital Minister Matt Warman said: “The UK has a long-standing reputation for innovation. We are the birthplace of artificial intelligence and home to technology pioneers such as Alan Turing and Ada Lovelace. We are determined to see this continue. “Today we are announcing a bumper investment in skills training to strengthen our workforce and attract, nurture and retain the best talent so we can lead the world in research and development. AI is already being used to improve lives by helping detect fraud quicker and diagnose diseases more accurately. With the brightest minds at the helm we will be able to explore this cutting-edge technology further.”
Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore also confirmed the first 5 AI Turing Fellowships. The projects include the impact of digital technologies on mental health and building a sustainable aviation industry. (Link – scroll to bottom to view details on the projects and 5 Fellows from Cambridge, Exeter, Oxford, Warwick and Manchester.) The Minister also called for further top, international academic talent to join these researchers, with £37.5 million in further funding available.
- “The government is investing £13 million in innovative Postgraduate programmes, so more people can develop fruitful careers in AI. The new AI conversion courses will allow 2,500 more people to study AI from backgrounds other than science or maths at undergraduate level. This also includes 1,000 new scholarships for people from underrepresented backgrounds, including women, ethnic minorities and low-income families.
- Leading technology companies like Accenture, DeepMind, QuantumBlack and Amplyfi, are already sponsoring AI Masters students. The new courses will help build-up a highly skilled workforce in the UK and provide new opportunities for industry and universities to collaborate, ensuring new innovations are transforming industries”
[More detail on the sponsorship of the Industrial AI Masters is at the bottom of this link.]
Select Committees regularly quiz Ministers on their departmental business. This week Chris Skidmore, Universities Minister. was questioned. Here are the key excerpts:
Carol Monaghan MP highlighted the Royal Society report (published last week) which suggested the number of applications to Horizon 2020 had dropped by 40%.
Skidmore responded that said the baseline by which this figure was compared to, was debatable, saying that whilst there was a significant reduction, the UK still gained substantially more grants than the next three countries (Spain, France and Italy) on the list.
Vicky Ford MP asked if associate membership of Horizon Europe was still the government’s preferred option post-Brexit.
Skidmore said that whilst the government (Treasury) formally wanted to assess the value for money case when the project appeared (which he said would be some time next year), his personal view was that Horizon Europe was the future of collaboration for British science. He also disagreed with the Chair’s comments that others in government were less enthusiastic about Horizon Europe collaboration than he was and stated that, in particular, the prime minister was supportive. Although he went on to state, it would be prudent to prepare for a situation where the UK was not part of Horizon Europe. In response to a further question (the target date as to when certainty on Horizon Europe would be reached) Skidmore said it depended on the European Parliament agreeing the overall financial budgets, which could happen as late as Q2 of 2020.
The Minister was asked when the Smith Review on future frameworks for international research collaboration would be published, and how quickly findings could be implemented. Skidmore said he was still discussing final timings for publication but hoped it would be published within the next four weeks. He explained that while it had been submitted in August as it has potentially significant spending implications there was a need to attach it to a budgetary process. He continued that a working group was attempting to ensure all recommendations were possible, including alternatives even if associate membership of Horizon Europe isn’t achieved.
You may remember that when Boris Johnson appointed his brother Jo to the Universities Minister post he was permitted to attend Cabinet. However, this attendance was passed to another Minister when Chris Skidmore took over. The Chair asked Skidmore if he felt the lack of a Cabinet position was downgrading his position. Skidmore diplomatically responded that whilst he would like to attend Cabinet, he noted the prime minister and Dominic Cummings were both highly supportive of science in government.
Stephen Metcalfe MP asked why the Queen’s Speech had suggested an ‘ARPA-style’ funding mechanism, at the expense of UKRI. Skidmore replied that there was still going to be a significant uplift in the science budget, on which UKRI would be the main beneficiary. However that there were also a number of bodies outside of the UKRI model, which he described as a catalyst’ and ‘engine of disruption’ focused on blue-sky research. He added that an ARPA-style model would be a significant addition to the overall funding landscape and that given its focus it would have to sit outside UKRI, to distinguish itself from traditional grant-led application processes. How much money it would have and when it would be established, were all to be decided and the Minister stated there would be a full sectoral consultation before decisions were made around a new ARPA body.
On Tier 1 fast-track visas – the system is in design and any scheme would be implemented in Jan 2021 within the context of the wider points-based system. Furthermore it would be multi-disciplinary e.g. social science as well as STEM. He stated he was not aware of any Government plans to restrict the scheme to non-STEM subjects.
Lastly, on longer degrees which would outstay the three-year temporary leave to remain visa and require a move to a tier 4 visa mid-course the Minister confirmed he had personally written to the Home Secretary to highlight this issue, which may put off international students. However, he has yet to receive a reply from the Home Secretary.
Erasmus – work on a UK-wide scheme has begun, but this would focus on UK students going out rather than EU students coming in (which would have to be determined bilaterally).
An MP raised that the Government’s target to increase research and development spending to 2.4% was not backed up by a firm plan to achieve this. Skidmore responded that the government was working towards a long-term funding plan for science and the pathway to 2.4% would be informed by the Smith Review and UKRI reports. When questioned when firm plans would be available, Skidmore said this was a “live topic” and said BEIS was working with Treasury to develop a funding envelope, with the goal of producing a pathway to 2.4% by “this autumn“.
The questions also covered data-sharing post Brexit (e.g. withdrawal from GDPR) and commenting on the new Aryton Fund Skidmore stated it would cover clean tech and business strategies for climate mitigation in developing countries (and that it was new money on top of the existing budget).
Tuition fees – Chair, Norman Lamb MP, asked if there were any plans to cut HE tuition fees (following Augar’s report) with Universities concerned about reductions to research funding if there is a fee cut. Skidmore replied that the government was still considering the review, and decisions would only be taken when the next Spending Review took place. Adding that if there was any fee reduction, he would strongly make the case that a “way to compensate for that” would have to be found.
New research from the Higher Education Statistics Agency and Warwick University shows a reduction in the ‘graduate premium’. The project analysed how the financial return to a degree has changed across two decades in which there has been a large expansion in higher education participation. The research found that graduates born in 1990 earned 11% more than non-graduates at age 26, compared to the 19% graduate premium enjoyed by graduates born in 1970. The research examined the hourly pay and found the impact was most significant on those born after 1987.
Follow up research is planned to examine cohorts born after 1990 to determine whether the reduction is a short-term dip or the beginning of a more general decline. They also plan to continue the study examining earnings as graduates progress through their careers. This is because graduates tend to grow their earning potential more sharply over time compared to non-graduates.
The research partnership also intends to examine financial return by class of degree awarded following the grade inflation debate in future work.
This research is a statistical study and when you read the full report it is unclear if national factors have been fully accounted for despite the carefully controlled analysis. First, there is the impact of the recessions on students graduating within the selected period. Previous national research suggests that graduating in times of recession may permanently damage an individual’s earning prospects. Secondly, there is no mention of the current context of intergenerational fairness – that the younger generations will not have it as ‘easy’ or ‘good’ as older generations in terms of housing and job security. There is also the potential, given the Government’s agenda to get more people into or returning to work and the recent benefits reforms which have led to reduced employment, that more women are entering the workplace (with women receiving 9-12% less in the pay gap compared to men). Plus this finding is set within a national context of stalling social mobility and increased levels in the number of children in poverty. Alongside this more disadvantaged students are accessing HE, with findings that while HE helps they do still have an earnings gap compared to their more advantaged peers on graduation.
While these are current issues, and more recent than the cohorts the study examines, the social inequalities leading to these current topics were brewing (just less prominent) in the years studied. For example, there were more graduates from less disadvantaged backgrounds with greater social capital and class earning potential than in more recent years. A careful read of the full study is important before drawing conclusions solely based on HE expansion, particularly given the Government’s agenda on oversupply of graduates doing non-graduate level roles and the financial investment an individual makes to study at degree level now.
On the study Tej Nathwani, econometrician at HESA stated:
- “Whilst the benefits of a degree are not solely financial, higher education remains a significant investment decision for young people. Changes in fees and funding have resulted in increased reliance on student loans, which are now treated differently in public sector finances. Consequently, graduate earnings continue to be an important area of research in higher education. This study adds to the available information about the financial benefits that individual students can expect from a degree. We hope to explore this area further in forthcoming years, as new data is released into the public domain.”
Hate, harassment and misconduct
OfS Chief Exec Nicola Dandridge has blogged about the devastating impact that harassment, hate crime, and sexual misconduct can have on students, and the OfS’s role in driving improved prevention and support. The blog covers the history from the 2010 NUS report to the sector’s work in this field (UUK’s taskforce and Changing the Culture report) concluding that while progress has been made more needs to be done to achieve the necessary culture change. Nicola sees the OfS role as galvanising change – by raising the profile of this issue, targeting funding to address it and sharing effective practice across the sector (alongside intervening if HE provisions are likely to breach registration). The blog goes on to highlight the £10 million student safeguarding catalyst fund which has spawned 119 projects (reports here) focussed on sexual harassment, online harassment, hate crime (including religious hate crime).
The OfS blog was in response to the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s (EHRC) report following their inquiry into racial harassment in HE. The Commission states:
- Our inquiry report Tackling racial harassment: universities challengedhas revealed that with racial harassment occurring at an alarmingly high rate across British universities, many Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) are not only unaware of the scale of the issue but are overconfident in their ability to handle it.
- The inquiry found that 24% of ethnic minority students have experienced racial harassment on campus.
- Universities are over confident that individuals will report harassment, with 43% of universities believing that every incident of racial harassment against students was reported, and 56% believing that all incidents against staff were reported. However, two thirds of students who responded to our survey and had experienced racial harassment said that they had not reported the incident to their university. Less than half of all staff who responded to our call for evidence because they had experienced racial harassment, said that they had reported it to their university. Students and staff suggested that they did not come forward about their experiences because they had no confidence that the incident would be addressed. Others said that fear of reprisals also played a part, as two thirds of staff said that better protection from personal repercussions would have made it easier for them to bring a complaint.
- Despite universities being keen to encourage international students to choose their courses, the research unearthed a strong theme of international students feeling unwelcome, isolated and vulnerable. Some even described feeling like commodities and only wanted for the fees that they bring. Half of the international students who responded to our call for evidence because they had experienced racial harassment, said that they had been made to feel excluded, over half said they had experienced racial micro aggressions, and 44% said they had experienced racist abuse, but 77% of respondents did not report it to the university.
The report notes that 8% of student experiencing racial harassment felt suicidal, and 1 in 20 dropped out because of the harassment, with 3 in 20 staff members leaving their jobs due to harassment.
The report recommends:
- mandatory duty on employers: the UK Government must reinstate third party harassment protections and introduce a mandatory duty on employers to increase protections for staff from harassment
- adequate powers for regulators: governments across Britain should ensure the sector regulator and funding councils have adequate powers and that these are used to hold universities to account on their performance to prevent and tackle harassment
- effective complaints procedures: higher education providers must enable students and staff to report harassment and ensure their complaints procedures are fit for purpose and offer effective redress
- senior-level action on inclusive cultures: senior leaders should take steps to embed an inclusive culture where staff and students feel confident and supported when making complaints.
The report has led to several MPs asking parliamentary questions on abuse this week (both of below are due for answer after this policy update is issued – the links provided will show the response once it has been published).
Q – Mr Jim Cunningham: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Minister is taking to ensure that universities investigate all complaints made by students and staff about racism at universities.
Q – Steve McCabe: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps the Government is taking to protect university staff from racial abuse.
Q – Paul Farrelly: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of the implications for his policies of the Equality and Human Rights Commission’s report entitled, Tackling harassment: universities challenged; and what steps he is taking to ensure that university staff receive adequate training to deal effectively with racial harassment.
Extending prison sentences and being tough on crime are two of PM Boris Johnson’s priorities. Interestingly, there is already a Lords’ inquiry into how conditions in prison were not designed for the increasing numbers of older people now incarcerated, and the problems this is causing. In addition, this week HEPI published a policy note urging politicians to reconsider the barrier which prevents inmates from accessing student loans to undertake HE study until they are within six years of release. The note argues that HE study calms the fractious prison environment, and that the studying prisoners become role models, in addition that HE study reduces the likelihood of reoffending.
Private Members’ Bills
Two weeks ago (see page 2 of link) we mentioned the Common’s Private Members Bills (PMB) and highlighted that they are a way for individuals to make legislation on matters dear to their hearts.
The following MPs were successful in the ballot to table a PMB:
- Nigel Mills (Conservative, Amber Valley) As the number one in the PMB lottery, Nigel Mills will be very much in demand from a variety of groups vying his attention. However, as someone who has wedded himself closely to the new regime in Downing Street, it is likely that Mills will find his favourable ballot position used for a Government sponsored Bill. Mills may still request an area for which he has an interest, however. As a long-term backbencher, he is prominent on a number of All-Party Parliamentary Groups and his position on APPGs for both Dementia and Pensions could hint at something concerning elderly groups. Alternatively, he could continue his long-held focus on tax issues – prior to his election to Parliament Mills was an accountant and he maintained an interest in the area in the time since.
- John Stevenson (Conservative, Carlisle)
- Annelise Dodds (Labour, Oxford East) – Dodds has a wide range of issues she focuses on in Parliament: ranging from taxation; welfare and inequality; to foreign affairs and climate change. She is a firm opponent of a no deal Brexit. Her recent questions in Parliament have focussed heavily on energy provision in housing. Dodds has also raised significant concern around the lack of action taken to prevent anti-abortion campaigners from protesting outside clinics. Dodds has focussed on and taxation since her election – particularly the need to tackle tax avoidance, and offshore or dormant companies. Given her brief in the shadow treasury team, it is possible that a PMB might focus on closing loopholes in existing legislation with regards to this.
- Anne Marie Morris (Conservative, Newton Abbot) – Chair of the APPG on Access to Medicine and Medical Devices, Anne Marie Morris has been vocal on issues surrounding health. In June 2017 she won a chance to put forward her own Bill, in the Private Members’ Bill ballot (but was too far down the list) it is possible that she would re-table this Bill which called for the regulation of Physician Associates, and to make it a protected title. She regularly tables questions to the Department of Health and Social Care on the Genomic Healthcare Strategy and accessibility of health services for rural populations. Her She has also campaigned against high water charges in the South West and called for a Government subsidy to help householders with their bills. She has also spoken on flooding, accident and emergency services and transport issues including rural bus services and clamping in private car parks. She voted to relax the smoking ban after the closure of thousands of pubs and clubs. She takes a particular interest in small business. She chaired the All-Party Group on micro-businesses and held office on groups on entrepreneurship, life sciences and flood prevention, as well as local enterprise, first aid and pro-bono work. In the past she initiated a debate urging more government help for micro-businesses.
- Lisa Forbes (Labour, Peterborough) – A relative unknown Lisa only took her Parliamentary seat following a June 2019 by-election. Her interests in her non-political career include the Strong and Supportive Communities Scrutiny Committee, and she campaigned against the closure of local Children and Play Centres as well as residential homes for the elderly. She also worked for Thomas Cook prior to her election to Parliament and has tabled a number of written regarding the collapse of the company and support for employees. Other questions include school uniforms.
- James Brokenshire (Conservative, Old Bexley and Sidcup) – Previously Brokenshire held Government positions for most of his time in Parliament where he has been able to push for including the lifting the housing revenue borrowing cap. Yesterday we spoke during the Queen’s Speech NHS debate about the importance of an early diagnosis when it comes to cancer, which is a personal interest matter. His key interests are violent crime, building safety, domestic abuse and health.
- Sir Vince Cable (Liberal Democrat, Twickenham) – Sir Vince has tweeted he is “inclined” to use his Bill on furthering the debate on assisted dying or lowering the voting age to 16.
- Frank Field (Independent, Birkenhead) – Frank Is the Chair of the Work and Pensions Committee and has used the private members bill mechanism to raise a number of issues in the past including welfare benefits, priority in the housing queue to those with exemplary tenancy record, to automatically register eligible children for free school meals and post-Brexit EU citizens rights. In September 2019 Field used the presentation Bill procedure to introduce a Bill on equality of access to justice. Field said he had wanted to call it “Gina Miller (Poor People’s Access to Courts) Bill” to highlight the differences between the contrast between “poor people waiting to get into benefit appeal tribunals and Gina Miller’s ability to get into court within a week”. Most notable is his longstanding interest in welfare issues. He holds office in several all-party groups in parliament including Conception to Age Two – The First 1001 Days, Listed Properties, Anti-Corruption, Medical Cannabis under Prescription Group, and Young Disabled People.
- Tracey Brabin (Labour, Batley and Spen) – Is the Shadow Minister for early years. She has been calling for legislation to make the reporting of sexual abuse of children and vulnerable adults mandatory across all institutions. She has also previously called for an audit of crime in towns detailing the levels of resolutions in comparison to cities, and for greater transparency on where money is spent. She has also signed an Early Day Motion calling for the Government to bring forward legislation to require companies with more than 250 employees to publish their policies on parental leave and pay. Her political interests are Education, Internet safety, and Parental leave.
- Sir Michael Fallon (Conservative, Sevenoaks) – Ex Defence Secretary is the Vice-Chair of the British Museum APPG and may choose to use his PMB to influence the ongoing debates within the museum sector. Notable topics include the discussion over the potential repatriation of cultural objects and the slashing of public funding available to smaller museums nationwide. Education is one of Sir Michael’s stated interests.
- Damien Moore (Conservative, Southport)
- Anna Turley (Labour, Redcar) – Her priority, which she says is the number one issue on doorsteps, is the lack of jobs in particular for youths. She says there needs to be investment in jobs but also in training and apprenticeships to prepare people for jobs.
- Damian Hinds (Conservative, East Hampshire) – Dods suggest it is difficult to predict what Hinds might table because he was a long-standing minister with his parliamentary time dictated by Government commitments. However, he is interested in the Catholic education sector and the admissions rules that apply to faith free schools. He has also been a longstanding advocate for social mobility, previously chairing the APPG. Since leaving Government he has been vocal on climate change and critical of motorists for leaving engines on outside schools. Hinds was the Secretary of State for Education before Boris made his appointments.
- Preet Kaur Gill (Labour, Birmingham, Edgbaston)
- Kirstene Hair (Conservative, Angus)
- John Woodcock (Independent, Barrow and Furness)
- Caroline Flint (Labour, Don Valley)
- Naz Shah (Labour, Bradford West)- Naz is a disability rights advocate and women’s rights campaigner. She is concerned about domestic abuse especially around services dedicated to women from BAME backgrounds. Another issue she cares about is compelling companies to publish their race pay gap and she could propose a bill to enact that.
- Vicky Ford (Conservative, Chelmsford)
- Jim Fitzpatrick (Labour, Poplar and Limehouse) – With thanks to Dods Political Consultants who have analysed the interests of the MPs successful in the ballot to speculate on the Bill topic they may introduce. Only those relevant to BU’s interest and research have been included.
This week the Lords ballot also took place and two items were listed that are relevant to HE. Lord Storey was selected first and will present the HE Cheating Services Prohibition Bill on Thursday 17 October. Much further down the list is Lord Holmes of Richmond who will present the Unpaid Work Experience (Prohibition) Bill on Wednesday 6 November. Lords Bills are even less likely than those of the Commons to be enshrined in law. Furthermore, the current parliamentary disruption may result in them not even getting off the starting blocks. However, both are topics the Lords have been raising since before the 2017 snap election and the respective Lord seems determined to make a difference and pass legislation on the topic.
This week in our guest blog Sophie Bradfield, SUBU, talks mental health.
There’s been a recent spotlight on mental health following World Mental Health Day last week. In recognition of this, the Department for Education published a report into children and young people’s wellbeing called ‘State of the Nation 2019’. The report looked at children and young people split into two age brackets: 10-15 years old and 16-24 years old. Looking at themes with the data for the older age group, there were overall high levels of life satisfaction however this was in conjunction with a fifth having recently experienced high levels of anxiety. The biggest marker for wellbeing was age; being older was associated with having lower wellbeing (lower average life satisfaction and happiness). Reflecting on other research, this was partly attributed to employment stability, health, family experiences and the quality of friendships. It was also noted that further research could be done into the extent to which decreasing levels of wellbeing with age is linked to biological factors i.e. transitioning into adulthood, or changing social and environmental factors.
Other trends with the older age group (16-24 year olds) found that young women reported higher recent levels of anxiety than young men but also had slightly higher ratings of feeling life was worthwhile than young men. There was also a trend of lower anxiety yet lower life satisfaction in young people from Black/African/Caribbean/Black British backgrounds compared to those young people from white backgrounds however it was noted to interpret this particular trend with caution due to limited comparator sizes.
Looking constructively at how Universities can respond to the recent mental health crisis by creating “safe and supportive environments” to maximise wellbeing, Vice explores a number of recommendations based on consultation with medical professionals, charity workers and other experts including Dr Bridgette Bewick, a psychologist and associate professor in health research at the University of Leeds and Faraz Mughal, a GP in Birmingham and Solihull and clinical fellow in mental health at the Royal College of General Practitioners. Some of these are explored in more detail below along with a quick snapshot of what BU and SUBU currently does in these areas.
Design campuses that support positive wellbeing
Mughal recommends a “campus-wide approach” linking healthy food, exercise and enough sleep to wellbeing. Recommendations for Universities include having food available to students which is nutritious and low cost; accessible exercise on campus; and education around the importance of sleeping well. These are really important staples for wellbeing and BU students often give us feedback about wanting affordable, healthy food and cheap gym membership. These are both things that continue to be worked on by SUBU and BU in response to student feedback.
Develop mindful curriculums
Bewick suggests that University’s look at “how to embed wellbeing into the university curricula”. Specifically, this is around teaching and assessment practices which support positive health and wellbeing as well as future employment. BU’s changes to the 6C policy on Principles of Assessment which SUBU was involved with seek to do just this, underpinned by a ‘principle of assessment for learning rather than assessment of learning’ in line with other good practice in the sector. Student attendance is also no longer linked to attainment, ensuring things such as poor mental health impacting on attendance do not also directly impact on the mark students get.
Don’t keep libraries open 24/7 and Model positive behaviours
Bewick states “we need to ensure people are thinking about how their actions are impacting their wellbeing and mental health. Choice is a positive thing but we need to arm students with the information they need to make informed decisions about how they want to structure and manage their university experience.” This is a really interesting concept as BU students have been calling for 24 hour access to libraries for a long time and we’re not sure imposing restrictions like this is the healthy choice it is framed to be. This seems to be making assumptions around particular working hours being ideal rather than accessible working hours around other time commitments.
Improve living conditions in halls
This is a key issue for the sector at the moment and is not just limited to halls. We’ve all heard the horror stories around the quality of some student accommodation around the UK. In Bournemouth there has been lots of work around the accommodation offerings to students, with new halls being built at Bailey Point for example. Lots of thought is being put into the whole student experience in halls, including alternative and non-alcohol focussed social events. There is however more work to be done around issues with private accommodation.
Teach staff how to talk about mental health problems
The roll-out and support for the Mental Health First Aid programme of training in BU means that over 200 students and staff have been trained (as of May this year). As discussed at the refresher and celebration event in May, it would be fantastic if this number could increase. So many members of BU/SUBU staff present shared stories of how they have used the course to help students and fellow staff members with issues around mental health. Education and conversation on mental health is so important.
Listen to students
Bewick notes the importance of listening to students about the support they receive and how it can be improved. There’s work on this within BU and SUBU but with fewer students declaring whether they have a mental health issue to their University (see ‘The New Realists’ Unite report) perhaps changes to the NSS can help with this. The Office for Students has announced this week that they are exploring new survey questions in the NSS to look at student mental health and wellbeing provisions. Consultation on shaping the NSS ‘for the future’ can be expected in spring 2020.
Inquiries and Consultations
Demographic leap: We are all aware of the current demographic dip impacting on recruitment of students, however, birth rates have risen and a demographic spike is expected by 2030. Wonkhe have a new blog by NEON’s Director examining the spike and how it won’t impact on all regions equally. For example, the South West will have the fourth biggest rise with a project 21% change in the number of 18 years old in 2030 and the northern regions will see the least growth. In the article, the author argues that students tend to study in their own region or the one closest to it so the uneven spike will have recruitment implications. It also notes that increases in entering HE are being driven by those from BAME backgrounds. It highlights that London and the South East (which have the biggest regional growth in birth rates) will experience infrastructure pressure and the diversity of students will mean universities need to work harder to ensure students get the rich experience needed. On disadvantage the blog states:
- There is a silver lining for access as the areas of lowest participation also tend to be the areas where 18 year-olds will increase the least making it, in theory, easier than it could have been to achieve their target to eliminate the geographical gaps in access and student success within 20 years. What demographic changes risk doing though is further divide an already divided system. The crisis that some may experience in coping with the demand for higher education will be one others may look on with envy, as their growth is far more modest.
It is worth reading the comments at the end of the blog as commenters quibble the figures. Although the overall nuance is the same, the alternative figures do predict smaller growth for the South West region.
UTCs: The Council for the Defence of British Universities has a blog on why the set up and comparisons made of University technical colleges is causing them to fail.
Adult Skills and Lifelong Learning: The House of Lords Education Select Committee considered the state of the UK adult education sector and the reduction in available provision over the last 20 years. Read a summary prepared by Dods here. The session specifically mentions the ‘total eradication of adult education departments in universities’.
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We would like to invite you to the next research seminar for the Centre for Games and Music Technology Research.
Title: Researching “Scored Out”: a portable testimony to Vasilishki for 3 musicians
Speaker: Dr Thomas Gardner (London College of Communication)
Date: Wednesday 13 November 2019
Room: F204 (Fusion Building)
Abstract: The project aims to research, realise and publicly stage a performance environment inspired by the complex memories of the town Vasilichki, a Jewish shtetl in Belarus erased by the Nazi’s in 1942.
The talk will discuss the multi-faceted research process and the challenges of integrating biographical, historical and aesthetic viewpoints – work which not only engages with history but also, to some extent, rewrites it.
The work draws on a personal archive of correspondence from the town and critically engages with the synagogue tradition of cantillation and pre-20th century German music to create hybrid scores. These will re-configure the encounters between the two cultures and, through new listening, mediate the legacy of trauma.
Further information can be found here: https://scoredout.home.blog
We hope to see you there!
Bournemouth University (Principal investigator- Janet Scammell) and Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (RBCH) recently collaborated on a Burdett Trust for Nursing funded research project (Making TRACS to improve nurse retention) on improving nurse retention. One of the main findings of this collaborative research project was what helps keep nurses in the workplace. The main factors that impact on nurse retention are Transition periods in one’s life, Resilience to cope with stressful situations, Authentic leadership as role models, Commitment of the organisation, and Support of a nurse’s health and wellbeing. Using these main concepts, we developed an infographic to present the findings of our research to enable an improvement in nurse retention.
Here is a glimpse, but you can click on the link below for the full pdf!
FOM academics from the department of Marketing, Strategy and Innovation presented their work at the International Conference for Marketing in the Insurance Industry (ICMI) held in Paris. This conference attracted an international audience of insurance specialists including academics, practitioners and industry consultants.
Dr Julie Robson presented two joint papers. The first examined the negative impact of brand spillover in the financial services sector on individual U.K. based insurance companies and was co-authored with Prof Jillian Farquhar from Solent University/University of Pretoria. The second paper detailed research conducted in France on how multi-channels can destroy (rather than create) customer value. This paper was co-authored with Prof Illaria Dalla Pozza from IPAG, Paris and Prof Jillian Farquhar.
FoM doctoral student, Ella Ejime also presented her research on psychological distance. Her results compared consumer perceptions in the UK and Nigeria. Ella is a matched funded PhD student funded by IPAG and BU.
This conference is now in its fifth year having been held at IPAG Paris, St Gallen Switzerland and BU England. More details about ICMI and the Association for Insurance Marketing can be found here.
A new publication by Dr. Luisa Cescutti-Butler (FHSS) and her co-authors (Professor A Hemingway & Dr. J. Hewitt-Taylor) which explores women’s experiences of caring for a late preterm baby using feminism as a research methodology has just been published in the Australian Women and Birth Journal (October 2019). Her research found that women who become mothers’ of late preterm babies have a complex journey. It begins with separation, with babies being cared for in unfamiliar and highly technical environments where the perceived experts are healthcare professionals. Women’s needs are side-lined, and they are required to care for their babies within parameters determined by others. Institutional and professional barriers to mothering/caring are numerous. For example: some of the women who were separated from their babies immediately after birth had difficulties conceiving themselves as mothers, and others faced restrictions when trying to access their babies. Women described care that was centred on their babies. They were allowed and expected to care for their babies, but only with ‘powerless responsibility’. Many women appeared to be excluded from decisions and were not always provided with full information about their babies. The research concludes by recommending that women whose babies are born late preterm would benefit from greater consideration in relation to their needs, rather than the focus being almost exclusively on their babies.
Luisa is Senior Lecturer in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) and Lead for Examination of the Newborn in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences. If you would like any further information please email Luisa on email@example.com
Cescutti-Butler, L.D. Hewitt-Taylor, J. and Hemingway, A., 2019. Powerless responsibility: A feminist study of women’s experiences of caring for their late preterm babies. Women and Birth, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wombi.2019.08.006
Cescutti-Butler, L.D., Hemingway, A., and Hewitt-Taylor, J., 2018. “His tummy’s only tiny” – Scientific feeding advice versus women’s knowledge. Women’s experiences of feeding their late preterm babies. Midwifery, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.midw.2018.11.001
Congratulations to Professors Sara Ashencaen Crabtree and Jonathen Parker in the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences on the recent publication of their paper ‘‘Behaving like a Jakun!’ A case study of conflict, ‘othering’ and indigenous knowledge in the Orang Asli of Tasik Chini’ in the Journal of Sociology and Development . This paper reports on an ethnographic study of the indigenous Jakun Orang Asli in West Malaysia.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
- Parker, J., Ashencaen Crabtree, S., Crabtree Parker, M., Crabtree Parker, I., 2019. ‘Behaving like a Jakun!’ A case study of conflict, ‘othering’ and indigenous knowledge in the Orang Asli of Tasik Chini. Journal of Sociology & Development, 3 (1):23-32.
Looking ahead, this week we have the Queen’s Speech and talks are continuing to see if there is any chance of a Brexit deal ahead of the Benn Act deadline. Parliament will sit next Saturday. The government is expected to lose the vote on the Queen’s Speech (apparently for the first time in 95 years) and there will be a post-Brexit budget on 6th November assuming that the UK leaves the EU on 31st October. And we are getting closer to the time when the parties may agree to a general election being called.
We have news on T levels and what students really want in the tuition fees vs living costs debate.
What might happen to education and skills policy if there is an election?
Dods have produced an overview of all the Education and Skills policy announcements from the party conferences.
Brexit / UK political context
- You Gov measure public feeling on whether the Brexit deadline will be met.
- However, if Brexit is delayed it seems the comms plan has worked and the public feeling is that it isn’t Boris’ fault.
- On Tuesday the Government published the Brexit No Deal Readiness Report which updates Parliament and the public on the legislative, regulatory and systemic changes that will occur following a no deal Brexit. It also details the steps the Government has taken and remaining actions they intend to take to enable business and the public to prepare for the change. It is a lengthy document and Dods political monitoring consultants have prepared a summary and key points.
Private Members Bills: We are expecting the Private Members Bills (PMB) ballot to take place around Thursday 24 October (although in the Brexit disruption anything could happen). MPs enter a ballot and the first 20 picked out of the hat have the opportunity to introduce a PMB on a topic of their choice (or sponsor someone else to introduce the Bill) on a Friday set aside for this purpose. Those successful in the ballot get first opportunity for 7 of the extra Fridays. Another 6 Fridays are available later in the parliamentary calendar in which keen MPs unsuccessful in the ballot vie to introduce their own legislation.
Over 400 MPs enter the ballot which is only held once in a parliamentary session, so the chances of being selected are low. And even if they get their Bill before Parliament, few of them get very far partly due to parliamentary convention – whereby other MPs can vote them out early in the process (Christopher Chope is infamous for doing this). If they aren’t killed off this way, there is usually insufficient parliamentary time for them to go through the full process. Finally prorogation at the end of the session kills all Bills that have not become law before the end of the parliamentary session.
For example, all the current PMBs that were proceeding have now been closed down ahead of the Queen’s Speech, including:
- Student Loans (Debt Interest) Bill
- Representation of the People (Young People’s Enfranchisement and Education) Bill
- Gypsy and Traveller Communities (Housing, Planning and Education) Bill
- Schools (Mental Health and Wellbeing) Bill
- School Holidays (Meals and Activities) Bill
- Parental Rights (Rapists) and Family Courts Bill
- Youth (Services and Provisions) Bill
- National Living Wage (Extension to Young People) Bill
Lastly, even if an MP is successful in the ballot they may be targeted by the Government to introduce a ‘handout’ Bill. This is where the Government persuades the MP to introduce legislation that the Government either does not wish to introduce themselves or did not find parliamentary time for.
In last week’s policy update we described Secretary of State for Education, Gavin Williamson’s, firm support for technical and vocational routes. This week the Government are pushing ahead in their T-level preparations and have launched the NexT Level national campaign building support for T levels which will commence next academic year as an alternative to A levels. A substantial amount of extra funding is available to the early adopters who are expected to work with DfE to tweak and develop the T levels.
From 2020/21 three T levels will be delivered – Digital, Education and Childcare, and Construction. In September 2021 seven more T levels will be added including subdividing digital and construction into two different pathways and adding a Health and Science route. From September 2022 three new sectors will be added: Legal, Finance and Accounting, Engineering and Manufacturing, Business and Administration. And from September 2023 the remaining T levels will come on board (making 25 T levels in all), including Agriculture, Environment and Animal Care, Creative and Design, Hair and Beauty and Catering and Hospitality.
Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, said: T Levels are a complete game changer – high-quality technical courses that will give young people a head start in their careers and that will rival top performing technical education systems like those offered in Germany. With less than a year to go before the first T Levels are taught, we want to make sure young people and their parents know all about the brilliant opportunities these new qualifications will offer. Our new campaign will help make sure they have all the info they need.
Sir Gerry Berragan, Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships and Technical Education, said: We are extremely excited about launching T Levels that will provide a gold standard of technical education on par with A Levels. The Institute fully supports this campaign. It’s important that potential students and their parents are aware that they will be rolled out from next academic year. We know that many young people are looking for an exciting alternative to the academic route and want to start training for their chosen careers after completing their GCSEs.
Tech Reskill Entitlement
Universities and Science Minister Chris Skidmore spoke at the TechUK conference on putting skills at the centre of innovation. Here is some of what he said:
No one can ignore the gathering force of technology that is reshaping the future of each and every one of us… Every day, developments in digital technologies are pushing the boundaries of what is possible. And, together, your companies and innovations are stretching the limits of what humanity can achieve, and what the UK can achieve as a nation….
- UK investment in AI has also grown almost 6-fold in the 4 years between 2014 and 2018.
- Our tech sector is going from strength to strength in front of our very eyes, growing at 50% faster than the rest of the UK economy.
I am keenly aware that our tech sector won’t go on thriving if we don’t concentrate on people. On putting people and skills at the centre of our innovation system. On ensuring that our regulatory system is as modern as the technologies that it supports. So, let’s take keeping the brightest and best people in the sector first. How do we do it?
Well, we need to recognise and address the challenges researchers and innovators face on a day-to-day basis. Developing a people-first research strategy is just one part of this.
Last month, I was pleased to support the launch of the revised Concordat to Support the Career Development of Researchers. This encourages signatories from across higher education and innovation to work together on the challenges facing researchers in the world today.
- A world where research positions are shorter and more precarious than they used to be.
- A world, which relies on the continuous transfer of talented people between academia and industry.
- And a world where individuals may find themselves balancing heavy workloads with poor mental health and wellbeing.
It is on all of us to ensure we are supporting people across the entire innovation and tech sector to be the best they can be. From researchers, academics and innovators, to technicians, postgraduates and post-docs.
All of these people together are integral to the overall strength and prowess of UK tech. Embracing diversity in the sector is crucial to getting this right.
This government is determined to address the gender imbalance in tech careers, in particular by improving girls’ take-up of maths, computing and physics at all stages of the education system from primary school through to university. We’re keen that more people from currently under-represented groups, including those with disabilities and those from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, realise a career in tech can be for them as much as anyone else.
…And we’re not just talking about young people here. We’re also talking about adult learners. Those people who, later in life, want to access the further technical training they need. In the digital age, education is going to become a lifelong endeavour, not just something you do until you’re 18 or 21…That’s why we’ve put in place now a commitment to introduce a national entitlement to adult basic digital skills training from 2020. Adults without the digital skills needed for life and work will have the opportunity to study new qualifications free of charge, so that nobody gets left behind as the world around us inevitably moves on.
…if we’re serious about meeting our target to invest at least 2.4% of GDP in R&D by 2027 then we can’t just rely on home-grown talent alone. Creating a climate based on the free movement of talent is obviously going to be key to generating the numbers and diversity the sector needs. The International Research and Innovation Strategy I launched earlier this year best evidences our commitment to global engagement in the science and tech sectors.
And the International Education Strategy, launched the same month, sets out our ambition to increase the number of international higher education students studying in the UK by over 30% to 600,000 by 2030.…And thanks to the hard work of my successor-come-predecessor, Jo Johnson, the introduction of the Graduate Route, or 2-year post-study work visa, will hopefully incentivise much of this talent to stay on our shores, work in our companies, and set up their own businesses.
…It cannot have escaped anyone’s notice that our Research and Innovation sector is incredibly concentrated in London and the South East. Per-capita spending on Research & Development in the North East is way under half that in London.…If we are to become an innovation nation, then we must learn from this, ensuring that the whole of the UK benefits from our tech revolution. This means ensuring that our most innovative SMEs can scale up and access seed funding as well as large grants, enter the market, and even shape new markets.
…I want us to build on the work we’ve done with University Enterprise Zones, which I launched last month, and to build on our amazing network of incubators, accelerators, catalysts and catapults – spreading the benefits right across the UK. To create a truly business-friendly environment. To join together research, development, and innovation. And to create a new unity of purpose.
For as long as I’m Universities and Science Minister, I want to help the UK to find a new gear, to put the UK tech sector in the fast line, and to grow an incredible tech ecosystem that can accelerate into the future.
International student outcomes
HE metrics often focus on home students, however, SoS Gavin Williamson, has highlighted the Government is looking closes at the gaps for international students – their drop-out rate and the likelihood of them achieving a good honours degree. Two blogs on Wonkhe tackle these issues.
- Gavin Williamson is right on international students explores an international attainment gap of 10% and how difficult it is to obtain reliable data on international students to benchmark or make accurate judgements.
- Shining a spotlight on international graduates explores whether shining A spotlight on our international graduate destinations could lead to a long overdue investment in international student employability support …because [while] international outcomes are [currently] counted – but don’t actually count [for TEF metrics]…– it can be a real struggle to get funding for the specialist support our students need and deserve. The blog also highlights that international students, the majority of whom choose to study abroad to better their career prospects, are least satisfied that they have received value for money.
Julia Buckingham, President of UUK said: “Universities are listening to concerns about grade inflation and these initiatives show our determination to ensuring transparency and consistency in the way degrees are awarded.”
Wonkhe report that the UK Standing Committee for Quality Assessment (UKSCQA) has agreed initiatives to more widely publicise degree standards information and has produced institutional guidance. UKSCQA will expect providers to publish a voluntary Degree Outcomes Statement on their website which describes their degree outcome data and explains any changes. They’ve produced guidance for institutions.
SoS for Education Gavin Williamson states: “It’s crucial that students, graduates and employers can trust the value of a university degree and the achievements of students who put in the hard work aren’t undermined”, adding that “grade inflation has become entrenched in higher education”, and that he will be “watching closely” to see if these initiatives work, and expecting the OfS to “challenge institutions which continue to record unexplained rises in top degrees awarded”.
Julia Buckingham, President of UUK said: “Universities are listening to concerns about grade inflation and these initiatives show our determination to ensuring transparency and consistency in the way degrees are awarded.”
The Guardian covers the story and Wonkhe have a dissection blog by David Kernohan. Kernohan is quoted in the Guardian article: “the effort to boil down a complex set of algorithms and classifications into a brief text, as the code requires, was unrealistic…If you are setting out such broadly applicable descriptions you are in danger of not adding anything tangible to the subject specific learning goals and outcomes that already exist in course documentation…With such rubrics already available…what exactly do these non-exhaustive generic descriptors actually add? The idea of consistency in measures of learning is attractive, if unlikely. A mention of a provider’s adherence to these descriptions in their degree outcomes statements seems to be the likely endpoint. And I’m not sure who benefits from that.”
Fees & Funding
The Higher Education Policy Institute have published results from new research on undergraduate students’ views of the education funding system. It finds that students are mixed in their attitudes towards the current tuition fee model and Augar recommendation to lower fees. It finds:
- 79% of students stated that the level of interest charged is one of the most important aspects of the funding system
- 40% prefer the current system of £9,250 paid back over 30 years; 41% prefer Augar’s approach of £7,500 paid off over 40 years; and 18% have no preference between the two.
- Students are supportive of Augar’s recommendation to bring back maintenance grants, with 53% of students advocating for a mixed system of maintenance grants and loans and 32% saying they would prefer grants only
- Cost of living is a higher priority for students than tuition fees, with 59% saying it is their top funding concern.
- Over half (52%) of students’ parents contribute to their living costs
- Of the students whose parents contribute towards their living costs, half (50%) receive more than £1,000 every year, 29% of students receive between £500 and £1,000 and 21% receive less than £500.
- Many students see living away from home as critical to their university experience, with around half (49%) saying they would still choose to live away from home even if this came at a greater cost
- Over half (57%) of students say living away from home was important to them when they applied to university
Rachel Hewitt, HEPI’s Director of Policy and Advocacy, said:
- Many believe that in the current political environment the eagerly anticipated Augar review is dead in the water. The current minority Government lacks both the political sway and desire to implement the report’s recommendations. Our polling shows students are also split in their views on whether Augar should be implemented. They find the recommendation of lowering fees to £7,500 is no more appealing than the current system. Instead students’ main priority is the money available for living costs and ensuring the system operates fairly by reintroducing maintenance grants for the poorest students.
- With an election potentially around the corner, politicians should take heed of students’ priorities. A winning offer to students may not involve focusing on tuition fees but instead on less headline-grabbing aspects, such as the maintenance system and interest rates.
Disadvantaged Participation and Success
Care students: UUK have a new blog on care leavers highlighting that the restrictive definitions that English universities apply and the strict criteria for access to bursaries is creating barriers. Earlier this year Scottish Universities unanimously agreed an open approach whereby any form of care experience, at any age, leads to enhanced support and consideration. The UUK blog calls on English universities to do more to remove barriers….Universities should consider the merits of adopting a definition of care experience which does not exclude certain individuals based on length of time in care, type of placement, or age, to ensure all individuals with care experience receive appropriate support. The most effective support replicates the financial and emotional safety-net that a family provides. Sensitivity is vital……and to recognise that many care leavers are often mature students.
Finally, the blog highlights that the National Network for the Education of Care Leavers (NNECL) is creating a sector-specific quality mark for supporting care leavers. (The hyperlink brings up a log in box, just press the X to get rid of the log in box and read the pilot quality mark launch article.)
Social Mobility: The Army and the Royal Air Force have been recognised as within the top 100 employers in the country for encouraging social mobility. The Minister of Defence was also listed within the Social Mobility Index. The Index lists organisations that have taken substantial action to improve social mobility in their workplace and ranks employers on the actions they are taking to ensure they are open to and accessible to progressing talent from all backgrounds.
New Trials: The Education Endowment Foundation has launched three new trials.
- Children’s University
Nine- and 10-year olds in 150 primary schools across England will take part in the EEF-funded trial of Children’s University, which aims to raise the aspirations and attainment of pupils by providing learning activities and experiences outside of the classroom. Each pupil will get a ‘Passport to Learning’, used to record each activity and hours spent on the activities. Children will make their own choice from a wide range of activities and receive a stamp in their passport on completion. Activities range from walking trails and gymnastics, to trips to wildlife parks, sports sessions and performing arts classes.
- SEND Review
A programme, delivered by the National Association for Special Educational Needs, that aims to improve provision for pupils with SEND in mainstream schools by helping schools to evaluate the effectiveness of their provision, and then implement a bespoke action plan to target areas of priority and drive improvement. Around 150 mainstream secondary schools will take part in the trial, which will be independently evaluated by a team from Manchester Metropolitan University.
- Headsprout Early Reading in Special Schools
A programme, delivered by Bangor University, which aims to improve reading skills through a computer programmes that adapts instruction in response to children’s answers. Activities are designed to be engaging, with pupils working through cartoon-based worlds via tasks that resemble computer games. Bangor University have piloted the programme in UK special schools, and over 100 special schools will now be invited to take part in a large-scale trial of the programme for primary-aged children with SEND.
Official figures show there is a larger attainment gap for pupils with SEND than for any other group. In 2018, just 21% of these pupils achieved the expected standard in reading, writing and maths at age 11, compared to 74% of their classmates. Pupils with SEND are twice as likely to come from disadvantaged homes, too (27% of pupils with SEND are eligible for free school meals compared to 12% of all other pupils) and so face a double disadvantage in the classroom.
Sir Kevan Collins, Chief Exec of the EEF, said:
- All young people deserve the chance to access a well-rounded and culturally rich education. Yet we know that those from disadvantaged backgrounds are less likely to take part in the sort of activities that Children’s University provide. Our previous trial found that taking part in the programme had a promising impact on reading skills, as well as on attributes like teamwork and aspirations. This new trial will find out if these positive findings can be achieved at scale. The results will help schools to make decisions about how best to target their resources and provide enrichment activities in their school.
- It is great that we’re able to announce our first two trials of programmes focused on improving outcomes for pupils with special educational needs. The attainment gap is widest for this group and the evidence we generate from these trials will provide much needed evidence of how best to support them.
Professor Elaine Fox, University of Oxford, has been appointed as UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Mental Health Networks Impact and Engagement Coordinator. She will help encourage and facilitate engagement and collaboration between the eight Mental Health Networks and maximise their impact. The eight Mental Health Networks embrace a collaborative ethos, with researchers from a wide range of disciplines (including health, medicine, biology, social sciences, humanities and environmental sciences, insights from charity workers, health practitioners and people with lived experience of mental health problems). The networks aim to progress mental health research in themes such as the profound health inequalities for people with severe mental ill health, social isolation, youth and student mental health, domestic and sexual violence, and the value of community assets. The coordinator role will help to raise the public profile and quality of mental health research in the UK.
Professor Fox said: “I am absolutely delighted with this appointment and look forward to working with the eight Mental Health Networks to help shine a light onto the importance of mental health research. If we want a world in which mental health problems can be effectively treated and prevented we will need highly collaborative research teams bringing together expertise from many disciplines, including expertise that comes from lived experience.”
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore delivered a speech on international research collaboration at the British Academy. Key Points:
- Our universities, and innovative businesses, are powered by openness, and are strengthened by it…openness to ideas, to talent, to internationalism, and to collaboration – all of which bring real vibrancy to our universities and our wider research base in academia and industry alike. One of the enablers of this great openness has been our partnerships with the continent of Europe, over many centuries, helping us to develop a shared sense of culture, shared collective experiences, and a like-minded approach to the values of civilisation, enlightenment and liberty.
- Irrespective of Brexit, sowing the seeds of intellectual and cultural unity across Europe is something that absolutely can and must continue. Yet, we cannot ignore the basic fact some of our largest international partnerships in science and research to date have been undertaken while we’ve been a member of the EU…as you know, the government has put in place guarantees for Horizon 2020, which apply whether or not we leave with a deal.
- The European University Institute (EUI) is just one example of European collaboration on education and research. I am pleased to announce that we have concluded an interim arrangement with the EUI, to cover the period from Brexit until the middle of next year, as a transitional measure if we leave the EU without a deal. And now that we have concluded an interim arrangement, I have asked my officials to explore the possibility of a future relationship with the EUI.
- We have sought to put in place robust contingency plans so that Erasmus+ projects that are already underway can continue if we leave without a deal. I hope that we will secure a deal shortly: a deal, which we all know would enable our continued participation in EU programmes such as Horizon 2020 and Erasmus+. But if there is not movement from the EU, we are ready to leave without a deal.
- The government committed on the 8 August to ensuring that all UK bids to mono-beneficiary calls – the European Research Council, Marie Sklodowksa Curie Actions and the European Innovation Council Accelerator calls that are submitted to Horizon 2020 before Brexit would be evaluated in all scenarios. This means researchers and innovators can continue to submit proposals to Horizon 2020 with confidence, right up to the point of exit, knowing that the best proposals will be funded – regardless of how we leave the EU.
- In the last 3 years, over 52% of the UK’s academics publications were produced in collaboration with international partners. Our International Research and Innovation Strategy aims to protect this, but also enhance this. It is also why we have announced the return of the Graduate Route – or the 2-year post study work visa.
- [The strategy] builds upon the work we have begun this decade, with the investment in the Global Challenges Research Fund and the Newton Fund, partnering with countries across the globe, expanding research excellence in fields of study that are meeting global challenges for the future.
Chris Skidmore also wrote to Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney on the KEF this week. In addition to the points already described above he also states:
- Quality-related Research (OR) funding remains important to our research success within this system. I full recognise the value of QR’s un-hypothecated nature which contributes to a sustainable research system and allows universities to deploy funds strategically.
- I remain firmly committed to encouraging universities to strive for both research excellence and the “impact agenda”. I therefore welcome the progress that you have made with the devolved HE funding bodies in detailed preparations for Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021, in which research impact will account for 25% overall.
- Open Access is a key feature of REF2021. I encourage Research England to continue to support the implementation of full and immediate open access, in line with global efforts in this area.
- I have re-committed to a strategic, long term approach to knowledge exchange and confirmed the important role that Higher Education lnnovation Funding (HEIF) plays in supporting effective university-business engagement. I am pleased that Research England, in consultation with the Office for: Students, will now be launching a full review of HEIF, undertaking a radical reform work programme over the next three years, including a fundamental review of the HEIF methodology. This reform plan will aim to put KEF at the heart of our approach.
- All our HE institutions can play an important role in addressing the particular economic and social issues facing different local areas. I encourage you to support universities in understanding more about local issues and priorities, and in deploying their intellectual assets for the benefit of people in every part of the country. I am pleased that you have established the Expanding Excellence in England Fund to build high quality research capacity in areas of the country which do not yet have the ability to address urgent problems. There is scope for further rounds, in particular to help increase research capacity to tackle place-based research problems.
- I recognise the important work that Research England/UKRI has undertaken in collaboration with the OfS, and look forward to this continuing to strengthen on areas of shared interest.
And last week BEIS SoS Andrew Leadsom launched a package of measures supporting UK researchers and business to innovate and embrace the green tech revolution.
The Commission for Countering Extremism published its report into challenging hateful extremism. The report states the current strategy for countering extremism is “insufficient and too broad”, and calls for a major overhaul of government strategy. They propose a human-rights-based strategy to countering extremism, through detailed recommendations for government and civil society. Further recommendations include:
- Provide greater clarity on the difference between work to counter terrorism and to counter hateful extremism.
- Work to build resilience in communities against those who seek to restrict the rights and opportunities of others, particularly women and young people.
- Deliver the commitment to set out who it will or will not engage and why.
- Do more to support and protect those organisations and individuals who are countering extremism from abuse, harassment and intimidation.
UUK also published results this week from their harassment and hate crime survey, following up on how institutions are responding to the ‘Changing the Culture’ taskforce report. Key points from the 100 university respondents:
- 81% have updated their discipline procedures, with 53% introducing or making additions to the student code of conduct
- 81% improved support for reporting students and 67% improved support for responding students
- 78% provided students clear information on how to report an incident
- 72% developed or improved recording of data on incidents with a more centralised approach
- 65% have rolled out consent training to their students
- Over a third reported recruiting new staff to respond to the recommendations in Changing the Culture
Despite this progress, UUK state that the research shows there is still more to do to drive positive change across HE. In particular, while there has been good progress in responding to sexual harassment and gender-based violence, less priority has been afforded to tackling other forms of harassment including racial harassment and other forms of hate crime.
Professor Julia Buckingham CBE, President of Universities UK said:
- The higher education sector recognises its shared responsibility to eliminating hate crime, which is unacceptable in our society, and in our universities. We are committed to ensuring we create welcoming and inclusive environments for students of all genders, backgrounds and ethnicities to flourish and this research shows significant progress towards that. We particularly welcome actions taken by universities in addressing some of the issues and steps highlighted in our Changing the Culture report. However, it is clear that there is a long way to go in ending harassment and hate crime for good in higher education. While it is understandable that there has been a particular focus on addressing gender-based violence, it is time for us to step-up and make sure the same priority status and resourcing is given to addressing all forms of harassment and hate.
Responding to UUK’s report Nicola Dandridge, Chief Exec OfS, said:
- “The findings from Universities UK show progress is being made by universities to develop systems and policies to address these issues, but more must be done. These improvements need to be taking place across all universities. We have supported 119 projects in universities and colleges across the country with £4.7 million to tackle sexual misconduct, online harassment and hate crime. As UUK’s report makes clear, this funding has made a real impact and sparked positive change across a number of universities and colleges. It is critical that areas of effective practice are now built-on and spread throughout the sector. The Office for Students will continue to work with universities and colleges, and other organisations to ensure that all students from all backgrounds can be – and feel – safe on campus.”
Finally United Response report that prosecutions for disability hate crime charges have fallen, despite sharp rises in reports and repeat offenders.
Q- The Lord Bishop Of Winchester: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what plans they have to extend the pupil premium to post-16 education.
A – Lord Agnew Of Oulton: The government is determined to ensure that disadvantaged students are supported in their post-16 education. The national funding formula for 16 to 19 year olds and the funding through the Adult Education Budget both include a disadvantage uplift. This provides extra funding for disadvantaged students (specifically for those with low prior attainment or those who live in the most disadvantaged areas). We will continue to consider how we can most effectively support disadvantaged students in post-16 education, and will continue to keep financial arrangements under review.
Competitiveness: Also this week was a response to a parliamentary question on how the Government is supporting UK universities to remain competitive with universities elsewhere in the world. There was no new news and the response mentioned OfS, TEF, fast track immigration to attract talent, research, and the graduate immigration route (post study work visa). Read the full response here.
Fitness to Practise: The Office of the Independent Adjudicator has published new guidance on Fitness to practise for courses leading to professional qualifications. Guidance is provided on:
- What fitness to practise is, including behaviour-, health-, and disability-related fitness to practise concerns;
- How to help students understand the professional standards they need to meet and to support them to meet those standards where possible;
- What a fair process looks like.
The guidance will inform how The Office of the Independent Adjudicator handles fitness to practice complaints from 2020/21. Felicity Mitchell, Independent Adjudicator, said:
- Fitness to practise processes are about ensuring the safety of the student and those around them, including members of the public, and preserving public confidence in the profession. This must be balanced with fairness to the individual student whose career is at risk. The process should be supportive even when the outcome is that the student cannot continue with their studies.
- The purpose of the guidance is to help providers treat their students fairly, not to provide answers to what are often complex questions that involve professional judgment.
Nursing: Maria Caulfield MP presented a nurse staffing levels bill; a Bill to make provision about National Health Service bodies establishing nurse staffing levels. From the first reading of the Bill:
There is increasing evidence that the right number of qualified nurses can improve patient outcomes in terms of mortality, morbidity and quality of care, and that, conversely, insufficient nurses can have a potentially life-threatening effect on patients. The Bill has four main aims.
- First, we need to make the Government accountable for nursing levels in England. No one is accountable for nursing numbers, which is why we have such a high vacancy rate and a lack of strategic action to address the situation. How are we going to increase student nurse numbers via degree apprenticeships, which are working so well in places at the University of Brighton in my constituency, where student nurses earn while they learn in clinical placements? How are we to increase the numbers returning to practice when return-to-practice courses are difficult to access and expensive, with nurses often having to pay for them themselves? Nearly a third of our nurses in practice today are likely to retire in the next 10 years, so how are we to address early retirement? Without someone taking responsibility, none of those issues will be addressed. While individual trusts do their best to mitigate recruitment and retention challenges, no one is taking responsibility for the sheer scale of the issue across England.
- That fits neatly into the second and third parts of the Bill, which relate to a fully costed workforce strategy and nursing numbers. There are currently no legally enforceable nursing numbers for any healthcare sector in England. In 2014, National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidelines for adult wards stated that when nurse patient ratios reach eight patients to one nurse, that should act as a red flag that care is becoming unsafe… We need legally enforceable numbers, so that nurses and patients can be protected from unsafe care and so that someone is held to account if that does not happen… However, the Bill is about more than just ring fencing nursing numbers. It is about the skill mix, too. Having experienced qualified nurses is the key to improving patient outcomes.
- Finally, the Bill would legislate to provide training and education for all nurses throughout their career. If we want nurses to take on more advanced roles, from nurse prescribing to chest drain insertion, the Government need to ensure the training happens both by paying for it and by allowing study leave. We cannot continue with nurses using their annual leave and their days off to undertake training vital to their role.
Other countries have realised the need for change and have made legislative changes to ensure safe staffing levels. That is why I support the RCN and Dame Donna Kinnair in promoting this Bill to create a legal framework that clarifies the roles and responsibilities and the accountability for the supply, recruitment and retention of nurses in England.
The Bill was read the first time and scheduled for a second reading but unfortunately prorogation meant it has been dropped. All hope is not completely lost, it could be picked up in the next session if special provision has been made, although we do not believe it has been. However, if luck is on her side Maria might be within the first twenty in the private members bills ballot.
Schools Funding: One of PM Boris’ campaigning points to become Leader of the Conservative party centred on increasing funding for schools. Since the announcement there have been various statistics and debates over whether it means a real terms increase for schools. The House of Commons Library has published school funding in England – FAQs which gives an overview and tackles some of the confusion.
Children’s mental wellbeing: The Government have issued the first ever State of the Nation report on children’s mental wellbeing. This publication fulfils a government commitment to bring together the best evidence on children and young people’s wellbeing, identifying trends and drivers so that the right support is in place to help them fulfil their potential. You can read a short summary of the key points here and the Government press release here.
Schools apace with housing: Developers creating new housing estates can access a loan from the Government to ensure they build a school alongside the new accommodation. The aim is to ensure the school is open and ready as the new communities move in (rather than there being a lengthy delay). The Government are running this scheme as a pilot which will commence shortly. More detail here.
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“More pilots please!” is not a call from British Airways, Ryanair or the Royal Air Force. No, it a reminder to students to do more piloting in their postgraduate research projects. Between us we have read many (draft) theses and examined over 60 PhD theses external to Bournemouth University, and it is clear to us that many students do not do enough pre-testing or piloting of their research instruments. Perhaps they did some piloting or feasibility work for their projects but don’t write enough about it. Or they present some feasibility or piloting in their thesis but haven’t added references to methodological texts.
The term ‘pilot studies’ refers to mini versions of a full-scale study (also called ‘feasibility’ studies), as well as the specific pre-testing of a particular research instruments such as data collection tools (i.e. questionnaire or semi-structured interview schedule). Pilot studies are key to good study design [1-6]. Conducting a pilot study does not guarantee success in the main study, but it does increase the likelihood of success. Pilot studies have several of important functions in research design and can provide valuable insights to the researcher on both tools and research processes. We think it is telling that our most cited paper on Google Scholar is not one of our papers reporting research findings but a methods paper highlighting the importance of pilot studies .
Professors Vanora Hundley & Edwin van Teijlingen
- van Teijlingen E, Rennie, AM., Hundley, V, Graham, W. (2001) The importance of conducting & reporting pilot studies: example of Scottish Births Survey, Journal of Advanced Nursing, 34: 289-95.
- van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2001) The importance of pilot studies, Social Research Update Issue 35, (Editor N. Gilbert), Guildford: University of Surrey. Web: http://www.soc.surrey.ac.uk/sru/SRU35.html
- van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V.(2002) ‘The importance of pilot studies’ Nursing Standard 16(40): 33-36. Web: www.nursing-standard.co.uk/archives/vol16-40/pdfs/vol16w40p3336.pdf
- Hundley, V., van Teijlingen E, (2002) The role of pilot studies in midwifery research RCM Midwives Journal 5(11): 372-74.
- van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2003) Pilot study, In: Lewis-Beck, M., Bryman, A. & Liao, T. (eds.) Encyclopaedia of Social Science Research Methods, Vol. 2, Orego, Sage: 823-24.
- van Teijlingen E, Hundley, V. (2005) Pilot studies in family planning & reproductive health care, Journal of Family Planning & Reproductive Health Care 31(3): 219-21.
The paper examines both individual (gender, ethnicity and caste) and structural (their experiences in relation to work, migration, education and lack of birth registration) vulnerabilities and their links with child trafficking as a child protection concern. The authors suggest there is a need for a more nuanced understanding of trafficking vulnerabilities as part of a continuum, rather than a distinct event, to improve outcomes for children. They use the evidence presented here to call for a holistic approach. Policies and programmes in Nepal and across the globe must be integrated within the broader concerns of child protection, thus strengthening the system from local to national level, while recognising the importance of children’s rights to participate in any decision-making.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen