Category / Impact

NIHR and World Health Organisation joint statement – have your say!

There is an increasing emphasis on the need for researchers and sponsors to publish, and disseminate, the results of the clinical studies that they conduct. Timely disclosure of results is important ethically, morally, in the interests of research integrity and from a waste reduction perspective.
Dissemination of results, whether favourable or not, also achieves transparency – increasingly important from the perspective of the recent introduction of the GDPR.

The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) have signed-up to the WHO’s joint statement on public disclosure of results from clinical trials. The policy sets out the expectations and support on offer in order for research communities to comply. The draft policy is available to read, with a quick survey open until 21st September, for you to have your say.

BU has access to the ClinicalTrials.gov system – get in touch for access and for the opportunity to register your study and results in the public domain.

New Forensics textbook published by BU academics

 

Profs Matthew Bennett and Marcin Budka have just published the textbook Digital Technology for Forensic Footwear Analysis and Vertebrate Ichnology with Springer.

There is no branch of detective science which is so important and so much neglected as the art of tracing footsteps.” Sherlock Holmes, Study of Scarlet.

Despite the fictional nature of Sherlock Holmes this statement rings true today.  The study of footwear is neglected in modern forensic practice and does have much to offer.  What it needs is an injection of technology and associated modern analytical tools.  These tools are emerging from the digital revolution currently transforming vertebrate ichnology.  Ichnology is the discipline of earth science which focuses on the study of trace fossils such as footprints.  This book draws upon both disciplines (geology [ichnology] and forensic science) to show how the two have much to learn from each other especially with regard to the digital capture and analysis of footprints and footwear evidence.

This innovative book which is the culmination of research/innovation funded by the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) and HEIF  provides the practitioner with field and laboratory methods necessary for the collection, analysis and presentation of three-dimensional tracks (footprints) whether from a crime scene or a geological/archaeological excavation. It shows students, researchers and practitioners how to collect and analyse 3D data and take advantage of the digital revolution transforming ichnology.   The book forms a natural methods focused complement to the successful text Fossilised Locomotion published by Springer 2014 and written by Professor Bennett.

The book is an illustration of Fusion in action combining professional practice, research and teaching.  The team’s work is supported by the Home Office and National Crime Agency as well as several police forces and forensic units throughout the UK.  Some of the contents have been co-created with students at BU and the volume will be used in teaching on a range of forensic science programmes at BU.  

The link between loneliness and the rising number of elderly people suffering from malnutrition

Home Instead is launching the Stay Nourished initiative in consultation with Professor Jane Murphy from BU’s Ageing & Dementia Research Centre.

See full article below:

https://www.express.co.uk/life-style/life/1000975/one-million-pensioners-summer-eating-every-meal-alone?platform=hootsuite

 

BU research is featured by the Times

We, Elvira Bolat and Parisa Gilani, are quite pleased to see the article, published by the Conversation on 7th August, quickly picked up by Mark Bridge, technology correspondent of the Times. Article titled “It’s depressing to be slightly influential on social media” was published both in online and paper versions of the major national newspaper on 9th August.

Dr Parisa Gilani was interviewed prior to the publication and addressed all questions of the correspondent. It is critical to highlight that the research itself is based on BU’s BA (Hons) Business Studies with Marketing final year student Claudia Wilkin’s research project. Although the CEL-funded co-creation project focused on understanding what makes social media influencers successful businesspeople, one of the finding was quite fascinating and contributing to literature around FOMO, cyberbullying and leader-followers relationships.

As Mark Bridge noted, there is a need for responsible behaviour and actions within online space and as most of us consume content online, we need to be much more thoughtful on how we express our reactions to various types of content.

Read full article online via: https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/it-s-depressing-to-be-slightly-influential-on-social-media-xf75sztff 

HE Policy update for the w/e 3rd August 2018

Social mobility

Damien Hinds gave a speech at the Resolution Foundation on 31st July.  The story was widely trailed in the media  – it had a big focus on early years and on access to HE.

Mr Hinds said, in the speech in London, that this early gap had a

  • “huge impact on social mobility”.  “The truth is the vast majority of these children’s time is at home.  Yes the home learning environment can be, understandably, the last taboo in education policy – but we can’t afford to ignore it when it comes social mobility. I don’t have interest in lecturing parents here… I know it’s parents who bring up their children, who love them. who invest in them in so many ways, who want the best for their children. But that doesn’t mean extra support and advice can’t be helpful.”

The Department for Education says 28% of children in England do not have the required language skills by the end of Reception.

Guardian –  Children starting school ‘cannot communicate in full sentences:

  • “The education secretary promised to halve within a decade the number of children lacking the required level of early speaking or reading skills.”  Children with a poor vocabulary aged five are more than twice as likely to be unemployed at age 34 as children with good vocabulary, research shows.

Initiatives announced included:

  • A competition to find technology to support early language development (there’s an app for everything….).
  • An education summit in the autumn to encourage parents to get involved in supporting children
  • An OfS research initiative (see below)

The OfS have confirmed that they are inviting tenders for an independent Evidence and Impact Exchange (EIX) – a ‘What Works Centre’ to promote access, success and progression for underrepresented groups of students.

  • The EIX will be independent of the OfS, but the OfS will fund it up to £4.5 million over three years (£1.5 million per year) and work with it during this time to develop a sustainable funding model for the future.
  • The purpose of the EIX is to provide evidence on the impact of approaches to widening access and successful participation and progression for underrepresented groups of students, and to ensure that the most effective approaches are recognised and shared.
  • It will collate existing research, identify gaps in current evidence and generate its own research to fill those gaps, and disseminate accessible advice and guidance to decision makers and practitioners across the higher education sector.
  • It therefore addresses a need in the sector for a systematic approach to evidence development, sharing and use in informing policy and practice.
  • Tenders must be submitted by noon on Friday 28 September 2018. Tenders will be assessed by a panel of OfS staff and external assessors against published evaluation criteria. The top three tenders will be shortlisted and invited to interview in October 2018, with a decision to be made by November 2018.
  • The EIX is expected to officially launch in spring 2019.

REF – the myths

Kim Hackett, the REF Director at Research England, has written for Wonkhe on REF myths following last week’s publication of the REF 2021 guidance.

She deals with the following myths:

  • Only journal articles can be submitted
  • The discipline-based UOA structure means that interdisciplinary research will be disadvantaged
  • You can’t have a high-scoring impact case study based on public engagement (PE)

And invites comments on other myths that need to be busted.

NSS – the analysis

John O’Leary, Editor of The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, wrote a blog for the Office for Students on NSS.  Some excerpts:

  • Of course the NSS has its faults – even after last year’s introduction of improved questions, it remains an extremely broad brush exercise that unintentionally favours particular types of institutions and makes life difficult for others.
  • The results do not provide the last word in the assessment of teaching quality, any more than the Teaching Excellence Framework as a whole does. But the results give the best available picture of students’ perceptions of their course – and it is difficult to see that being matched by any other exercise.
  • The trends are generally consistent (and overwhelmingly positive) – so much so that politicians and commentators often resort to quoting much smaller, less representative research to support a critical narrative. Satisfaction levels may be down this year, but still 83 per cent were positive about their course and only 8 per cent dissatisfied.
  • That is not to say that the NSS is perfect – in my view, it takes too narrow a view of students’ unions, for example, implying that their sole purpose is to represent their members academically. But more serious criticisms of the survey, that it encourages an ‘intellectual race to the bottom’ with lecturers dumbing down courses and reducing expectations to ensure positive results, are invariably anecdotal.
  • The survey’s outcomes have also provided unique leverage for students to force through improvements to services and facilities. In particular, levels of feedback and assessment practices have been given a focus that would never have been applied without the negative views expressed in successive editions of the NSS.
  • Even last year’s partial boycott of the NSS – now receding further – had more to do with the uses to which the results were being put at national level than dissatisfaction with the survey itself. Applicants would be much the poorer without the insight it provides.

Wonkhe have published some analysis and some interactive visualisations.

Migration and Brexit

The Home Affairs Committee have published an interim report, Policy options for future migration from the European Economic Area, which recommends that the Government should build migration consensus and engage in open debate and warns all those involved in the debate not to exploit or escalate tensions over immigration in the run up to withdrawal agreement.

The Committee is waiting on the Migration Advisory Committee’s (MAC) report in the autumn before making further recommendations, they stress that the Government ideally should not make final decisions on the majority of immigration policy in advance of the

Press Release: Government should build migration consensus and engage in open debate

The Committee has criticised the Government’s failure to set out detail on post-Brexit migration policy or to build consensus on immigration reform despite having over two years since the referendum in which to do so. Continued delays to the publication of the White Paper on Immigration and the Immigration Bill has meant there is little indication of what immigration policy will be. Despite the fact that the issue was subject to heated and divisive debate during the referendum campaigns in 2016 the Government has not attempted to build consensus on immigration reform or consult the public over future migration policy in the two years since. The Committee believes this is a regrettable missed opportunity.

The interim report looks at three broad sets of policy options:

  • Within the EU and during transition there are further measures that could be taken, in particular on registration, enforcement, skills and labour market reform. As witnesses noted, the UK has opted not to take up measures which are possible.
  • Within an EFTA-style arrangement with close or full participation in the single market, the report highlights a range of further measures that might be possible – especially in a bespoke negotiated agreement. These include ‘emergency brake’ provisions, controls on access to the UK labour market, accession style controls and further measures which build on the negotiation carried out by the previous Prime Minister. We conclude that there are a series of options for significant immigration reform that should be explored by the Government.
  • Within an association agreement or free trade agreement, the options in part depend on how close such an agreement is. While any agreement itself may not cover many ‘labour mobility’ measures, the government will still need to make decisions about long-term migration, including for work, family and study.

Interim findings and recommendations include:

  • The net migration target should not be an objective of EU migration policy.
  • Refusing to discuss reciprocal immigration arrangements with the EU will make it much harder to get a close economic partnership. Geography, shared economic, social and cultural bonds between the UK and EU mean we will need a distinct and reciprocal arrangement for EU migration that is linked to our economic relationship.
  • The Government has not considered the range of possible immigration measures and safeguards that could allow the UK to participate in the single market while putting in place new immigration controls. It should immediately do so. Should the Government change its red lines, there are a series of options which could provide a basis for greater control on migration within the single market.
  • Even whilst in the EU and during the transition there are immigration reform measures that the UK has not taken up – in particular on registration, enforcement, skills and labour market reforms to address lack of skills, exploitation or undercutting.
  • Irrespective of the future EU relationship, the Government should seek to improve labour market conditions. Regulation of the labour market, further measures to prevent exploitation and increased funding for enforcement would benefit both domestic and migrant workers, subject to practical arrangements with business.
  • Within a Free Trade Agreement the options depend on how close the agreement is, but it is not the case that an FTA would necessarily mean limited migration. A free trade agreement along the lines of CETA would only require limited immigration provisions, but decisions would still have to be made on long-term migration from the EU and there would still be pressure for educational, high and low skilled, seasonal and family migration that the government would need to address.
  • The DCFTA between the Ukraine and the EU gives a precedent for partial integration in the single market without requiring the free movement of people. The European Commission has said there can be no ‘cherry-picking’ of the four freedoms of the single market, however this is a political judgement rather than a technical or legal obstacle. The Committee notes that the EU-Ukraine package was agreed in the context of Ukraine moving towards the EU, rather than away, and the European Commission has so far insisted that, for the UK-EU negotiations, the four freedoms of the single market are indivisible.
  • Whatever the Government’s intentions for EU migration, it should overhaul immigration arrangements for non-EEA nationals about which the Committee received many complaints. We heard considerable evidence of problems that would arise if arrangements for non-EU migration were applied for EU migration.  The Government should also introduce a Seasonal Agricultural Workers scheme as soon as possible.

Chair of the Home Affairs Committee, Rt Hon Yvette Cooper MP, said:

“Immigration was one of the central issues during the referendum and it divided the country, but sadly there has been no attempt by the Government to hold any kind of sensible debate on it or build any kind of consensus on immigration since. That is deeply disappointing and it has left a vacuum—and it’s really important that people don’t exploit that again.

The misinformation and tensions over immigration during the referendum campaign were deeply damaging and divisive. It is essential that does not happen again, and those who exploited concerns over immigration during the referendum need to be more honest and more responsible when it is debated in the run up to the final deal. We are calling for a measured debate and consultation on immigration options instead.

We found there were a much wider range of possible precedents and options for immigration reform than people often talk about – including options that could be combined with participation in the single market – that we believe the Government should be exploring further now.”

Post-18 review

Nick Hillman has written a blog for HEPI on the cost of the student loans system.

  • Opponents of the student funding model we have, which is characterised by high fees and taxpayer-supported income-contingent loans, regularly point out the shift from the old model to the current one may not save money in the long run. Arguably, HEPI was the first organisation to point this out.
  • It is a clever debating point. It may well be true too, as could soon become much clearer if the way students loans are classified in the national accounts changes, as is widely expected.
  • The danger for the health of our higher education sector comes in failing to recognise that one logical policy response to believing the current funding system could cost more would be to deliver less funding for each student (known as ‘a lower unit of resource’). Another would be to introduce much tougher repayment conditions so that more money comes back to the Exchequer (known as a lower ‘RAB charge’) – if you doubt the likelihood of this, take a look at the new reduction in the student loan repayment threshold in Australia.
  • Are such changes really what opponents of the current funding model want? If not, what is the right policy response to the claim that the costs of higher education might have increased even during the austerity years? If we only deliver problems to politicians without mentioning our preferred solutions, we will not be well placed to complain when they deliver something we dislike. (There may be echoes of some of the arguments on Brexit here…).
  • I said above it may be true that the current system will end up costing more than the old one. It is certainly widely believed and, as pointed out in the previous paragraph, the argument has taken us to a tricky place. Yet, in fact, it is only conceivably true if you intentionally choose to ignore the likely huge extra tax payments from additional graduates. They should provide a boost to the Exchequer that far outweighs any additional long-term costs.

Sector challenges

Mary Stuart, VC of the University of Lincoln, has written for Wonkhe on 21st Century Challenges.  She looks at three drivers of change, technology, geography and globalisation and what she calls a “legitimation crisis” – the rise of populism and ant-establishment movements.

Adam Wright, Deputy Head of Policy (Higher Education and Skills) at the British Academy has written for Wonkhe on the market in HE.

  • It seems unfair to blame institutions for not responding well enough to market conditions. Providers are responding to the perverse incentives and uncertainties that are produced by market competition, and yet their behaviour is characterised as anti-market. Moreover, the responses to policies, regulation, incentives and uncertainties are messy and occur at the micro-political level, the result of competing personalities, different governance processes, and bureaucratic standard operating procedures – as much as anything else…
  • Both Government and the PAC look to the Office for Students (OfS) to make institutions (and students) behave as rational actors. OfS, whether it likes it or not, is now the very visible hand of the market. It’s now going to publish the salaries of vice chancellors and try to curb the excess, ignoring the fact that VC pay is the product of market forces and the encroachment of a corporate mindset on sector governance. This echoes the response to the financial crisis where the failures of unfettered capitalism were personified in individual bankers while the underlying contradictions of the free market were largely ignored.

His conclusion is that we need a new paradigm based on collaboration.

Consultations

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

New consultations and inquiries this week:

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

 

New Security textbook published by BU academic

Shamal Faily has just published the textbook Designing Usable and Secure Software with IRIS and CAIRIS with Springer.

The book was written to help practitioners, be these UX designers, security architects, or software developers, ‘build in’ security and usability. The ACM Code of Ethics states that True security requires usability – security features are of no practical use if users cannot or will not use them. This book explains how usable and secure software can be designed using the IRIS framework and the CAIRIS software platform, and provides real case studies where security and usability is incorporated into software designs at an early stage. This is something most people agree should be done, but few people give advice on how to do it. This book helps fill this gap.

The book also helps educators and students by providing a resource for a course on Security by Design. As explained in the preface, this book was written to support our undergraduate and postgraduate Security by Design unit at BU, and pointers are included on how different parts of this book can support this or similar courses.

More information about this book can be found here. As the book will be used to support teaching at BU, soft and hard copies should be available from the library soon.

Grand Challenges – Clean Growth and Future of Mobility

There are several initiatives to develop state of the art low carbon energy technologies to capture, generate and store energy from renewable sources. Non-renewable sources of energy especially those derived from fossil fuels are finite, and have been contributing to greenhouse gases. In turn ozone depletion and global warming are on the rise.

There have been recent developments in terms of tidal, wind, solar PV and solar thermal technologies, however there are still challenges in terms of efficiency and amount of useful energy that can be generated versus global demands. In addition, dependency on rare earth materials still exists, thermal efficiency of thermo-fluids (fluids used as a medium of heat energy transfer) have upper thresholds and have implications on the durability of systems. Costs of conventional energy materials such as cobalt and lithium carbonates have been rising sharply since 2015-16. Thermal instability of lithium ion batteries and issues are still significant.

At BU NanoCorr, Energy & Modelling (NCEM) Research Group we are developing novel solar thermal (low carbon) technologies incorporating nano enhanced thermofluids and storage materials.

Research and development in low carbon technology at BU is focused on two main themes; clean growth and future of mobility. For further details and to take part in discussion by providing your comments please click on the link (it takes less than a minute to register).

New publication by NCCA: 4D Cubism as a novel artistic technology

“IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications”, an influential magazine with a wide readership in both academia and industry, has just published the paper “4D Cubism: Modeling, Animation and Fabrication of Artistic Shapes”.

This multidisciplinary paper proposing a novel technology on the edge of art and science has been written by a team from the National Centre for Computer Animation (NCCA) of the Faculty of Media and Communication. The authors are Quentin Corker-Marin, Prof Alexander Pasko, and Dr Valery Adzhiev.

The paper has a non-trivial history. Initially, there was an UG student project (“Innovations” unit, “Computer Visualisation and Animation” course, Level 6) that was submitted as a Poster to the ACM SIGGRAPH 2017 conference in Los Angeles. As it was reported in the Research Blog in September 2017, Quentin was awarded there the second prize in the prestigious ACM Student Research Competition sponsored by Microsoft. Then a full-scale paper was submitted to the top magazine, and after successful peer-reviewing it was accepted and published. As to Quentin, in the end of 2017 he graduated from NCCA with a first class honours degree in computer visualisation and animation and works now in London as a 3D Artist for an award-winning production company Glassworks.

References

New multicentre international trial published in world leading respiratory medicine journal

Prof Alison McConnell of HSS’s iWell Research Centre has been part of an international, multi-centre placebo-controlled trial of adjunctive inspiratory muscle training for patients with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The trial, published in this month’s edition of the journal Thorax (impact factor 8.272) tested whether the addition of specific training of the inspiratory muscles enhanced the benefits to patients of traditional pulmonary rehabilitation programmes. It’s well-established that when undertaken separately, both interventions are effective; improving exercise tolerance, breathlessness and quality of life. However, there has been great controversy about whether adding the two interventions together provides superior outcomes.

The trial involved five centres in Europe and Canada, and 219 patients with COPD, taking 6 years to complete. The data indicated that exercise endurance time and breathlessness improved to a greater extent in patients who received rehabilitation plus inspiratory muscle training. The study also found that, irrespective of group allocation, those participants who achieved the greatest improvement in their inspiratory muscle function, also showed the greatest improvements in functional and clinical outcomes.

The full paper is available via Open Access here:

http://thorax.bmj.com/content/thoraxjnl/early/2018/06/18/thoraxjnl-2017-211417.full.pdf

‘GDPR for Charities’ workshop: a report

On Monday, June 11th we ran our long planned ‘GDPR for Charities’ workshop at the Enterprise Business Centre.  This workshop was one of the outputs from our Charity Impact Acceleration Scheme funded project to help a local charity with their GDPR readiness activities.  The aim of this workshop was to share the techniques and lessons learned from this project with the wider non-profit community in the Dorset region and beyond.  This was a one-day event attended by around 40 participants working for or with charities of various sizes.

Shamal Faily opened the workshop (slides) by setting out some of the challenges faced by charities making sense of GDPR, before giving an overview of what would be planned for the day.

Jane Henriksen-Bulmer then gave an overview of GDPR and Data Protection Impact Assessments (DPIAs) before presenting the ‘DPIA Data Wheel’ – a step-by-step process for carrying out a DPIA (slides).

The participants were then divided into four groups and, with the assistance of our BU facilitators, used the Data Wheel to conduct a DPIA for a hypothetical but realistic scenario. The groups then came together to present the privacy risks they found to the rest of the participants.

After lunch, Tessa Corner delivered a talk on StreetScene‘s experiences applying the DPIA Data Wheel (slides), before Shamal gave a talk on how to find security & privacy risks, and demonstrated the use of CAIRIS to support the discovery and management of risks (slides).

After these talks, Raian Ali hosted a lively panel on GDPR and its implications for charities before Jane closed the day by summarising some of the results of applying the DPIA Data Wheel with StreetScene (slides) and discussing some next steps to build on the momentum from this workshop (slides).

If you’re interested in finding out more about the workshop, or would like to get involved in any follow-on activities then please contact Jane Henriksen-Bulmer or Shamal Faily.

What students really want (and why it matters)

BU hosted Dr Diana Beech from the Higher Education Policy Institute on Wednesday morning for a policy breakfast, part of this year’s CELebrate symposium.  In a packed room and despite the early start, we had a great discussion about student perceptions, value (and value for money).

Diana started with a review of the HEPI/AdvanceHE 2018 Student Academic Experience Survey, which was published last week.  The survey was  established in 2006, so is now in its 12th year, giving useful data trends.  It surveys over 14,000 full-time undergraduate students in all years of study (not just final year students like the NSS).  The full survey is available to download for free.

  • It seems from the data, that contact time and private study have not changed much since 2006, despite the many changes in the sector, including growing student numbers, changes in funding etc.  However, since 2012, when fees were increased, perceptions of value for money by the students surveyed have fallen consistently – until this year.  This year the percentage of respondents saying that they believed that they were getting good, or very good value for money for their course, moved up from 35% to 38%.  And the percentage saying they got poor, or very poor value for money went down from 34% to 32%.  [Ed: These figures are often cited by Ministers, and were by Sam Gyimah at his speech last week (see our policy update last week for more on this topic) – “only [just over] a third of students think they get value for money” is the headline, and the government’s own initiatives in terms of a relentless focus on quality through the TEF, the new regulatory environment etc are credited with the improvement].
  • Diana described how this year a new question had been asked about what the reasons were behind the rating that had been given for value for money – for those saying that they received good or very good value, the top 5 reasons (in order) were teaching quality, course content, course facilities, career prospects and quality of campus.  On the other side, the top 5 reasons given by those who received poor or very poor value for money were tuition fees, teaching quality, contact hours, course content and cost of living.  It is interesting that teaching quality and course content are levers for good or bad value for money, that concern about money is clearly linked to perceptions of poor value.  It is also unsurprising to see contact hours linked to perceptions of poor value, but it may be of some surprise to see quality of campus linked to good value.
  • So on contact hours, Diana noted that those students with the highest perceptions of value for money also seem to be studying subjects with the greatest overall workload.  [Ed: This is not necessarily linked to contact hours – looking at contact hours the subjects seem to fall into three groups, with medicine, dentistry and veterinary and physical sciences standing out for the number of contact hours (15-19) and history, languages, business and social studies at the other end (8-10).  The rest fall in the middle, but the chart looks at total workload including independent study and work outside the course].
  • Diana also flagged another trend – the percentage of students saying that their experience has been better than they expected has fallen fairly consistently since a high point in 2013, and has fallen again this year from 25% to 23%.  Again, when students saying that the experience was worse than expected (12%), teaching quality came top of the reasons, with course organisation [Ed: a familiar NSS question], lack of support in independent study, lack of interaction with staff, poor feedback (Ed: NSS again) and contact hours featuring again.  The last two of the top 8 reasons were “not put in enough effort myself” (30%) and “too little interaction with other students” (26%).
  • Diana talked about commuter students, who are less likely to be satisfied, and more likely to say that if they had known what they know now, would not have entered HE – along with those who are employed for more than 10 hours and Asian students.  There is intersectionality here, Asian students and those who are employed for more than 10 hours have a higher propensity to be commuter students.  Diana talked about her recent report for HEPI looking at the potential growth in undergraduates by 2030 (as many as 500,000 more) – and the possibility that many of those may be commuter students – a challenge for the sector given the concerns raised above.
  • Developing this theme, Diana mentioned the recent paper written by Sir Anthony Seldon and Dr Alan Martin on the “positive and mindful university“.
  • Diana referred to the HEPI/Unite Students report “Reality Check – a report on university applicants’ attitudes and perceptions”.  One concern is that only 49% of applicants realise that rent will be their biggest cost apart from tuition fees.  Diana discussed concerns about whether students understand where their tuition fees are spent, and the interesting response to the question about how tuition fees should be spent (teaching facilities (65%), teaching staff (60%), student support services (57%) come top, campus development (52%), financial support for students (49%) and research facilities and resources (49%) come next.  Interestingly student recruitment and marketing are lower on the list (at 16% and 15%) and investing in the local community is supported by only 12%.

You can read Diana’s slides here.

We then had a Q and A and discussion session with a panel consisting of Debbie Holley, Lois Farquharson, Alex Hancox and Diana and chaired by Jane.

  • We discussed commuter students and the particular issues of making the campus “sticky” for these students, particularly in relation to HSS students who live near work and final year students who may have put down roots in their placement year and becoming commuter students is one reason why they can find it hard to reintegrate in their final year (there may be other reasons too). [Ed: see an interesting article on Wonkhe this week on stickiness generally)
  • We discussed issues linked to value for money – should we talk about value, and not focus on financial return [Ed: see last week’s policy blog for our take on the latest ministerial pronouncements about graduate salaries]
  • We also talked about the wider value of university in terms of life experience, friendships, soft skills- and how this is important but often overlooked [Ed: there are a couple of interesting articles on this in last week’s policy blog]
  • We talked about student information and the importance of making sure that applicants could access the information about the things that mattered for them, and how talking to students, and spending more time than just an open day, might be an important part of this.  We discussed briefly the importance of students understanding how their fees are spent (which is in the survey) and how to do this better.
  • In terms of expectations, Alex pointed out that students were overloaded with information in induction week and it was suggested that we need to follow up, drip feed etc.
  • We talked briefly about tuition and living costs.  Points were made about how challenges with living costs might be increasing the number of commuter students and affecting their outcomes.  We also discussed the unhelpful terminology around loans, debt, value for money, tuition fees that are really “university fees”.  [Ed: This is a very big subject, you might want to read BU’s response to the review of post-18 education and we gave links to other sector responses in our policy update on 4th May.]
  • We talked about mental health and wellbeing – including about how some students might choose to live at home for support.  We also discussed challenges with the definition of “living at home”  – it may be different issues for mature students who have families than 18 year old students who live with parents – although the impact on extra-curricular engagement may be the same
  • We talked about engaging students with research and equality of access to these sorts of opportunities for broader engagement
  • We discussed the TEF and the use of splits data – are universities really using their splits data and is it driving change?
  • In the context of contact hours, Alex made the point that quality of contact is as important as the amount – students may want more help not more lectures.

HEPI are interested in further research and policy publications, using this data or other data – please contact policy@bournemouth.ac.uk if you would like to discuss this further.

Many thanks to all who attended and we look forward to continuing the dialogue on many of these issues.