Both the Saturday and the Sunday edition of The Kathmandu Post carried articles on the International Conference on Education in a Federal Nepal. The coverage of this two-day conference (which ran on Friday and yesterday) included Prof. Stephen Tee’s keynote speech and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen reporting on research findings of an education study amongst health educators in Nepal, as well as FHSS’s Visiting Faculty, Prof. Padam Simkhada (based at Liverpool John Moores University). The conference organised by HISSAN and supported by 16 education partners including Bournemouth University, Liverpool John Moores University and The University of Utah (USA) was attended by some 400 delegates.
Category / innovation
Bournemouth University leads the Kosovo-strand of a major four-year AHRC ‘Global Challenges’ project titled ‘Changing the Story‘. This project aims at supporting the building of inclusive civil societies (CSOs) with, and for, young people in five post-conflict countries. It asks how the arts, heritage, and human rights education can support youth-centred approaches to civil society building in Cambodia, Colombia, Kosovo, Rwanda and South Africa. The Kosovo strand benefits from an established track record of collaboration with University of Prishtina (Co-I) and Stacion: Centre for Contemporary Arts in Prishtina as well as several arts-based civil society organisations in the country. The BU-led strand focuses on formal and informal civic education through the arts in Kosovo, to be explored locally by a Postgraduate Research Assistant, attached to University of Prishtina, through a critical review and proof of concept exercise during the first year. In support, BU is contributing a fully-funded PhD scholarship under the title ‘Imagining New Futures: Engaging Young People Through Participatory Arts in Post-Conflict Kosovo‘, which is currently being advertised.
International collaborative activities commenced last week in collaboration with an internationally-acclaimed CSO partner in Dorset, devoted to developing global youth citizenship through culture and the arts. The award-winning Complete Freedom of Truth project (TCFT), with which BU collaborated already previously, kindly offered a one-week residency to Albert Heta, Director of Stacion: Centre for Contemporary Arts in Prishtina. This residency brought together a group of artists, workshop leaders and young people from across the UK between February 12 and 16 in Bridport. Albert’s visit from Kosovo was funded by the AHRC and facilitated by BU’s new Research Centre ‘Seldom Heard-Voices: Marginalisation and Society Integration’ of the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences (FHSS). Together with Albert, some of the Centre’s members also participates in the events organised by TCFT, exchanged experiences and discussed best practice of working with young people of various background through the arts towards social justice. TCFT has a long history of working with young people, internationally, starting in post-conflict Srebrenica in 2008. Based on our observations during one week in Dorset, including of the issues selected as important by the young UK-participants during this period, we are currently reflecting on the extent to, and ways in, which arts-based interventions with a given set of young people in one specific socio-cultural context and its underpinning conceptualisations (such as of empowerment or vulnerability of, and pressures on, young people) can or cannot be transferred to another, such as that in which young people in Kosovo negotiate their aspirations.
Photo credit below: Robert Golden
Innovate UK has millions of pounds to invest in innovative UK businesses up to April 2018. Please see an overview below:
Emerging and enabling technologies and health and life sciences
Up to £19 million will be invested to support productivity and cutting-edge innovation across these 2 industry sectors.
A share of up to £19 million will be available for game-changing or disruptive innovations that have the potential to impact the UK economy.
This first biomedical catalyst competition of 2018 will offer up to £12million to SMEs working on projects solving healthcare challenges and these include:
- disease prevention and proactive management of health and chronic conditions
- earlier and better detection and diagnosis of disease, leading to better patient outcomes
- tailored treatments that either change the underlying disease or offer potential cures
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: Faraday Battery Challenge
The Faraday Battery Challenge supports the design, development and manufacture of batteries for the electrification of vehicles as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: robotics
Up to £20 million will be available in this competition. It is being funded as part of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund for robotics and artificial intelligence in extreme environments.
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund: medicines manufacturing
Innovate UK is investing up to £10 million in innovation projects in medicines manufacturing through the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
Collaborative research and development projects with focus on the technical and commercial challenges of manufacturing new medicines are sought.
New opportunities will be published on the Innovation Funding Service as and when they are available. Search for funding.
It’s a quiet week in policy. The UK Parliament is currently in recess, meaning parliamentarians are focussed on their constituency business rather than national initiatives. Below are brief summaries of recent news, click into the links for more detailed information.
The UK Research Office publicised their Participant Portal highlighting its functionality to search for partners within the context of individual call topics.
Research Professional describes German innovations in nursing. Four practice centres will harness new technologies to trial new equipment and advances in practice in a partnership which combines research with industry and Government investment. Ideas to be trialled at the centres include reclining beds that adjust the patient’s position via sensors, innovative transport systems to get nurses around the centres more quickly, disinfectant robots, digital companions and innovative solutions to reduce noise pollution.
Research Professional report that the European Patent Office has changed its infrastructure and made senior appointments to speed up the patenting processes. The department has also been reorganised to reflect current demand for patenting:
- mobility and mechatronics
- healthcare, biotechnology and chemistry
Research Professional detail Eurodoc’s call for Framework 9 to support studies into early career researchers health and working conditions. They also requested that every project funded by Framework 9 should help researchers gain the skills to switch to working in industry, as many researchers choose to do. Finally they requested the budget be doubled to, in part, increase the number of positions for early-careers researchers in the Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions programme and in the Starting Grants awarded by the European Research Council. Happiness at work was also one of the most popular THE articles in 2017.
BU’s Jo Garrad describes how you can get the best out of your Research Professional subscription by personalising the content you receive: Jo’s blog.
Institutes of Technology Fund: In December the Government announced a £170 million fund to establish Institutes of Technology delivering high level technical skills that meet employer needs. The Institutes of Technology will combine business, education and training providers within technical (particularly STEM) subjects to deliver the specific provision needed by local, regional and national employers. It forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy that will directly target skills gaps through upskilling existing and new entrants to the workforce. The first Institutes of Technology are expected to open in 2019.
Justine Greening stated:
“Institutes of technology will play a vital role driving our skills revolution with business and unlocking the potential of our country’s young people through better technical education. By bridging the country’s skills gaps, these new institutions will drive growth and widen opportunity.”
“This Government continues to invest in developing our homegrown talent so British business has the skills it needs and so that young people can get the opportunities they want.”
UKRO announced that the European Commission has published the list of expert evaluations who reviewed the Horizon 2020 proposals (2016 calls). See more here and in the European Commission’s reference documents.
Industrial Strategy: The House of Lords has produced a library briefing on the Industrial Strategy and the UK Economy
Artificial Intelligence & Automation: The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing paper on Artificial Intelligence and Automation in the UK. Increasing digital skills, filling employment gaps, and funding for AI research are key issues for Government who seek to grow the AI industry. A sector deal for AI was announced in the Autumn 2017 Budget. This briefing paper considers the impact of AI and automation on the UK workforce, including how working lives may change. There are a broad range of predictions caveated by uncertainties such as the rate of technological development, rate of deployment, and the geographical variations. The paper concludes that the impact is likely to be significant and the Bank of England predicts that 15 million jobs will be influenced by automation over the next 20 years.
Consultations: Current academic consultations cover economist degree apprenticeships, health service workforce development and inshore fisheries pilots.
We’ll be back with the general HE policy update tomorrow.
JANE FORSTER | SARAH CARTER
Policy Advisor Policy & Public Affairs Officer
Follow: @PolicyBU on Twitter | email@example.com
IF you currently have a good working relationship with an industry partner and you are seeking funding opportunities for future/further collaborations, you and your industry partner might find the funding opportunities below useful. Please note that some of these will require working with industry with some of the funders specifically targeting the industry partner as the lead.
Innovate UK, GB
This new fund is aimed at helping support small businesses with a bright idea to develop their concepts in partnership with researchers or academic institutions. These support small food and drink business innovators with an idea to develop their concepts in partnership with researchers or academic institutions. The competition, run on behalf of Defra by the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), will support projects of three to six months.
Maximum award: £5,000
Closing date: 12 Jan 18
Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, GB
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy is calling for tenders for its industrial fuel switching market engagement study. The tenderer will focus on the potential for low carbon fuel switching across industry, identifying a range of potential technologies that through fuel switching can reduce the carbon intensity of industry and should include a review of the existing evidence, starting with the 2050 Roadmaps; identifying the types of process technologies that require a fuel (energy) and determine the potential for fuel substitution to a low carbon fuel; develop a list of technologies with future market potential and support the technology developers in detailing the potential carbon saving.
The contract is worth £200,000.
Maximum award: £200,000
Closing date: 12 Jan 18
Digital Single Market, EU
The aim of the preparatory action is to develop a coherent, coordinated and sustainable approach to enhance the engagement of all relevant stakeholders interested in the digitisation of European industry (business, academia, research organisations and civil society) and to inform, prepare and help them develop projects designed to face the new transformations.
Maximum award: €1,494,000
Closing date: 31 Jan 18
Please do get in touch with Ehren Milner (firstname.lastname@example.org) at RKEO for further queries.
In line with the Industrial Strategy White Paper released last week, Innovate UK have announced further updates to their KTP programme.
These updates relate to competition deadlines. The Innovate UK priority area competitions were introduced as themed deadlines for KTP this year and some recent changes to the expected deadlines for the rest of this financial year have been released. .
The competition order for deadlines is now as follows:
- 31st January 2018 – Infrastructure Systems AND Manufacturing & Materials
- 7th February 2018 – Open call
- 14th March 2018 – Emerging & Enabling Technologies AND Health & Life Sciences
- April 2018 – Open call
As a reminder, an additional £300m has been added to the KTP budget for this financial year, so if you’re thinking of applying and have a business to partner with, now is a great time to push forward.
Please contact Rachel Clarke, KE Adviser with any KTP ideas.
The KEF is coming
On 1st December, HEFCE launched a consultation on the new Knowledge Exchange Framework – the KEF – which was announced earlier in the Autumn by the Jo Johnson – as the “third leg” of the HE stool*. Putting aside the rather unflattering stool analogy, we prefer to think of this as the third side of the Fusion triangle. (For those of you who have not yet looked at the staff consultation on the BU2025 strategy, spoiler alert – the proposed new Fusion device is more of a vaguely triangular swirl. Much more inclusive and dynamic. And better colours than the red and yellow of the previous one.) But anyway, knowledge exchange is an important part of what we do at BU and this is important.
The consultation, which closes at the end of January, will give us a chance to contribute to the design of this framework. The HEFCE press release says “The KEF metrics system will provide more information for the public and businesses on the performance of universities in knowledge exchange – how they share knowledge, expertise and other assets for the benefit of the economy and society. The aim is to provide regularly updated data that enables fair comparison between institutions’ performance in knowledge exchange. This will help to support further improvements in universities and promote accountability, responsiveness to economic and societal needs and effective use of public funds.”
So much like the TEF this is being pitched as being about value for money and choice (for those interested in funding research or choosing where to work). And, like the REF (indirectly), and as with the TEF (at least as originally planned – more on this later), there are cash incentives for universities to do well in this new framework via HEIF funding.
“The KEF metrics will help support the Industrial Strategy, which includes the commitment announced on 27 November to increase Higher Education Innovation Funding to £250 million by 2020-21. This increase will allow Universities to work with businesses of all sizes to support the delivery of the Industrial Strategy in diverse ways.”
And of course, like the TEF, the key to all of it is the metrics. A metrics working group has been established – details of the people are below.
There are only 5 questions, as follows.
- What approaches and data need to be used to ensure a fair and meaningful comparison between different universities, taking into account factors that might impact individual institution’s knowledge exchange performance (such as research income, size or local economic conditions), whilst allowing identification of relative performance? How should benchmarking be used?
- Other than HE-BCI survey data, what other existing sources of data could be used to inform a framework, and how should it be used?
- What new (or not currently collected) data might be useful to such a framework?
- How should KEF metrics be visualised to ensure they are simple, transparent and useful to a non-specialist audience?
- Any other comments?
This is a bit of a concern. If it measures research income, there is a great risk of it being circular – and therefore not inclusive across the sector. This would conflict with the principles behind the Industrial Strategy – which are about focussing on areas of strength – wherever they are. We would prefer it not to be entirely metrics based (as we said for the TEF – where the written submission became a key part of the process and had a significant impact on the outcome in some cases).
Questions 2 and 3 are the opportunities to get into this debate – even through the questions are framed as questions about metrics. The letter from the Minister commissioning the work is a bit more helpful: “The design process should: …
- Consider whether additional metrics can be devised and collected to provide a more comprehensive view of the effectiveness of universities’ external engagement, whilst having regard to the burden and cost of collection.
- Take into account factors that might impact individual universities’ knowledge exchange performance, such as the university’s research income, size or local economic conditions, to ensure comparability between institutions …”
We will be working with RKEO to draft a BU response to this, so please contact email@example.com if you would like to contribute to this process.
The key people involved: “The technical group, chaired by Professor Richard Jones FRS, University of Sheffield, will advise HEFCE and later RE on the design and delivery of the new KEF metrics system. The group’s members have been chosen to provide expertise in knowledge exchange metrics and external insights on performance. The members of the KEF metrics technical advisory group are:
- Chair: Professor Richard Jones, FRS, Professor of Physics, University of Sheffield. EPSRC Council Member.
- Tomas Coates Ulrichsen, Research Associate, Centre for Science, Technology and Innovation, University of Cambridge.
- Alice Frost, Head of Knowledge Exchange policy, HEFCE / Research England.
- Alice Hu Wagner, Managing Director for Strategy, Economics and Markets, British Business Bank.
- Professor Graeme Reid, Professor of Science and Research Policy, University College London. Member of the Research England Council.
- Mr Peter Saraga CBE, FREng, Senior Independent Member on the Research England Council. Former Managing Director of Philips Research Laboratories UK, Chair of HEFCE’s UKRPIF panel, and formerly President of the Institute of Physics and Vice-President of the Royal Academy of Engineering.
- Stian Westlake, Policy Adviser to the Minister for State for Universities, Research and Innovation at Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
- BEIS observer: Carolyn Reeve / Thomas Crawley.
- HEFCE / Office for Students observers: Mario Ferelli, Richard Puttock
- Higher Educations Statistics Agency (HESA) observer: Andy Youell, Director of Data Policy and Governance, HESA.
- Head of secretariat: Hamish McAlpine, HEFCE / Research England
Professor Trevor McMillan, Vice-Chancellor of Keele University, has been leading work on the principles and good practices of university knowledge exchange since 2015. He will continue to do so, including providing advice to UK Research and Innovation (UKRI). For the KEF metrics system, Professor McMillan and his university expert group will advise on the value of the exercise for good practice development within universities”.
*(with REF and TEF – we’re in TLA chaos. Even though the TEF is now TESOF (SO = student outcomes) but we’re not allowed to call it that). Arguably as has been noted elsewhere, the KEF should be KEEF – Knowledge Exchange Excellence Framework). As we have also noted before, many voices have suggested that the OfS should be the OfSHE (Office for Students and Higher Education). But TLAs are the thing, it seems).
And…the major review of fees and funding….
We have discussed the options for fees and funding a lot recently, as the “national debate” that followed the election was continued over the summer and the debate shifted to whether there would be a review or not after the Conservative Party Conference in October. The Minister told Wonkfest in early November to watch for it in the budget, but no…. The BBC reported on 1st December that it is actually happening – so please keep watching this space.
Future of skills and lifelong learning report
The Government Office for Science have issued the Future of Skills and Lifelong Learning report. In 112 pages it sets out a pathway to develop skills in the UK to support the Industrial Strategy, productivity and improve wages (and health and wellbeing along the way).
The focus on workplace learning, placements and work experience, and the role of extra-curricular activities are very interesting and consistent with the BU approach in many ways – so this is interesting for us. It also raises interesting questions about supply and demand and information flows.
To quote from the executive summary:
- “Young adults in the UK have relatively poor literacy and numeracy and there are signs that we are falling further behind international competitors. …Seven OECD countries have numeracy scores equal to or higher than the UK for all age groups, and the number of countries increases considerably if the UK’s high-performing 60-65 age group is excluded. Literacy for UK 16-19 year-olds is ahead of only Chile and Turkey among a group of 24 (mostly OECD) countries. Literacy and numeracy performance varies between UK regions, with London and the South East achieving the highest scores …There is also evidence of intergenerational effects, with poor parental attainment reflected in the educational outcomes of the child. Breaking out of this cycle may require interventions that target both the parent and child, for example family learning programmes. Improvements to literacy and numeracy continue beyond school and higher education into the early years of work, suggesting that workplace environments play an important role in developing these skills.
- Employers believe labour market entrants are not properly prepared for the workforce; again the UK compares poorly against other countries. Employers are looking not only for better literacy and numeracy, relevant qualifications and/or discipline-specific training but also for more positive attitudes towards work as well as ‘character’ attributes. Greater collaboration between employers and education providers may help to ensure that education-leavers are equipped with the skills that are in demand. Work placements and experience can help individuals gain the non-academic skills desired by employers. However, only around one-third of employers offer these opportunities and they are predominantly found in the South East of England. Informal learning also has a part to play, including participation in peer-to-peer learning or sports and other extra-curricular activities.
- The UK has relatively large mismatches between the supply of and the demand for skills. Skills underutilisation is particularly high in the UK, while at the same time there are shortages of some particular high-level skills. Such mismatches imply that education providers are not offering, or students are not selecting, the courses that match with employers’ skills needs, and that future skill needs are not being fully anticipated. Improving the quality of and access to labour market information may be able to help address this.
- Many places and sectors in the UK are in “low skills equilibrium”. A low skills equilibrium occurs when the availability of low-skilled jobs is matched by a low-skilled workforce, such that students have limited incentives to gain higher skills (or to remain in that place if they have them) and employers adapt to but are constrained by the skills supply. This is a stable equilibrium that can only be changed if supply and demand for skills are addressed together. If only the supply of skills improves, not the demand, it will create surplus and underutilisation or prompt migration to where those skills are in demand. This suggests that close partnerships between employers and providers of education and training are required to avoid mismatches, or improved infrastructure is needed to facilitate longer commuting distances.
- Participation in formal learning declines with age. Adult learning is in overall decline and is disproportionately taken up by wealthier, more highly skilled individuals. Formal workplace training has also declined over the last 15 years. This may in part be explained by the fact that learning by adults aged 55+ has shifted from formal to ‘informal’ channels in the last decade or so, with higher socio-economic groups more likely to engage in such self-directed or peer-driven learning, potentially because of positive prior experience of education. While cost and lack of time are reported as common barriers to adult learning for individuals of all skill levels, individuals with no qualifications are more likely to cite attitudinal barriers including lack of confidence, lack of interest, and feeling too old to learn. However, low skilled individuals or those from poor socio-economic backgrounds and minority groups, reap the greatest rewards from learning. If the former trend persists, it suggests that older and particularly lower skilled individuals will be especially vulnerable in a future labour market that is likely to place a premium on lifelong learning.
And one conclusion:
- “Analysis of the wage benefits associated with higher levels of education suggests that the returns on learning are substantial. A 2013 estimate found that an individual who has earned a bachelor’s degree will earn on average £210,000 more over the course of their lifetime, after taxes and loan costs, than someone with only A-levels. The benefit is greater for women, at £252,000 than for men, at £168,0006 (BIS, 2013b, p.5).”
As noted, this was published last week and we are still digesting it (another 100+ pages). However, at least the models are simplified from the Green Paper (10 pillars etc). Now it has 5 foundations: Ideas, People, Infrastructure, Business Environment and Places and 4 grand challenges. The paper says “Our focus on them responds to the detailed feedback to the Green Paper”.
To coincide with the publication of the Industrial Strategy White Paper, UUK has published new guidance for businesses on how best to involve and engage with universities when developing a sector deal.
So what is actually going to happen? There is more detail below – and some practical steps to implement it:
- “We will create an independent Industrial Strategy Council that will develop measures to assess and evaluate our Industrial Strategy and make recommendations to the government. The Council will have access to relevant government data and will be funded to commission specific evaluation projects as appropriate. It will be drawn from leading business men and women, investors, economists and academics from across the UK.”
- “Investing in R&D to transform our economy. For the UK to become the most innovative country in the world we need a generational increase in public and private R&D investment. In this strategy we commit to reach 2.4 per cent of GDP investment in R&D by 2027 and to reach 3 per cent of GDP in the longer term, placing us in the top quartile of OECD countries. If we meet this target we will transform our economy. It could increase public and private R&D investment by as much as £80bn over the next 10 years, with much wider benefits across the UK economy.”
To do this:
- As a first step we will invest an additional £2.3bn over what was previously planned in 2021/22, raising total public investment in R&D to approximately £12.5bn in that year alone.
- We will work with industry in the coming months to develop a roadmap for meeting this target. This will provide a framework to drive business investment in R&D and focus on key sectors, technologies and clusters, including by optimising government investment to drive private investment in R&D and considering further opportunities to improve the business environment, including access to finance, regulatory frameworks, and intellectual property. This will maximise the impact of public investment in science and innovation to support businesses to invest more and drive outputs to realise our commitment to invest 2.4 per cent of GDP in R&D.
- We will invest a further £725m in a second wave of the Industrial Strategy Challenge programme across the UK to respond to some of the greatest global challenges and opportunities – from climate change to automation….
- We will invest £300m over the next three years in world-class talent including in priority areas aligned with the Industrial Strategy, such as artificial intelligence, to enhance our skilled workforce and attract private sector R&D investment. This investment will focus on collaboration and the flow of people between industry and academia and interdisciplinary and cutting-edge research and innovation to support the Industrial Strategy programme and the Grand Challenges. Support will range from Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and PhD programmes, with strong and flexible links to industry, to prestigious awards that support rising stars and the top talent from both the UK and overseas.
- We will work with our leading universities, research institutes and UK Research and Innovation to increase global investors’ R&D activities taking place in the UK. Of the world’s 2,500 top R&D investors, just 50 businesses are responsible for 40 per cent of private sector investment globally. If we could attract an additional five per cent of R&D from these top 50, UK based R&D would increase by around a third.
- We will work with UKRI to develop a new competitive Strategic Priorities Fund…This will support high quality R&D priorities which would otherwise be missed – multidisciplinary and inter-disciplinary programmes identified by researchers and businesses at the cutting edge of research and innovation. …. UK Research and Innovation strategy will deliver a real-terms increase in council budgets of approximately 20 per cent between 2015/16 and 2019/20. We will also increase support for Quality-Related research through Research England. This recognises the vital importance of providing underpinning funding for our world-leading universities to invest in the excellence and impact of their research and ensure the sustainability of our research infrastructure.
- We will improve the UK tax system to support innovation. ….
- We will make it easier to finance innovation by increasing the resources for government agencies that promote and fund innovation like Innovate UK – our world leading innovation agency that supports businesses across the UK to collaborate and innovate – and the British Business Bank..
- We are also allocating a further £44m of grant funding to enable Innovate UK to fund £150m of responsive grant competitions in 2017/18. This will allow it to support hundreds more high-growth businesses, collaborations and industries to innovate and compete in future global markets. In addition, Innovate UK will pilot new ways of financing innovation: – £50m Innovation Loans pilot over the next two years to target the most promising projects in viable businesses on the cusp of commercialisation, but not yet ready to access loans from commercial lenders; and – an Investment Accelerator pilot to bring in seed equity alongside grant funding by matching the most innovative early stage businesses with investors. …
- We will develop an agile approach to regulation that promotes innovation, the growth of new sectors, and innovative market entrants while ensuring effective protections for citizens and the environment. An example is establishing a clear framework for autonomous vehicles and, through our Digital Charter, building agreement on the ethical and effective use of new technologies and data. …
- We will improve public procurement as an important source of finance for innovative businesses that does not dilute their equity and gives an endorsement for others to invest. …. we will refocus the [Small Business Research Initiative] SBRI programme to increase its impact for innovative businesses, aligning it with Grand Challenges and building capability in the public sector to drive productivity by adopting SBRI solutions. As a first step, this month we announced a new GovTech Catalyst with a GovTech Fund of up to £20m over three years, which will use SBRI to support tech firms to provide the government with innovative solutions for more efficient public services
- raise total research and development(R&D) investment to 2.4 per cent of GDP by 2027;
- increase the rate of R&D tax credit to 12 per cent;
- invest £725m in new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programmes to capture the value of innovation;
- establish a technical education system that rivals the best in the world to stand alongside our world-class higher education system;
- invest an additional £406m in maths, digital and technical education, helping to address the shortage of science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) skills;
- create a new National Retraining Scheme that supports people to re-skill, beginning with a £64m investment for digital and construction training;
- increase the National Productivity Investment Fund to £31bn, supporting investments in transport, housing and digital infrastructure;
- support electric vehicles through £400m charging infrastructure investment and an extra £100m to extend the plug-in car grant;
- boost our digital infrastructure with over £1bn of public investment, including £176m for 5G and £200m for local areas to encourage roll out of full-fibre networks;
- launch and roll-out Sector Deals – partnerships between government and industry aiming to increase sector productivity. The first Sector Deals are in life sciences, construction, artificial intelligence and the automotive sector;
- drive over £20bn of investment in innovative and high potential businesses, including through establishing a new £2.5bn Investment Fund, incubated in the British Business Bank;
- launch a review of the actions that could be most effective in improving the productivity and growth of small and medium-sized businesses, including how to address what has been called the ‘long tail’ of lower productivity firms;
- agree Local Industrial Strategies that build on local strengths and deliver on economic opportunities;
- create a new Transforming Cities fund that will provide £1.7bn for intra-city transport. This will fund projects that drive productivity by improving connections within city regions; and
- provide £42m to pilot a Teacher Development Premium. This will test the impact of a £1000 budget for high-quality professional development for teachers working in areas that have fallen behind.
- These policies, alongside the many others set out in this document, are the first strategic actions of a long-term approach to transform our levels of productivity and our earning power as a nation, as businesses, as places, and as individuals. We are ready to be judged on our performance in implementing them.
The data relating to study found in the year ending September 2017:
- An increase of 8 per cent in Short-term student visas
- A 6 per cent increase in University sponsored study visa application
- Increases of 9 per cent for Russell Group universities to 87,362,
- A decrease of 4 per cent in applications for the Further education sector
Nationalities data for the year ending September 2017 (top 5):
- China: +15 per cent
- United States: +6 per cent
- India: +27 per cent
- Hong Kong: +5 per cent
- Saudi Arabia: -2 per cent
The lead story is the rise in visa applications for Indian students, with the first annual rise in applications since 2010: THE Article. [thanks to Dods for the summary].
Jo Johnson has tweeted about this.
Two parliamentary committees on issues of key importance to the higher education sector are now taking written evidence.
The Joint Committee on Human Rights inquiry into freedom of speech in universities has a deadline for written evidence of 15 December, while the Treasury Committee’s inquiry into student loans will accept submissions until 31 December.
Earlier this week Professor Julia Buckingham, Vice-Chancellor of Brunel University London, represented UUK before the House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee in relation to its ongoing inquiry into the economics of higher, further and technical education.
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JANE FORSTER | SARAH CARTER
Policy Advisor Policy & Public Affairs Officer
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In the past few days of November, the Women’s Academic Network (WAN) has hosted an interactive, feminist art exhibition by the Red Luna Artists’ Collective entitled ‘Project Vagina’. The exhibition, held in the Atrium Art Gallery in Poole House, has been open to staff, students and the general public, with an invitation also issued to our creative neighbours next door at AUB.
The project was developed from an original idea by Dr Aanka Batta of FMC with artist colleague, Rebekah Brown. Making its debut at the FirstSite Art Gallery in Colchester in September 2017, the BU exhibition was spearheaded by Rebekah where the concepts were taken to new heights with a new and bigger interactive artefact and accompanying film by actor/comedian, Megan Juniper, of My Fanny Valentine, shown at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe Festival.
The exhibition used playful and innovative treatment of very serious issues relating to the representation of women’s bodies and the influence on the developing identities of girls and women. The artefact itself is large enough to climb into and where by the end four of my students were all sitting inside it discussing the ideas it inspired, much of which seemed experiential.
Sexual harassment, rape, female genital mutilation, misogyny and sexism are hardly funny of course, nor might some think that childbirth, sexual health, menstruation and the menopause were laughing matters either. Yet the ludic nature of this exhibition was subversive in itself, where we are reminded of the mythological maverick, the ancient Greek goddess Baubo, who flashes her vulva to exuberantly reveal her sexual power. She is a cosmic joker, irreverent, subversive and full of joy and life force. She overturns the hierarchies and reveals the hidden. She is both midwife to the world and archetypal prankster – and unambiguously and overtly a woman.
While I am grateful to everyone who helped me to organise the exhibition, I also have to say it was an education in itself. I wrote numerous, lengthy iterations of risk assessment to prevent the possibility of some hapless individual stumbling into an art exhibition, labelled Project Vagina, that might unexpectedly relate to female genitals and issues associated with women’s bodies. As a feminist sociologist I am dismayed to see how far we have yet to go in being able to openly talk about and publicly engage with topics relating to sexuality and gender, particularly in reference to women’s sexuality, without fear of causing major offence.
So what have the students thought of the exhibition so far? My students, drawn from HSS and FST students of both sexes, seemed to engage with the exhibition enthusiastically. The discussions generated among them were both funny and very moving as well, where, despite their youth, it seems little has progressed in terms of supporting young people in the transition towards adulthood. If girls are insufficiently supported it seems that boys may also be losing out in a number of ways. Perhaps this is owing to the age-old issue of men’s sexuality and identity seeming to be straightforward, obvious, unproblematic – and therefore not worth talking about; while women’s are viewed as occluded, mysterious and alarming – and best not talked about!
At any rate, students definitely wanted more. Thus following on from this, WAN are already discussing how Red Luna can go bigger and better and return to BU next year with a brand new event that speaks about more to an even bigger audience displaying their compelling brand of compassionate, subversive, innovative, thought-provoking, feminist fun!
A little bit late this week, but that gave us the opportunity to include a reference to the Industrial Strategy, launched today. It has just been published and you can find it here. It sounds as if it hasn’t moved on much from the Green Paper – read our end of summer summary here.
Headlines, courtesy of Dods, are:
- Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund will invest £725 million in new programmes to capture the value of innovation
- first ‘Sector Deals’ – to help sectors grow and equip businesses for future opportunities
- 4 ‘Grand Challenges’ which will take advantage of global trends to put the UK at the forefront of the industries of the future.
Sector Deals will include construction, life sciences, automotive and AI the first to benefit from these new strategic and long-term partnerships with government, backed by private sector co-investment. Work will continue with other sectors on transformative sector deals.
4 Grand Challenges; global trends that will shape our rapidly changing future and which the UK must embrace to ensure we harness all the opportunities they bring, they are:
- artificial intelligence – we will put the UK at the forefront of the artificial intelligence and data revolution
- clean growth – we will maximise the advantages for UK industry from the global shift to clean growth
- ageing society – we will harness the power of innovation to help meet the needs of an ageing society
- future of mobility – we will become a world leader in the way people, goods and services move
To ensure that the government is held to account on its progress in meeting the ambitions set out in the strategy, an Independent Industrial Strategy Council will be launched in 2018 to make recommendations to government on how it measures success.
Linked to this, ahead of the budget, the PM announced a boost to research funding. The Government will make an additional investment of £2.3 billion in 2021/22 (total R&D investment £12.5 billion in 2021/22). They will also work with industry to boost R&D spending to 2.4% of GDP by 2027 (possible increase of £80 billion over next 10 years).
The Business Secretary, Greg Clark said: “Through our Industrial Strategy we are committed to building a knowledge and innovation-led economy and this increase in R&D investment, to 2.4 per cent of GDP, is a landmark moment for the country. The UK is a world leader in science and innovation. By delivering this significant increase as part of our Industrial Strategy, we are building on our strengths and working with business to ensure that UK scientists and researchers continue to push the boundaries of innovation.”
Budget and the fees review
And having mentioned the budget – we were expecting an announcement about HE fees and funding, but there wasn’t one. There was a hint about post-study visas. As you will recall, if you have been following the “national debate” since May, a “major review” was promised by the PM at the Conservative Party conference in October with a freeze on fee increases in the meantime and nothing has been heard since. Fee increases for were put on hold – so that there are currently no planned increases for 2018/19 or beyond. Wonkhe have noticed that the “red book” that comes out with the budget has confirmed that this freeze is planned for 2 years but nothing is said beyond that. So the review may still be on the cards, but maybe the budget was too soon, or too risky, a forum for that announcement.
And with that in mind, note this bit from the summary of the Lords Select Committee proceedings below “Cross-subsidy is worth a major inquiry in its own right.”
Following the Panorama programme disclosing alleged abuse of the student loan system, questions were asked in Parliament last week
Gordon Marsden: What safeguards her Department operates to prevent the abuse of student loan funding by private Higher Education providers. 
- Higher Education Institutions that are designated for student support must, on an annual basis, meet robust standards for quality, financial sustainability, and management and governance.
- Designated Alternative Providers without their own Degree Awarding Powers are also subject to student number controls, limiting the number of students eligible for student support that they can recruit each year.
- The Department can and does use sanctions where breaches of the conditions of designation are identified, including the suspension or removal of designation for student support where we have serious concerns about providers.
- Following the passage of the Higher Education and Research Act, the Office for Students (OfS) will be established formally in January 2018. It will provide, for the first time, a single regulator for higher education providers regardless of how they are funded. The OfS will have powers to assess the quality of, and standards applied to all English Higher Education provision.
- The OfS will place a focus on students and greater emphasis on ensuring value for money for students and taxpayers. There will continue to be tough and rigorous tests for providers who want to enter the system and enable students from all backgrounds to receive funding.
Angela Rayner: What additional funding allocation her Department will receive for each of the next three financial years to fund the increased RAB charge resulting from the increase to post-2012 loan repayment thresholds. 
- The Government has frozen tuition fees for academic year 2018/19 and for financial year 2018-19 has raised both the repayment threshold and the thresholds at which variable interest rates apply to borrowers in repayment.
- The repayment threshold will rise from £21,000 to £25,000 for the 2018-19 financial year (from 6 April 2018). Following the threshold change, interest will be charged at RPI for those earning below £25,000 (compared to £21,000 before) and at RPI+3% for those earning above £45,000 (compared to £41,000 before), with interest applied on a sliding scale for those earning between those two thresholds.
- The long-term cost of the student loan system is reflected in the Resource Accounting and Budgeting (RAB) Charge, which measures the proportion of loan outlay that we expect not to be repaid when future repayments are valued in present terms. In each of the financial years (a) 2017-18, (b) 2018-19 and (c) 2019-20, the RAB charge for higher education loans is expected to change from around 30% under the previous policy to between 40% and 45% under the new policy.
- The allocated budget for RAB expenditure forms part of the total resource departmental expenditure limit. It is disclosed within the depreciation figure set out within the annual report and accounts. In the 2016-17 annual report and accounts, this was forecast to be £3.5bn for 2017-18, £3.9bn for 2018-19 and £4.3bn in 2019-20. As in prior years, the 2017-18 budget and future budgets will be reviewed as part of the annual Estimates process and confirmed in the published Estimates documents.
- The cost of the system is a conscious investment in young people. It is the policy subsidy required to make higher and further education widely available, achieving the Government’s objectives of increasing the skills in the economy and ensuring access to university for all with the potential to benefit.
Gordon Marsden: What monitoring and scrutiny of student recruitment agents for private Higher Education and Further Education providers her Department undertakes. 
- All higher and further education providers are accountable for their respective recruitment practices. If those breach the respective conditions for funding then a consequence may be regulatory sanctions or termination of their contract. Providers are subject to robust regular monitoring for standards for quality, financial sustainability and management and governance.
- And in the meantime, the House of Lords Economic Affairs Select Committee investigation into the Economics of Higher, Further and Technical Education continues. This week’s update comes from the oral evidence heard on 14 November.
Q: To what extent do you think technical education can be delivered through higher education institutions?
- Professor Patrick Bailey (DVC, London South Bank University): all the universities are delivering higher education courses that include enormous amounts of information directly relevant to workplaces. Most…ensure that all their students will have professional practice and some of the technical skills that are going to be required when they move into jobs afterwards. There is a move…to ensure that students are job-ready when they leave. There is a misconception that there are technical skills and pure academic subjects. Even those that would be defined as purely academic now have significant components that ensure that people are ready for a wide range of tasks. Many universities are also well directed towards developing the technical skills.
- Pam Tatlow (Chief Executive, MillionPlus): If you want to deliver learning and qualifications that match what employers want and the reality of students’ lives, whatever their age, there is a very good case for a more flexible funding system where you fund by credit or module. That would reflect the reality of the lives of students, both the younger ones and the older ones already in the workplace…. However, it would not be for the Chancellor to introduce the primary legislation we need to create a more flexible funding system. The Government missed an opportunity to do that in both the Education Act 2011 and the Higher Education and Research Act 2017.
- Professor Bailey: There is a subtlety here in that once students are enrolled on a three-year programme, universities are penalised in how they are judged if students do not progress through to that degree… across the sector overall we are losing the opportunity to upskill a wide range of people who could meet the needs of the industries around the UK, which are crying out for levels 4, 5 and 6 in particular.
- Professor Bailey: The universities are extremely well placed to take level 4s and upwards. However…the ability to have a break and to exit at an early stage without a penalty increases the opportunity for many, particularly part-time and mature students who are challenged in other ways. There is a continuum: the idea that it is either FE or HE is wrong. FE does not have either the expertise or facilities to deliver at level 6 and rarely at level 5. Crucially, more and more universities like mine are working closely with FE to ensure that students feel they have a choice, as they come through level 3, either to go to level 4 at FE or move to a higher education degree at a university. It comes back to giving choice and ensuring that students have the chance to develop skills to their maximum potential.
- Lord Burns: The same question has been on my mind. Are you saying that you can see a world in which universities are going to do both HE and FE work? I can see that FE cannot do the university work but over the years I have watched universities becoming involved in more and more different areas…with mergers, they are getting bigger and bigger. Is the end product here that universities will try to do everything over the age of 18?
Pam Tatlow: No.
Sir Anthony Seldon (VC, Buckingham University): I disagree…some universities will embrace FE. I think we will see a top tier—Oxford, Imperial et al−that becomes more research-focused, competing in the world tables and other, more regionally-based, universities that will come down to FE and even UTCs and academies and go all the way through. We do not know, but that is my sense: that the new binary divide will be between HE and FE but with less research and with high research at the top end. Who knows?
Is there a disparity in the available funding higher education and further technical education? If so, how would you address it?
- Professor Mike Thomas (VC, University of Central Lancashire): Yes, there is a disparity. I can tell you how we are addressing it…We feel that when you do an undergraduate degree—four years for engineering or five years for medicine and so on—you should also be allowed the opportunity to do an apprenticeship at the same time, so that when you qualify and graduate you may be, say, a four-year engineering degree-holder but you may also be a trained fitter or plumber. If you are doing construction, you could do joinery or carpentry. We tested this model internally in the university. We have 1,000 student start-ups at the university, which is quite a large number for the economy of Lancashire, creating about 3,000 jobs over three years, with a turnover of about £500,000 on average. Many of them come from fashion and the arts, because when they get their degree they set up on their own. When we piloted this internally at the university, we found that our art students, particularly fashion students, wanted to do a certificate in accountancy because they were setting up their own businesses, but they were not allowed to do it because it involved different funding or different institution.
- We are modelling a system in the university whereby students can do that. At the moment, we are picking up the fees. Engineers can train through a long-term apprenticeship levy. Arts and fashion students can train to get other types of qualifications. We do not take the hierarchical vertical view of learning; we take a horizontal model and work with 21 FE colleges so that our students can go there on Wednesday afternoons or spend four to six months in employment. The piloting with BAE involves them doing two years of a degree in the university, but in the final year they move to a levy and a degree apprenticeship, so that reduces their fee loans. They pick up an “Earn as you Learn” as they go along, and they graduate with a degree and an apprenticeship at the same time. We think that we meet the employer need.
- The difficulty is the silo payment; you have to have an EFA or an ESF payment or a student loan. We think there should be one payment and that undergraduates should be allowed to do apprenticeships and respond to the lifelong learning. For me, it is self-evident that people need support, in relation to what Peter said. We are living longer and people are doing different jobs. Even if they stay in the same firms, the technologies in that firm will change so they will need to relearn anyway as they go along, but those opportunities are not there. We are very much modelling a horizontal model.
- Lord Turnbull: I think you are telling us that we are going down a cul-de-sac in thinking of tertiary education as having these two divisions, HE and FE apprenticeships, and that we want to create something that is seen across this whole system… You heard in the previous session that you can go along the pathways and every time you hit a block there is some kind of regulatory funding decision to the effect that, “When you get here, you cannot get on to the next stage”.
The committee then moved on to discuss the blockages and how it could be easier for people to move across different models.
- Professor David Latchman: This emphasis on the student and the student outcome is the key, because we have a system that is basically like the school system: you leave school at 18 and you will never go back. Our system is predicated on you requiring an undergraduate degree, 18 to 21, and never needing that again. Somehow or another, within the funding envelope or in some other way, we have to get to this lifelong learning issue, because the world is changing. What you do at 21 is not going to be what you do at 51, and to assume that you will never need to get other qualifications between 21 and 61 or whatever is madness in today’s world.
Q: What kind of future do you see for degree apprenticeships?
- Professor Bailey: I can see an engagement from business and industry more generally, which has picked up as they have had to pay the levy and have realised the financial implications and how it affects them, and that has been really positive.
- Pam Tatlow: The Institute for Apprenticeships does not understand HE standards, which is a major issue…there is an inflexibility in the Government’s approach to the use of the apprenticeship levy. There could be some relaxation…. There is a bit of a numbers game going on when actually we need degree apprenticeships to be allied with programmes where it makes sense. We are dependent on the employers recruiting to degree apprenticeships; it is not our gig. We need the employers to be convinced that this is what is going to deliver for them.
- Professor Bailey: The concern…is that a tranche of standards have been identified by the professions, which need to be superimposed on the qualification requirements that we have for degrees—in particular critical thinking, working in teams, synthesising information and taking complex problems.. there are high-level skills that would benefit anybody within a technical discipline, but how the technical part is defined is rather more specific within those particular disciplines. They can complement each other, but it makes it a very complicated process for us, because we have to run the whole degree programme and map that across a different set of standards that the apprenticeships require. However…I think it has provided an additional incentive for employers to become engaged in how we develop qualifications.
- Professor Bailey: [we] were aware that we were using very weak proxies to identify the quality of education in the UK. We did our very best to combine the crude metrics that were used to identify which rating institutions should get with the provider statement that went alongside it. The thing that came across really strongly from the teaching excellence framework was how little difference there was in the quality of provision. At the beginning, it was assumed that there were outstanding institutions and others that were performing very poorly and it was important to identify those extremes. In the end, you obtained what I will call a black mark if you were 2% below the standard in an area being measured, such as the quality of the facilities. You got a gold star if you were 2% above that. That tells us that the differences across the sector were very much smaller than people outside higher education had perceived…As to how it has helped students, it is probably slightly limited because the range is smaller than had been perceived at the outset.
Cross-subsidisation of research
- Lord Darling of Roulanish: Jo Johnson, the Universities Minister, said recently that he wanted to see a reduction in the cross-subsidy between courses. What is your view on that?
- Professor Simon Marginson: Cross-subsidy is worth a major inquiry in its own right. It is a complex problem, and it is an information issue in part. The tendency has been for us to find every way and means we can to subsidise and build research, because research is not only integral to the role of universities but has become central to their national and global competition…Of course, teaching and research are integrally related. It is not as if, when you subsidise research, you do nothing but teaching. It becomes a more complicated problem. Some disciplines are cross-subsidised by others. In many institutions, I suspect that the relatively low-cost business programmes, which generate high volumes of students, with large numbers of international students paying full fees and so on, subsidise a lot of other activity.
OfS consultation (part 3)
We continue our series on the OfS consultation on the future regulatory framework with the 4th objective of the OfS on value for money for students and a look at how the OfS will regulate the HE market (as opposed to how they will regulate individual providers, which we will come back to in a future update).
Objective 4: that all students, from all backgrounds, receive value for money
- “Providers have a responsibility to ensure that students are able to secure value for money for their investment in their education, just as students have a responsibility to engage with their own learning and take the opportunities higher education offers.”
- “Transparency is also central to promoting value for money for students and protecting their rights, shining a light on provider activities and ensuring they are held to account. Students must be assured that the investment they are making in their future is worthwhile, and will be able to challenge institutions that do not deliver on their commitments.”
- Under the management and governance condition (see the section on this below), providers in the Approved categories will be expected to be demonstrably responsible for operating openly, honestly, accountably and with integrity, and will be required to publish a statement on the steps they have taken to ensure value for money for students and taxpayers which provides transparency about their use of resources and income. Providers should design this statement to allow students to see how their money is spent, following examples from other sectors, such as Local Authorities publishing breakdowns of how Council Tax is spent. ….Where there are substantial concerns the OfS may carry out an efficiency study to scrutinise whether a provider is providing value for money to both its students and the taxpayer.”
- “Higher education providers are autonomous institutions, and they are solely responsible for setting the salaries of their staff. However, the taxpayer is the sector’s most significant single funder and there is a legitimate public interest in their efficiency, including of senior staff pay. There will be a new ongoing registration condition requiring providers to publish the number of staff paid over £100,000 per annum, and to explain their justification for pay above £150,000.”
- “Arrangements will be made for the publication of data on senior staff remuneration, including in relation to protected characteristics such as gender and ethnicity. Where issues with senior staff pay lead to substantiated concerns over governance, the OfS will be able to arrange for efficiency reviews into the providers.”
|Consultation question: What more could the OfS do to ensure students receive value for money?|
Market regulation – Chapter 2
“Effective competition compels providers to focus on students’ needs and aspirations, drives up outcomes that students care about, puts downward pressure on costs, leads to more efficient allocation of resources between providers, and catalyses innovation. The higher education sector in England is well suited to market mechanisms driving continuous improvement “
“It does not, however, follow from these features that an entirely laissez-faire approach is appropriate. Higher education is a service unlike any other:
- there are almost never repeat “purchases” of the same type of higher educational courses by an individual student – the market is in most cases a one-shot game
- many of the primary benefits to the student (for instance improved learning, knowledge, and skills, greater earnings and career prospects, and personal fulfilment) are not received immediately; they are spread out over their life time. This exposes the market to distortions such as time inconsistency (where students’ preferences change over time) and temporal discounting (where students value the benefits of higher education less because they occur in the future)
- similarly, the cost of higher education is often not paid immediately, but rather paid for after through graduate repayments, which in most instances are subsidised by the state. This too, creates temporal distortions, and exposes the sector to moral hazard (where students may take greater risks because they do not necessarily bear the full cost of the degree)
- there are (currently) significant information asymmetries, and prospective students often make decisions with limited reliable information
- in the case of undergraduate degrees, there is a price cap in place for some providers. In practice, providers sometimes compete in terms of the grades they require to admit students, rather than on price
- institutional failure has significant repercussions for current, past, and (in some cases) potential future students, as well as wider social and political consequences. This is why the OfS’s regulatory framework is designed to prevent sudden, unplanned market exit (in particular through its approach to early warning monitoring), and support students to continue their studies if their original provider can no longer deliver their course. The creative destruction witnessed in more traditional markets, though still a powerful and relevant tool, has the potential to carry greater costs
- there are both private and non-profit organisation competing in the provision of similar services”
Student engagement: “The OfS will engage with students to ensure the student voice is not only heard clearly, but that students actively shape the OfS and – by extension – the sector itself. Alongside the student representation on the Board and Student Panel, the OfS will seek the input of individual students and their representative bodies, including student unions.”
The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF): “In accordance with the provisions set out in HERA, a statutory Independent Review of the TEF will likely take place in academic year 2018/19 and will report in time to influence the assessment framework for assessments taking place in academic year 2019/20 (TEF Year 5). Depending on the findings of the Independent Review and of the subject pilots, this will also be the first year of subject level TEF. The assessments taking place in academic year 2019/20 will therefore constitute the completion of the TEF development process. This will be a significant milestone for the TEF, which has the potential to evolve over time as the Research Excellence Framework (REF) has done.”
Proposed on-going condition: Condition P: “The provider must participate in the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF).”
|Consultation question: Do you agree or disagree that participation in the TEF should be a general condition for providers in the Approved categories with 500 or more students?|
Removing unnecessary barriers to entry (for new providers that meet a high bar): “The OfS and HERA will enable new providers in particular through the mechanisms below:
- Simplification of the regulatory landscape:
- No requirement for a track record
- Increased options for market entry
- Recognition of diversity
- Reduction in burden
- Grant funding and registration fees
Accelerated courses: ”HERA includes powers for the Government (subject to approval by Parliament) to set the annual tuition fee cap – for accelerated courses only – at a higher level than their standard equivalent. This should incentivise more providers to offer accelerated courses, increasing choice for students. At the same time, the cost for a student taking an accelerated course which is subject to the new fee caps will be less than that of the same course over a longer time period. The Government will consult shortly on specific proposals for accelerated courses.”
Teaching grant: “The teaching grant is designed to support a range of activities and provision …The majority of the funding is used to support provision where the cost is greater than the amount received as tuition fee income either because the course is costly to provide, because the location brings about additional costs or additional opportunities, or the provision is highly specialised, as with the support provided to our world-leading specialist institutions. The teaching grant supports efforts to improve social mobility by widening access to under-represented or disadvantaged students and ensuring their continued participation and success in higher education. Funding also supports innovation and the national academic broadband infrastructure. The OfS will continue with this approach, but it will also wish to deploy the teaching grant strategically, taking into account Government priorities. This will enable it to influence sector level outcomes“
Widening Participation – Parliamentary question
Q – David Lammy (Lab): Whether she has made an assessment of the effectiveness of steps taken by Oxford and Cambridge Universities to improve access and widen participation from under-represented groups; and if she will make a statement.
- A – Joseph Johnson (Con):. …the Director [of Fair Access (DfA)] negotiates with institutions to ensure that Access Agreements are stretching and appropriately demanding. Higher Education Institutions are independent from Government and autonomous – legislation specifically precludes Government from interfering with university admissions.
- In our guidance to the DfA, published in February 2016, we asked for the most selective institutions, which include the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge, to make faster progress on widening access, and to ensure their outreach is more effective. The guidance acknowledged that within this group of institutions there is wide variation, with some demonstrating little progress.
- Access agreements for the 2018/19 academic year show that the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge plan to spend over £22 million on measures to further improve access and student success for students from disadvantaged and under-represented backgrounds.
- Following the introduction of the Higher Education and Research Act, from January 2018, the Office for Students (OfS), with a new Director for Fair Access and Participation appointed by my Rt Hon. Friend, the Secretary of State, will take on responsibility for widening participation in higher education. The OfS will have a statutory duty to promote equality of opportunity across the whole lifecycle for disadvantaged students, not just access. As a result, widening access and participation will be at the core of the OfS’ functions. In addition, our reforms will introduce a Transparency Duty requiring higher education providers to publish application, offer, acceptance, drop-out and attainment rates of students broken down by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background. This will shine a spotlight on those higher education institutions that need to go further and faster to widen participation in higher education.
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JANE FORSTER | SARAH CARTER
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Date: Tuesday 28th November
Venue: Bournemouth House
Innovate UK provides funding for innovative projects in the UK. Our local Knowledge Transfer Adviser from Innovate UK will be providing us with a guide to funding from Innovate UK and also information on the Knowledge Transfer Networks around the UK.
Refreshments will be provided.
To book your space, please contact email@example.com
For further information, please contact Rachel Clarke, Knowledge Exchange Adviser.
Bookings have already closed and catering arranged but, if BU staff are now able to attend, without the networking lunch, please feel free to join us, when you can, in PG140 from 11:30 to 12:00 (UKRO and Brexit update) and then 13:00 to 14:15 (New Work Programmes, especially the Societal Challenges) and 14:30 to 15:15 (Industrial collaboration)
All BU staff can access the UKRO site. If not registered, why not sign up now to ensure that you get the latest news delivered to your own inbox?
BU staff considering applying for any of these calls and other international funding, should contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator: International Funding, for further information and support.
Influencing factors – where to work and study
UPP have released Skills to Pay the Bills: How students pick where to study and where to work. In the report they consider decision making at application stage, the relative importance of employability and which factors drive graduation retention in the area.
- 70% of students said they would have been influenced by a university’s TEF score when selecting where to study (last year 84% said they would have been influenced by TEF – UPP suggest the decrease is that students have lost confidence in the TEF as a tool to help them differentiate between institutions). 58% of students declared they would not pay more fees to study at a gold or silver institution, however, applicants to Russell Group providers were more willing to pay an increased fee
- More students (+6%) were aware of apprenticeships than in previous years. 30% say that they genuinely considered undertaking an apprenticeship before committing to their undergraduate degree. However, many decided against an apprenticeship because they thought it would limit their future career choices.
- 40% of students were prepared to pay more (£2,000+ more) in fees if their degree guaranteed them a job with a salary minimum above £24,000 upon graduation. Students prioritised investment in employability programmes and work experience over research investment spend in institutions. Across all responses it was clear students feel vulnerable and are seeking future security – they are carefully weighing up whether they will benefit from the graduate premium
- Students relocate after graduating for economic reasons – the perception of prosperity and sufficient graduate opportunities were the most significant factor to retain graduates within the area. The report recommends universities that aim to retain more graduate talent should work to increase the amount of graduate employment locally and effectively communicate these opportunities. For example, pairing students and recent graduates with local businesses.
The second most influential factor was the availability of affordable accommodation. The golden handcuffs are areas which combine good graduate employment, affordable accommodation, and an attractive ‘look and feel’ to the local area (see map diagram on following page)
Read the concluding remarks and the recommendations for universities on page 15.
“Universities must be careful to ensure that they act in ways that cement the personal, institutional and civic bargain embodied by higher education. Focusing on employability, opportunity and retention is a vital part of that bargain.”
The above report was compiled from data collected in the UPP Annual Student Experience Survey. Click here for a deeper dive into the wider survey’s data and infometrics.
HE trends, facts and figures
UUK have published Higher Education in Facts and Figures 2017 which provides headline data on students, staff and finances. UUK describe their highlights:
- In 2017 overall student satisfaction at UK HE institutions was 84%
- University applications from 18 year olds in areas of England with lower HE participation rates have increased to record levels (part time students continue to decline)
- Employment rates and median salaries continue to be higher for graduates than for non-graduates
- Just under a quarter of total university income comes from direct UK government sources
- 16% of research income comes from sources outside of the UK
- The report stresses the diversity of students, the UK is the second most popular destination behind America and 14% of undergraduates, 38% of postgraduates, and 29% of academic staff are from outside the UK (of which 17% EU). Almost a quarter of senior lecturers and 18% of professors are non-UK nationals. 45% of the academic workforce are female.
The Industrial Strategy Commission published their Final Report recommending a complete overhaul of the Government’s initial plans. They recommended the Industrial Strategy be owned by all and be “rethought as a broad, long-term and non-partisan commitment to strategic management of the economy… [it] must be an ambitious long-term plan with a positive vision for the UK.”
Dr Craig Berry (Sheffield Political Economy research Institute): “Industrial strategy isn’t just about supporting a small number of sectors. It should focus on big strategic challenges like decarbonisation and population ageing – and ultimately it should aim to make material differences to people’s everyday lives. This will mean rethinking how government makes policies and chooses its investments.”
- A powerful industrial strategy division should be established within the Treasury to catalyse all other departments to devise and implement policies consistent with the industrial strategy. The ambition should be to achieve positive outcomes and make a material difference to people’s everyday lives. They propose overhauling current decision making on large strategic projects to take into account the effect on people’s lives. In the trade-off between economic efficiency and the equitable treatment of communities it is right for fairness to communities take priority in some cases
- The new UK Research and Innovation agency (UKRI) should inform, and be informed by, the proposed new industrial strategy division. The UKRI board should have a high-level advisory committee including representatives from all three Devolved Administrations, and from key local authorities with devolution deals.
- A new independent expert body – The Office for Strategic Economic Management – was proposed to monitor and measure the long-term success of the new strategy. It should be created on the model of the Office for Budgetary Responsibility
- The new strategy should commit to providing what they call “Universal Basic Infrastructure”. All citizens in all places should be served by a good standard of physical infrastructure and have access to high quality and universal health and education services.
- The report says that skills policy has suffered decades of damaging instability, and so policy makers and institutions should provide stability, including a cross-party consensus. Closer working and co-operation is required between the Department for Education and BEIS, national and local authorities, and the higher and further education funding and regulatory systems. Read section 2.4 The skills system from page 37 for more detail on this.
- A long-term commitment to raise the R&D intensity of the economy, measured as the ratio of R&D spend, should be accompanied by a more detailed understanding of the whole innovation system. This will require intermediate milestones for both business and government/HE R&D intensity, supported by proposals for concrete interventions at a material scale, and with a new emphasis on demand-led initiatives to supplement the supply-side approach characteristic of the last 15 years of science and innovation policy. The new strategy should be designed with a comprehensive understanding of the whole R&D landscape and the relationships between its different parts. New institutions must have clarity of mission and be judged by the appropriate metrics. More on research and development on page 41, section 2.5 The research and innovation landscape.
- The UK should seek to maintain and enhance the international character of its research system, including through future participation in EU Framework Programmes, for example through associate country status.
- Health and social care must be central to the new industrial strategy. As well as offering potential for productivity gains and new markets, achieving better outcomes for people’s wellbeing must be placed at the centre of the strategy.
- The new strategy should be organised around meeting the long-term strategic goals of the state. These include decarbonisation of the economy, investing in infrastructure and increasing export capacity.
- Innovation policy should focus on using the state’s purchasing power to create new markets and drive demand for innovation in areas such as healthcare and low carbon energy. Harness the UK’s current world-class innovation by re-linking excellence in basic and applied research.
- Place continues to remain central to the new strategy – an industrial strategy should not try to do everything everywhere, but it should seek to do something for everywhere. In 5 or 10 years’ time we should be able to pick anywhere in the UK and say how the strategy has helped that place, its people and industries. As most places perform below the UK average the strategy should push further and faster devolution. LEP boundaries should coincide with the appropriate economic geography.
Health and social care at the centre of industrial strategy
An effective, efficient and financially viable health and social care system, in the context of an ageing demography, is a key strategic goal for the UK. The new strategy must incorporate social care, public health, the NHS (as a market as well as a service), and the UK’s strong industrial sectors in pharma/life sciences and medical technology, as one whole system.
Future increases in public spending on health should come with the strict expectation that investment should be used to raise productivity. The provision of health and social care in all places means that even small productivity increases could have a significant impact.
The new industrial strategy should aim to achieve higher productivity and better health outcomes by ensuring more skilled and satisfying jobs in the health and social care sector. An urgent focus on redesigning training and education should aim to both raise the skills of existing employees and attract new people to the sector.
Health and social care services should be integrated, but this should be steered by the goal of achieving better outcomes for people’s wellbeing and not purely by reducing costs. This will lead to savings but not on a sufficient scale to meet the spending pressures of an ageing population. Lessons must be learned from the places which are now experimenting with health and social care integration to build the evidence base for how to achieve better outcomes.
Read more on Health & Social Care from page 64.
The report outlines what the UK’s 2017 goals should be:
- Ensuring adequate investment in infrastructure
- Decarbonisation of the energy economy
- Developing a sustainable health and social care system.
- Unlocking long-term investment
- Supporting high-value industries and building export capacity
- Enabling growth in all parts of the UK
Apprenticeships: DfE confirmed they will review level 4 and 5 technical education to ensure it better addresses the needs of learners and employers. This includes progression from the new T level which will be taught from 2020. Anne Milton (Apprenticeships and Skills Minister) said: “High quality technical education helps young people and adults get into new, fulfilling and better paid careers. That’s good for them and good for our economy. This is the way we build a better, higher skilled workforce.”
Getting your research into parliament: A new How to guide has been released. Here are there 10 top tips:
- Be seen online or at events, so it’s easy for us to find you
- Blog your research so we know what you are working on
- Follow what we are doing on the Parliament website and via Twitter
- Sign up to POST, Commons and Lords Library, and Select Committee Alerts
- Invite parliamentary staff to your events
- Don’t just send your journal articles: send us a brief and include your sources
- Be relevant: start with a summary and focus on how your research impacts people
- Use visuals: a picture can paint a thousand words (and save time and space)
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Congratulations to BU’s Equality and Diversity Adviser James Palfreman-Kay whose application to HEFCE’s ‘Catalyst Fund: Tackling hate crime and online harassment on campus‘ has been successful. He is one of 40 academic recipients of funding at universities and colleges throughout England. Applications have been assessed by a panel of HEFCE staff and external experts from across relevant areas of knowledge particular to student safeguarding.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
Well, anyone who thought the Minister would have less to do in this session of Parliament, other than oversee the implementation of the Higher Education and Research Act, was underestimating him. Rather unexpectedly he demonstrated yesterday that he had fully embraced the Fusion model (he calls it a three legged stool) by announcing a new excellence framework for knowledge exchange to sit alongside REF and TEF. We have a bit on each, along with an update on that funding review (what funding review) and some other news.
New Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)
REF, TEF (even when it’s TESOF, see below) and now the KEF….a new excellence framework has been announced by the Minister at the annual HEFCE conference.
Described by the Minster (apparently) as the “third leg of the HE stool” this new framework will be run by Research England (under its head (designate), David Sweeney, and also responsible for the REF). Like the REF, the KEF will have a clear cash “carrot” for participation and to motivate high performance – it will provide a new method for allocating Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF).
The story was all about the UK’s competitiveness. The Minister celebrated the quality of UK research but challenged the sector to have more connection to the wider world and impact on the economy, to justify the “outsize role” that universities play in Research and Development in the UK – compared to industry. He said:
- “…the system needs to find a new gear. University income from business engagement is growing more slowly than the economy as a whole, with British universities producing fewer spin-outs and less licensing income per pound of research resource than US counterparts. As a greater proportion of R&D takes place in universities in the UK than in other countries, it’s especially important that we get this right.”
- “Over half of the money the UK taxpayer provides for R&D goes to the Higher Education sector – £4.8bn out of £8.8bn in 2015.
- The result is that a far greater proportion of R&D – 26% – takes place in our universities – than in comparable countries, with 20% in France, 17% in Germany, 13% in the US and 12% in Japan.
- This funding arrangement has helped ensure the excellence of British universities and their strong performance in international league tables, which give a heavy weighting to research.
- But the fact that by international standards an unusually large proportion of our R&D activity takes place within our universities brings with it increased responsibilities.”
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Non-Executive Board
On Thursday Jo Johnson announced the non-executive members of the UKRI Board.
- Sir John Kingman (Chair of UKRI) is the Legal and General Group Chairman and Former Second Permanent Secretary to HM Treasury
- Fiona Driscoll (UKRI Audit Committee Chair) is Chair of the Audit Committee of Nuffield Health
- Mustafa Suleyman is co-founder and Head of Applied AI at DeepMind
- Professor Sir Peter Bazalgette is the founder of a successful independent TV production company and now Executive Chairman of ITV
- Professor Julia Black is Pro Director for Research at the London School of Economics
- Professor Sir Leszek Borysiewicz is Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cambridge (stepping down at the end of the month), and Chair of Cancer Research UK
- Lord (John) Browne of Madingley is the Executive Chairman of L1 Energy, and former Chief Executive of BP plc
- Sir Harpal Kumar is the Chief Executive of Cancer Research UK
- Professor Max Lu is the President and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Surrey
- Professor Sir Ian Diamond is the Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen
- Professor Alice Gast is President of Imperial College London
- Vivienne Parry is Head of Engagement for Genomics England
- Lord (David) Willetts is Executive Chair of the Resolution Foundation and former Minister for Universities and Science
- Professor Dame Sally Davies – as Chief Medical Officer and serving civil servant, Dame Sally will not be a formal member of the board but will join board meetings in a personal capacity.
Sir John Kingman, interim UKRI Chair stated: “UKRI’s Board brings together an extraordinary array of brilliant scientific and business leaders. Together with the emerging executive team led by Mark Walport, we will be superbly equipped to ensure the new organisation delivers on the great opportunities it has.”
Jo Johnson said: “UKRI has a pivotal role in our future as a knowledge economy. This is an exceptionally strong board that will ensure the UK’s world leading research system stays at the frontier of science and innovation for decades to come.”
The government has committed to investing over £6 billion per annum in research and innovation.
Labour Party Conference
Industry Research & Innovation
The chair of the Data Analytics All Party Parliamentary Group, Daniel Zeichner, writes in Politics Home on How to convert UK excellence in science and research into wider economic success. Zeichner is a fan of the 2010 Labour government’s Catapult Network. Catapults are technology and innovation centres that are business-led by industry experts providing companies with access to expertise and equipment to speed up the commercialisation of research and drive economic growth.
Zeichner believes adopting new technology is essential to improve UK productivity but that Britain needs to be better at this, stating we’re behind other nations. Catapult centres will shortly fall with UKRI’s remit (UKRI is the merger of the UK’s seven research councils) and Zeichner sees this as advantageous for a more seamless diffusion of research expertise into the private sector, matching industry with update technology. The sticking point is that Catapults are currently partly financed by EU funding so Brexit may well lead to their downscaling or demise. In addition to supporting the expansion of the Catapult network Labour calls for new Retails and Materials and Metals Centres, and for R&D % of GDP spending to be raised, plus additional new investment. Zeichner pledges this will all happen if Labour is elected at the next general election.
In the meantime we need to see what is included in the forthcoming Industrial Strategy White Paper and the autumn budget, and of course any announcements at the Conservative conference.
Immigration – Shadow Home Secretary Diane Abbot claimed the Conservatives have ‘weaponised’ immigration. She stated the immigration targets are ‘bogus’ and will never be met. Meanwhile at the Labour party conference backbenchers are battling for Labour to amend policy and campaign for continued access of the EU single market and customs union post-Brexit. This would mean committing to retaining free movement.
Sadiq Khan @SadiqKhan – To the one million EU citizens in London: you are Londoners, you are welcome & you make a huge contribution. @TSSAunion @LabourList #Lab17
Fees – Wonkhe report that Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell said that as “a result of Labour pressure, the government is now being forced into discussing reducing interest rates or raising repayment thresholds. If they bring forward effective proposals we will support them.” Wonkhe state the Shadow Chancellor did not indicate what he hoped the government would propose precisely, nor would he be drawn on the level of Government compromise that he would support.
Gordon Marsden, speaking at a UCU fringe event, stated the party would “wait and see” what the government offers before committing to a particular course of action. However, he called on the government to present a holistic package including action on loan repayment terms and maintenance support. Marsden wouldn’t state a figure for the level of fee cap which he would support as part of a deal on the student funding system.
BME teachers in schools – Shadow Education Secretary Angela Rayner hit the headlines this week after indicating that current school recruitment policies are not promoting equality stating: “If the only people we see in schools that are black or ethnic minority are the cleaners… then we are perpetuating the problems we have in our communities…. I am sick of soft targets. I am all for hard targets, and if it means we have to force quotas, then I am an advocate for that.”
An article in Politics Home notes that an additional 68,000 teachers from BME backgrounds would be required to reflect the proportion of ethnic minority pupils in English state schools and quotes a DfE source who notes a steady increase in the minority ethnic trainee teachers recently and describes the Leadership, Equality and Diversity Fund. This supports schools to provide coaching and mentoring for BME teachers and increase the representation of BME teachers in senior leadership roles.
National Education Service – Angela Rayner launched her 10 principles behind the National Education Service (NES) described here by Schools Week. This is Labour’s ‘cradle to grave’ proposal for the reform of education and includes increasing school funding, free adult education throughout life, valuing all forms of education and pushing technical and apprenticeship streams as alternatives to traditional routes such as HE. David Morris (ex-Wonkhe, now VC’s policy adviser at Greenwich) blogs for Wonkhe to question what it would mean for the HE sector if Labour were elected and implemented the NES in 2022.
Jeremy Corbyn’s Keynote Conference Speech
Corbyn’s keynote speech which closed the Labour Party Conference emphasised skills and training focusing on free tuition throughout life at any stage and improving on technical and vocational training, establishing these as equal-status alternative routes. Corbyn envisions the National Education Service as ‘universal, free and empowering’, a service that “will give millions a fair chance”.’ A flurry of debate followed on twitter on whether abolishing HE tuition fees would mean reinstating student number controls.
A student numbers cap is not inevitable in a fee-free system, says @GordonMarsden in response to @mgmcquillan , and he doesn’t want one.
During the (very long) speech Corbyn reiterated Labour’s message to the Government “pull yourself together or make way” and detailed the Conservative manifesto commitments that have been dropped from policy, such as grammar school expansion. One aspect Labour agree with the Conservatives on is the importance of the Industrial Strategy.
In his speech, Jeremey Corbyn supported the automation thread prevalent in the Government’s Industrial Strategy for its potential to contribute to the nation’s work/life balance “We need urgently to face the challenge of automation… [it] is a threat in the hands of the greedy but what an opportunity if it’s managed in the interests of society as a whole.”
A Labour spokesperson stated to Politics Home that: increased use of new technology in the workplace will inevitably boost productivity, and a Labour government would force them to pass on the benefits of that to employees through higher wages and shorter hours….
“…the potential for this big technological leap and the increase in productivity to be shared in different ways. If it’s under the control only of large corporations, as it is currently, the sharing out is in one direction in long hours, the fall in real wages and increased profits. Who is in control of that process? If that process of big employment transformation is going to be managed for the benefit of the workforce, that needs to be planned at a national level, it can’t just be left to the companies employing those people or introducing advanced robotics.”
Fringe event – Tackling disadvantage experienced by the armed forces community – This fringe event focussed on issues of housing, education and barriers to future employment. There were calls for skills and qualifications to be transferable and compatible with those in civilian institutions and a particular need for work experience and placements alongside qualifications.
Fringe Event – Brexit Generation: The Debate – This fringe event presented evidence on the issues that prompted young people to vote. Asha, a Young Labour member stated the Brexit message to young people had been wrong and it needed to go beyond thinking about issues like Erasmus and University. Asha went on to say that young people wanted to engage on important issues like mental health in schools, changing the education system so it was not an “exam factory” and building a generation of young people with the digital skills they need.
Labour MP Wes Streeting said education was ‘his number one priority’ and ‘the closest thing to a silver bullet for tackling social issues’. Children should be given the opportunity to explore, fail and find what they are great at rather than being pushing into huge numbers of stressful exams, he stated.
Finally…Wonkhe responded to the Labour Party Conference proclamations discussing where some Labour HE policies would benefit from further details in Key questions for Labour and its higher education policy.
William Hammond, Universities UK, blogged about student dropout rates this week. The blog is in response to a sensationalist Sky News story which targets individual programmes at three universities with dropout rates of 50-60% without considering the validity of the statistics.
Hammond reports that the true picture for the national dropout rate for 2014/15 is near a record low at 6.2%, yet pockets of poor retention are seen within mature students at 11.8%; LPN (students coming from geographical populations where few access HE provision) at 8.2%; and acknowledges ethnicity can also be a factor. (Note: Hammond is only looking at non-completion in first year undergraduate students.)
The blog considers how universities retain students (see paragraphs 3 and 4 here) such as ensuring study choices are right for the student through providing clear information and outreach programmes, inclusive measures and the sticky campus concept.
A commenter to the blog (Andy Penaluna) questions why we don’t track student dropout for positive career opportunities.
Science and Innovation Audits
The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) invited consortia to form around geographic and technological themes and apply to be involved in the science and innovation audit (SIA) process. These consortia are made up of businesses, universities, research and innovation organisations, Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs) and their equivalents in the devolved administrations.
- Bioeconomy of the North of England
- East of England
- Enabling Technologies in Scotland’s Central Belt
- Innovation South, Digital Enabling Technologies
- Medical Technologies in the Leeds City Region
- Liverpool City Region
- OffShore Renewable Energy
- Oxfordshire Transformative Technologies Alliance
HEFCE have commenced a planned series of blogs on Alternative Providers. On Wednesday they explored the diversity of alternative providers in Alternative providers: debunking the myths. The blog covers the variability of alternative providers with regard to sizes, focus, geographical location and student loan eligibility. The blog is a useful simple introduction for colleagues unfamiliar with alternative providers.
Q: Bambos Charalambous – Whether she plans to (a) cap or (b) reduce the interest rate applied to student loans.
A: Jo Johnson – We have a world class student finance system, which has enabled record numbers of people to benefit from a university education. Latest UCAS data for 2017 shows more disadvantaged young people have been accepted to university than for the whole of the 2016 application cycle.
The student funding system removes financial barriers for anyone hoping to study, and is backed by the taxpayer. The interest rate on student loans remains significantly below the relevant Bank of England reference rate for unsecured personal lending. In addition, the repayment terms of student loans are significantly more favourable for the borrowers than commercial loans. Monthly repayments are linked to income and not to the amount borrowed or the interest rate. Borrowers earning less than the repayment threshold of £21,000 repay nothing at all. Loans are written off after 30 years with no detriment to the borrower, and student loans are available to all eligible students regardless of their previous financial history.
As with all Government policy, we continue to keep the detailed features of the system under review to ensure it remains fair and effective.
The Scottish Funding Council published a report on Widening Access 2015-16 showing dropout rates for disadvantaged students at 13% (drop out is 7% for affluent students). The Herald covers the story here.
The Guardian report on Clearing 2017: what worked for universities, and what didn’t shares a perspective from four universities on this year’s Clearing marketing practices.
Fees – Simon Marginson blogs for Wonkhe highlighting that the contribution a university education makes as public goods hasn’t been picked up during the current tuition fee wrangling. It touches upon accessibility to HE, a graduate’s more discriminating understanding of culture, and goods at the collective level – new knowledge created by research, positive effects of higher education on social tolerance. On the TEF Simon writes: If higher education institutions follow the logic of the consumer market and the Teaching Excellence Framework as the government wants them to do, over time unfinanced public goods will be whittled away. The TEF requires institutions to focus on maximising individual student satisfaction scores and individual employability. This requires England’s universities to target more precisely their spending and activities to maximise performance as measured by the TEF indicators. In other words, the more the university neglects extraneous unfunded public goods such its contributions to the local region, the more ‘effective’ it will become. Simon ends by debating whether the private/public split that funds HE should be differently balanced.
The Guardian ran an article on overseas academics who have been refused visas to speak at UK conferences.
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The European Commission has pre-published, the Horizon 2020 Work Programme for ICT, with calls up to 2020. The finalised document is due to be released in October 2017, with calls due to open in the coming months with the first deadlines in April 2018. These calls will be available via the Participant Portal. This early notice may assist you in setting up new collaborations with a view to submission or match your existing research network connections. Please nogte that this document is still in draft so details may be subject to change prior to final publication.
Digital technologies underpin innovation and competitiveness across private and public sectors and enable scientific progress in all disciplines. The topics addressed in this Work Programme part cover the ICT technology in a comprehensive way, from technologies for Digitising European Industry, HPC, Big Data and Cloud, 5G and Next Generation Internet. Pursuing the change initiated under Work Programme 2016-2017, activities will continue to promote more innovation-orientation to ensure that the EU industry remains strong in the core technologies that are at the roots of future value chains.
Top level areas are:
CALL: Information and Communication Technologies
The Digitising European Industry initiative aims to establish next generation digital platforms and re-build the underlying digital supply chain on which all economic sectors are dependent. The initiative should enable all sector and application areas to adapt, transform and benefit from digitisation, notably by allowing also smaller players to capture value. Digital Platforms are becoming a key factor in one sector after another, enabling new types of services and applications, altering business models and creating new marketplaces. Actions under this heading will provide extensive support to key DEI components in Photonics, Robotics, Manufacturing technologies and Cyber-Physical Systems. Support to Micro-electronics, in particular for higher TRLs, will continue through the ECSEL Joint Undertaking. In addition, innovation hubs and platforms, two key DEI objectives, will be supported through a Focus Area on Digitisation and Transformation of the EU industry, implemented in cooperation with other programme parts.
The challenges to address are:
- Technologies for Digitising European Industry
- European Data Infrastructure: HPC, Big Data and Cloud technologies
- Next Generation Internet
- Cross-cutting activities
In April 2016, the Commission issued a communication outlining its strategy for allowing the European Union to fully seize the opportunities offered by digitisation across industrial and services sectors. Beyond the support to key technological areas, an essential aspect is to foster the uptake of digital technologies and innovations, as well as synergies with other key enabling technologies. The ‘digitising and transforming European industry and services’ focus area ambitions to support Horizon 2020’s contribution to the implementation of this strategy, through projects cutting across technological boundaries and reinforcing links between LEIT and Societal Challenges.
The activities within this call are:
- Support to Hubs
- Platforms and Pilots
Within the next decade cybersecurity and privacy technologies should become complementary enablers of the EU digital economy, ensuring a trusted networked ICT environment for governments, businesses and individuals. The EU ambition is to become a world leader in secure digital economy. Within this call, applications to increase system resilience, support privacy and countering cyber attacks.
CALL: EU-Japan Joint Call
Topics within this call are to include the hyper-connected society in the context of the Smart City and 5G applications and beyond.
CALL: EU-Korea Joint Call
Topics within this call are to include cloud-based technologies, Internet of things, AI and 5G technologies
Other activities are included in this pre-publication draft.
If you are considering applying to any of these calls, please contact Emily Cieciura, RKEO’s Research Facilitator for EU and International funding.
There will be an EU Societal Challenge 1 Health & Wellbeing Info day on 8 December 2017, in Brussels. As you can see form the outline below, there are opportunities for BU across all four faculties within this part of the Work Programme for 2018-2020, due to be released in October.
With the principle of better health for all at its core, Horizon 2020’s Societal Challenge 1 (Health, demographic change and well-being) focuses on personalised health and care, infectious diseases and improving global health, innovative and sustainable health systems, decoding the role of the environment (including climate change) for health and well-being, digital transformation and cybersecurity in health and care. Horizon 2020′ Societal Challenge 1 Work Programme 2018-2020 will be expected to offer calls for proposals with an overall budget of about €2 billion.
Draft programme and registrations are to follow at the end of September.
Related to the Health Open Info Day, the Directorate-General for Research & Innovation supports the following two events which will be organised on 7 December 2017, also in Brussels
Partnering Event – organised by the EU-funded project Health-NCP-Net 2.0 – the event aims at helping you find the right project partners for the upcoming 2018 health calls. Registration opens on 8/10/17.
Satellite event on Innovation Procurement in health care – Limited to 80 participants – First come, first served basis, with booking already open.
Booking links and further information are on the main Info Day page.
Please let Emily Cieciura, RKEO Research Facilitator: EU & International, know if you plan to attend.
We continue our series of summer updates focussing on themes rather than news with a look at learning gain. We have updates on the Industrial Strategy Bell review of Life Sciences, and an update on the TEF from UUK.
Learning gain has become a potential hot topic for universities over the last year – could it be the magic bullet for problems with TEF metrics? Why is it a policy issue and what are the implications of the policy context for universities and students? Wonkhe recently published a helpful summary in July by Dr Camille B. Kandiko Howson, from Kings College.
Background – TEF – The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) includes learning gain alongside student outcomes more generally as one of its three main criteria for assessing teaching excellence (the others are teaching quality and learning environment). The relevant TEF criteria are:
|Student Outcomes and Learning Gain|
|Employment and Further Study (SO1)||Students achieve their educational and professional goals, in particular progression to further study or highly skilled employment|
|Employability and Transferrable Skills (SO2)||Students acquire knowledge, skills and attributes that are valued by employers and that enhance their personal and/or professional lives|
|Positive Outcomes for All (SO3)||Positive outcomes are achieved by its students from all backgrounds, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who are at greater risk of not achieving positive outcomes|
Further definition was given in the “Aspects of Quality” guidance (see the TEF guidance issued by HEFCE):
“Student Outcomes and Learning Gain is focused on the achievement of positive outcomes. Positive outcomes are taken to include:
- acquisition of attributes such as lifelong learning skills and others that allow a graduate to make a strong contribution to society, economy and the environment,
- progression to further study, acquisition of knowledge, skills and attributes necessary to compete for a graduate level job that requires the high level of skills arising from higher education
The extent to which positive outcomes are achieved for all students, including those from disadvantaged backgrounds, is a key feature. The distance travelled by students (‘learning gain’) is included”.
And it goes on:
- “Work across the sector to develop new measures of learning gain is in progress. Until new measures become available and are robust and applicable for all types of providers and students, we anticipate providers will refer to their own approaches to identifying and assessing students’ learning gain – this aspect is not prescriptive about what those measures might be.”
The TEF guidance issued by HEFCE included examples of the sorts of evidence that universities might want to consider including (amongst a much longer list):
- Learning gain and distance-travelled by all students including those entering higher education part-way through their professional lives
- Evidence and impact of initiatives aimed at preparing students for further study and research
- Use and effectiveness of initiatives used to help measure and record student progress, such as Grade Point Average (GPA)
- Impact of initiatives aimed at closing gaps in development, attainment and progression for students from different backgrounds, in particular those from disadvantaged backgrounds or those who are at greater risk of not achieving positive outcomes.
TEF Assessment – If you have been following the debates about the TEF in Year 2 (results now published), you will be aware that the assessment of institutions against these criteria was done in two ways – by looking at metrics (with benchmarking and subdivision into various sub-sets), and by review of a written provider assessment.
- The metrics that were used in TEF Year 2 for Student Outcomes and Learning Gain were from the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey (DLHE), specifically the DLHE declared activity 6 months after graduation – were they in employment of further study, and if in employment, was it “highly skilled” as defined by SOC groups 1-3 (managerial and professional).
- So the metrics used in Year 2 of TEF do not cover learning gain at all. In fact they only really relate to SO1 above, are of limited use in terms of employability for SO2. DLHE doesn’t measure employability, only employment. Of course, DLHE is being replaced, after major consultations by HESA throughout 2016 and 2017 with the new Graduate Outcomes survey, which will take a longer-term view and look at a broader range of outcomes. (read more in our Policy Update of 30th June 2017).
- So for the TEF year 2, any assessment of learning gain was done through the written submissions – and as noted above there are no measures for this, it was left to providers to “refer to their own approaches to identifying and assessing students’ learning gain”.
Universities UK have published their review of Year 2 of the TEF (see next section below) which includes a strong endorsement from UUK members for a comparative learning gain metric in future iterations of the TEF.
Measuring Learning Gain – As referred to above, there is a HEFCE project to look at ways of measuring learning gain.
They are running 13 pilot projects:
- careers registration and employability initiatives – this uses surveys and is linked most closely to SO2 – employability
- critical-thinking ‘CLA+’ standardised assessment tool – also uses the UK Engagement Survey (UKES). CLA+ is a US assessment that is done on-line and asks students to assess data and evidence and decide on a course of action or propose a solution. As such, it measures general skills but is not subject specific.
- self-efficacy across a range of disciplines
- skills and self-assessment of confidence measures
- a self-assessment skills audit and a situational judgement test
- HE in FE
- A multi-strand one: standardising entry and exit qualifications, new measures of critical skills and modelling change in learning outcomes
- a project that will analyse the Affective-Behaviour-Cognition (ABC) model data for previous years
- research skills in 6 disciplines
- psychometric testing
- learning gain from work-based learning and work placements
- a project evaluating a range of methodologies including degree classifications, UKES, NSS, Student Wellbeing survey and CLA+
- employability and subject specific learning across a range of methods – includes a project to understand the dimensions of learning gain and develop a way to measure them, one to look at R2 Strengths, one to look at career adaptability and one looking at international experience.
These are long term (3 year) projects – HEFCE published a year 1 report on 6th July 2017 – you can read more on our 14th July policy update – this flags a couple of challenges including how to get students to complete surveys and tests that are not relevant to their degree (a problem also encountered by the UKES). The report suggests embedding measurement “in the standard administrative procedures or formal curriculum” – which means a survey or test through enrolment and as part of our assessment programme.
To become a core TEF metric there would need to be a national standard measure that was implemented across the sector. That means that have to be mass testing (like SATs for university students) or another national survey alongside NSS and the new Graduate Outcomes survey (the replacement for DLHE) – with surveys on enrolment and at other points across the lifecycle.
Some BU staff are taking a different approach – instead of looking at generic measures for generic skills they have been looking at measuring specific learning gain against the defined learning outcomes for cohorts of students on a particular course. This is a much more customised approach but the team have set some basic parameters for the questions that they have asked which could be applied to other courses. The methodology was a survey. (Dr Martyn Polkinghorne, Dr Gelareh Roushan, Dr Julia Taylor) (see also a more detailed explanation, March 2017)
Pros, cons and alternatives
In January 2016, HEPI published a speech delivered in December 2015 by Andreas Schleicher, Director for Education and Skills, and Special Advisor on Education Policy to the Secretary-General at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) in Paris. In the speech, the author argues strongly for institutions worldwide to measure and use learning gain data. He supports the use of specific measures for disciplines although points out the difficulties with this – not least in getting comparable data. So he also focuses on generic skills – but he doesn’t suggest a specific methodology.
An HEA presentation from December 2016 mentions a number of inputs that “predict both student performance and learning gains” – including contact hours, class size (and a host of other things including the extent and timing of feedback on assignments).
It is worth looking quickly at GPA (Grade Point Average) as this is also mentioned in the TEF specification as noted above. The HEA are looking at degree standards for HEFCE now, having done a pilot project on GPA in 2013-14. The report notes that “potential capacity to increase granularity of awards, transparency in award calculations, international recognition and student engagement in their programmes”. The summary says, “The importance to stakeholders of a nationally-agreed, common scale is a key finding of the pilot and is considered crucial for the acceptance and success of GPA in the UK”, and that “The pilot providers considered that the development of widespread stakeholder understanding and commitment would require clear communication to be sustained over a number of years.”
Although the big focus for the TEF was on outputs not inputs, the Department for Education has announced that it will start to look at including some of the inputs. See our HE policy update for 21st July where we look at the new teaching intensity measure that will be part of the subject level TEF pilots. You can read more about this in a THE article from 2nd August:
- “The pilot “will measure teaching intensity using a method that weights the number of hours taught by the student-staff ratio of each taught hour,” explains the pilot’s specification, published by the Department for Education“. Put simply, this model would value each of these at the same level: two hours spent in a group of 10 students with one member of staff, two hours spent in a group of 20 with two members of staff, one hour spent in a group of five students with one member of staff,” it explains. Once contact hours are weighted by class sizes, and aggregated up to subject level, those running the pilot will be able to calculate a “gross teaching quotient” score, which would be an “easily interpretable number” and used as a “supplementary metric” to inform subject-level assessments”.
The contact hours debate is very political – tied up with concerns about value for money and linked to the very topical debate on fees (speech on 20th July by Jo Johnson .and see our HE Policy Update for 21st July 2017)
This is all very interesting when, as mentioned above, the TEF specification for year two put so much emphasis on measuring outcome and not just inputs: “The emphasis in the provider submission should be on demonstrating the impact and effectiveness of teaching on the student experience and outcomes they achieve. The submission should therefore avoid focusing on descriptions of strategies or approach but instead should focus on impact. Wherever possible, impact should be demonstrated empirically. “
Experts and evidence – There will be a real push from the sector for evidence that the new teaching intensity measure and reporting of contact hours and other things really does make a difference to students before it is included in the TEF. The HEA’s position on this (2016) is a helpful summary of the debate about contact hours.
There is an interesting article in the HEPI collection of responses to the Green Paper in January 2016 from Graham Gibbs, former Professor at the University of Winchester and Director of the Oxford Learning Institute, University of Oxford, and author of Dimensions of quality and Implications of ‘Dimensions of quality’ in a market environment. He supports the use of learning gain metrics as a useful tool. He points out that “cohort size is a strong negative predictor of both student performance and learning gains”. He also adds “Russell Group Universities have comparatively larger cohorts and larger class sizes, and their small group teaching is less likely to be undertaken by academics, all of which save money but reduce learning gains”. He does not accept that contact hours, or institutional reputation (linked to high tariff entry and research reputation) impact learning gain.
There is an interesting article on the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) website here written by the authors of an article that looked at class size.
Impact so far – So what happened in the TEF – a very quick and incomplete look at TEF submissions suggests that not many institutions included much about learning gain (or GPA) and those that did seem to fall into two categories – those participating in the pilot who mention the pilot, and some who mention it in the context of the TEF core data – e.g. Birmingham mention their access project and learning gain (but don’t really evidence it except through employment and retention). Huddersfield talk about it in the context of placements and work experience but again linked to employment outcomes, although they also mention assessment improvement.
Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) – year 2 review
Universities UK have published their review of Year 2 of the TEF following a survey that UUK did of their members.
The key findings from the report are:
- There appears to be general confidence that overall process was fair, notwithstanding the outcomes of individual appeals. Judgements were the result of an intensive and discursive process of deliberation by the assessment panel. There was a slight correlation between TEF results, entry tariff and league table rankings.
- It is estimated that the cost of participating in the TEF for 134 higher education institutions was approximately £4 million. This was driven by the volume of staff engagement, particularly senior staff.
- Further consideration will need to be given to how the TEF accounts for the diversity of the student body, particularly part-time students, and how the TEF defines and measures excellence. [UUK also raises a concern about judgements possibly being skewed by prior attainment]
- If subject-level TEF is to provide students with reliable information it must address the impact of increased metric suppression [this relates to metrics which could not be used because of small numbers, particularly for part-time students and for the ethnicity splits], how judgments are made in the absence of data [particularly an issue for those institutions affected by the NSS boycott], the comparability of subject groupings and the increase in cost and complexity of submissions and assessment.
[To address the issue with suppression, the report noted that the splits for ethnicity will be reduced from 6 to 3 for subject level TEF (p35)]
These findings also suggest that if the TEF is to make an effective contribution to the ongoing success of the whole UK sector, the following issues would merit consideration as part of the independent review:
- How the TEF defines and measures excellence in a diverse sector and supports development of teaching and learning practice.
- The role that the TEF plays across the student decision-making process and the relationship with the wider student information landscape.
- The process for the future development of the TEF and the role of the sector, including students and devolved nations.
- The relationship between the TEF and quality assessment, including regulatory baselines and the Quality Code.
Figure 4 shows the data benchmarking flags received by providers at each award level – these two charts are interesting because they show that providers with negative flags still received gold (and silver).
The survey also asked about future developments for the TEF with learning gain being a clear leader – ahead of teaching intensity. HEFCE is running learning gain pilots, as discussed above, and teaching intensity will be the subject of a pilot alongside subject level TEF. Interestingly, on p 33 a chart shows that nearly 70% of respondents believed that “there is no proportionate approach for producing a robust subject level TEF judgement which will be useful for students”.
Following our update on the Industrial Strategy last week there are a couple of updates. Innovate UK has announced funding for businesses to work on innovative technologies, future products and services. The categories link closely to the Industrial Strategy priorities including digital technologies, robotics, creative economy and design and space applications as well as emerging technologies and electronics.
There was also an announcement about funding for innovative medicines manufacturing solutions.
Sir John Bell has published his report for the government on Life Sciences and the Industrial Strategy. There are seven main recommendations under 4 themes, which are summarised below. You can read a longer summary on the BU Research Blog.
Some interesting comments:
- “The key UK attribute driving success in life sciences is the great strength in university-based research. Strong research-based universities underpin most of the public sector research success in the UK, as they do in the USA and in Scandinavia. National research systems based around institutes rather than universities, as seen in Germany, France and China, do not achieve the same productivity in life sciences as seen in university-focussed systems.” (p22)
- “The decline in funding of indirect costs for charity research is coupled to an increasing tendency for Research Councils to construct approaches that avoid paying indirect Full Economic Costs (FEC). Together, these are having a significant impact on the viability of research in universities and have led to the institutions raising industrial overhead costs to fill the gap. This is unhelpful.” (p24)
- “It is also recommended, that the funding agencies, in partnership with major charities, create a high-level recruitment fund that would pay the real cost of bringing successful scientists from abroad to work in major UK university institutions.” (see the proposal to attract international scientists below).
- On clusters “Life sciences clusters are nearly always located around a university or other research institute and in the UK include elements of NHS infrastructure. However, evidence and experience suggests that governments cannot seed technology clusters and their success is usually driven by the underpinning assets of universities and companies, and also by the cultural features of networking and recycling of entrepreneurs and capital.” And “Regions should make the most of existing opportunities locally to grow clusters and build resilience by working in partnership across local Government, LEPs (in England), universities and research institutes, NHS, AHSNs, local businesses and support organisations, to identify and coalesce the local vision for life sciences. Science & Innovation Audits, Local Growth Funds and Growth Hubs (in England), Enterprise Zones and local rates and planning flexibilities can all be utilised to support a vision for life sciences. “ (see the proposal on clusters under “Growth and Infrastructure” – this was a big theme in the Industrial strategy and something we also covered in our Green Paper response)
- On skills: “ The flow of multidisciplinary students at Masters and PhD level should be increased by providing incentives through the Higher Education Funding Council for England.2 and “Universities and research funders should embed core competencies at degree and PhD level, for example data, statistical and analytical skills, commercial acumen and translational skills, and management and entrepreneurship training (which could be delivered in partnership with business schools). They should support exposure to, and collaboration with, strategically important disciplines including computer and data science, engineering, chemistry, physics, mathematics and material science.”
Health Advanced Research Programme (HARP) proposal – with the goal to create 2-3 entirely new industries over the next 10 years.
Reinforcing the UK science offer
- Sustain and increase funding for basic science to match our international competition – the goal is that the UK should attract 2000 new discovery scientists from around the globe
- The UK should aim to be in the upper quartile of OECD R&D spending and sustain and increase the funding for basic science, to match our international competitors, particularly in university settings, encouraging discovery science to co-locate.
- Capitalise on UKRI to increase interdisciplinary research, work more effectively with industry and support high-risk science.
- Use Government and charitable funding to attract up to 100 world-class scientists to the UK, with support for their recruitment and their science over the next ten years.
- Further improve UK clinical trial capabilities to support a 50% increase in the number of clinical trials over the next 5 years and a growing proportion of change of practice and trials with novel methodology over the next 5 years.
Growth and infrastructure – the goal is to create four UK companies valued at >£20 billion market cap in the next ten years.
NHS collaboration – the Accelerated Access Review should be adopted with national routes to market streamlined and clarified, including for digital products. There are two stated goals:
- NHS should engage in fifty collaborative programmes in the next 5 years in late-stage clinical trials, real world data collection, or in the evaluation of diagnostics or devices.
- The UK should be in the top quartile of comparator countries, both for the speed of adoption and the overall uptake of innovative, cost-effective products, to the benefit of all UK patients by the end of 2023.
Data – Establish two to five Digital Innovation Hubs providing data across regions of three to five million people.
- Create a forum for researchers across academia, charities and industry to engage with all national health data programmes.
- Establish a new regulatory, Health Technology Assessment and commercial framework to capture for the UK the value in algorithms generated using NHS data.
- Two to five digital innovation hubs providing data across regions of three to five million people should be set up as part of a national approach and building towards full population coverage, to rapidly enable researchers to engage with a meaningful dataset. One or more of these should focus on medtech.
- The UK could host 4-6 centres of excellence that provide support for specific medtech themes, focussing on research capability in a single medtech domain such as orthopaedics, cardiac, digital health or molecular diagnostics.
- National registries of therapy-area-specific data across the whole of the NHS in England should be created and aligned with the relevant charity.
- A migration system should be established that allows recruitment and retention of highly skilled workers from the EU and beyond, and does not impede intra-company transfers.
- Develop and deliver a reinforced skills action plan across the NHS, commercial and third sectors based on a gap analysis of key skills for science.
- Create an apprenticeship scheme that focuses on data sciences, as well as skills across the life sciences sector, and trains an entirely new cadre of technologists, healthcare workers and scientists at the cutting-edge of digital health.
- Establish Institutes of Technology that would provide opportunity for technical training, particularly in digital and advanced manufacturing areas.
- There should be support for entrepreneur training at all levels, incentivising varied careers and migration of academic scientists into industry and back to academia.
- A fund should be established supporting convergent science activities including cross-disciplinary sabbaticals, joint appointments, funding for cross-sectoral partnerships and exchanges across industry and the NHS, including for management trainees.
- High quality STEM education should be provided for all, and the government should evaluate and implement additional steps to increase the number of students studying maths to level 3 and beyond.
JANE FORSTER | SARAH CARTER
Policy Advisor Policy & Public Affairs Officer
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