Category / Student Engagement

Research Photography Competition awards ceremony today!

The awards ceremony for this year’s Research Photography Competition is taking place on Tuesday, 20 March from 1-2pm.

The winners that you’ve been voting for will be revealed and awarded prizes by Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Innovation, Professor John Fletcher.

Come along to the Atrium Art Gallery to see all the photographs in person and find out about the fascinating research behind each one, undertaken by our academics, students across all levels and professional services.

The exhibition is open to all and free to attend so please do come along with colleagues and friends. Nibbles and refreshments will be provided.

Click here to register to attend.

If you’re unable to join us today, the exhibition will be open from 20 March – 29 March (weekdays only) from 10am – 6pm.

Don’t miss out!

 

Congratulations to the winners of this year’s SURE 2018

Around 80 students took part in BU’s third annual undergraduate research conference: Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE).  The conference is an excellent opportunity for undergraduates and recent graduates to share their work and develop their presentation skills.  This year’s contributions reflected the breadth and depth of outstanding undergraduate research taking place across BU.

The conference allows students to present their work to peers, academics staff and attendees from external organisations.  As well as demonstrating their academic successes, it enables students to see the real world application of their work and develop potential cross-disciplinary collaborations.

Dr Mary Beth Gouthro, co-chair of the conference, said: “The quality of the undergraduate research underway across all our faculties is testament to the potential of our students, and the professionalism and expertise of the staff that support them.  SURE is a great opportunity to celebrate the work of our undergraduates, showcasing their academic progress and provides encouragement into the next steps in their careers.”

As part of SURE, two BU academics shared their own research with the student presenters and conference attendees.  Professor of Behavioural Ecology Amanda Korstjens delivered a session on ‘Interdisciplinary approaches to conservation’ encouraging students to look outside their disciplines to build better practice when conserving wildlife and natural habitats.  Associate Professor Richard Berger presented progress made into his research on ‘MediaLitRefYouth’, a 2 year EU funded project which seeks to understand the lives of unaccompanied refugee children across Europe.  Both of these keynotes provided students the ability to reflect the power and reach of academic research combines with real world applications to help improve lives, for the better.

There were a number of prize winners as part of the conference, including £30 amazon vouchers for best posters, 4 funded spots to participate at BCUR 2018 for one student from each faculty.  The overall winner, Andrew Watt, has been offered a Masters fee waiver.

Winner of the prize for best overall contribution, Andrew Watt, commented, “It feels pretty exciting, I didn’t expect it. My presentation was about how fallers and non-fallers in the elderly differ from a bio-mechanical perspective, which is pretty niche. I found the feedback I received from my presentation were positive and it was good practice to have some difficult questions, especially for this next conference.”

“I’ve had several lecturers who weren’t at the conference contacting me to say congratulations.  I think my lecturers are just really proud of the physiotherapy students who presented. It’s great that they are so supportive.”

More details about the conference can be found on the SURE 2018 website.

SUBU prizes:

 FM winner Claudia Wilkin
FST winner David Hurst

Best poster, demonstration or art installation:

HSS winner Thilo Reich
FST winner Stelian Tsekov
FM winner Dan Pryke
FMC winner Kate Edge

Best original research via oral presentation:

HSS winner Andrew Watt
FST winner Isobel Hunt
FM winner Atanas Nikolaev
FMC winner Bethan Stevenson

Best overall contribution:

Masters Fee Waiver Andrew Watt

 

SURE conference today – Student case study (Georgina Polius)

Georgina Polius is in her second year of BA Sociology and Anthropology in the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, and is one of the students who has decided to participate in this year’s upcoming Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) conference.

Georgina was encouraged to apply by her lecturer, Dr Rosie Read, who informed the entire class to participate in the SURE conference. “Initially, the word abstract scared me a bit because I would have to condense my work into a few lines but after further discussion with my family, I decided to go for it.”

Her assignment research looks at the underlying problem of food poverty within modern British society which was carried out within a foodbank in Bournemouth, working among the volunteers. “Having grown up in a volunteering culture, it has become for me a way of life,” says Georgina. “More specifically, my interest in the foodbank area was sparked by one of my course units I studied last semester where we were sent into the Bournemouth foodbanks to research the personal reasons behind the seemingly household phenomenon of volunteering.”

“I do believe that SURE is a good way to showcase our work as we, as students, have been given the opportunity for various academics and other students to see our work and receive unbiased feedback, which will help us to improve for the future. It also gives us a place to highlight real world issues.”

“I hope to use this exposure from SURE to improve my self-confidence and assertiveness in public speaking which would be an asset to me as I continue with my university studies and eventually into the world of research,” she says. “Most students would perhaps only get to publish their work or experience this type of exposure if they continued to a Master’s programme.”

The Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence conference will taking place on 7 March 2018. Many undergraduate students from across the university will be presenting their research throughout the conference in a variety of different ways, from presentations to posters and art installations. Please register via the Eventbrite page if you would like to attend.

For more details, visit the SURE website or email the SURE team.

Voting is now open for the Research Photography Competition!

The Research Photography Competition is a great way for academics and student researchers to capture and share the excellent research undertaken at BU. Each year, the competition has a different theme which can be interpreted in any way, and this year’s theme is people.

It’s down to you, the public, to vote for your favourite image which will determine the top 3 winners of this year’s Research Photography Competition. Voting closes at 4pm on Monday 12 March.

Click here to go to the voting web page.

All photo submissions will be exhibited in the Atrium Art Gallery on Talbot Campus from 20-30 March 2018 and is an opportunity to find out about the research behind each photo in much more detail.

 

​You can take a look at our Photo of the Week on the research website for previous year’s entries and the research behind their photos.

Let the best photo win!

HE Policy update for the w/e 23rd February 2018

It has been a busy week with the launch of the “major review of HE fees and funding” (except it may not be…) on Monday and a deluge of commentary and calls for change to follow. And other things happened too.

Major Review of HE

The much announced, long postponed HE “major” review is finally happening. And following the early start during last summer’s “national conversation” there is a lot to say – and it is being said. So we will try to help you navigate the many, many arguments and angles over the next year .

To start with the facts

  • The review has been announced, it has a panel and terms of reference (these are very short and high level). There are links to the speeches and press releases on the gov.uk website. The PM’s speech is here: The right education for everyone
  • The review will run for a year with an interim report (not sure when) – and will be concluded in early 2019.

Panel (from the website):

  • Chaired by Philip Augar, a leading author and former non-executive director of the Department for Education
  • Bev Robinson – Principal of Blackpool and The Fylde College. She has over 20 years’ experience in Further and Higher education colleges in England and has been Awarded an OBE for her services to FE.
  • Edward Peck – Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University since August 2014. Previously, Professor Peck worked at the University of Birmingham as Director of the Health Services Management Centre and subsequently became Head of the School of Public Policy in 2006.
  • Alison Wolf – (Baroness Wolf of Dulwich) a cross-bench peer in the House of Lords, and author of the influential Wolf Review of Vocational Education, published in 2011. She has advised the House of Commons select committee on education and skills as well as the OECD, the Ministries of Education of New Zealand, France and South Africa, and the European Commission among others.
  • Sir Ivor Martin Crewe – Master of University College, Oxford and President of the Academy of Social Sciences. He is the former Chair of the 1994 Group and President of Universities UK.
  • Jacqueline De Rojas – President of techUK and the chair of the Digital Leaders board. She also serves on the government’s Digital Economy Council and was awarded a CBE for Services to International Trade in Technology in the Queen’s New Year Honours list 2018.

The terms of reference

After that there is much less detail – it all becomes less about facts and more about politics.  Firstly – the review is a DfE review not an independent review – the external panel is advisory – the website says:

  • The wide-ranging review will be informed by independent advice from an expert panel from across post 18 education, business and academia”.

There is a total absence of process in any of the materials published so far. So what will the process be? Will there be a consultation? Surely there will be – but this does not look like the sort of review that has led to major review in the past.

Then there is the timing. The review will run for a year with an interim report at some point– and will be concluded in early 2019. Which, as has been pointed out, coincides with Brexit (we are due to leave and start the “transition” period on 29th March 2019) – and has also been pointed out, may coincide with a leadership change or a general election in the UK – depending on how things are going with Brexit including how things go with the parliamentary “meaningful vote” on Brexit.

The Minister for Universities was very open on this subject the question of timing early after his appointment (see our policy update from 2nd Feb)– he said it would not be “credible” to expect changes before the 2018/19 intake. On the announced timing, the changes may not be in time to take effect before the 2019/20 intake either – although less significant changes to the current system, such as interest rates, repayment thresholds, small changes to fee caps, would be possible. If maintenance grants are part of the change they could be in place for 2019/20 entry although they may not affect access that year as most students will already have applied or made other plans – unless plans are trailed very heavily in the interim report and clear indication is given that they will be in place. But we are leaping ahead.

After much discussion about the need to review funding for Further Education as well, and people talking about a post-16 review, the terms of reference call it a “Review of Post-18 Education and Funding”. So it does apply to FE but only applies to post-18 provision.

So it is a major review of fees and funding?

The title is important – it is a review of “Education and Funding”. The speech and the terms of reference were revealing – at least as it has been announced, this is not primarily a review of tuition fees and university funding. What it is (from the terms of reference) is “a major review across post-18 education and funding to ensure a joined up system that works for everyone”.

  • It’s a review of the “system”.
  • Its objectives are:
    • accessibility of the education system
    • a funding system that “provides value for money and works for students and taxpayers”
    • choice and competition
    • skills development

But isn’t this already happening anyway?

So the review is about choice, competition, flexible provision, accelerated degrees, degree apprenticeships, technical education. We already have:

  • the changes put in place by the Higher Education and Research Act
  • the arrangements for the Office for Students and new regulatory system to promote choice and accessibility
  • a new regime for alternative providers
  • an consultation on accelerated degrees which has just closed
  • arrangements for degree apprenticeships and Institutes of Technology
  • a plan for better careers advice (see our policy update from 8th December)

The two areas that have not been addressed by existing initiative are part-time and life-time education.

Might the review therefore make new recommendations to take these initiatives and priorities forward?

In her speech the PM said:

  • This is a review which, for the first time, looks at the whole post-18 education sector in the round, breaking down false boundaries between further and higher education, so we can create a system which is truly joined-up.  Universities – many of which provide technical as well as academic courses – will be considered alongside colleges, Institutes of Technology and apprenticeship providers. There are huge success stories to be found right across the sector, at every level, and by taking a broad view, Philip and his expert panel will be able to make recommendations which help the sector to be even better in the future.”

So it seems not. It is about “joining up” and “breaking down false barriers between further and higher education”. What does that mean? Changing admissions policies after recent press relating to BTECs? (see a recent HEFCE publication here), doing something to support pathways from FE to HE. From the terms of reference it seems to be about transparency and choice for students in relation to funding.

That’s really interesting. Degree apprentices not only don’t pay (or borrow) tuition fees, but they also receive a salary while completing their apprenticeship. That will be a real incentive and as more apprenticeships become available over time is likely to have an impact on enrolments for traditional degrees. So is this just about making sure that more students realise the financial implications of apprenticeships?

Or is this something different – is this hinting at having one single system of funding for all post-18 education at whatever level? If based on loans, that would reduce the value of the current apprenticeship offer – and it would not help with recruitment to achieve the government’s target. But there could be – the government is piloting a flexible lifetime learning fund.

It is interesting that the two quotes alongside the PM’s on the website are from the CBI and David Hughes, Chief Executive of the Association of Colleges, who said:

  • “I am very pleased that the Review is looking at the whole system of post-18 education funding. The growth in higher education numbers and the widened access has almost exclusively been for young people taking traditional 3 year undergraduate degrees. That is good news for our economy and for society, and must not be damaged going forward.
  • However, that very growth has been at the expense of adequate and fair investment in the 50% of young people who leave education at 18 and who want to study to higher levels later. Their opportunities have been hampered because of the lack of attention, leading to fewer chances, less funding and a lack of support for them to learn whilst working.”

It will be interesting to see what questions the review starts to ask and where this goes.

It’s all about skills

Consistent with the Industrial Strategy, the term of reference talk about skills.  The Industrial Strategy has a focus on skills which is supported by a whole raft of educational policies, some before 18, such as the new T-levels, and some mentioned already, such as Institutes of Technology and degree apprenticeships.  This is another area where it will be interesting to see what more the review will do beyond the policies already announced. After all, Baroness Wolf was the author of the review on vocational education for 16-19 year olds.

Of course, there is also the potential link between skills and differentiated fees or funding (see below).

It’s about fairness and access

The first point is about access, progression and success for people from disadvantaged backgrounds – a consistent theme from the PM since her appointment – the “great meritocracy” and a focus on social mobility. This is enshrined in the rules of engagement for the Office for Students, and we are eagerly awaiting the first set of guidance from the Office for Students on the next round of fair access agreements. So the review might look at how this is going and what more could be done – although it seems a bit early as this the first opportunity the OfS will have had since taking over.

The second point is very important.   You won’t have missed the many calls from students, the NUS, UUK and others to remember that tuition fees are not the whole story – and that day to day, the real worry for many students is their living costs.

  • Unlike tuition fees, which for undergraduate students are covered in full by loans paid directly to universities, so that they never see the money or the bill until much later, concerns about maintenance costs directly affect students while they are at university.
  • Maintenance loans are means tested based on family income. They therefore fluctuate each year, leaving parents to make up the difference. Not all parents are able, or willing to do that, especially when the assessment depends on last year’s income – which may have changed.
  • The cost of living for students can be extremely high, especially in London, but also depending on the available accommodation – so even students with a full loans are unlikely in many cases to have enough money to cover all their living expenses.
  • Students may have to work to support themselves, which can have an impact on their studies.
  • There are concerns about the impact that this pressure has on the wellbeing and mental health of students.

So many have called , not least UUK, to look at a reintroduction of maintenance grants for disadvantaged students. Could this be the big change that this review will recommend?

Before anyone gets carried away, though, the terms of reference refer to support from the government and from universities and colleges. Is this a reference to the question of bursaries – OFFA have for a long time questioned the effectiveness of bursaries in supporting access and with the new focus on participation and outcomes this area may now be looked at again.

According to OFFA, in 2015/16, universities spent:

  • £447.5 million on financial support, of which:
    • £428.8 million on bursaries, scholarships and fee waivers (discounts) for lower income students and other under-represented groups. The vast majority of this money (87 per cent) went to the poorest students i.e. those with a household income under £25,000
    • £18.7 million on hardship funds for students experiencing severe financial difficulties.

Could universities be directed to increase bursary funding (and presumably not reduce other fair access expenditure)? That seems unlikely given the OFFA view that bursaries don’t necessarily improve access – OFFA have recently challenged institutions to collect evidence about impact. Maybe there are different ways of organising bursaries.

There are already concerns expressed in the new regulatory framework about universities gaming the system to improve outcomes by cutting back on WP students but the conflict would be even greater if universities have to fund maintenance costs for WP students. So universities may be calling for incentives and support if the funding is to come from them and not in the form of grants.

So it’s about fees and funding?

So while we have said above that the review is about the system, about skills and about social mobility, of course fees and funding are at the heart of the review. Aren’t they?

What the PM said was:

  • But the review will also look more widely, and examine our whole system of student funding.  There are many aspects of the current system which work well.  Universities in England are now better funded than they have been for a generation. And sharing the cost of university between taxpayers as a whole and the graduates who directly benefit from university study is a fair principle. It has enabled us to lift the cap on the number of places – which was in effect a cap on aspiration – so universities can expand and so broaden access.
  • But I know that other aspects of the system are a cause for serious concern – not just for students themselves, but parents and grandparents too. This is a concern which I share. The competitive market between universities which the system of variable tuition fees envisaged has simply not emerged. All but a handful of universities charge the maximum possible fees for undergraduate courses.
  • Three-year courses remain the norm.
  • And the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course. We now have one of the most expensive systems of university tuition in the world.  We have already begun to take action to address some of these concerns. We scrapped the increase in fees that was due this year, and we have increased the amount graduates can earn before they start repaying their fees to £25,000.
  • The review will now look at the whole question of how students and graduates contribute to the cost of their studies including the level, terms and duration of their contribution. Our goal is a funding system which provides value for money for graduates and taxpayers, so the principle that students as well as taxpayers should contribute to the cost of their studies is an important one. I believe – as do most people, including students – that those who benefit directly from higher education should contribute directly towards the cost of it. That is only fair. 
  • The alternative – shifting the whole burden of university tuition onto the shoulders of taxpayers as a whole – would have three consequences.
  • First, it would inevitably mean tax increases for the majority of people who did not go to university, and who on average earn less than those who did.
  • Second, it would mean our universities competing with schools and hospitals for scarce resources, which in the past meant they lost out, putting their international pre-eminence at risk.
  • And third, it would mean the necessary re-introduction of a cap on numbers, with the Treasury regulating the number of places an institution could offer, and preventing the expansion which has driven wider access in recent years.
  • That is not my idea of a fair or progressive system.”

So no major review of the funding system, then. Instead it will look at “the whole question of how students and graduates contribute to the cost of their studies including the level, terms and duration of their contribution”. That’s not a shift away from loans to government funding of HE although it may be a shift towards renaming and changing the current system as a graduate tax of some form. It suggests a review of interest rates, and of the 30 year repayment term. Many will argue that this is not the “whole question” at all. And of course the review may be faced with overwhelming evidence that there is more to the issue than this, despite the assumptions made at the start.

And the Prime Minister herself chose to describe the system as broken:

  • “…we must have an education system at all levels which serves the needs of every child. And if we consider the experience which many young people have of our system as it is, it is clear that we do not have such a system today.”

This is a direct response to the argument that young people turned to Labour partly as a result of the Labour position on fees – see my blog for the Lighthouse group on this. More recent research has questioned whether young people really did turn out in force after all.

It is worth mentioning here that the idea that the PM has just realised that tuition fees are high is odd – but apart from the point that this is a result of her own party’s policy in the coalition government there is a real point here – i.e. that nearly all courses cost the same. Many of those involved in the changes to tuition fees – including David Willetts, have said that was not what was expected. I have heard, but have not seen any analysis, that although fees generally replaced HEFCE funding (so no windfall), there was an uplift in university income because the modelling did not assume that the full amount would be charged for all courses. Of course the change in the student number cap has meant an increase in income as well – but with associated costs.

The news over the weekend was all about differentiated fees. There is nothing about that as an outcome in the terms of reference.   They do however refer to the problems that might drive the review towards differentiated fees

  • the fact that most universities charge maximum fees for their courses (implication is that this may not be value for money – but the value for money section doesn’t refer to it
  • the fact that graduate debt has increased but salaries haven’t
  • the issues raised by the PM in her speech “…the level of fees charged do not relate to the cost or quality of the course”.

There are various ways that fees could be differentiated, on cost, on quality, on outcomes, or by having differentiated fees for different groups of students, different fees for course that support the skills agenda, for example, or a combination of all of them. Read some of our earlier analysis of this in my blog for the Lighthouse Group in October. See what students think about this idea in the section about the HEPI report below.

We’ll be watching and reporting on the next steps and the main ideas raised be commentators over the next months.

Differential tuition fees

Talk of differential tuition fees has been constant over the last year and as described above this is a likely feature of the review. The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) have responded by publishing a report Differential tuition fees: Horses for courses? summarising the debate and results from a relevant student survey.

Here are excerpts from HEPI’s briefing on the report’s contents:

  • around two-thirds of students (63%) think full-time undergraduate courses should all have the same fees while one-in-three disagree (33%)
  • when asked to state a preference, students prefer higher fees for ‘courses that cost more to teach’ (57%) than ‘courses that lead to higher earnings’ (17%) or ‘courses at more famous universities’ (7%)
  • when questioned about the possibility of introducing higher fees for some subjects, more than half of students (52%) say higher fees might be justified for Medicine but just 7% think they could be justified for Arts (such as History or English) and only 6% for Modern Languages
  • when questioned about the possibility of introducing lower fees for some subjects, 39% say lower fees might be justified for Arts (such as History or English), but just 9% think they could be justified for Law and only 8% for Physics
  • most students (59 per cent) oppose lower fees for poorer students, although a substantial minority (38 per cent) back the idea

The survey was conducted using YouthSight’s Student Omnibus survey, which is the UK’s largest panel of young people, and there were 1,019 full-time undergraduate respondents. Quotas were set on gender, university type and year of study and weights were applied to ensure a balanced sample. Respondents received a £1 Amazon gift voucher

There is a lack of consensus among those who favour greater differentiation in fees for undergraduate students:

  • some want lower fees for science and engineering courses;
  • some want lower fees for disadvantaged students;
  • some want lower fees for less prestigious universities;
  • some want lower fees for courses that tend to deliver poorer outcomes;
  • some want lower fees for courses that tend to deliver higher earnings;
  • some want lower fees for less intensive courses; and
  • some want a free for all with no fee caps.

The possibility of introducing greater price differentiation for undergraduate degrees has been under discussion for at least 20 years, since the Dearing report appeared in 1997. Variable fees for undergraduates were the most controversial aspect of Tony Blair’s Higher Education Act (2004), the main recommendation of the Browne review (2010) and promised by the Coalition.

Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, said:

  • ‘Different degrees are already meant to cost different amounts but, in England, fees have bunched up at the maximum price of £9,250 a year. Moving to a system of truly differential fees has many influential supporters. Some people seem to think having different fees for different degrees is inevitable. But the supporters of differential fees are deeply split on who should pay less and who should pay more, while most students reject the whole idea. At first glance, differential fees appear to have some advantages. It seems they could help poorer students, send signals about the value of different courses or help satisfy labour market needs. But, on closer inspection, these benefits prove to be largely illusory. Students are not price sensitive when choosing courses and differential fees are not even guaranteed to bring extra resources to universities. There are sound reasons why course fees have bunched at the level of the current fee cap. In opposing differential fees, students appear – yet again – to understand the logic of the current funding system better than many of its critics. It is vital the Government’s funding review takes the whole picture in to account.’

Treasury Committee Student Loan Review

Before the major review of HE was announced the Treasury Committee published the outcome report of its review into student loans.

  • The report found no justification for student loan interest rates to be above the market or inflation rate and called for the Government to ditch the ‘flawed’ RPI method of interest calculation.
  • It criticised the accumulation of loan interest pre-graduation.
  • The committee concluded that reducing tuition fees would be regressive (only the highest earning graduates benefit and university funding would reduce).
  • The report criticised the replacement of grants with maintenance loans inferring the government was creating additional barriers for the very students they were trying to encourage to attend University.
  • A fundamental rethink of part time funding should take place
  • Sharia-compliant student loans should be introduced as soon as possible
  • Simplify the system to ensure that student finance is better communicated
  • The report recommended the Government consider transferring responsibility for loans away from the Student Loans Company to HMRC.

Reported in Research Professional the Treasury Committee said:

  • …it welcomes the planned major review of student financing and university funding, initially announced in October 2017. However, it said it hoped that the universities and science minister Sam Gyimah would keep more of an “open mind” than his predecessor Jo Johnson, who “regrettably” ruled out radical change to the system through the review.

Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF)

Read John Vinney’s blog KEF: the missing HE accountability link, or an unnecessary distraction? published by Wonkhe. The blog considers how a discipline level KEF with a wider set of benchmarked metrics supplemented by qualitative assessment would benefit the sector. It calls for Government to reconsider the limitations of the current KEF proposals:

  • One of the often-repeated strengths of the REF is that it allows excellence to be highlighted and celebrated (and funded) wherever it is found. The KEF could do the same for knowledge exchange. But not without a much broader view of knowledge exchange, and a much wider, more meaningful, and fairer assessment. The definition phase for the KEF seems to have been skipped in a rush towards more metrics – we hope that it will be reconsidered.

Widening Participation

A parliamentary question focussed on low household income applicants:

Q – Dan Carden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to increase the number of people from lower socio-economic backgrounds applying to university.

A – Sam Gyimah:

  • Widening participation is a central priority for this government….The independent Office for Fair Access, led by the Director of Fair Access (DfA), is the regulator currently responsible for widening access to higher education (HE) in England (a function that will soon transfer to the Office for Students). HE providers wishing to charge tuition fees above the basic fee level must have an Access Agreement, setting out their targets and planned expenditure to improve access for disadvantaged and under-represented groups, and approved by the DfA.
  • The department is introducing sweeping reforms through legislation. The Office for Students (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. The department’s reforms will introduce a Transparency Duty requiring HE providers to publish application, offer, acceptance, dropout and attainment rates of students by ethnicity, gender and socio-economic background. This will help to hold the sector to account for their record on access and retention of students from lower socio-economic backgrounds.

Consultations

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

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JANE FORSTER                                            |                       SARAH CARTER

Policy Advisor                                                                     Policy & Public Affairs Officer

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

Bournemouth University students present their research in Parliament

Two Bournemouth University students, Grace Connors and Emily Rogers, have presented their undergraduate research to MPs and policy makers at the annual ‘Posters in Parliament’ event.

Around 40 students from across the UK are given the opportunity to share their research in Parliament each spring.  The exhibition allows MPs and policy makers to learn more about the innovative undergraduate research taking place across the country.  It’s also an excellent opportunity for current undergraduates and recent graduates to hone their presentation skills as they share their work with lay audiences.

Grace Connors, a BA English student from the Faculty of Media & Communication, presented her research into BBC drama The Fall which explored the representation of women in crime dramas.

“I looked at the way female characters were treated in The Fall¸ and whether or not it impacts on the way that real women are treated,” explains Grace, “I’ve always been interested female characters and the way they’re portrayed.”

The Fall is often described as being a feminist or woman-led show, despite the fact it has numerous poorly treated female characters.  I wanted to see if there was a link between poor treatment of women in a ‘feminist’ programme and how women are treated in reality.  Through my research, I found that the prevalence of negative treatment towards women often leads to people no longer finding this kind of behaviour taboo.”

Emily Rogers, a BSc Nutrition student from the Faculty of Health & Social Sciences, shared her research into boosting fruit and vegetable consumption of school-aged children and their parents.  Previous research has suggested that family meals can help to improve dietary intake, so Emily decided to see if meal time frequency could help to boost a family’s fruit and vegetable consumption.

“I chose to work with children aged 9 – 11 years old and their parents, as statistics showed that by the time children reach 10 – 11 years old one third are overweight or obese.  63% of adults in the UK are overweight or obese too, so I wanted to see if good eating habits were being shared throughout families,” says Emily.

“I sent out over 200 questionnaires to parents of year 5 and 6 children at Christchurch Junior School.  To encourage a high response rate, I gave children the opportunity to win a couple of hampers filled with prizes designed to help them get more involved in food production and preparation: gardening tools, seeds and cooking utensils, as examples.”

“My research showed that there was a positive link between family meal times and an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption for both children and adults,” continues Emily, “Children had more opportunities to eat healthily and adults, perhaps because they were modelling good eating practices for their children, also improved their diets.”

“I was inspired to submit my research to SURE, BU’s undergraduate research conference, and Posters in Parliament by my lecturer, Dr Fotini Tsofliou.  She has always been extremely supportive, and I can’t wait to use both opportunities to inspire others and help to create healthier communities.”

More information about BU’s undergraduate research conference can be found on the SURE website.  Staff and students are welcome to attend the conference on 7 March and can book free tickets via Eventbrite.

SURE 2018: book your free ticket for BU’s annual undergraduate research conference

You’re invited to attend Bournemouth University’s annual undergraduate research conference – Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE)

Over 100 students from all Faculties will be presenting their research as part of BU’s annual undergraduate research conference, taking place on Wednesday 7 March. The conference is an opportunity for our students to share their fascinating and diverse work.

Registration for the conference is now open and all staff and students are welcome to attend. Once registered, you can attend the whole day or just drop in for one or two sessions. It’s a great way to support our students and learn more about their research projects.

Dr Richard Berger is delivering one of the two keynotes talking about the Marie Curie research project working with young refugees.

For more details, visit the SURE website or email the SURE team.

Registration for the conference is open now, please visit the Evenbrite page. Please note that space for the keynote speeches is limited and seats will be prioritised for presenting students.

Systematic Review birthing centres by CMMPH PhD student Preeti Mahato

BU PhD student Mrs Preeti Mahato published her latest scientific paper ‘Determinants of quality of care and access to Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care facilities and midwife-led facilities in low and middle-income countries: A Systematic Review’ in the Journal of Asian Midwives [1].  This paper is co-authored by Dr. Catherine Angell and Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen, who are both based in the Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health (CMMPH) and Prof. Padam Simkhada, BU Visiting Professor and based at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU).  Journal of Asian Midwives is a free Open Access journal, freely available for anybody across the globe to read online.

The authors highlight that maternal mortality is a major challenge to health systems in Low and Middle-Income Countries (LMICs) where almost 99% of maternal deaths occurred in 2015. Primary-care facilities providing Basic Emergency Obstetric and Neonatal Care (BEmONC) facilities, and facilities that are midwife-led are appropriate for normal birth in LMICs and have been proposed as the best approach to reduce maternal deaths. However, the poor quality of maternal services that leads to decreased utilisation of these facilities is among the major causes of maternal deaths worldwide. This systematic review studied factors affecting the quality of care in BEmONC and midwife-led facilities in LMICs.

Thematic analysis on included studies revealed various factors affecting quality of care including facility-level determinants and other determinants influencing access to care. Facility-level determinants included these barriers: lack of equipment and drugs at the facility, lack of trained staff, poor attitudes and behaviour of service providers, and poor communication with women. Facility-level positive determinants were: satisfaction with services, emotional support during delivery and trust in health providers. The access-to-care determinants were: socio-economic factors, physical access to the facility, maintaining privacy and confidentiality, and cultural values.  The authors include that improving quality of care of birthing facilities requires addressing both facility level and non-facility level determinants in order to increase utilization of the services available at the BEmONC and midwife-led facilities in LMICs.

This is the fifth paper co-authored by CMMPH’s current most published PhD student.  The evaluation of birth centres in rural Nepal by Preeti Mahato under joint supervision Dr. Angell and Prof. Simkhada (LJMU) and Prof. van Teijlingen.

References:

  1. Mahato, P., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Angell, C. (2017) Determinants of quality of care & access to Basic Emergency Obstetric & Neonatal Care facilities & midwife-led facilities in low & middle-income countries: A Systematic Review, Journal of Asian Midwives 4(2):25-51.
  2. Mahato, P., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Angell, C. (2016) Birthing centres in Nepal: Recent developments, obstacles and opportunities, Journal of Asian Midwives 3(1): 18-30. http://ecommons.aku.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1033&context=jam
  3. Mahato, P., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Sheppard, Z., Silwal, R.C. (2017) Factors related to choice of place of birth in a district in Nepal. Sexual & Reproductive Healthcare 13: 91-96.
  4. Mahato, P.K., Regmi, P.R., van Teijlingen, E., Simkhada, P., Angell, C., Sathian, B. (2015) Birthing centre infrastructure in Nepal post 2015 earthquake. Nepal Journal of Epidemiology 5(4): 518-519. http://www.nepjol.info/index.php/NJE/article/view/14260/11579
  5. Regmi, P., van Teijlingen, E., Hundley, V., Simkhada, P., Sharma, S., Mahato, P. (2016) Sustainable Development Goals: relevance to maternal & child health in Nepal. Health Prospect 15(1):9-10. www.healthprospect.org/archives/15/1/3.pdf

HE policy update for the w/e 19th January 2018

A quieter week policy-wise following the cabinet reshuffle.

New minister – new set of priorities?

Our new minister has been fairly quiet as he settles in and thinks about the many priorities – we expect that the PM wants him to focus on the “major review” – and despite pressure he has refused to get drawn into a discussion of details. He gave a formal response to a parliamentary question earlier this week:

Q – Wes Streeting (Labour): To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if he will publish the (a) scope, (b) timetable and (c) membership the review panel for the review of university funding and student financing announced by the Prime Minister in her speech to the Conservative Party Conference in October 2017.

A – Sam Gyimah (Conservative, new Universities Minister):

As stated in the Industrial Strategy white paper published on 27 November 2017, the government is committed to conducting a major review of funding across tertiary education to ensure a joined-up system that works for everyone.

As current and significant reforms move into implementation, this review will look at how we can ensure that the education system for those aged 18 years and over is:

  • accessible to all;
  • supported by a funding system that provides value for money and works for both students and taxpayers;
  • incentivises choice and competition across the sector;
  • and encourages the development of the skills that we need as a country.

The government will set out further details on the review in due course.

And the minister spoke at Queen Mary University of London this week in a date agreed while he was still at the Ministry of Justice – clearly the subject matter had moved on given his new appointment. The discussion was covered by Wonkhe – it seems to have been a balanced and reasonable set of responses from someone who is thinking carefully before leaping into the fray.

Of course there has been plenty of advice for the new minister – from calls for him to get stuck into Brexit discussions to defend research funding, mobility etc. (he did vote remain, after all), to questions about the freedom of speech agenda and BME students at Oxbridge (he was one).

UKRI

John Kingman has been named as the permanent chair of UK Research and Innovation, officially taking the role in April. He has been acting as the interim chair to date to support the shadow running and new set up of the organisation. The Commons Science and Technology Committee are required to ratify his appointment. Also reported in Times Higher.

Freedom of speech

The debate over free speech continued in the Parliamentary Joint Human Rights Committee this week. NUS VP Doku has called for the number of events with freedom of speech issues to be published to quantify if the ‘issue’ is government rhetoric or genuinely needs tackling. Wes Streeting (MP Ilford North and former NUS President) claims the challenges are “overstated” and that Prevent has had the greatest impact on freedom of speech. He continued that no platforming, under NUS policy, was only used to prevent racism and fascism.

International Students

The Home Affairs Committee published Immigration policy: basis for building consensus calling on the Government to make it a clear and stated objective of public policy to build greater consensus and trust on immigration as part of major overhaul of immigration policy making. Read the short summary.  The report does not consider specific policy options for EU migration. The Committee will examine these once the Government publishes its forthcoming White Paper on immigration.

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

  • “The Government has a responsibility to build consensus and confidence on immigration rather than allowing this to be a divisive debate. But that requires a transformation in the way that immigration policy is made as too often the current approach has undermined trust in the system.
  • The net migration target isn’t working to build confidence and it treats all migration as the same. That’s why it should be replaced by a different framework of targets and controls. And frankly the system needs to work effectively. As long as there are so many errors and so many problems with enforcement, people won’t have confidence that the system is either fair or robust.”

The Report recommends:

  • An Annual Migration Report setting out a three-year, rolling plan for migration.
  • Clearer and simpler immigration rules, underpinned by principles and values – including the contributory principle, supporting family life and safeguarding security
  • Replacing the net migration target with an evidence-based framework for different types of immigration that takes into account the UK’s needs. There should be no national target to restrict the numbers of students coming to the UK, and at a minimum the Government should immediately remove students from the current net migration target.
  • An immigration system which treats different skills differently. There is clear public support for the continued arrival of high-skilled (not just highly paid) workers who are needed in the economy. Immigration rules should allow UK businesses and organisations easily to attract top talent, with restrictions and controls focused more on low-skilled migration.
  • Immigration plans should be linked with training plans to increase domestic skills in sectors and regions where there are skills gaps that need to be filled through migration.
  • A national integration strategy and local authority led local integration strategies

The report also notes:

  • “In calling for more international students to come and study in the UK, universities must be mindful of local impacts of large numbers of students and work with local authorities to help manage pressures on housing and public services. Universities should be expected to consult local authorities on future student numbers in their area.”

Mayoral pressure

The Financial Times ran an article noting how seven cross-party metro mayors have united to press the Prime Minster to provide a ”more open and welcoming message” to overseas students. The mayors have also written to the Migration Advisory Committee. The FT quotes the letter:

  • As the UK prepares to leave the EU, it is important that any future immigration system acknowledges the vital contribution international students make to regional jobs and growth. This includes projecting a more open and welcoming message for international students.

The letter combines last week’s HEPI report showing the huge net financial benefits international students bring with HESA data illustrating a downturn in international student numbers. The FT critiques the letter which uses 2016/17 data stating most students would have applied for their courses before the Brexit result was not known. What the FT fails to consider is that a lower conversion rate between application and enrolment does support the premise that Brexit has caused a fall in student numbers.

The Migration Advisory Committee is due to report to Government in September 2018, however, think tank HEPI is campaigning for an earlier response.

Widening Participation

Grammar Schools- A Financial Times article More grammar schools and lower tuition fees are not the answer covers the cabinet reshuffle (the widely reported demise of Justine Greening for blocking the PM’s school agenda) and draws on Education Policy Institute research:

  • On grammar schools, EPI analysis is very clear — more selective schools might deliver a small exam grade benefit to those who gain entry, but at a cost to those (poorer) children who do not pass the entry test. More grammar schools are therefore likely to worsen the country’s social mobility problem.

Meanwhile A Guardian article aiming to criticise Damian Hinds suggests that Theresa May is still determined to push grammar schools through

BME withdrawal – The Guardian considers the influence of social cultural and structural factors in Why do black students quit university more often than their white peers? The article quotes the Runnymede Trust (think tank) 2015 report: “University institutions have proved remarkably resilient to change in terms of curriculum, culture and staffing, remaining for the most part ‘ivory towers’ − with the emphasis on ‘ivory’.”

Admissions – In Robin hood and the America dream a Dorset born educator and careers advisor compares the HE admissions differences between Finland, America and the UK, and contemplates their social mobility implications.

STEM

A National Audit Office report: Delivering STEM skills for the economy has been published this week. It suggests Government initiative to improve the quality of STEM provision and take up of these subjects and rectifying the skills mismatch has met with some success. However, it pushes for Government departments to create a joined up vision sharing their aims, and a co-ordinated cross departmental plan, the delivery of which can then be examined for value for money. The report notes that the STEM gender gap continues.

Technical education

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee continued its examination of the economics of higher, further and technical education across two sessions. The first session considered the differences between UK education provision and comparable economically advanced countries (e.g. Germany). The panel discussed how FE could be enhanced, which countries integrated FE and HE effectively, and methods of encouraging lifelong learning. The narrowing of subjects after GCSE was also criticised. The following session address whether HE was currently prioritised over technical education, and whether this produces individuals with the necessary skills. Apprenticeships and T-levels were discussed in detail.

Enterprise and Entrepreneurship

The QAA has published Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education: Guidance for UK HE Providers. The guidance says

  • all students should have an opportunity to engage with Enterprise and Entrepreneurship, and to align it with their subject(s) of choice. This will enable them to identify and seek out new opportunities; have higher aspirations in their careers; be resilient; and better adapt to change”.
  • Learning about and experiencing Enterprise and Entrepreneurship while at university can have several benefits. It gives students alternative perspectives on their career options and ultimately, the confidence to set up their own business or social enterprise.”

The guidance aims to inform, enhance and promote the development of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Education and includes description of good practice.

Consultations

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

Other news

Full on: In the brave new world of accelerated degrees and intensified courses a Wonkhe blogger talks about working and studying (MSc) full time. She says universities can make studying more accessible to employees and employers by:

  • Teach modules in intensive blocks, e.g. 3 days, rather than spreading across a whole term
  • Provide assignment information well in advance of deadlines, ensuring no deadline clashes between other modules on the same programme
  • Sharing reading lists, presentations and essay topics well in advance of a module beginning – so the employed student can start reading and have an overall understanding of the subject area before attending lectures.
  • Careful structuring of the courses are important, as is the option to switch to part time study
  • Access to robust pastoral care and academic check ins

On the employer side the blogger notes that planning a balanced workload with her managers and knowing when key work deadlines fall within her academic calendar. She also recommends employers take a personalised approach to their employees study/work balance. For some this could me changing their hours or work pattern for all or part of their course.

  • “Studying is challenging. Working is challenging. Doing both at the same time certainly isn’t a walk in the park. However, employers and universities can help employed students to make it work.”

The Smart Machine Age: A Financial Times article describes the changes associated with the smart machines age and the skills graduates will need to develop.

  • Smart technology is already moving beyond manufacturing into the service industries and the professions, such as medicine, finance, accounting, management consulting and law. Businesses will reduce their headcount, because humans will only be needed for jobs that technology will not be able to do well: involving higher order critical, creative, and innovative thinking and/or emotional and social intelligence.
  • When they graduate, a student’s multidisciplinary skills should contain at least the following: scientific method; root cause analysis; unpacking assumptions; critical thinking purposes and questions; insight processes; design thinking; premortems; and after-action reviews .They ought to have emotional and social intelligence; the ability to collaborate and to know how to learn and develop their cognitive and emotional capabilities.

Graduate Recruitment: High Fliers have published The Graduate Market in 2018 noting a 4.9% decrease in the number of jobs available for 2017 graduates. They state this is the first drop in 5 years. The decrease was sharpest in the financial and banking sectors. Part of the blame was, of course, attributed to Brexit effects. Press coverage: The Times, The Guardian and The Telegraph (who note supermarket Aldi is now offering graduate salaries comparable with law and investment banking starter salaries).

Political inventions: It cannot be disputed how often HE has featured in the news in the last year. A Times Higher article reports on a (PA Consulting) Vice-Chancellor survey which reality checks the press, suggesting that some of the furore was politically motivated and often without genuine substance.

Woodgates, PA’s head of education, sums up that university leaders felt under siege.

  • Before the [2017 general] election, universities were still seen as one of the jewels in the crown of UK plc, and suddenly we seem to have moved to a world where nothing is different but the political narrative is that universities are a bit of a problem: they don’t provide value for money, their teaching quality is not very good, and vice-chancellors are overpaid.
  • Most of our respondents felt that this is fundamentally politically driven by the fact that Labour did well courting the youth vote and the Tories have responded to that, but there was also a feeling that the sector hasn’t done a very good job of responding to that and needs to be more proactive.
  • The sector has got locked into a position of responding to a political narrative rather than asserting their own narrative about the value they add: in relation to research, but also in relation in education, [and] the fact that they are very important players in social and economic development.”

What students want: The Guardian ask students what they would like the Office for Students to focus upon

Antisemitism on campus: Communities Secretary Sajid Javid announces £144,261 of funding for a new programme to support universities in tackling antisemitism on campus. The programme will be delivered by the Holocaust Educational Trust and the Union of Jewish Students and will involve 200 students and university leaders from across the country visiting the former Nazi concentration camps at Auschwitz-Birkenau. It is expected that the 200 university student leaders who visit Auschwitz-Birkenau will then go on to deliver activity that engages a further 7,500 university students.

Communities Secretary Sajid Javid said:

  • “We all have a duty to speak out in the memory of those who were murdered during the Holocaust and all those, today, who are the subject of hatred and antisemitism. Holocaust education remains one of the most powerful tools we have to fight bigotry. The Holocaust Educational Trust has been hugely successful in teaching school children about where hatred, intolerance and misinformation can lead. That’s why I am proud that the government will fund this new programme to tackle antisemitism, prejudice and intolerance on university campuses.”

Josh Holt, President of the Union of Jewish Students (UJS) said:

  • “ UJS are very grateful that our partnership with HET is being recognised and supported by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government. The resources committed today will enable a substantial expansion of student and university leaders receiving the education and training needed to combat antisemitism and prejudice on campus. Sadly we have seen a distressing increase in swastika graffiti, Holocaust denial literature and politicisation of the Holocaust on some UK campuses. We are determined to combat this and welcome this significant contribution to our longstanding work bringing students of all faiths and backgrounds together to create cohesive campus communities.”

The new programme will be jointly funded by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government and the Department for Education, building on the Holocaust Educational Trust’s highly successful ‘Lessons from Auschwitz’ programme for school students.

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Policy Advisor                                                                     Policy & Public Affairs Officer

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

Call for abstracts extended: SURE 2018

Bournemouth University’s annual undergraduate research conference – Showcasing Undergraduate Research Excellence (SURE) – returns for a third year in March 2018

As well as giving students a supportive platform to showcase the quality of work they do, it gives others at BU an insight into the excellent research undertaken by our undergraduates.  Not only is it a unique opportunity to further develop skills, prizes will also be available which include a fee waiver for a Master’s course at BU for the best overall contributor.

All undergraduate students at BU are eligible to apply, as are recent graduates.  Examples of research could be anything from preparing for a dissertation or an essay to work carried out during a placement year to volunteering or work with academic societies.  The key criteria is to be able to evidence critical thinking through the work.  Please do encourage your students to apply.

The deadline for abstracts has been extended to Friday 12 January.


How to apply

To apply to present at SURE 2018, students will need to submit an application form, which includes a 250 word abstract, to sure@bournemouth.ac.uk.  Please read our ‘how to apply’ guidance first.

Abstracts will be accepted for oral or poster presentations.  If a student would like to present your research through another medium – a film, art exhibition or performance – please contact sure@bournemouth.ac.uk initially.

The deadline for submitting abstracts has been extended Friday 12 January 2018.

 


Prizes

Best overall contribution – a fee waiver to any BU Master’s

Best original research via oral presentation – 4 x £350 funding (1 per Faculty) for students to attend and present their research at the British Conference of Undergraduate Research

Best poster, demonstration or art installation: 4 x £25 Amazon voucher (1 per Faculty)

 


Conference attendance

SURE 2018 will take place on Wednesday 7 March 2018.  Registration for the conference will open in January 2018.

Staff and students from across BU are encouraged and welcome to attend.

 

Don’t forget to submit your entry for The Research Photography Competition!

The Christmas break is near, which means it is the perfect opportunity to capture your research photo relating to the theme People.

Photo by Chantel Cox, PhD Student, Faculty of Health and Social Sciences

The last few years have seen our staff and students submitting a wide range of images summing up their research (last year’s entries can be seen here).  Photography is a great way to capture and share a different side of your research with other staff, students and members of the public.  Nearly 100 images have been entered over the last few years, and we’re looking forward to seeing what this year’s competition brings.

Want to take part?

Whether you’re in the early stages of your research or it has come to the end, we are inviting all academics and student researchers from across the university to showcase your research through an image relating to this year’s competition theme ‘People‘.  This could include:

  • An image relating to people in your team,
  • People who might be impacted by or benefit from your research,
  • People you’ve met in the course of your research,
  • Or even from your own point of view.

Whatever your idea is, we want you to get involved and get creative!

Taking part in the competition is a great way to showcase and raise awareness of your research, as well as growing your academic profile both in and outside the university.  You will also be in with a chance of winning some Amazon vouchers!

How do I enter?

Step 1: Take your photo.

It’s easy! Grab a camera and take a picture connecting with the theme ‘People‘. Interpret it in any way you see fit to capture any area of your research.

Each image will need to be 300pi (pixels per inch) with physical dimensions equivalent to an A3 size piece of paper (297 x 420 mm or 11.7 x 16.5 in).  Images smaller than this tend not to have a high print quality.

Step 2: Submit the photo!

You may enter only one photo per person. Once you have the perfect image, all you have to do is submit it by emailing the Research account (research@bournemouth.ac.uk) before the deadline, along with a 100 – 200 word description of your research behind the image.

Submission details

The submission deadline is 12 Januray 2018 at 5pm. Late entries will not be accepted.

Staff, students and the general public will then be able to vote for their favourite image.

The competition winners will be presented with a prize by Professor John Fletcher in the Atrium Art Gallery, in March 2018. All photographs will be presented in the Atrium Art Gallery for two weeks in March so you’ll get a chance to see all the entries.

Please read through the Terms & Conditions before entering.

Photo by Rutherford, Senior Lecturer In Creative Advertising

Need inspiration?

Take a look at our Photo of the Week, where you can read about the research behind the images from previous entries


Should you have any queries about the competition then please contact Sacha Gardener, Student Engagement & Communications Coordinator, in the Research and Knowledge Exchange Office.