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Professor Dimitrios Buhalis keynote on Smart Tourism and the importance of networks for destinations presentation at the European Travel Commission Workshop

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis delivered a keynote Smart Tourism and the importance of networks for destinations presentation at the European Travel Commission Workshop in Vienna.

Professor Buhalis explained how eTourism evolved in the last 30 years and explained some of his research that was published in as early as in 1993 and is still relevant (Buhalis, D., 1993, Regional Integrated Computer Information Reservation Management Systems (RICIRMS) as a strategic tool for the small and medium tourism enterprises, Tourism Management, Vol. 14(5), pp.366 378. https://doi.org/10.1016/0261-5177(93)90005-6). He then transformed ETC delegates to the future explaining how technology will shape the future of tourism by 2030.

He explained what smart tourism is and what are the benefits for tourism destinations and organisations from the emerging tourism digital ecosystem.  Latest research from key publications was also offered.

Professor Buhalis also offered the latest range of research on smart tourism as explained in a range of publications including:

Zhang, H., Gordon, S., Buhalis, D., Ding, X., 2018, Experience Value Cocreation on Destination Online Platforms, Journal of Travel Research, In print https://doi.org/10.1177/0047287517733557

Buhalis, D., Leung, R., 2018, Smart Hospitality – Interconnectivity and Interoperability towards an Ecosystem, International Journal of Hospitality Management, Vol.71, pp.41-50 https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ijhm.2017.11.011

Molinillo, F., Liébana-Cabanillas, F., Anaya-Sánchez, R., Buhalis, D., 2018, DMO online platforms: image and intention to visit, Tourism Management, Vol.65, pp.116-130 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S026151771730211X

Williams, N., Inversini; A., Buhalis, D., Ferdinand, N., 2017 Destination eWOM drivers and characteristics, Annals of Tourism Research Vol.64 pp.87–101 http://doi.org/10.1016/j.annals.2017.02.007

Boes, K., Buhalis, D., Inversini, A., 2016, Smart tourism destinations: ecosystems for tourism destination competitiveness”, International Journal of Tourism Cities, Vol. 2(2), pp.108–124  http://dx.doi.org/10.1108/IJTC-12-2015-0032

Williams, N., Ferdinand, N., Inversini, A., Buhalis, D., 2015, Community Crosstalk: An exploratory analysis of destination and festival eWOM on Twitter, Journal of Marketing Management Vol.31 (9-10), pp.1113-1140 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/0267257X.2015.1035308

Neuhofer, B., Buhalis, D., Ladkin, A., 2015, Smart technologies for personalised experiences. A case from the Hospitality Industry, Electronic Markets, Volume 25(3), pp. 243-254 https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s12525-015-0182-1

Xiang, Z., Tussyadiah, I.,Buhalis, D., 2015, Smart destinations: Foundations, analytics, and applications, Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 4(3), October 2015, pp. 143-144 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212571X15000360

Buhalis, D., and Foerste, M., 2015, SoCoMo Marketing for Travel and Tourism:  empowering co-creation of value, Journal of Destination Marketing & Management, 4(3), October 2015, pp.151–161 http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2212571X15000207

Neuhofer, B., Buhalis, D., Ladkin, A., 2014, A typology of technology enhanced experiences, International Journal of Tourism Research, 16: 340–350.  https://doi.org/10.1002/jtr.1958

Mistilis, N., and Buhalis, D., Gretzel, U., 2014, ‘eDestination Marketing of the future: the perspective of an Australian Tourism Stakeholder Network ‘, Journal Travel Research, Vo.53, 1-13. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/0047287514522874

 

Professor Dimitrios Buhalis at the European Travel Commission Workshop in Vienna on Smart Tourism for destinations #tourism #smart #destination #smarttourism #smarttourism #IoT #ArtificialIntelligence

New paper by recent BU Sociology graduate

Dr. Andrew Harding and his BU PhD supervisors just published a new paper from his Ph.D. research [1].   This interesting paper ‘Suppy-side review of the UK specialist housing market and why it is failing older people’ reviews the supply-side of policies and practices that impact on the shortage of supply in the contemporary specialist housing market for older people in the UK.  Andrew is currently based at Lancaster University.

Congratulations!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

CMMPH

 

Reference:

  1. Harding, Andrew, Parker, Jonathan, Hean, Sarah & Hemingway, Ann (2018) Supply-side review of the UK specialist housing market and why it is failing older people. Housing, Care and Support

 

New BU publication on maternity care and culture in Afghanistan

Congratulations to Dr. Rachel Arnold on the acceptance by Social Science & Medicine (published by Elsevier) of the second paper based on her PhD on maternity care in Afghanistan [1].  This interesting ethnography explores the experiences, motivations and constraints of healthcare providers in a large public Afghan maternity hospital. Arnold and colleagues identify barriers and facilitators in the delivery of care. Under the surface of this maternity hospital, social norms were in conflict with the principles of biomedicine. Contested areas included the control of knowledge, equity and the primary goal of work. The institutional culture was further complicated by pressure from powerful elites. These unseen values and pressures explain much of the disconnection between policy and implementation, education and the everyday behaviours of healthcare providers.

Improving the quality of care and equity in Afghan public maternity hospitals will require political will from all stakeholders to acknowledge these issues and find culturally attuned ways to address them.  The authors argue that this notion of parallel and competing world-views on healthcare has relevance beyond Afghanistan.   The paper co-authored by (a) Prof. Kath Ryan, Professor of Social Pharmacy at the University of Reading and Visiting Professor in FHSS, and BU’s Professors Immy Holloway and Edwin van Teijlingen.

 

References:

  1. Arnold, R., van Teijlingen, E., Ryan, K., Holloway, I. (2018) Parallel worlds: An ethnography of care in an Afghan maternity hospital, Social Science & Medicine [online first] doi: 10.1016/j.socscimed.2018.09.010.

 

My trip Madeira to talk about sports events

I have just returned from Madeira Island where I delivered the opening keynote presentation at the international seminar on the impacts of the organisation of sports events held in the autonomous region of Madeira, Portugal. The seminar was co-organised by the Madeira University and the Portuguese Swimming Federation, and was a side event of the Women’s U19 Water Polo European Championships. Besides my keynote, the seminar included panels about the economic, tourism and social-sporting impacts of sports events, with the last panel on public policy and sporting events.

My presentation focused on ‘sports events and local and tourist development’. I explained the types of impacts brought about by sporting events, and highlighted some of the challenges in measuring them. I then argued that the traditional focus on economic and tourism impacts often overlooks other important impacts, such as effects on social capital. Using the example of the Festival Makers programme developed by BU academic Dr. Debbie Sadd, I demonstrated how volunteering can develop social capital and how some of the impacts continue to be visible well beyond the event. I concluded my presentation with some ideas about strategic directions for sports events in Madeira.

Speakers at the seminar included two ministers of the regional government of Madeira, a former minister of youth and sport of Portugal, directors of major sports events in Madeira (including the founder and director of one of the top Ultra Trails in the world, the Madeira Island Ultra Trail), the presidents of the national and regional swimming associations, and academics from both Madeira and other Portuguese universities. The event attracted around 60 attendees from a variety of backgrounds such as physical education teachers, sports club managers, coaches, hotel managers, academics and postgraduate students.

I was also invited to attend the gala dinner of the Water Polo Championships at the luxurious Pestana Casino Park hotel, one of the local sponsors of the event. We were treated to a beautiful meal, as the picture attest.

Despite being Portuguese, I had never visited Madeira so this was also an opportunity to attend some of the championship matches and visit some of the island’s iconic tourist attractions. Dr. Jorge Soares, Assistant Professor of Sport Management at the University of Madeira, was my host and was kind enough to show me some of the sights, including the breathtaking sunrise at Pico do Areeiro (Areeiro Peak, 1818m), Walking though a Levada (irrigation channel), eating the locally famous dry tuna sandwich and watching the boat procession in honour of Our Lady of Pity.

I also had the chance to meet several friends from the university time who now work in Madeira.

I knew Madeira was beautiful, but I did not know that it was this beautiful. I thoroughly recommend it to anyone. A must do trip. You can easily spend a week here and not feel bored in any way. I don’t think it will take long for me to return.

Origami for Science Maths and Education International Meeting

The Origami in Science, Mathematics and Education (7OSME) 7th International Meeting occurred recently in Oxford. The conference started with a visit to The Satellite Applications Catapult at Harwell. They work with organisations to make use of, and benefit from, satellite technologies. Michael Loweth from ‘Oxford Space systems’ are one of the companies there. They develop deployable space antennas, booms and panels using origami to produce products which are lighter less complex and more stowage efficient to send into space.

The lead conference organiser, Professor Zhong You, opened the conference. His specific area of research is about origami structures and materials and he shared the invention of an origami stent. Many of the presentations were linked to engineering, design and maths. The full programme and abstracts can be downloaded here at http://osme.info/7osme/program.html

 

 

 

 

 

 

There were two keynotes.

 

Sergio Pellegrino is the Joyce and Kent Kresa Professor of Aeronautics and Civil Engineering at the California Institute of Technology, JPL Senior Research Scientist and co-director of the Space Solar Power Project. He discussed the complexities of transferring folding principles from paper to carbon fibre for future space telescopes, spacecraft antennas, and space-based solar power systems. Issues include differences in structural composition of material flatness, thickness and stiffness which all impact how sheets of carbon fibre are joined, reducing damage from folding and unfolding as well as smooth deployment. Further information and videos are on https://www.spacesolar.caltech.edu

Tadashi Tokieda, professor of mathematics at Stanford University, presented maths in a mesmerising way. He performed a ‘magic show’ projecting live folding and cutting of Möbius strips to create a square, hearts and rings *PHOTO* (apparently this was his marriage proposal). He is fascinated by origami’s intrinsic and extrinsic geometry. His effusive joy of real-world surprises through mathematical physics problems came through brilliantly! He is active in inventing, collecting, and studying mathematical toys. You can create these by following videos hosted by the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute here

Established crease patterns and tessellations such as the Momotani brick wall, Yoshimura folding and Miura-ori patterns were exhibited in different materials across disciplines. Examples included origami in fabric, fibreglass, carbon fibre as well as paper. Displays alongside academic posters included folded lamps, models to teach fractions, a changing seating arrangement and even a bulletproof shield.

 

 

I was intrigued by Alun Kirby, a scientist-artist working with the philosophy of memory to create camera-less photographs. For his ‘metamorphograms’ he creates simple origami tatos (traditional envelopes) using cyanotype tissue paper. This iron laden ink is exposed to light for several days, unfolded and washed. The resultant pattern holds the memory of the folds in layers of ink. This can be transposed to cultural memory, as each person exposed to different experiences leave a trace in different ways, just as the paper does

Joseph Choma develops foldable composites for architectural applications. For example, using accordion folds in fibreglass into collapsible structures which are layered with resins that can harden the end product.

 

The panel I was chairing was rather busy and we had three presenters from different disciplines.

Mark Bolitho is an origami artist and runs Crease Lightning. Mark critiqued his own origami artistic practice considering “When is a model finished?” This has relevance to every maker such as artists, designers and creators in many disciplines. The completion of a product relies on a concluding point in the creative’s journey. For any maker it is the artist’s choice when a model is ‘finished’. This may be a point where they decide they have created the ‘right’ form for an exhibition or when the product responds in the best possible way for a client’s brief. Mark works with an intuitive sense of when a model is finished. Intriguingly, he critiqued Birkhoff’s assertions of two key aesthetic measure (M) of order (O) and complexity (C) where M = O / C.  

Eckhard Hennig, Professor of digital and integrated circuit design at Reutlingen University, does origami as a hobby. He now uses origami exercises to teach students various theoretical and practical aspects of engineering. He has developed a new modular origami construction system with excellent load bearing capacity. He brought a bridge as an example and has generously shared diagrams for the nine units for you to create https://www.flickr.com/photos/eckhard_hennig/sets/72157663656782747/ Nicholas Orndorff presented his first boat build as an example of curved folding. He discussed the benefit of developable surfaces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Another fascinating session was by Miri Golan who presented ‘Origametria’ (using orgami to teach maths). This is an established programme and the team have developed an e-learning package at www.origametria.com. Lesson plans focus on geometry principles rather than creating a particular origami model. Each lesson is animated so no origami skill is necessary alongside prompt questions for the teacher to utilise that keep the discussions of geometry open. The attitudes of maths teachers was the research focus and they all commended the benefits of the programme.

The event finished with two keynotes. Emma Frigerio is central to OSME and presented her life journey with origami. She developed and taught origami workshops to teach and explain mathematics for teacher training programs at two universities in Milano (Italy). Tomohiro Tachi, associate professor in Graphic and Computer Sciences (University of Tokyo) has research interests in origami, structural morphology, computational design, and digital fabrication. He designs three-dimensional and kinematic origami through computation and developed origami software tools including “rigid origami simulator”, “origamizer”, and “freeform origami”, which are available from his website here*

It was a pleasure to be with others who are enthusiastic about origami. I use origami for reflective practice and look forward to sharing this with you over the coming months.

Dr Gavin or: how I stopped worrying and learned to love research

A lesson on patience

It apparently took J.D. Salinger 10 years to write his first novel, The Catcher in the Rye. J.K. Rowling spent about 6 years writing and re-writing Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (I suspect publisher pressure accelerated things thereafter). As an early career researcher, I feel that since graduating from my doctorate and becoming independent, I can be less patient and eager for instant results – a feeling encouraged by social media and continuous metricisation.

My own current project, inspiratory muscle training for care home residents at risk of falling, can’t be compared to great achievements like those novels. But it is my ambition to undertake my own research project as principal investigator – and so I intend to savour the experience (i.e. be task oriented), rather than just chasing the outputs (i.e. being outcome oriented). I have learned to value iterative research designs, in that, the initial study’s outcomes inform the subsequent study’s methodology, and so on. However, this method presents its own uncertainties, as the researcher has to relinquish their control over the study.

Several lessons on managing myself

That said, I am beginning to see the need to set regular targets to keep the momentum on a project like this going. Taking my research beyond the controlled ‘safety’ of the physiology laboratory (satisfying internal validity), into a brave new world of the care home setting (satisfying external validity), requires working with research ‘end users’, be it: service managers, staff or residents. I’m finding the process: i) slow, care providers have additional administrative requirements, ii) essential, in laying trusted foundations for a long-term project, and iii) rewarding, by implementing research into the real world and establishing impact from the outset.

Since being awarded ACORN funding, my summer has been spent: writing for ethical approval, satisfying HR admin, recruiting care home partners, revising protocols, creating Plan B, writing Plan B ethical approval, piloting testing, revising participant selection criteria, and being trained by my PhD student (a lesson in humility, if nothing else). Even supported by an industrious research assistant this has felt a slow journey, with weekly peaks and troughs. I have even begun an 8 week period of inspiratory muscle training myself, to understand how care home residents can improve, feel challenged, and require further support. This has been equally useful to highlight practicalities – my challenges have been fitting 30 breaths, morning and night, into my daily routine; in contrast care residents’ challenges are likely to relate to effort, guidance, and motivation for training.

 

 

 

 

 

Research is an intellectual and logistical marathon

My initial participant selection criteria excluded all people with: dementia, COPD and respiratory difficulties, and cardiovascular diseases. My journey has presented three worries thus far: i) the funding expenditure deadline, ii) recruiting care homes and, iii) the selection criteria. In academia, the deadlines, targets and metrics are omnipresent, arguably more so since the increase in tuition fees.

Following the joy of being awarded research funding, comes the deadlines of expenditure (simple, if it were not for standard processes – ethical clearance, securing HR contracts, recruitment, and piloting) and the deliverables. I’m highly grateful of the ongoing support I receive, however I strongly believe that HE institutions must be realistic when financing projects and staff. Research is a slow process; outcomes cannot always be constrained to exact dates, as much as quality research cannot be established in rushed expenditure.

Mostly recently my challenge has been in recruiting care homes, particularly due to my selection criteria. This presents the methodological conflict between internal validity (i.e. the controlled laboratory) and external validity (i.e. the unpredictable care environment). Should I maintain my exclusion criteria, even though the majority of care home residents have dementia and/or COPD? Or relax the criteria to reflect the real environment and achieve recruitment? The former would make for more publishable data; the latter would support a Research Council funding bid (ah, I nearly forgot…must submit one of those by April 2019). Again, tempus fugit.

Self-experimentation

In this this social media age, time can appear condensed; two days can seem like an age, an afternoon of no replies, an epoch. A study in the 2017 Altmetric Top 100 provides compelling evidence that regular Smartphone use impairs cognitive performance by re-orienting attention. I’ve ‘disconnected’ from using a Smartphone and Facebook; this works for me. Regardless, I still have to exercise discipline in unnecessary email checking and now time-block my diary for: education, research or practice. I seriously recommend, as an academic, experiment on yourself. J.B.S. Haldane was a notable and prolific example of a self-experimenting physiologist. Yet whether it’s inspiratory muscle training or reducing Smartphone use, experiment on yourself – assess how you respond, identify influential variables and intervene if you wish.

 

 

 

 

How my ACORN grows

The simple truth is I don’t have a study finish date. The logic is if I am flexible on time, and put lots of my own effort in, then I will ultimately be able to generate both output and impact. There’s the psychological advantage too: by not having a finish date, I also stop the project becoming ‘work’. Pressures, missed opportunities, worrying others are publishing – these would stop research being fun. Academic success is not proportional to effort alone, however developing partnerships beyond academia is.

Being an academic is great – relative freedom, interesting colleagues, working with students, and contributing to societal value. Personally I’m not sure I’ll ever stop worrying, nevertheless, I have learnt to expect challenge on a near daily basis. This is notably relevant for the early career researcher looking to develop into an independent researcher, capable of sustaining their own work. Academia will always have a mountain to climb. I learnt to relax, stop worrying and love research by:

  1. Indulging in ‘quiet time’ – think, talk and share ideas
  2. Accepting failure
  3. Avoiding perfectionism
  4. Prioritising – day by day, week by week, time-block based on what tasks arise
  5. Avoiding distraction – e.g. social media detox / only read emails after late morning

Dr James Gavin

Dept. Sport & Physical Activity

Faculty of Management

Email jgavin@bournemouth.ac.uk

Phone 012029 66303

Funds now available to support Global Staff Mobility: Erasmus+

Global staff mobility, including training and teaching, leads to professional development and networking and brings great value to BU and our students, whilst offering invaluable international experience.

We are pleased to announce that staff, both academic and professional support, can now apply for funds to support these activities through Erasmus+, under the Global Staff Mobility scheme.
Erasmus+ funds are a great way to build networks and gain experience.

Erasmus+ staff mobility funds can be used to support travel, accommodation and subsistence of academic and professional support staff attending training at an organisation or institution in Europe. It can also be used for academic staff wishing to teach at a European university.

To be eligible for teaching (not training) mobilities, BU needs to have an agreement with the proposed University – you can check which organisations we have inter-institutional agreements with at globalBU.

The first 2018/19 call for applications is now open – with a closing deadline of 9am Thursday 4th October 2018

You can find all the necessary application forms, FAQs and guidance at Global Staff Mobility

This year we are running Information Sessions for interested staff members on:

Friday 14th September 1-2pm Talbot Campus, Kimmeridge House K101
Friday 21st September 10-11am Landsdowne Campus,
EBC
EB306
Thursday 11th October
(Please note this session takes place after the deadline for the first call)
1-2pm Talbot Campus,
Ground Floor,
Poole House

 

Global Mobility Hub

 Please contact globalstaffmobility@bournemouth.ac.uk (Elaine Asbridge) if you have any queries or would like to attend one of these sessions.

 

Artificial Intelligence for Tourism and Hospitality workshop -IFITTtalk- Wednesday 28 November

BU Artificial Intelligence for Tourism and Hospitality – IFITTtalk
Wednesday 28 November 2018 – 09:00-17:00 FG06, Fusion, Bournemouth University, BH12 5BB, UK
Chairs: Professor Dimitrios Buhalis and Dr Nigel Williams eTourismLab, Department of Tourism and Hospitality, Bournemouth University – Supported by IFITT talks #BUeTourism #IFITT  https://tinyurl.com/BU-IFITT-AI


The (re) emergence of Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a service automation approach leveraging low cost computing and large datasets is impacting consumer experiences and is set to revolutionize tourism experiences. The ubiquitous and prevailing use of mobile devices for communication assures that stakeholders of such ‘consumer experiences’ are required to provide rapid responses to contextual queries made at any time, including within an experience encounter or activity at a destination level. AI tools that can make sense of real-time questions posed by consumers in context can provide significant value and increase engagement as well as reducing costs to destination organizations. The use of AI by tourism organizations is still low and this workshop will explore the opportunities and challenges of engaging AI as a customer co-creation toolset for industry and economic benefits. It will conclude with a scenario development exercise to identify possible futures for AI and Tourism along with a roadmap for the next 3 years of AI/Tourism development.

09:00 –09:30 Arrival and networking FG06

09:30-11:00 Artificial Intelligence for Tourism and Hospitality – theoretical perspectives 

© Professor Dimitrios Buhalis and Dr Nigel Williams : Artificial Intelligence for Tourism and Hospitality: From individuals to clusters
© Dr Iis Tussyadiah University of Surrey, Robotics and Artificial Intelligence
© Dr Luiz Mendes Filho, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Norte, Brazil, Smart Tourism developments
Dr Chulmo Koo, Kyung Hee University, Korea, Smart Tourism and Artificial Intelligence
Professor Hannes Werthner Vienna University of Technology, Austria – The future of Artificial Intelligence

11:00-11:30 Coffee and networking

11:30-13:00 Artifilcial Intelligence for Tourism and Hospitality – best practice 

Gergana Halatcheva, GHS Global Hospitality
Lee Mallon, Rarely Impossible
Jamie Sergeant This is Crown
Rowena (Copestake) Revill
Nikos Maniatis The Cato Bot
Rob Monster  DigitalTown
Tom Keeping Keeping Studio
Manolis Varouhas imonline

13:00 -14:00 Networking Lunch

14:00-15:30 Workshops Designing the future of Articial Intelligence in Tourism

15:30-16:00 Break and Networking

16:00-17:00 Conclusions  Research and Innovation agendas for the future
Chairs: Professor Dimitrios Buhalis and Dr Nigel Williams
AI Fusion: Future research – Projects  –  Publications  –  Best Practice Excellence  –  Education Innovations

_________________________________________________________________________________________

The Bournemouth University eTourism Lab Bournemouth University Department of Tourism and Hospitality  explores cutting edge information and communication technologies, alongside e-based strategic management and marketing for the tourism and hospitality industries. The eTourism Lab resides within the International Centre for Tourism and Hospitality Research (ICTHR) in the Department of Tourism and Hospitality, Faculty of Management at Bournemouth University.  The eTourism Lab offers global excellence in the field of eTourism in the widest possible sense which includes eTravel, eTransport, eHospitality and eCatering/Food. In addition it researches how social media is becoming critical for organisations to communicate effectively and compete globally. Latest research themes include online reputation and managing brands online; real time business management and marketing social media engagement, co-creation and interaction; augmented reality and gamification. Led by world expert Professor Dimitrios Buhalis the Lab is a research centre of global excellence.

For more information please contact Professor Dimitrios Buhalis  eTourism Lab Bournemouth University

CQR starts the seminar year with a Round-up

The first CQR Seminar of the academic year will be a CQR members, assocs, and doc students Round-up! 

Wednesday, 12 Sept at 1 pm in RLH 409.

Nonetheless, those curious about CQR and how they might get involved are welcome to attend!

Agenda

  1. Brain-storming future Go Create! seminar ideas (We have the first half of the year covered, but need ideas and people for the second half.

  2. CQR and CEL are beginning a joint adventure!  We are developing an association with the Centre for Excellence in Learning, particularly around creativity.Come along and share your thoughts.

  3. Research Collaborations!  Many of you have ideas for projects, big and small, and just need that extra pair of hands (and creative input!) to make it happen. A chance to put your ideas forward, and see who might help make them happen!

  4. Any other business

Start the new academic year with camaraderie and conviviality.

We look forward to seeing lots of you at the Round-up 12 Sept.!

BU Policy Update for the w/e 31st August 2018

It may be the recess, but not everyone is away, and the discussion on fees and funding, and other things, continues, as we speculate when the “autumn” is and how soon before Christmas we will get the interim report from Philip Augar on the Review of Post-18 Education.

Student fees and funding

Given the importance of this issue, we have prepared a (fairly length) summary of the latest position on fees and funding and we are updating it regularly.  You can read the latest version on the intranet here.

Lessons from Wales – HEPI have issued a policy note on the new student funding arrangements in Wales.  Somewhat controversially, in the light of the Augar review, it challenges the approach taken in Wales.  It notes the plaudits for the new regime:

  • for the evidence-based way in which it has been put together;
  • for attempting to build consensus around a sustainable system;
  • for rebalancing upfront public spending towards living costs;
  • for its progressive universalism, with all students entitled to a maintenance grant;
  • for protecting the income of higher education institutions;
  • for the continued transferability of support for students studying outside Wales; and
  • for treating part-time and postgraduate students more equitably.

But it also flags that there are losers as well as winners, and that the political spin may be “hampering wider understanding of how it works”.  The challenge is that student loans will be increasing in Wales – going in the opposite direction to the one that many are calling for in England.

  • All students will receive maintenance support of £9000 a year. The previous system was a mixture of means tested grants and loans, with a smaller maximum loan.  This may help students from lower income families who have access to more cash, but overall the government will be funding or subsidising more of the maintenance cost for students.  Cutting the parental contribution to student maintenance costs is not something we have seen supported widely in England as part of the Augar review (except for low income families).
  • The balance of loans and grants is also changing. All students will receive a grant of at least £1000, and for students from the very lowest earning households, this grant will increase to £8100, with a loan of £900 per year for maintenance.
  • The overall student loans, taking into account tuition fee loans as well All students will receive tuition fee loans for £9000 per year (tuition fees in Wales did not go up to £9250).  Tuition fees were previously around £4000 per year.  So all Welsh students will have bigger loans overall, even those from the lowest earning households.  But the change is much bigger for those from higher earning households (an 85% increase).  And of course it is income contingent like the UK system and the amounts will still be less than England.

So Nick Hillman flags some challenges to the system:

  • First, while the over-riding principle of income-contingent student loan systems is that the amount you pay depends on your earnings after leaving university, upfront means-testing means the total amount you are left owing depends a great deal on your parental income.
  • This can make for rough edges: someone who comes from a poor family and ends up as a millionaire will owe much less than someone who comes from a rich family but ends up in averagely-paid employment.
  • Parental income continues to be central to the new system of student support in Wales, despite the fact that all students are entitled to the same tuition fee loan and the same cash-in-hand support for maintenance, and despite the fact that the new Welsh system avoids the worst feature of the English system whereby the poorest students take on the largest debts.
  • Secondly, because different parents in similar income brackets have varying propensities to support their student children, even people from similar backgrounds will be left with different levels of debt.
  • …Put simply, some middle-class students will feel obliged to borrow the maximum loan entitlement to live and others will not because their parents will subsidise them directly, leaving students from similar backgrounds with very different levels of debt.
  • …But none of this should obscure the fact that the clearest winners from the new package could be parents, who are no longer under the same expectation to contribute. This could be said to fly in the face of widespread concerns about inter-generational fairness and the need to do more to support young people using resources accrued by older generations.
  • …Thirdly, although the Welsh support package is regarded as progressive for treating students from poorer families more generously than students from richer families, its level of progressivity depends on your comparator. The poorest students in Wales will actually be worse off in terms of cash-in-hand under the new system compared to the old one.

So what does this mean for the Augar review?   If they are considering reintroducing maintenance grants then the progressive approach of the Welsh system may be attractive.

Just to note on part-time students, the new Welsh system is said to be better than in England.  However, on the basis of our quick calculations, there doesn’t seem to be much difference between what you can get in England and Wales for a part-time course.  But of course in Wales, part of it is a grant.

Change the context not the structure

Jim Dickinson argues in a blog for Wonkhe that if free tuition is unaffordable and the graduate tax unworkable, then some other things need to change:

  • Making the public subsidy explicit – instead of hiding it behind the language of debt
  • Stop talking about debt when it isn’t, because it’s income contingent and time limited
  • Reduce the costs of student accommodation – it’s a housing crisis not a funding crisis
  • Stop expecting competition to fix everything

Certainly the first two of these are likely to appear in the Augar recommendations – demystifying the system is one of Philip Augar’s key priorities.

This is supported by another Wonkhe blog by Arthi Nachiappan on living costs

  • The cost of undergraduate tuition fees – and the loans required to cover them – are strictly controlled at the supply end, and while numbers are uncapped, this does give government and students some certainty over costs. But rent – the key living cost that maintenance loans are supposed to cover – is uncapped and uncontrolled…. As long as the residential model persists in large parts of the sector, both policy-makers and students need to know much more about the realities of the costs of private sector accommodation that go beyond the surface level exercises and tables that dominate the press. And we will need to see a much more joined-up strategy between local authorities, government departments and institutions to ensure that that model is affordable for students.

Graduate tax

In a blog for HEPI Paul Maginnis, the author of a new book entitled The Return of Meritocracy: Conservative Ideas for Unlocking Social Mobility puts forward the case in favour of a graduate tax.  His conclusion:

  • With a graduate tax, there would be no ‘debt’ that needs to be paid back (which seems to be the main issue for students) and it can be structured to be more progressive. If it was introduced at 7% on earnings over £27,000 it would be a clear indicator that a graduate would have to be on the average UK wage to begin paying back. It would be made affordable by graduates earning over £75,000 paying 10% of their earnings for their university education. At the same time if they slipped below the £27,000 threshold, nothing would be paid back. As with tuition fees, the tax would cease 30 years after graduating from university.
  • Reclassifying the student loan system as a graduate tax would, at a stroke, put all spending on student loans back onto current public spending. The consequence of this would be to significantly increase the deficit. The Government may as well embrace this move as the ONS are current reviewing the student loan system. They are likely to conclude that some or all of the current loans appear in the national accounts so the Government might as well take the initiative anyway.
  • With the current tuition fee repayment rate of 9% of earnings over the newly introduced threshold of £25,000, a cut to 7% on earnings up to £75,000 would be a progressive move. It would be understood as a tax which would stop graduates receiving alarming letters stating that they owe £50,000 in addition to enormous interest rates. The Government should continue to argue that graduates need to make a financial contribution to keep higher education affordable, while ensuring those who do not go to university are free from subsidising this.

Capping access to fees

A new possibility for reducing the cost of the system was raised by Ant Bagshaw in a Wonkhe blog –not student number controls, but controlling for quality – minimum entry stadnards.

“…what about a control on who can access the student support system? “Three Cs, madam? No, there’s no loan available for you.” Now, this is a problem for plenty of reasons. These include, but are probably not limited to, the following:

  1. Where does this leave contextual admissions? We could have different minima which take into account the correlations between social privilege and school performance, but what are the chances of this kind of nuanced policy?
  2. Where does experiential learning fit it? Not all students do A-levels or are aged 17 on application to university. Wouldn’t minimum qualifications disenfranchise some older prospective students or those who’ve taken other routes?
  3. How do you express a qualifications minimum across all types of pre-university learning, including combinations of awards and over decades of different types (and standards) of award?
  4. It’s a number control. The chances are that this would be dressed up as “these are students that won’t succeed in HE, so we’re doing them a favour by excluding them”, but let’s call a spade a number control when we see it.
  5. There will be a way around it. As I wrote recently for Wonkhe, the scourge of unconditional offers (amongst other consequences such as grade inflation) is a consequence of the marketised system as designed and implemented. There are easy ways around unconditional offers – make very low offers. There will be ways around minimum qualifications.

As Ant points out:

  • There’s a strong thread in the commentary about universities that “too many students” are going, and the system is too expensive and that avaricious vice chancellors are simply putting “bums on seats” with any student with a pulse.

So he suggests instead:

  • One way could be to reward universities for the value that they add to students’ outcomes. And outcomes not measured in terms of degree classifications which are in the control of the provider, but jobs, salaries, further study, and so on. A system like that would reward the universities which were able to admit the students with the lowest grades, but only those which could demonstrate that there admissions decisions were the right ones.

Now those are the sort of changes we may see recommended in the Augar review – differential fees by outcomes seems like a strong possibility, as mentioned by the PM when she launched it, and trailed perhaps by the Minister when he talked about the IFS report on graduate salaries and first mentioned the “bums on seats” issue in the context of allegedly “underperforming” degrees.  You can read more in our policy update on 15th June here.

Skills

We have also created a new summary of other policy matters relating to students, including student experience and access and participation, but also looking at government priorities around skills, technical education, social mobility etc.  You can find the latest version on the intranet here.

Professor Dave Phoenix, VC of South Bank University has written a report for HEPI “Filling in the biggest skills gap: Increasing learning at Levels 4 and 5”.

In the introduction, Nick Hillman notes:

  • Qualifications that are higher than A-Levels but lower than full honours degrees are known in eduspeak as Levels 4 and 5 but HNCs, HNDs, Foundation Degrees and other names in common parlance. They have collapsed in recent years. If there had been such a dramatic fall in any other qualification level, such as GCSEs, A-Levels or Bachelor’s degrees, the fall would have been given the status of a full-blown educational crisis.
  • Yet these awards were once the flavour of the month for aspiring politicians in power on both sides of the political spectrum. For example, in 1972, when Margaret Thatcher was the Secretary of State for Education and Science, the Government called for ‘a range of intellectually demanding two-year courses’ for those who did not want part-time study or to enrol on an honours degree.*  Almost a generation later, David Blunkett announced Foundation Degrees, which were designed to be more vocational but had similar aims.

..and concludes:

  • Given current reviews on issues like post-18 learning and the accounting treatment of student loans, there is no better time to build a new political consensus.

So what is the solution?  The executive summary notes:

  • Employer demand for employees at Levels 4 and 5 is often cited. However, it is unclear whether employers are pinpointing the education level of the employees they need or if they are basing their assessment on the qualifications of employees who are retiring.
  • There are views among some that restricting access to Level 6 (Bachelor’s degrees) could enhance the volume of Levels 4 and 5 being delivered. There are also aspirations for further education colleges to deliver more Level 4 and 5 qualifications to meet supposed employer demand for these qualifications. In the medium term, this could dilute higher education and undermine investment in Levels 2 and 3.
  • This paper proposes that the origin of our Levels 4 and 5 skills shortage in England is in the shortfall of learners progressing from lower levels. The number of young learners that do not proceed from Level 2 to Level 3 is 36.4 per cent and a further 20.9 per cent of all learners do not progress from Level 3. This amounts to a pool of over 57 per cent of young learners who do not progress to Level 4 or above. We therefore need a strong further education offer to enhance Levels 2 and 3 programmes and more effective promotion of these intermediate qualifications.

And the recommendations are:

  • Improving the skills pipeline at Levels 2 and 3:
    • provide Mathematics and English qualifications that do not as a default position fail 30 per cent of learners; and
    • provide free access to learning through schools and further education colleges for all learners regardless of age at Level 2 and Level 3.
  • Raising the profile and esteem of Level 4 and 5 qualifications:
    • clearly designate Level 4 and 5 as higher education, ensuring that quality assurance and regulation of Levels 4 and 5 delivered by higher education institutions remain within the current higher education regulatory framework;
    • encourage higher education institutions to offer these awards (especially Foundation Degrees, CertHEs and Higher Education Diplomas) as positive targets rather than as early exit awards from Level 6 qualifications; and
    • re-introduce a reputable national careers information, advice and guidance programme.
  • Revising funding rules to encourage higher education institutions to offer Level 4 and 5 qualifications and individuals to undertake them:
    • introduce flexibility to student loans to allow learners to step-on and step-off this educational continuum;
    • allow Advanced Learner Loans made for Access to Higher Educational Diplomas to be written off after Level 4 rather than Level 6; and
    • allow those taking out Advanced Learner Loans access to maintenance support on the same basis as those accessing Student Loans

Sexual harassment in Universities

Ruth Wilkinson and Rory Murray write for Wonkhe about a new campaign by Kent Union:

The Stick: We lobbied our local councils (Canterbury and Medway) to change their licensing policy so that every license holder would have a licensing obligation to actually tackle sexual harassment on their premises. Hopefully it will never have to be done, but if a premises decides not to play ball in making the night time economy safer, they could have their license reviewed and ultimately withdrawn.

And the Carrot: After a year of running on seed funding from partners, the wonderful Kent Police Crime Commissioner awarded us £12,300 to deliver a training and accreditation scheme so that we could pull together some best practice training and deliver it on the ground to the staff actually in a position to tackle harassment and challenge behaviours. Once trained we’re asking premises to edit and add to their internal policies so that at all new staff inductions they know just how seriously their employer takes harassment, and know exactly what to do when something happens. We’re asking them to take on the Ask For Angela scheme, a wonderful initiative coined in Leicester, where patrons can ask for “Angela” at the bar as a discreet way to say they need help.  After a premises is accredited they get a load of materials and promotional items to display about their premises. Shouting loud and proud that they do not tolerate sexual harassment, and that any reports will be taken seriously. We are also building a brilliant interactive map to show to students where the “Zero Tolerance” premises are, so it’s also a bit of free advertising!

And the next bit:

The University of Kent and Kent Union are also delivering further amazing initiatives to tackle sexual violence including an online anonymous reporting system, compulsory consent training, bystander training for committee members (and anyone else who wants to do it), and awareness raising through a powerful film shown at inductions. There’s still a way to go for the sector but acknowledgement of the issue and appetite to take action is so crucial.

Access, participation and outcomes

AGCAS has published the latest edition of What Happens Next? which reports on the first destinations of disabled graduates and provides real evidence of the effect of a disability on a graduate’s employment prospects.

  • Following the same pattern as previous years’ findings, this year’s report highlights that notable differences remain in the outcomes of disabled and non-disabled graduates. At all qualification levels (first degree, postgraduate taught and postgraduate research) disabled graduates were less likely to be in full-time employment than non-disabled graduates. Compared to last year’s findings, the gap between the proportion of disabled and non-disabled graduates entering full-time employment has decreased at first degree and postgraduate research levels. However, at postgraduate taught level, the gap has increased.

Essay mills

Essay mills and contract cheating have been in the news again.  Jonny Rich wrote a blog aimed at students and has launched a petition proposing a ban.  Paul Greatrix of Nottingham University has also blogged for Wonkhe on essay mills, referring to 2017 QAA guidance and a recent ruling from the Advertising Standards Authority.  Paul has recently had a twitter discussion with one.

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Congratulations to FHSS Visiting Faculty

Congratulations to two members of Bournemouth University’s Visiting Faculty Minesh Khashu and Jillian Ireland on the publication of their paper ‘Fathers in neonatal units: Improving infant health by supporting the baby-father bond and mother-father co-parenting ‘ which has been accepted this week by the Journal of Neonatal Nursing. [1]  Prof. Minesh Khashu is the lead Consultant Neonatologist and Jillian Ireland is Professional Midwifery Advocate and both are based at Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.

This position paper has been co-authored by a wide-range of international experts from The Family Initiative (based in London), Edith Cowan University in Australia, McGill University in Canada, Northwestern University in the United States of America, the University of Toulouse in France, Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, Lillebaelt Hospital in Denmark, the Scientific Institute IRCCS Eugenio Medea in Italy, the University of Melbourne in Australia and Bournemouth University.

This is second paper in this field by these BU Visiting Faculty members after the 2016 publication of a literature review. [2]

 

Congratulations!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

 

 

References:

  1. Fisher, D., Khashu, M., Adama, E., Feeley, N., Garfield, C., Ireland, J., Koliouli, F., Lindberg, B., Noergaard, B., Provenzi, L., Thomson-Salo, F., van Teijlingen, E. (2018) Fathers in neonatal units: Improving infant health by supporting the baby-father bond and mother-father co-parenting Journal of Neonatal Nursing (accepted).
  2. Ireland, J., Khashu, M., Cescutti-Butler, L., van Teijlingen, E., Hewitt-Taylor, J. (2016) Experiences of fathers with babies admitted to neonatal care units: A review of the literature, Journal of Neonatal Nursing 22(4): 171–176.

HE Policy Update – w/e 17 August 2018

To read the policy update in full with all the accompanying charts please click here, or continue reading below for the text only version.

 

The build up to A level results day and clearing has dominated this week, amid much talk of the future of technical and vocational education.

Admissions and Clearing

National Picture

HEPI provide a guest blog by Mary Curnock Cook (previous Chief Executive of UCAS).

The blog notes that higher tariff institutions have benefited most from the buyers’ market this year.

 Mary describes the increase in disadvantaged students in detail:

Things also look good for more disadvantaged students, measured by the serviceable but imperfect area-based POLAR4 measure. 

Here we see that participation rates for POLAR Quintile 1 (roughly the fifth of the population living in areas having the lowest participation rates in higher education) has again grown, up 0.3% to 16.4%. 

Quintile 5, from the highest participation areas, is also up by 0.7%.

The most advantaged (Quintile 5) are still 2.4 times more likely to enter higher education than the least advantaged (Quintile 1).

On ethnicity Mary writes:

Although white students are still the largest group of undergraduate students, BAME students have a higher and faster growing appetite for higher education.  Today’s data from UCAS indicate that while the number of placed white students from the UK is down 3%, placed BAME students are up 1%. The entry rate by ethnic group is the lowest for the White group and Asian students are 15% more likely to enter higher education.

Mary’s analysis is based on A level results day data which captures 80% of the End of Cycle data, it cannot be fully comprehensive but is sufficient to indicate trends.

 

Education Secretary of State Congratulatory Speech

Damian Hinds congratulated A level students on results day and welcomed record numbers of 18 year olds who intend to enter university study. The Government’s news story  provides a national picture of the A level results:

  • Maths continues to be the most popular subject at A Level, with the number of entries up 2.5% on last year – up 26.8% compared to 2010;
  • Entries into STEM subjects continue to rise, up 3.4% on last year and up 24% since 2010;
  • An increase in entries to STEM A Levels by girls, up 5.5% from last year and 26.9% since 2010 [see this Financial Times article for a chart illustrating female STEM study programmes];
  • The proportion of entries to art and design, music and modern foreign languages remains broadly stable;
  • In the second year of reformed A Levels, the percentage of UK entries awarded the A* grade remains stable at 8.0% this year, compared with 8.1% in 2010 and the overall UK pass rate remains stable at 97.6%, compared to 97.9% last year.

Damian stated that the reforms to A levels mean students are better prepared for future study or the workplace and reiterated messaging around choice of progression pathway on from A level study:

We’ve worked to improve education for every child – from their early years through to secondary school and beyond. I also want young people to have wider choice, whether that’s going to university, earning through an apprenticeship or in future taking technical qualifications that match the best in the world…As young people receive their results and prepare for the next steps, for the first time National Careers Service advisers will be giving young people information, advice and guidance on skills, learning and work alongside the UCAS clearing service. This will help ensure young people are aware of all the education and training options available to them.

Sam Gyimah said:

Thanks to the support offered by this government, no student with the talent and potential is restricted from studying in our world-class university sector. We have worked with employers to design new high quality apprenticeships – including degree apprenticeships – making them longer, with more off-the-job training and proper assessment at the end so that apprentices are learning the skills that industry really needs.

Wider sector perspectives

CBI Head of Education, John Cope, spoke ahead of the results stating:

There are many great routes to a successful career whether that’s at a university, college, or learning on the job. It’s important that those getting their A-Level results consider the whole range of options available.

University absolutely offers students a great next step but is by no means the only route to a higher-level education. There are a range of different options – a Higher National Certificate or Diploma, a foundation degree, or a ‘degree apprenticeship’, with an apprenticeship offering the chance to gain both a qualification employers value and start earning a salary straight away.

He went on to talk about the rise in the number of unconditional offers:

What’s driving the growth of unconditional offers is complex. To protect the credibility of our world-class sector, universities must ensure that unconditional offers are used carefully, such as helping widen access to university and driving social justice

The Chartered Management Institute’s statement also cites the growing favour for degree apprenticeships quoting a parent survey which found half (49%) of respondents said they would encourage their child to start a degree apprenticeship rather than an academic-only university course. 52% of parents said they were put off the traditional academic route by substantial university costs. In addition, 71% of those surveyed believed degree apprenticeships provide a better chance of getting a job than a traditional university degree, with many considering them to be the best value-for-money option for young people currently. (Note, CMI partners with 12 universities and major corporates to deliver a degree apprenticeship offer.)

Meanwhile the Careers and Enterprise Company have published the myth-busting truth about life after A levels (full report here).

Times Higher report that UK student acceptances are down by 2% on A level results day with lower-tariff institutions continuing to feel the squeeze.

Headlines:

  • The number of placed applicants for nursing continued to drop – down another 2% from last year.
  • There has been a small rise in the percentage of students from the most disadvantaged groups accepted to universities.
  • There was also an increase in EU acceptances (up by 1%) plus a record 31,510 international (non-EU) students.

Nationally, there were 26,000 unfilled places on A level results day

Research Professional published comments from the University and Colleges Union who have refreshed a pitch from earlier this year calling for a post-qualifications admission system. The article also reiterates familiar themes on Government’s concern over the rise of unconditional offers.

The Guardian ran a piece highlighting that some students who missed their grades and had entered Clearing to obtain an alternative university place may need additional support to adjust.

Times Higher pull together statements from key HE sector figures in response to A level results and early UCAS acceptance data.

University – declining as the ‘default’ choice?

The Sutton Trust has published research on young people’s attitudes to university across a 16 year period, conducted by Ipsos MORI. School pupils indicated how likely they were to attend university compared to the previous responses for the last 15 years. Overall figures fluctuate slightly and in 2018 more pupils indicated they were fairly likely to go, but less were certain enough to select ‘very likely’.  Delving into the reasons why pupils were unlikely to attend HE all the major reasons were scored lower than in previous years (period 2013-2017), except for social concerns (friends not attending, teachers advised something else for me, people like me are not expected to go to university) which remains turbulent. See the Sutton Trust news article and report overview for more analysis of the data.

(See link for the tables, chart and Twitter snapshots)

The Guardian reported on the research in: Young people ‘more sceptical about value of university’ – poll

 

Economics of Post-School Education

The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee undertook an inquiry into the Economics of Post-School Education, publishing their concluding report on 11 June 2018. You can read a summary of it  in our previous policy update (pages 3 to 5). The Committee report called for immediate reform stating there was too much emphasis on university degrees, with undergraduate study dominating post-school choices, which isn’t in the country’s best interest.  Their report attributes this dominance to the ‘lack of alternative viable, consistent and quality alternatives’ with the guaranteed HE Finance system and the removal of the student number cap acting as enablers.

This week the Government published their official response to the House of Lord’s report. The response continuously acknowledges the current Government Review of Post-18 Education and Funding throughout the replies to the Lords Committee’s calls for change. In general the Government’s response echoes the Lords sentiment for better post-school careers options and alternative technical routes with equal recognition as a degree. This is unsurprising as these are both current policy pushes and set within the context of the reform of technical education which aims to span FE and HE. As expected the Government’s response focuses on pathways to employment, provides a nod to automation, and emphasises all forms of education as a driver of social mobility. However, it disagrees with the Committee’s calls to revisit student finance. In the full response the Government references the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding at the end of each reply –the effect is to set out a firm policy position but allowing room for future manoeuvre.

The key recommendations of the Lords inquiry report are set out below with the Government’s response in blue beneath.

  • Sector rhetoric has long held FE to be the poor cousin of HE and the Lords report called for better distribution of public funding across FE and HE with separate single regulators for level 4 and above (OfS) and sub level 3, including apprenticeships.
    1. The Government response notes the DfE review of classroom-based, level 4 & 5 technical education launched in October 2017 (interim findings here) which it states is ensuring that learners have high quality, accessible and attractive study choices at Levels 4 and 5. The response doesn’t comment on the funding aspect deferring an answer until after the Post-18 Review concludes: Access to loan funding and maintenance support for all courses at Level 4 and above including wider funding for FE colleges will be considered as part of the Review of Post 18 Education and Funding.
    2. On single regulators the Government confirms the role of the OfS as the HE regulator, only for those on the HE register, but with a wider student focussed outlook: In his strategic guidance letter 2018/19, the Minister for Universities asked the OfS to ‘look beyond its register, develop an understanding of providers and students in the currently unregulated parts of the HE sector and consider ways of encouraging such providers to register and engage with good regulatory practice.’
  • Address the decline in part-time and mature students by removing loan restrictions and maintenance support, by introducing innovative methods of learning, working with employers, and cooperation between universities to ensure a flexible credit-based modular system where individuals can learn at their own pace.
    1. The Government response noted the changes already introduced aiming to support part-time and mature students, including the 2018/19 starter part-time maintenance loans, and the Masters and Doctoral loans. The push for accelerated degrees, with the revised finance arrangements to facilitate this (outcome of consultation on this due autumn 2018), and greater ease and transparency for students wishing to transfer credit between institutions were characteristics of Jo Johnson’s stint as HE Minster. While the Government has been quieter on these aspects under Gyimah the impetus for a system that incentivises student choice remains and the Government’s response describes on-going government work to empower people to study at different times in their lives and sets out their commitment to the value of innovative methods of provision as a means of broadening choice available to students. One of which is the growth of new and alternative providers to plug cold spots and increase competition. The feel behind the response is that the Government is genuinely committed to reversing the dearth of mature and part time students and are looking to universities to collaborate, attract, innovate and offer sufficient flexibility to reinvigorate this group of learners to return to HE study, whether they chose a traditional academic programme or follow a higher level technical or employer focussed route.
    2. Specifically on credit transfer systems the response highlights that the Higher Education and Research Act tasks OfS to monitor and report on the availability and utilisation of student transfer arrangements, and confers on the OfS the power to ‘facilitate, encourage, or promote awareness of’ the provision of transfer arrangements’ whilst recognising the autonomy of HE providers in England to determine the content of particular courses and the criteria for the admission of those courses. It also notes that from August 2019 the OfS will require all registered HE providers to publish information about their arrangements for student transfer.
  • Refresh apprenticeships – remove targets to prioritise quality over quantity, focus on the skills employers really need, abolish the Institute for Apprenticeships, increase the status of apprenticeships to be seen as a valid and worthwhile alternative to a degree
    1. The Government response sets apprenticeships within the wider policy vision of a refreshed, high-quality, economically productive technical education and training pathway that delivers the cutting edge skills employers need. Including T levels and the 15 new technical routes, the National Retraining Scheme, Institutes of Technology, National Colleges, the role of Skills Advisory Panels in supporting local skills needs and business growth, and emphasising student mobility across all academic and technical routes and levels. The response also noted the Government wanted to have a positive impact on the progression and earning potential for apprentices over their lifetimes.
    2. The Government confirmed their aspiration for the technical route to have equal status and validity to an academic degree route and cited the introduction and continued growth of degree apprenticeships within the sector:

The development of degree level apprenticeships aims to widen access to the professions and develop the higher-level technical skills needed to improve productivity and make sure businesses compete internationally. Not all occupations will lend themselves to a Degree Apprenticeship and not all people will want to work whilst doing their degree. Sitting alongside… Degree Apprenticeships provide another route for employers and people to gain the skills that they need.

  1. The Government’s response acknowledged the poor quality within current apprenticeship provision: we agree with the Committee that for too long apprentices have not received the quality of training we would expect. Yet resisted the Lords calls to abolish the Institute for Apprenticeships, instead stating the Government has given the Institute for Apprenticeships a clear remit.
  • Alternative viable non-degree routes with parity of esteem – moving away from university undergraduate study as the default post-18 choice. The Lords also recommended a simpler approach to post-school choices through a single UCAS-style portal covering all forms of higher education, further education and apprenticeships.
    1. The Government shares the Lords’ vision for alternative non-degree routes as set out under 1a, 2a, 2b, 3a and 3b above.
    2. With regard to redressing university study as the default choice the Government response acknowledges more could be done to improve information on post-18 options provided in schools and references the Careers Strategy. There is a statutory duty on schools to provide independent and impartial careers guidance on the full range of education and training options, including apprenticeships, and provide pupils with access to the full range of training providers. The Careers strategy also sets out a requirement for schools to facilitate a number of employer encounters for pupils. However, they resisted the Lords call for a single UCAS style entry system:

We agree that it is important that students have the necessary information to consider all of their options, not just the academic route. We are making sure that all Government careers information is available in one place on a new National Careers Service website. Online resources will include information on routes into apprenticeships, including higher and Degree Apprenticeships, and T Levels. We are improving the functionality of the post-16 course directory. This provides information about all the courses that a young person might choose at 16..We will consider what further action might be helpful in ensuring that young people are able to make informed decisions about their education, training or career options.

We have considered whether apprenticeships should be included in a centralised application system (either at age 16+ or at 18+). Our discussions with employers have made it clear that they value having their own recruitment processes and so would not welcome an attempt to standardise the process.

The Review of Post-18 Education and Funding is considering how we can help young people make effective choices between academic, technical and vocational routes after the age of 18.

Again the task of implementing this aspect of the Careers Strategy falls upon OfS shoulders:

The provision of information is one of the OfS’s top priorities. The strategic guidance letter asked the OfS to play a key role in ensuring better information, advice and guidance is provided to students so that they can make the right choices for them. The Government expect the OfS to combine this with the Longitudinal Education Outcomes (LEO) data on salary outcomes and to reform Unistats, whilst working with students to identify what information they need to make effective informed choices and how to present it most effectively. The OfS are expected to publish an information, advice and guidance strategy by Autumn 2018.

 

  • Structural changes including addressing the high level of interest charged on student loans, criticism of the removal of maintenance grants, and censure for the masking effects in the way the student loan book is calculated and reported
    1. The Government rejected the recommendations surrounding the student finance system. The response notes that cutting the interest rates would be socially regressive as it would primarily benefit the highest earning graduates. This runs counter to Government policy, the introduction of the 2012 higher fees and cessation of student maintenance grants, which states that students who benefit financially should pay for their degree rather than the public. However, there is a slight softening within the Government’s response which references the Review and states [we] will consider the report of the independent panel in this regard.
    2. On maintenance support the response defends the Government’s position stating the move from grants to loans ensures that students contribute to the cost of HE – creating a fair balance of contribution between those who benefit – society and the student. It reiterates the familiar messaging which establishes the non-repayment of loans as a deliberate and conscious investment subsidy in the long-term skills capacity of the economy. Again there is a softening in the now familiar final statement on the Review which provides room for manoeuvre in future policy direction: The Review of Post-18 Education and Funding is considering how disadvantaged students and learners receive maintenance support, both from Government and from universities and colleges.
    3. The Director General of the Office for National Statistics also writes to Lord Forsyth (Chair of Lords Economic Affairs Committee) to respond to the Committee’s recommendation on the way the Office for National Statistics (ONS) accounts for the loan deficit. The letter acknowledges the complexity of the current accounting method and references the ONS’ own review tackling the pros and cons of the various alternative options in calculating the deficit.

Research Professional report on the student finance elements of the Government’s response in: Department rejects interest rate cuts for student loans.

Finally, while the majority of the Government’s official response to the House of Lords inquiry report holds to the current familiar policy lines it consistently acknowledges the importance of the Post-18 Education and Finance Review, including the role of the independent expert panel (chaired by Philip Augar). Perhaps portending movement on some of the key HE issues, such as finance, alongside a shake-up of sub level 4 provision. The independent panel is due to report later in autumn 2018 with the Government concluding the full Review early 2019. Potentially the Review could mean the biggest change in the sector landscape since the Higher Education and Research Act, and all set against the backdrop of impending Brexit.

Parental role in funding university

This week also brought an upsurge of articles on funding the costs of university timed ahead of the A level results.

Times Higher ran: Parents worldwide contribute to the cost of university, finds survey. It compares the differing levels of finance parents provide to facilitate their child’s degree study – UK and French parents contribute the least worldwide. The article also considers variety in global parental opinion on which skills are most important for their children to learn at university.

The Association of Investment Companies ran the article: A-Level results day approaches and parents vastly underestimate student debt.

Educating the world’s leaders

HEPI,  Times Higher and Research Professional cover the news that America has overtaken the UK in the statistics which recognise the country who educates the most world leaders. America has educated one more serving monarch, president or prime minister than the UK to take the top spot. Nick Hillman (HEPI) states:

You build up incredible soft power if you educate the leading lights of other countries. In the past, we have been more successful than any other country in attracting the world’s future leaders. But these new figures suggest our position could be slipping. To ensure this does not become a long-term trend, we need to adopt a bold educational exports strategy, remove students from the main migration target and roll out the red carpet when people come to study here.

One practical way to make all that happen would be to end the Home Office having complete control over student migration and to share it across government departments instead, as they do in other countries.

Technical Education

The Conservative leaning Centre for Policy Studies has published Technically Gifted – How Selection Can Save Technical and Vocational Education. It makes bold suggestions on how to achieve parity of esteem for technical and vocational education through exclusive selection methods. The document’s authors are no strangers to controversial headlines. It is written by Toby Young, the Free Schools guru who resigned from the OfS Board within days of appointment following public outcry at his past inappropriate tweets; with the Foreword by Nick Timothy, Theresa May’s ex-special advisor and Chief of Staff who advised her to call the snap election in 2017 which left the Conservatives without a majority in Parliament.

Toby highlights the growing skills gap in Britain – by 2022 it is anticipated there will be 3.6 million vacancies in skilled technical occupations despite the Government’s technical education policy agenda. He notes that, with a few exceptions, University Technical Colleges, Studio Schools and Free Schools have all failed to thrive and achieve quality outcomes. Toby believes the difficulty lies in student recruitment numbers – for viability the providers accept all applicants including those marginalised or excluded from other local schools and often have higher numbers of pupils with behavioural difficulties or low attainment. This makes the institution unattractive for pupils who excel within the educational specialism the institution provides, creating a negative downward spiral of declining numbers and status.

The document lands at a time when the Government and Lords are striving to engender a culture of parity of esteem between technical and academic education, where a higher level technical or vocational qualification is considered of equal value to a degree. The Government has invested heavily and is introducing T levels reforming vocational education into the 15 new technical routes, and promoting degree apprenticeships;  focusing more on choice for young people and promoting technical and vocational options through the Careers Strategy and the National Retraining Scheme; continuing to provide new funding to invest in Institutes of Technology and the National Colleges; whilst maintaining their support for the Institute for Apprenticeships. The quality and status of vocational education has been an issue throughout successive Governments so it remains to be seen whether the new approach will successfully bring the economic and skill benefits that Britain needs. What has been noticeable in the run up to A level results day this year is the additional volume of media stories and promotions espousing the benefits of degree apprenticeships and alternative choices.

For Toby the answer to both of the above conundrums – high quality technical education and equal status to an academic route – lies within exclusivity through selection. He believes being selected for a technical institution should be a high status achievement (like passing the 11-plus for grammar school entry) rather than a negative decision because the pupil is unsuitable for a standard academic route.

Toby writes:

…if the Government wants England’s technical/vocational schools to survive and thrive, it must cut the Gordian Knot linking technical and vocational education to a lack of aptitude for academic subjects and allow these schools to select pupils according to aptitude for their particular specialisms at the age of 14. Not only would this transform the fortunes of these schools, it would also enable the Department for Education (DfE) to set up new 14-19 technical/vocational schools that would be likely to succeed….This would not require any amendment to primary or secondary legislation. A policy change by the Secretary of State for Education would suffice…. Above all, it would fundamentally improve the life chances, income and well-being of those who have an aptitude for this type of education and would like the opportunity to pursue it, rather than treating them – as we have done for so long – like second-class citizens… Members of the professional class, including headteachers, must stop thinking of this type of education as second best – as only being appropriate for ‘other people’s children’.

Toby goes on to argue that:

  • technical courses should be as intellectually rigorous as academic subjects, including a common core of academic GCSEs
  • specialist schools should commence at age 14 as technical aptitude cannot be measured at age 11; children need time to develop the cognitive skills required by such courses. Moreover the pupils need an interest and passion in the specialist technical area they will study – this comes through experience and maturity
  • technical education should be delivered in specialist schools, not mainstreamed. The requirement for schools to enter 75% of their pupils for the narrowed subject mix of the English Baccalaureate (90% by 2025) means the wider range of subjects needed for vocational education aren’t being delivered
  • Technical education has to start pre-GCSE. He believes the post GCSE T levels will be a bolt on and won’t work because of the prior standard academic content with its narrowing mix of subjects. He calls again for the Government to signal that it regards this type of education as suitable for children of all abilities, not just those who find themselves without the necessary qualifications to do three A-levels
  • Toby notes a school admitting children at age 14 does pose a difficulty because it is not a standard transfer point in England’s schools system. Parents are reluctant to move children who have already settled and established friendships away from their current secondary school, and the middle school system moves children on at the end of year 8 not year 9. Furthermore, secondary head teachers have a financial incentive to retain their current pupil roll. In particular they are motivated to avoid additional funding cuts on top of those expected from pupils leaving to pursue post-16 options elsewhere. Toby highlights that persuading the local multi-academy trust to run a technical school is a potential solution, even better if they worked in partnership with local industry.
  • Selection methods should be commensurate with the type of specialist education delivered (e.g. the one day workshop style auditions common to the BRIT school) measuring interest/passion and technical aptitude rather than standard intelligence testing.
  • Currently there are two successful selective specialist technical schools. Through these Toby highlights that exclusivity doesn’t run counter to social mobility. In these schools both have significantly higher levels of pupils previously eligible for free school meals – 15% and 29% respectively compared to the 7% national average.
  • Abroad, nearly every country that has rolled out successful technical/vocational schools has allowed those schools to select.

 

Nick Timothy’s supports Toby’s proposals, writing in the foreword:

Young has identified why schools providing technical education have struggled in England: too often a pupil’s suitability for technical education is judged by their lack of suitability for an academically rigorous alternative. This is a false choice, and it inevitably means technical education is treated as second best. As a result parents and pupils shun technical schools, which end up being treated as dumping grounds for unruly students who are unwanted elsewhere. If we want to become world leaders in the STEM fields and meet our skills shortages with homegrown talent, this has to change. Young people should be encouraged to study technical subjects, and not only when teachers judge that they are not equipped for a purely academic education. For that to happen, a new generation of prestigious schools – selecting their pupils by aptitude, specialising in technical subjects, and still offering a core of academic subjects – can lead the way.

 

Graham Brady MP writes in Conservative Home in support of selective technical schools:

Wouldn’t it be better, as Young argues, if these schools were able to select those students with a particular aptitude for their specialisms? This should be the starting point in the Government’s efforts to revitalise technical and vocational education – a journey that leads to T-levels (which include a mandatory work placement), a place at an Institute of Technology, before entering a skilled occupation.

The choice, in other words, is not between grammars and comprehensives. It is between a flourishing ecosystem of schools, both selective and not, which do the best possible job of matching pupils and education – and a one-size-fits-all model which is increasingly out of step with the modern world.

Level 4 & 5 Qualifications

On Tuesday the DfE published findings from its ongoing review of level 4 and 5 qualifications. These shorter qualifications such as Foundation Degrees and diplomas are lower than the full undergraduate degree at level 6. However, the Government believes they are becoming a more important part of the employer skills jigsaw and pursuing them will lead to a healthy salary. The initial findings from the review note:

  • Studying at this level can increase earning potential and employability – students achieving a Level 4 or 5 qualification by age 23 had higher median wages by the time they were 26 and were more likely to be in sustained employment than students who achieved a Level 3.
  • A growing demand for qualifications at this level from employers in key sectors such as ICT and Engineering – meaning increased take up could play an important role in the UK economy, helping to plug technical skills gap and boost productivity.
  • Learners at this level often study part-time, and come from diverse backgrounds – highlighting how studying at this level could boost learning and job opportunities for hundreds of thousands more people across the country.

However, only 7% of people in England aged between 18 and 65 are undertaking training at this level, with the majority ceasing study at level 3 or instead pursuing a full degree. These latest findings fit with the Government’s call on the HE sector to offer a wider range of study options and structural flexibility to appeal to a wider audience –progressing social mobility and meeting the UK’s economic ambitions.

Apprenticeships and Skills Minister Anne Milton stated:

We want everyone to be able to access high quality technical education and training so they can get the skills they need. Having these skills can change people’s lives, leading to a rewarding career and fantastic opportunities. These early findings show how learning at Level 4 and 5 can benefit people of all ages and a wide variety of backgrounds, whilst helping employers get the skilled workforce they need. This research will play an important part of our ongoing review of Level 4 and 5 qualifications so we can understand how we can make education at this level work even better for everyone.

Research Professional report on the findings focusing on the low update of the level 4 and 5 qualifications.

 

Global Matters

This week the Government responded to a parliamentary question on visa delays which cause students to miss the start of their course:

Q – Stephen Kerr: How many tier 4 [visa] applications that have not been processed within the timescale set out in the service level agreement for processing such applications have caused students to miss university start dates in the latest academic for year for which figures are available.

A – Caroline Nokes: …The latest available data indicates the vast majority, 98.1% (and 99.8%) of straightforward cases were dealt with within service standards. Information on students who may have missed their university start date is not collated for publication on Home Office visa case-working systems.

International: The Pie News explores the popularity of UK HE delivered in Hong Kong, with 39 institutions delivering programmes. Pie News also reports that international students attending Chinese universities may be permitted to work part time in future to increase the attractiveness of the Chinese education system.

Brexit: On Friday the European Commission and the UK team continue to negotiate the future EU-UK relationship. Here is a helpful chart which sets out the UK and EU key players since the post Chequers cabinet reshuffle.

Buzzfeed News capitalises on a leaked listing of the Brexit technical papers in which the Government explore the consequences of leaving the EU on a ‘no deal’ basis. In part the papers aim to advise individuals and businesses on how to prepare for ‘no deal’ within their operating sphere. You can see the list of topics covered here, however, no content from the papers has been leaked.  The list includes Erasmus, Horizon 2020, Broadcasting, Environmental Standards, EU citizens in the UK, Life Sciences and many more. Buzzfeed report that a Government spokesperson stated the Brexit technical papers will be published for all to see in August and September on www.gov.uk  website.

Consultations

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

New consultations and inquiries this week:

Other news

Horizon 2020: The Financial Times explore the Horizon 2020 funding figures released last week questioning whether collaboration is the major Brexit concern and noting the stabilisation effect Horizon funding provides for researchers.  Meanwhile this Government Horizon 2020 paper, issued last Thursday, explains the Withdrawal Agreement, the Underwrite and Post EU Exit Extension Guarantees, along with mobility and the Government’s position to Horizon Europe. It is written in plain language and an accessible catch up read.

Horizon Europe: Research Professional report on the Russell Group’s position paper which urges the EU to not seek to focus on closer-to-market projects at the expense of basic research.

Social Mobility Action: With the recent appointment of Dame Martina Milburn to lead the Social Mobility Commission comes a call to the public and industry to get involved with the social mobility movement for change. The news story is here, with a promise to update the page as more opportunities to get involved arise. It also contains details for interested colleagues to join their mailing list.

Masters fee hike: Times Higher report that since the postgraduate loans have been introduced many universities have increased the tuition fee for masters study.

Nursing: Nursing Times writes on the most recent NHS digital data showing the number of practicing learning disabilities nurses has dropped by 40% and that students choosing this form of nursing is decreasing. The article also references the Council of Deans for Health survey which found that 46% of education institutions considered dropping learning disability nursing from 2018/19 due to low student interest meaning courses are not financially viable. In this article the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) criticise the Government for doing too little too late – with the £10,000 golden hello for postgraduate students having little impact on recruitment. In this older news story RCN raise the removal of the NHS bursary for student nurses as a major factor in declining recruitment to degree programmes. It is likely that the decline in mature students contribute to the fall in numbers too. Mature students, with their greater life experience, are more likely to study learning disability or mental health nursing. The Independent also cover the recruitment drop warning of a return to Victorian era practices where patients are moved away from family to institutions because of insufficient trained expertise locally.

Justin Madders MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Minister, said:

“The Royal College of Nursing’s powerful warning must serve as an urgent wake up call to the new Health Secretary. Under this Government learning disability nurses have been cut to the bone, and they appear to have gone quiet on their plans to attract more students into the profession. This unprecedented workforce crisis is completely unacceptable.

£9k fees unjustifiable:  Times Higher report on a YouGov poll which found that although students are satisfied with the quality of their degree they don’t feel the fee level is justified or results in a sufficiently high graduate job pay off.

“The data shows that while students’ satisfaction with the quality of their degree teaching is very high and a large majority still expect to be better off financially and in terms of being able to find a good job, this seems to be in spite of the costs of tuition, which the majority consider unjustified.”

Contract cheating: Wonkhe have a new blog post on essay mills to accompany a forthcoming petition to Parliament to legislate against contract cheating.

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New BU publication disability & pregnancy

Two days ago the Open Access journal BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth published an important article on women with disabilities and their experiences with the maternity services when pregnant [1].  The new paper Dignity and respect during pregnancy and childbirth: a survey of the experience of disabled women’ has been co-authored by BU’s Dr. Jenny Hall (Centre for Excellence in Learning/CEL) and Prof. Vanora Hundley (Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health/CMMPH) in collaboration with Dr. Bethan Collins (formerly of BU and now based at the University of Liverpool) and BU Visiting Faculty Jillian Ireland (Poole NHS Foundation Trust). The project was partially funded by the charity Birthrights and Bournemouth University.

Women’s experiences of dignity and respect in childbirth revealed that a significant proportion of women felt their rights were poorly respected and that they were treated less favourably because of their disability. The authors argue that this suggests that there is a need to look more closely at individualised care. It was also evident that more consideration is required to improve attitudes of maternity care providers to disability and services need to adapt to provide reasonable adjustments to accommodate disability, including improving continuity of carer.

 

Congratulations!

Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen

Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health

 

Reference:

  1. Jenny Hall, Vanora Hundley, Bethan Collins & Jillian Ireland (2018) Dignity and respect during pregnancy and childbirth: a survey of the experience of disabled women, BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth, 18:328

Understanding the origins of modern-day broadcasting

Over the last twenty-five years, Bournemouth University (BU) has built up a wealth of expertise in the area of media history. Not only has this knowledge helped to better understand the development of radio programmes of the time, but it is also helping to inform the teaching and education of future broadcasters.

Professor Hugh Chignell, Head of BU’s Centre for Media History, is a well-known media historian who specialises in radio broadcasting – covering both news and drama programmes. His research in the area began in the late 1990s when Bournemouth University began to host an archive of radio programmes produced by the BBC.

“At the time that we began hosting these archives, there were a number of researchers at BU who were keen to learn more about the history of radio and TV broadcasting. They felt it would be useful knowledge for our students, who would hopefully go on to produce future broadcast content,” explains Professor Chignell, “It was an approach to teaching pioneered by Bournemouth and became a really useful resource for our undergraduates, as it gave them a sense of where our contemporary radio and TV broadcasts come from. It’s also what sparked my own PhD research.”

For his doctoral research, Professor Chignell explored BBC Radio 4’s longstanding current affairs programme, Analysis. His research spanned a wide range of topics, including the political nature of current affairs programmes, the evolution of news and current affairs at the BBC and a better understanding of how to interpret old radio content.

“Current affairs programmes are reasonably unique to British media culture,” says Professor Chignell, “The BBC chose to keep its news broadcasts purely factual, in order to maintain their impartiality, but its current affairs programmes were very different. Their focus on explaining the context of the news and what was going on around it made them quite political.”

“For example, the Analysis programmes of the 1980s were partially responsible for introducing listeners to the neoliberal policies and ideas of Margaret Thatcher’s government. Although the programme itself didn’t have a political agenda, its role in making policies more accessible did end up giving it a political stance.”

Through his research, Professor Chignell also developed a better understanding of how to listen to and interpret old radio programmes, as outside of their temporal context, some broadcasts can be difficult to fully appreciate. Often their creators and producers are no longer around to ask questions of, which means that understanding the context in which they were made, can be a challenge.

“Older radio programmes can sound quite strange to us now. It’s not the same experience as watching an old Hollywood film, for example,” explains Professor Chignell, “My current research interests are around radio dramas of the 1950s. To fully appreciate them, an understanding of 1950s theatre is needed, as radio productions were heavily influenced by trends in the theatre. For that era in particular, French theatre dramas were extremely influential.”

“The first step for any media historian is to understand the context – what happened, the programmes that were made and what was said. Only then can you move onto the analysis, which enables us in the present to learn from the past. By exploring older radio dramas, for example, you can gain quite a fascinating insight into the culture of the time, often in quite a surreal way.”

“Not only does it give us a window into the past, but it can help to spark ideas for the creation of new programmes and broadcasts.”

Bournemouth University’s Centre for Media History was established in 1998 and compromises over 20 academics and post-graduate researchers from across the university. While it takes its origins from an interest in radio history, the Centre now specialises in media history across all forms of broadcast media.

For more information, see:

www.bournemouth.ac.uk/cmh

This article was featured in the 2018 Bournemouth Research Chronicle. To see the magazine in full, click here or pick up a copy in Poole House or Studland House reception.

Online Ethics Checklist

REMINDER that the online ethics checklist will not be available from Friday 24th August 2018 until Monday 3rd September.  During this time students/staff will not be able to apply for ethical approval.  This is to allow for data migration.

The new online checklist will be available from Monday 3rd September 2018.

If you have any questions, please email researchethics@bournemouth.ac.uk.

 

The effects of emotional processing on physical health

Almost every day, we face and overcome any number of small stresses and difficulties which mostly have no effect on our overall wellbeing. However, every now and again we experience life-changing events, a serious illness, the death of a parent or the breakdown of a relationship, all of which can be extremely difficult to deal with. Research carried out at Bournemouth University suggests that not only can these events affect our mental health, but they can also have consequences for our physical health.

The link first began to emerge in the early 1980s, when Professor Roger Baker and a team of other clinical psychologists were exploring how best to treat people experiencing panic attacks. Panic attacks were a relatively unknown condition at the time and were only just beginning to be distinguished from generalised anxiety disorders. One of the first stages of the research was to start to understand what was causing them.

“Panic attacks are a very sudden physical event, which can be quite overwhelming and distressing for the people experiencing them. Your heart might start beating faster, you might feel dizzy and experience breathing difficulties. The symptoms can feel quite similar to a heart attack; around
25% of people taken to hospital apparently experiencing cardiac arrest symptoms are actually having a panic attack,” says Professor Baker, “Through interviewing people who had suddenly started having panic attacks, I began to see that there might be a connection between their physical symptoms and earlier traumatic events.”

“Although they often described their lives as going well, many had experienced difficult or stressful life events in the run up to the start of their panic attacks. This could be anything from the death of a friend to the loss of a job or a divorce. People often spoke about their emotions in terms of suppression, which was supported by a further large-scale study in the area – panic attack patients were clearly supressing their emotions and focusing on somatic sensations rather than understanding the emotional connection with stressful events.”

Over the course of several years and a number of different studies, Professor Baker and other research colleagues explored the link between emotion suppression and a multitude of different medical conditions. Repeatedly there was shown to be a strong connection between problems with processing emotions and a number of psychological conditions and even physical illnesses.

“It became apparent to me that what was needed was a psychological scale, which would help clinical practitioners to identify potential problems with emotional processing,” says Professor
Baker, “However, in order to create such a scale, a large amount of data needed to be collected.”

The creation of the final published scale took decades worth of work to finalise which factors should be taken into account and to establish a range of norms against which to benchmark people’s emotional processing skills. During that time, the emotional processing scale went through a number of different iterations and was tested in a wide range of research studies.

“One such study, conducted by Dr Carol Wilkins at BU, explored the link between the likelihood of developing postpartum depression and emotional processing,” says Professor Baker, “By using the emotional processing scale, the research was able to show that if women’s emotional processing skills were problematic during pregnancy, then they were more likely to develop depression after giving birth. It was a very clear indication of the link between emotions and mental health.”

After decades of work on the subject, the final emotional processing scale was published in 2015, and much of Professor Baker’s time is now dedicated to sharing it more widely with clinical practitioners to increase its use in research and in all types of therapy.

“The idea that emotional processing can have an effect on both our mental and physical health is still yet to become a mainstream idea within counselling and the medical professions. At the moment, there’s still quite a focus on the medical model of treating people, but in time, I hope that this will begin to change,” says Professor Baker.

For more information about the work of Bournemouth University Clinical Research Unit (BUCRU), please visit:
www.bournemouth.ac.uk/bucru

This article was featured in the 2018 Bournemouth Research Chronicle. To see the magazine in full, click here or pick up a copy in Poole House or Studland House reception.