In the latest Athena SWAN newsletter you can read the news and events relating to gender equality, as well as why Athena SWAN is important to everyone at BU. There are lots of interesting articles in this edition, including information on the key institutional SWAN actions planned for 2019, an introduction to Professor Sarah Bate (the new chair of BU’s Athena SWAN Steering Group), and a link to BU’s career development fact sheet.
Tagged / inclusivity
Brexit – UUK fights back on Erasmus
UUK has launched a national campaign to encourage the UK government to commit to funding study abroad programmes in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
#SupportStudyAbroad is in response to a technical note on the Erasmus+ programme issued by government on 28 January 2019. The government has said that in the case of a no-deal Brexit, students on current placements will receive funding to their end, and that it would like to stay in the Erasmus+ programme for future calls. However, it is now clear that in the event of a no-deal Brexit there will be no national alternative to enable students to go abroad if continued Erasmus+ membership cannot be negotiated with the European Union.
Alistair Jarvis, Universities UK Chief Executive, said:
- “The benefits of study abroad are well documented. Not only does study abroad have clear employability benefits for students, it helps them to develop the language, communication and intercultural skills that will be so essential to building a truly global Britain. An investment in international experience for our students now is an investment in the future of our economy. Without the international opportunities offered through schemes like Erasmus, the UK’s workforce will not be equipped to meet the changing needs of the economy post-Brexit.
- “In the case of a no-deal Brexit, I strongly urge the government to commit to continue funding study abroad opportunities for UK students, even if the UK cannot negotiate continued participation in Erasmus+ programme.”
Key facts and stats
1) Study abroad supports social mobility. Students who study abroad outperform their peers academically and professionally. They are:
- 19% more likely to gain a 1st class degree
- 20% less likely to be unemployed
- 10% more likely to be in ‘graduate’ jobs six months after graduation
For those from underrepresented and disadvantaged groups the benefits are even more pronounced:
- BME students who studied abroad are 17% more likely to be in ‘graduate’ jobs six months after graduation
- Mature students who participated in these programmes earn 10% more than their peers
2) International opportunities help students develop skills that UK businesses need. Research by the CBI has found that:
- Seven out of 10 small and medium size enterprises believe that future executives will need foreign language skills and international experience
- 39% of employers are dissatisfied with graduates’ intercultural awareness
- 49% of employers are dissatisfied with graduates’ language skills
Widening Particpation performance indicators
On 7th February, HESA issued performance measures for WP.
Chris Millward of the OfS commented:
- ‘Today’s release points to incremental progress in improving equality of opportunity in higher education. The reforms we have recently announced are intended to secure a step change in the next five years, both through pressure on universities to enhance the plans they submit to us, and support to enable them to work in the most effective ways. We want universities to understand how they are performing using sophisticated measures, looking across different characteristics to understand disadvantage in their own context and targeting their activity and investment so that it really works.’
- The HESA Performance Indicator data for 2017-18 is more about proportions than raw numbers. The headline figures see England and the UK enjoy a 0.2 percentage point rise (from 11.4% to 11.6%) in young entrants to HE from low participation neighbourhoods. ….
- There is also data on state school entry rates. In the UK and in England 89.8% of young full time first degree entrants attended state school, down 0.2 percentage points from last year. ..To put this latter paragraph in context, the Independent Schools Commission estimates that around 14% of 16 year old pupils attended an independent school.
One widening participation marker that is rarely discussed concerns the participation rate of students with disabilities. 6.6% of UK-domiciled full-time first degree students are in receipt of the Disabled Students’ Allowance in 2017-18 – the same as last year.
Application data for 2019
UCAS have issued data for applications for the 2019 cycle to date
They issued a summary report:
- Applicant numbers from within the UK decrease but numbers increase internationally
Overall, UK domiciled applicants have decreased by 0.7 per cent, while applicants from outside the UK have increased to their highest levels on record for both EU and non-EU countries. EU applicants increased by 0.9 per cent to 43,890, and non-EU applicants increased by 9.0 per cent to 63,695. Although EU applicant numbers have increased by 0.9 percent overall, they have decreased in Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, with the only increase being in England, where they increased by 1.9 per cent to 37,595 (the second highest number on record after 2016).
- The overall fall in the UK can be attributed to the demographic dip
The number of 18 year olds in the UK has fallen each year since 2015 (falling by 2.0 per cent this year compared to last), and overall figures as reported above are affected by the falling number of school leavers (roughly 80 per cent of UK applicants are 18 – 19 year olds)…The application rate in England has risen every year since 2012 and is now at its highest on record (38.8 per cent), with this year having the biggest percentage point increase since 2014.
- Applicant numbers from China increase by one third
The number of applicants from China has increased by 33.3 per cent this year – rising from 11,915 to 15,880. This follows an increase of 20.6 per cent last year, and brings Chinese applicant numbers to almost the same level as those from Wales and Northern Ireland (18,855 and 17,910 respectively). Other countries with large percentage increases in applicant numbers include Romania (+260, 10 per cent), Slovakia (+180, 26 per cent), and Saudi Arabia (+150, 24 per cent).
- Application rates have increased in every English region
The order of regions by application rate is broadly similar to 2018, with London still having a considerably higher rate (49.9 per cent), and the North East having the lowest rate (32.9 per cent) for the second consecutive year. With the London rate increasing by 2.4 percentage points this year, 18 year olds in London are now 36 per cent more likely than 18 year olds in the rest of England to have applied to higher education (up from 33 per cent more likely last year). This is the first year since 2016 that application rates have increased in every English region
- The gap in application rates between advantaged and disadvantaged applicants decreases
Application rates have increased for all quintiles. The application rate for Q1 increased by 1.3 percentage points to 23.2 per cent, which is its biggest increase since 2014. The Q5 rate increased by 1.0 percentage points to 53.5 per cent, causing the Q5:Q1 application rate ratio to decrease from 2.40 to 2.30, meaning that the gap in application rates between advantaged and disadvantaged applicants has narrowed slightly
Free Speech Guidance
The Equality and Human Rights Commission have developed new guidance on freedom of expression at universities. The guidance aims to coherently definite legal rights and obligations around free speech with a view to empowering student unions and individuals. It also details the limited occasions where free speech can lawfully be limited. It has been produced with input from the National Union of Students, Universities UK, Charity Commission for England and Wales, Office for Students, Independent HE, Guild HE, Commission for Countering Extremism and Home Office.
Universities Minister Chris Skidmore said:
Free speech is a value integral to the independence and innovation that embodies the higher education sector in the UK, fuelling academic thought and challenging injustice. This guidance is a symbol of the commitment from across the sector to protecting freedom of speech.
David Isaac, Chair of the Equality and Human Rights Commission, said:
The free expression and exchange of different views without persecution or interference goes straight to the heart of our democracy and is a vital part of higher education. Holding open, challenging debates rather than silencing the views of those we don’t agree with helps to build tolerance and address prejudice and discrimination. Our guidance makes clear that freedom of speech in higher education should be upheld at every opportunity.
- Everyone has the right to express and receive views and opinions, including those that may ‘offend, shock or disturb others’.
- Protecting freedom of expression is a legal requirement for most higher education providers. Students’ unions also have a role to play, although their legal duties are different (see section 2).
- Higher education providers need to have a code that sets out their policies and procedures relating to external speakers, and make sure their procedures don’t create unnecessary barriers to free speech. They also need to make sure all students are aware of the code (see section 2.2).
- There are some circumstances where UK law limits the right to freedom of expression, for example, to protect national security or to prevent crime (see section 3).
- Most higher education providers and students’ unions are registered charities and have a charitable purpose to further students’ education for the public benefit. Free speech is an important part of meeting this purpose (see section 3.3).
- The starting point should be that any event can go ahead, but higher education providers have to consider all their legal duties carefully (see section 6).
It has been criticised because it clarifies, but does not resolve, some of the contradictions and competing responsibilities for institutions and students’ unions.
On Academic Freedom:
- Freedom of expression is relevant to, but should not be confused with, the important principle of academic freedom. Academic freedom relates to the intellectual independence of academics in respect of their work, including the freedom to undertake research activities, express their views, organise conferences and determine course content without interference.
- As part of their duties under Article 10 and the s.43 duty, HEPs must protect the freedom of expression of academics and staff. Student complaints and protests should not result in HEPs imposing limits on course content or speaker events organised by lecturers. HEPs should also take steps, such as providing support to their staff, where necessary to make sure that the pressure of student complaints does not lead to self-censorship of academic work. They must also ensure that internal policies (for example, policies to comply with the Prevent duty) do not unduly inhibit academic freedom.
On visiting speakers
- The s.43 duty does not mean that any group or speaker has a right to be invited to speak to students on HEP premises or at SUs. What it does mean is that a speaker who has been invited to speak at a meeting or other event should not be stopped from doing so unless:
- they are likely to express unlawful speech, or
- their attendance would lead the host organisation to breach other legal obligations and no reasonably practicable steps can be taken to reduce these risks.
That is interesting given the view that Peter Hitchen expressed on Radio 4 that being “uninvited” to an SU event was censorship. The way I read the paragraph above, uninviting him isn’t but preventing him speaking once he arrived would be…but that is not what the guidance says:
- SUs are entitled – and required, to the extent that the speech may break the law – to consider ‘harm’ that someone’s views may cause to some of their members, when deciding whether to invite a speaker to an event they are organising. However, if a speaker has already been invited by an SU society or group and the speech will be lawful, the SU will need to consider their obligations under their HEP’s s.43 code of practice. If an SU cancels a speaker in these circumstances, their HEP has a duty to take reasonably practicable steps to ensure the speaker event can proceed.
The guidance is 54 pages long and each set of circumstances will need to be worked through by each SU and institution in each case, and the outcomes will always be reliant on interpretation of the guidance and the judgement of those making the decision. This is one issue that, being about politics as well as being a political issue, has dominated the news on a regular basis since Jo Johnson started to make a song and dance about it, and will no doubt continue to run and run.
On Monday the DfE published a Written Ministerial Statement on Race Disparity Audit which aims to push the HE sector to drive change in tackling inequalities between ethnic groups. The acute sector issues are levels of non-continuation, degree class achieved compared to non-ethnic minority peers, and progression to good quality employment. The statement goes on to remind that in tackling ethnic disparities the Government has established the OfS and legislated for greater transparency and scrutiny through the Higher Education and Research Act.
The statement continues with the actions the Government expect (very similar to those trailed in the speech reported in last week’s policy update):
- Asking the Office for Students to ensure higher education providers demonstrate how they are tackling differences in access and successful participation for students from ethnic minorities – the Office for Students will be expected to hold providers to account, in particular through Access and Participation plans, which set out how higher education providers will improve equality of opportunity for under-represented groups, to access, succeed in and progress from higher education. The Office for Students will be expected to use its new powers to challenge providers failing to make progress.
- Asking league table compilers to consider performance on tackling inequalities between ethnic groups in university rankings – working with a wide range of experts, stakeholders and league table compilers.
- Encouraging higher education providers to eliminate ethnic disparities in their workforce – using tools such as the Race at Work Charter and Race Equality Charter.
- Supporting student choice through better information, advice and guidance- by reforming the Unistats website using evidence from research with students from disadvantaged and underrepresented groups.
- Building the evidence base on ‘what works’ for improving ethnic minority access and successful participation – encouraging the winning bidder of the newly established Evidence and Impact Exchange to make improving the evidence around addressing ethnic disparities a priority.
These actions will be supported by the Office for Students in their role as the regulator, Advance HE who will launch a review of their Race Equality Charter, and UKRI who will signal their support for reducing ethnic disparities in research and innovation funding.
Debbie McVitty from Wonkhe did some analysis of the position, looking at the OFS report issued alongside the and the recent UCU report on the experience of Black female professors:
- These reports demonstrate the complex and pernicious ways that higher education cultures can enable behaviours that marginalise and exclude. Rollock’s respondents, for example, detail incidents of “passive aggressive acts, avoidance, undermining and exclusion”. These sorts of incidents create an exhausting double bind – to process one’s own emotional response so as to avoid being labelled angry or irrational, and to redouble one’s efforts to perform to prove oneself worthy of one’s position in the teeth of the covert scepticism of one’s peers.
- The authors of the OfS report record concerns over a lack of discussion of racism and discrimination, insufficient Black or minority ethnic leaders and/or leaders with the critical perspective to drive action in this area, the perpetuation of deficit models, with interventions based on racist stereotypes. Also noted was the failure to involve Black and minority ethnic students in the design and delivery of targeted interventions, as well as a lack of diversity in the curriculum.
The OfS commissioned report has a series of recommendations
- Providers should improve their institutional data systems so that they can consistently capture good quality data; this will ensure that activities can be effectively targeted and interventions effectively evaluated.
- This may require the aggregation of data across multiple years to ensure that more nuanced patterns of disadvantage can be identified and addressed.
- Whilst course level data can be helpful in mobilising course leaders to effect change, presenting statistical data as proportions or percentages can be unhelpful where numbers are low. Rather, the focus should be on numbers of individual students. This also helps to personify students with inequitable outcomes and can serve as a useful counter to increasingly abstract discussions.
- Providers should make their BAME access, retention, success and progression data public to all students and staff. This includes making it readily available internally (including at departmental/course level data) and externally (for example through a dedicated institutional website with both data and plans to tackle inequalities).
- Providers should ensure that data is contextualised for students and accompanied by a clear action plan which indicates what action the provider is taking to ensure that the gap is reduced and then eradicated.
- Providers should take a holistic approach to addressing inequalities for specific minority ethnic groups ensuring a balance of interventions across the full student lifecycle.
- Providers should demonstrate in their access and participation plans how they will balance the focus of ‘inclusive’ and ‘targeted/exclusive’ interventions across the student lifecycle.
- HE providers should summarise, on an annual basis, their annual spend on targeted interventions–across each aspect of the student lifecycle (access, retention, attainment, progression). This should include ways in which additional fee income is being used as well how interventions are being funded from as other sources, such as from the Addressing Barriers to Student Success (ABSS) programme funded by the Office for Students.
Sarah Foxen of the UK Parliament’s Knowledge Exchange Unit, part of POST, has written for Wonkhe on policy impact (a question that you know is close to our hearts).
We have been working with Research England for over a year to help ensure a shared understanding of what parliamentary impact is and how it can be evidenced in REF 2021. Last spring, those involved in the delivery of REF 2021 asked us to produce a briefing for them explaining both what is useful and impactful for legislatures, and how engagement and impact can be evidenced. The briefing proved useful and fed directly into the drafting of guidelines and panel criteria.
Research England and panel members have taken onboard a number of the points we made in our briefing, which now feature in the final Panel Criteria and Working Methods. These points are found in Annex A: Examples of impacts and indicators.
As for what constitutes parliamentary impact, we all agree that:
- Research is used by parliamentarians to develop proposals for new legislation through Private Members’ Bills, or to assist scrutiny of legislation and inform amendments to other bills such as those introduced by government.
- Research helps to highlight issues of concern to parliamentarians and contributes to new analysis of existing issues.
- Research helps parliamentarians and staff to identify inquiry topics, shape the focus of inquiries, inform questioning of witnesses, and underpin recommendations.
- Research equips parliamentarians, their staff, and legislative staff with new analytical or technical skills, or refreshes existing ones.
As for indicators of reach and significance, there is a shared understanding that this can be evidenced through:
- Direct citations of research in parliamentary publications such as Hansard, committee reports, evidence submissions, or briefings.
- Acknowledgements to researchers on webpages, in reports or briefings.
- Quantitative indicators or statistics on the numbers of attendees or participants at a research event, or website analytics for online briefings.
- Qualitative feedback from participants or attendees at research events.
- Data to show close working relationships with Members or staff, for example, the number of meetings held, minutes from these meetings, membership of working groups, co-authoring of publications.
- Testimonials from members, committees or officials, where available.
- Analysis by third-party organisations of parliamentary proceedings or processes, for example studies of the passage of particular pieces of legislation.
We are also delighted to see that those administering REF 2021 took on our suggestion (and perhaps that of others too) that certain kinds of impact only acknowledged in panel C in the draft guidelines will now be valued by all panels:
- The panels acknowledge that there may be impacts arising from research which take forms such as holding public or private bodies to account or subjecting proposed changes in society, public policy, business practices, and so on to public scrutiny. Such holding to account or public scrutiny may have had the effect of a proposed change not taking place; there may be circumstances in which this of itself is claimed as an impact. There may also be examples of research findings having been communicated to, but not necessarily acted upon, by the intended audience, but which nevertheless make a contribution to critical public debate around policy, social or business issues. The panels also recognise that research findings may generate critique or dissent, which itself leads to impact(s). For example, research may find that a government approach to a particular social, health, food-/ biosecurity or economic issue is not delivering its objectives, which leads to the approach being questioned or modified.
Brexit – Update from the Home Office on the EU Settlement Scheme
The Home Office has been piloting the EU Settlement Scheme application process. There will be difference between the pilots and the full launch of the scheme. This includes the current testing of an app which checks an individual’s identity document.
- However, when the scheme is fully live at the end of March, use of the app will be optional and people will be able to send their identity document in the post or get their passport checked in over 50 locations.
- The scheme will be fully live by 30 March 2019, and under the draft Withdrawal Agreement applicants will have until 30 June 2021 to apply via a computer or any mobile device.
Following the January announcement that fees for the scheme will be waived the Government has confirmed that “anyone who has applied already, or who applies and pays a fee during the test phases, will have their fee refunded. Applicants should make payment using the card they want to be refunded on. Further details of the refunds process will be published shortly.”
The Government published the second independent report on Open Access research compiled by Professor Adam Tickell who is the Chair of the UK Open Access Co-ordination Group. It presents a refreshed evidence base, and addresses specific questions raised by Jo Johnson back when he was Universities Minister in November 2017.
The Government have also published Chris Skidmore’s (current HE Minister) response letter:
- … In supporting the UK research endeavour, we are seeking to increase knowledge, enhance public life, expand our economy, and transform public services. For us to realise these benefits and more, research needs to be openly available.
- It is therefore right that students, researchers, businesses and anyone with an interest should be able to access, without additional cost, the publicly-funded research findings of our great universities and research institutes.
- Your advice demonstrates that the UK is at the forefront of the global movement towards Open Access to research. Over half of the publications arising from publicly funded research can now be read online and without payment, one year after publication. It is a significant achievement to have reached the current rate of Open Access adoption and I look forward to UKRI pursuing routes which allow us to reach our 100% target in an affordable way.
- Progress in Open Access has been achieved as a result of cooperation between research funders, universities, learned societies and publishers: I am grateful for their continued participation.
One of Professor Tickell’s earlier recommendations was to establish an Open Research Data Task Force. Their final report has been published here. The report is an overview of open research data policy and infrastructure landscape in the UK.
Pensions: HEPI have published a new report on the USS pension scheme, noting its growth from a small scale operation into the largest private pension scheme in the UK. It discusses the scars left by the recent pension strikes and sees failure to learn from past successful pension reforms as a cause with parties becoming bogged down in technical discussion losing the bigger picture – such as the relationship between pay and pensions. It describes three possible ways forward and concludes: Despite the recent turmoil, we should not lose sight of the deep commitment by universities, over many decades, to ensure their staff have secure retirement incomes. In the midst of a strike, it can be easy to forget your opponents may be well intentioned too.’ HEPI have also published a response by UCU.
Extra curricular activities: The education secretary Damian Hinds has launched an “activity passport” aimed at encouraging school pupils to pursue new experiences and activities, including searching for butterflies, taking part in a Roman banquet and flying a kite.
Apprenticeships (from Wonkhe): TES reports that more than 80% of employers who pay the apprenticeship levy have hired no apprentices.
Appointments: Sutton Trust CEO Lee Elliot Major is leaving the Sutton Trust to take up a post as Professor of Social Mobility at the University of Exeter. Here is his (short) reflective blog upon leaving.
Mental health in schools: Up to 370 schools will join one of the largest trials in the world to boost the evidence about what works to support mental health and wellbeing. The pilot is expected to include a range of new techniques including mindfulness exercises, relaxation techniques and breathing exercise. The trials will test five different approaches including two trials in secondary schools of short information sessions either led by a specialist instructor or by trained teachers and three trials in primary and secondary schools that focus on exercises drawn from mindfulness practice, breathing exercises and muscle relaxation techniques and recognising the importance of support networks including among their own peers. Education Secretary Damian Hinds said:
As a society, we are much more open about our mental health than ever before, but the modern world has brought new pressures for children, while potentially making others worse. Schools and teachers don’t have all the answers, nor could they, but we know they can play a special role which is why we have launched one of the biggest mental health trials in schools. These trials are key to improving our understanding of how practical, simple advice can help young people cope with the pressures they face.
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Last week was dominated by the Brexit political turmoil and no major HE reports were launched (although there are some coming later this week). The media continued to wring all the coverage they could out of the fee cut speculations and there was news on an American university who is currently registering with the OfS to takeover a London university college. And on Monday there was news for the TEF review and on accelerated degree fees.
The details for the Independent Review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) have been announced. The Terms of Reference are here and the 2016 policy paper has also been shared here.
Summit on BME Leadership in HE
This event was hosted by AdvanceHE, the new agency that was formed recently to include the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, the Higher Education Academy and the Equality Challenge Unit.
Wonkhe have pointed out that:
- “So far only 45 out of 167 higher education institutions have signed the Advance HE Race Equality Charter’s principles [BU is one of them]. Of those 45, only nine have actually been formally recognised for demonstrating evidence of their commitment. The first wave of eight 2015 Charter award holders are reapplying for accreditation this summer.”
Baroness Valerie Amos spoke at this event on 16th May and also wrote in the Guardian. about leadership.
- “There are deep-seated prejudices and stereotypes which need to be overcome. University leaders need to acknowledge that we are not doing enough. The UK has some of the best universities in the world – but what is the point of that if we are not offering real equality of opportunity?”
Also in the Guardian on Wednesday was an article by Shakira Martin, President of the NUS, who spoke at the same event.
- “This year has also seen black students fighting back, rising up, taking to the streets, starting campaigns and writing powerful letters, like the three brave students from the University of Exeter, to say enough is enough. However, the onus should not be on them to tackle discrimination. The sector is pretty good at sharing best practice. This is one area where distinct, hardline initiatives are needed in abundance. Institutions must be bold. It only takes one or two to get serious about dealing with the issue head-on and others will follow suit.”
Launch of UKRI
UK research and Innovation have published its Strategic Prospectus which create a research and innovation system that is fit for the future and equipped to tackle the environmental, social and economic challenges of the 21st Century. As the press release outlines, the prospectus is the start of this process and over the next 12 months UKRI and its councils will continue to engage with their communities, the wider public, and undertake research, to further develop individual strategic delivery plans. Please see the following links for more information:
- Press release: UKRI will ensure everyone in society benefits from world-leading research and innovation
- UK Research and Innovation (PDF) – Strategic Prospectus: Building the UKRI Strategy
- UK Research and Innovation (Web) – Strategic Prospectus: Building the UKRI Strategy
UKRI will work with its partners to push the frontiers of human knowledge, deliver economic prosperity, and create social and cultural impact. It describes four underpinning areas key to delivering this:
- Leading talent – nurturing the pipeline of current and future talent
- A trusted and diverse system – driving a culture of equality, diversity and inclusivity and promoting the highest standards of research, collaboration and integrity
- Global Britain – identifying and supporting the best opportunities for international collaboration
- Infrastructure – delivering internationally-competitive infrastructure to ensure we have the best facilities to foster innovation and conduct research
Over the coming months, UKRI will be conducting research and consultation to further develop its approach to working with others and to answer a series of big questions. These include how to grow the economy across different regions of the UK whilst continuing to expand our existing world-leading excellence; how to reduce the gap in productivity and the best approaches to developing talent across the diverse population of the UK, providing the skills needs of the future.
UKRI Chief Executive Professor Sir Mark Walport said:
- “Our Strategic Prospectus has been developed to ensure that everyone in society benefits from the knowledge, innovation, talent and ideas generated from our funding. UK Research and Innovation builds on the excellence of our individual councils. We will work collaboratively with researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs to develop the most exciting ideas and innovative technologies and bring these to fruition. Delivering this success will take commitment, a collective effort and new, ambitious ways of working.”
Vision: • We will push the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding. • We will deliver economic impact • We will create social and cultural impact by supporting society to become enriched, healthier, more resilient and sustainable.
Values: Collaboration, Excellence, Innovation, Integrity
- On talent: We will:
- Seek to increase skills at all levels, to maintain a broad disciplinary skills base, and work with partners to identify key skills gaps and build capacity. We will support vocational education and apprenticeships alongside more traditional pathways through higher education. • Support individuals to move between business and research careers, creating opportunities to develop careers in ways that stimulate creativity and innovation.
- Back universities to develop vibrant research environments which act as magnets to attract and nurture talent.
- Support multidisciplinary teams when these are needed to conduct research and innovation. This will require the creation of more highly valued roles for technologists, data scientists and others for the teams that are needed to tackle tough challenges.
- Promote continuing professional development, accompanied by lifelong learning and training throughout the careers of researchers and innovators.
- On the system: We will:
- Drive change, both as an employer and through our research and innovation funding. • Embed equality, diversity and inclusion at all levels and in all that we do.
- Seek to create a culture that facilitates and safeguards the opportunities for all to be respected and treated fairly.
- Take an evidence-based approach, commissioning and funding research and evaluations to understand the issues, what interventions work – and what does not work. • Collaborate and engage with partners nationally and internationally, to gather evidence and ideas, to help catalyse and facilitate change.
- On Research culture: We will prioritise four related areas:
- Research and innovation ethics – norms that define acceptable behaviour and practice
- Conduct – the use of honest and verifiable methods in proposing, performing, and evaluating research
- Reproducibility – the ability to achieve commensurate results when an experiment is conducted by an independent researcher under similar conditions
- Analysis of funding mechanisms and metrics and their impact on culture
- On transparency: We will:
- Identify the highest value areas where UKRI can drive improvements to the open research system in the near to mid-term.
- Build on the expertise in Councils and the wider community to identify technological innovations that could transform open research.
- Engage with Government and external groups to ensure the UK continues to play a leading role in the international open research movement
- “(page 9): 3 In engaging with UKRI, BEIS will have regard to the Haldane principle …..The HER Act defines more precisely how the Haldane principle will apply with respect to UKRI. For the science and humanities councils…. section 103 sets out that the Haldane principle is the principle that decisions on individual research proposals are best taken following an evaluation of the quality and likely impact of the proposals (such as a peer review process). Section 97 provides equivalent measures for the activities of Research England. Strategic, long term decision making requires input from both subject matter experts and central government, as explained in the written ministerial statement. This includes investment in large capital infrastructure and research treaties. The Haldane principle does not apply to the government’s funding of innovation and the activities of Innovate UK.”
From Dods, referring to an article in Politico: May intervenes to speed up new UK immigration plan. The Government have purportedly brought forward plans to publish the Immigration White Paper before the summer recess. This new timetable, if accurate, means the White Paper will be published before the long-awaited Migration Advisory Committee’s report into the economics of immigration, due to be published in September. Formerly, Home Office officials had said this report would inform Government immigration policy, justifying the long delay in publishing the White Paper.
More definitely, the Commons Science and Technology Select Committee have announced a new inquiry into “an immigration system that works for science and innovation”.
- “The Committee published its report on “Brexit, Science and Innovation” in March, and has recently received the Government’s response. The report welcomed the Prime Minister’s call for a “far-reaching pact” with the EU on science and innovation. We had recommended that an early deal for science—including on the ‘people’ element—could set a positive tone for the rest of the trade negotiations, given the mutual benefits of cooperation on science and innovation for the UK and the EU. The Committee now intends to produce its own proposals for an immigration system that works for science and innovation, with the aim of completing this in advance of the MAC’s report later this year.”
The Committee Chair, Rt Hon Norman Lamb MP, said:
- “It was disappointing that the Government doesn’t see the need to secure an early science pact, and assumes that scientists are happy to just wait and see what’s in the Immigration Bill next year. We’re going to roll up our sleeves now and set out our proposals for an immigration system that works for the science and innovation sector.”
- “Today’s revelation that more than 1,600 IT specialists and engineers offered jobs in the UK were denied visas between December and March sends the message that the UK is not interested in welcoming science talent at the moment. The Government needs to work quickly to correct that impression.
The Committee will draw on the submissions to its previous Brexit inquiry and the sector’s submissions to the MAC to construct its proposals for the immigration system, but further input to this process is welcome on the following points:
- If an early deal for science and innovation could be negotiated, what specifically should it to contain in relation to immigration rules and movement of people involved with science and innovation?
- What are the specific career needs of scientists in relation to movement of people, both in terms of attracting and retaining the people the UK needs and supporting the research that they do?
- What aspects of the ‘people’ element need to be negotiated with the EU-27, as opposed to being simply decided on by the Government?
- On what timescale is clarity needed in relation to future immigration rules in order to support science and innovation in the UK?
The deadline for submissions is Wednesday 6 June 2018 – please contact firstname.lastname@example.org if you would like to submit evidence to this inquiry.
The Secretary of State for Education has written to the Chair of the Education Committee about the HE review:
- “You asked for clarification on how the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding will inform my department’s preparations for the next spending review, particularly with regard to further education. The Spending Review 2019 will provide an opportunity to set budgets and fund government priorities across the whole DfE remit from 2020-21 onwards. The Department’s preparation for the Spending Review will include consideration of any recommendations from the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding.”
I presented this week on engaging with policy makers, part of a regular series of workshops that we run at BU for academic and professional support staff. Read my blog here.
And while we’re talking about the “what”…did you know that government departments publish their areas of research interest? This is a guide to where research funds might go, and is useful if you are thinking about policy impact. The collection is here, and four new ones were added on Thursday:
- Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government
- Department for Education
- Department for Culture, Media and Sport
- Ministry of Justice
The DCMS one says “It is designed to encourage researchers and academics to explore those topics that could be of benefit to DCMS and our sectors and act as a starting point for future collaboration.”
Digital Health, Life Sciences
The government have published the annual report from the Bioscience and health technology sector database for 2017 – there are some interesting graphics and context for the strategic investment areas:
There is scope for an argument about focus on place for the industrial strategy here – the detailed maps in the main report highlight the weakness in the South West but opportunity for Bournemouth given our location almost in the South East and close to London.
And out on Monday, this report from the National Centre for Universities and Business:
- “To compete, the UK must ensure that its universities are as embedded into the digital health knowledge exchange process as those in California and Massachusetts. Furthermore, as the UK cannot outspend the US, our systems for procurement and deployment into the NHS, and the high quality of research in UK universities, must be connected more effectively in the ecosystem. We noted earlier that patients and consumers are willing to share their data for research – although there is a sensible debate about opt-in versus opt-out, and patient control over what might be shared – but there remain significant standardisation challenges across primary and secondary care systems that must be overcome to drive research excellence.”
Postgraduate loans and numbers
New data from the Office for Students shows an increase in postgraduate masters’ student numbers since the introduction of the postgraduate masters’ loan. · Read the news item in full on the Office for Students website.
The effect of postgraduate loans data – key findings (the survey uses HESA data)
- In 2016-17 postgraduate masters’ loans of up to £10,000 were introduced to assist students with tuition fees and living costs.
- In 2016-17 there was an overall increase in entrant numbers but only for students to eligible courses. The number for non-eligible courses decreased. Single-year transition rates straight from undergraduate degree to postgraduate study saw a similar increase in students to eligible courses.
- Age: The largest increase in entrant numbers on eligible courses and increase in transition rates have been for students aged 25 and under. Overall, the age profile of entrants to postgraduate study has changed slightly, with a larger proportion of younger students than in previous years.
- Gender: Male and female entrant numbers on eligible courses both show an increase. Similarly, there has been no difference between the genders in transition rates or loan take-up.
- Ethnicity: There has been a larger increase in entrant numbers on eligible courses for black students than for white students, which has resulted in a change in the ethnic composition of the postgraduate entrant population. The proportion of postgraduate entrants on eligible courses who are black has increased from 8 per cent in 2015-16 to 11 per cent in 2016-17.
- Disability: Disabled students comprised 12 per cent of the entrant population on eligible courses in 2015-16. However this has increased to 15 per cent in 2016-17.
- Educational disadvantage: The proportional increase in entrant numbers on eligible courses, and increases in one-year transition rates, has been greatest for students from the lowest-participation areas. This means that those from the lowest undergraduate participation areas are now more likely to enter postgraduate study immediately after undergraduate study than those from the highest participation areas.
- The proportion of students who were eligible for a loan and took one out was greatest among:
- students aged 25 and under on entry
- black students
- students who declared a disability
- students from lowest-participation areas.
- For all student groups, the proportion of graduates able to realise their intention to continue postgraduate studies has increased. However, the increase was greatest among:
- students aged 26 and over
- black students
- students who declared a disability
- students from lowest-participation areas.
The Intentions After Graduation Survey data., key points:
Between January and April 2017 final year undergraduates on first degree courses were invited to answer the survey about their intentions after graduation. Overall, nearly 83,000 final year students from 268 UK higher education providers that take part in the National Student Survey (NSS) responded to the Intentions After Graduation Survey. This analysis focuses on almost 70,000 students at 238 English providers.
While the students’ most frequent intention within six months from graduation is to ‘look for a job’ (around 50 per cent of respondents each year), there is a clear upward trend in the percentage of students who intend to undertake postgraduate (PG) study. Among 2016-17 respondents, more than one student out of five selected ‘further study’ as their intention after graduation.
For all students, the intention to continue studying becomes greater further in the future (i.e. more than six months after graduation). Of students who are certain or likely to study at PG level in the future, 55 per cent intend to look for a job or have already been offered a job when surveyed.
In terms of motivation, almost 70 per cent of the students who intend or are likely to continue studying selected ‘interest in the subject’ as a reason for their intention. Only 35 per cent of the students would continue to study, among other reasons, to get a better job or to open up more career choices.
Female students are more likely to intend to continue to study than male students, as are black students relative to other ethnic groups. Also, young students from the lowest-participation areas are more likely to state an intention to continue study relative to those from higher-participation areas
The Office for Students is recruiting for its committees – provider risk, quality assessment and risk and audit.
Care leavers will be boosted by a new £1,000 bursary payment if they choose to do an apprenticeship from August 2018, the Government announced on 17 May
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