Yesterday CoPMRE welcomed 30 colleagues to our Visiting Faculty bi-annual event showcasing the exciting medical developments at BU from the new Bournemouth Gateway Building to the Institute of Medical Imaging and Visualisation. The key priorities to support delivery of BU2025 were presented by Dr Clare Wedderburn, Interim Head of Department of Medicine & Public Health presented. Juan Campos-Perez, Clinical Research Co-ordinator, BUCRU spoke about Biobanks which were highlighted in Professor Emma King’s research presentation on immunotherapy. Professor Jeffrey Wale, Lecturer in Law encouraged innovative medical cross faculty collaboration demonstrated by his recent research collaboration with Professor Sam Rowlands, Visiting Professor resulting in four co-authored papers. The main focus of the meeting centred around Visiting Faculty engagement in research and education to help us achieve our aims. The audience reported that they were ‘very excited’ about these new developments at BU and were keen to support this vision.
Tagged / innovation
This discussion forum is a ‘spin-out’ event following the Conference ‘Deep Transformations and the Future of Organisations’ (6-7 December). It would be the very first event aiming to bridge UK-Japan researchers who are specialised in the research field of the B2B and business transformation in the globalised era.
Two presenters are invited to this colloquial from Japan, Professor Takemoto (Innovation & Management Laboratory, Fukui University) and Mr Ikematsu, (Consultant/Researcher, ex strategist for Fujitsu).
Professor Takemoto will talk about the revitalisation projects with entrepreneurial movements in Fukui area, referring to the concepts of ‘Creative destruction’ and ‘Planned Happenstance Theory’.
Mr Ikematsu will talk about his experiences from the marketing and economical points of view, presenting the ‘straggles’ to change Fujitsu from the B2B model firm to the B2C model firm. His presentation will be also a good case of innovation dilemma and network externalities.
The colloquial will be carried out via the Skype conference method. Dr Hiroko Oe will act as a facilitator for this colloquial and Dr Kaouther Kooli will perform as a supervisor for this event who liaises the outcome from the main Conference the week before.
BU ECRs and the PG students will be invited to the colloquial, too. Dr. Ediz Akcay (Lecturer in Digital Marketing) and Dr Yan Liang (Lecturer in Strategy) will be there as discussants.
This colloquial will provide unique and interesting views from the different cultural context of Japanese cases, including some key topics of the UN SDGs (e.g., Goal 9 ‘Industry, innovation and infrastructure’, Goal 11 ‘Sustainable cities and communities’, and Goal 17 ‘Partnerships for the goals’).
STEM for Britain, hosted by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, is a poster competition for early-career researchers, and will take place in the Houses of Parliament on Monday 9th March 2020.
Applications for posters will open on Monday 23rd September 2019 to early career research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians to exhibit posters in one of the following five areas:
- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
- Mathematical Sciences
Prizes will be awarded for the posters presented in each discipline which best communicate high level science, engineering or mathematics to a lay audience.
BU is inviting expressions of interest from those who would like to apply. Please email Lisa Andrews, RDS Research Facilitator with two sentences on what your poster would cover.
Full details of the competition and exhibition, including the application form will be made available on www.stemforbritain.org.uk from 23rd September.
Denyse King from the Centre of Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal (CMMPH) recently presented her CILVRS Project at a Parliamentary event. The CILVRS Project is a Virtual Reality Learning Environment (VRLE) to improve healthcare education. Denyse presented this at the Further Education for Leadership symposium on Ed-Tech at Parliament on July 17th 2019. She introduced a VRLE on ‘safeguarding’ to share with delegates there who then experienced the VRLE through immersion with Oculus Quest headsets. The response from symposium delegates to the VRLE was overwhelmingly positive and with excellent discussions regarding the possible content of future VRLEs. Denyse has written this VRLE content as part of her role as a lecturer in midwifery. This was subsequently built to her specifications by a company called Daden Ltd. The VRLE are designed to be profession generic and topic specific, which ensures that the majority of healthcare students can use each VRLE. Denyse King is sitting on the far right of the table of experts for the Further Education Trust for Leadership (photo).
VRLEs offer healthcare students access learning materials in ways which enhance their student experience. Use of VRLE mean Bournemouth University can offer students clinical experiences which cannot otherwise be guaranteed as routine part of their healthcare education. In addition to this, Continuous Practice Development (CPD) is a requirement of the Nursing and Midwifery Council [1-2] and the World Health Organization (WHO)  have highlighted that learners globally have limited access to Higher Education. The WHO also state that educators internationally lack skills and necessary equipment as well as a lack of access to practical skills teaching. Therefore, VRLE also have a place in offering realistic clinical experiences for CPD nationally and internationally. One example of the latter would be through Bournemouth University a close working relationships in Nepal: (1) where midwifery students can also benefit; or (2) in the development of CPD in nursing and midwifery in Nepal as recently presented on the BU Research Blog (click here).The CILVRS Project is another excellent example of the BU FUSION with Research resulting in improvements in Education, which in turn are leading to better Practice.
The response from symposium delegates to the VRLE was overwhelmingly positive and with excellent discussions regarding the possible content of future VRLEs. Denyse is very active in this field. She has created a VRLE for urinalysis training as well as three VRLE related to safeguarding (which are nearly complete) as part of the CILVRS Project. She is developing further VRLEs I: two for perinatal mental health which I am creating in collaboration with University of Newcastle (Australia), Solent NHS Trust and Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. Some of this is being trialled within the BU midwifery programme in the forth coming year 2019/2020, and this exciting work is part of her doctorate research: Towards more holistic clinical practice: exploring the impact of virtual reality learning environments on healthcare education.
Prof. Edwin van Teijlingen
- NMC 2018a. Standards for competence for registered midwives. London: NMC
- NMC 2018b. Future Nurse: Standards of proficiency for registered nurses. London: NMC
- World Health Organization (WHO), United Nations Population Fund (UNPF), UNICEF, and International Confederation of Midwives (ICM). 2019. Framework for Action: Strengthening Quality Midwifery Education for Universal Health Coverage 2030. Geneva: WHO.
STEM for Britain, hosted by the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee, is a poster competition for early-career researchers, and will take place in the Houses of Parliament on Monday 9th March 2020.
Applications for posters will open on Monday 23rd September 2019 to early career research scientists, engineers, technologists and mathematicians to exhibit posters in one of the following five areas:
- Biological and Biomedical Sciences
- Mathematical Sciences
Prizes will be awarded for the posters presented in each discipline which best communicate high level science, engineering or mathematics to a lay audience.
BU is inviting expressions of interest from those who would like to apply by Thursday 12th September. Please email Lisa Andrews, RDS Research Facilitator with two sentences on what your poster would cover. Applicants will be shortlisted on Monday 16th September. Those chosen to apply, will be supported to do so ahead of the Parliamentary and Scientific Committee’s external deadline of 2nd December.
Full details of the competition and exhibition, including the application form will be made available on www.stemforbritain.org.uk from 23rd September.
Following the government’s industrial strategy grand challenge on Ageing Society, this year’s conference will be exploring the theme of frailty. The key areas will be:
- Current health needs – the demographic and societal challenge
- Predicting transition to frailty
- The role of digital technology in maintaining independence
Professor Martin Vernon, National Director for Older People, NHS England
Professor Mark Hawley, Professor of Health Services Research (ScHARR), Director Centre for Assistive Technology and Connected Care (CATCH), University of Sheffield
Sixteenth Annual Symposium, Frailty: Enhancing Lives, Wednesday 9 October, Bournemouth University, Executive Business Centre (EBC), Lansdowne, Bournemouth.
Register now for your free place
Another busy week in national politics and also in HE policy. The government may be having a slightly quieter time while they elect a new leader but that gives us time for plenty of speculation….
BU is running a Research Communication Day on Thursday 20 June. The morning (from 10:30) will share tips and hints on successful communication through talks from the Editor of The Conversation and a BU academic colleague experienced in research communication. The afternoon provides choice in a series of 50 minute sessions covering everything from broadcast training, developing the impact of your research, sharing research through social media and – saving the best for last – the BU policy team will be there to talk colleagues through how to engage with policy makers from 14:30. See this intranet page to book. Please share with colleagues!
Student Academic Experience Survey
The Higher Education Policy Institute published their annual student academic experience survey with AdvanceHE. The lead press story was about disclosure of mental health concerns to parents:
The Radio 4 Today programme (Thursday) covered this story. Nick Hillman (HEPI) gave his personal view that the decision to share mental health status should be opt out rather than opt in to consent –– because it is more efficient to run a system on opt out where the majority (over 50%) of the student body consents.
Chris Skidmore answered a Parliamentary question: Q – Dr Matthew Offord: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what guidance his Department has published on suicide prevention strategies for universities.
A – Chris Skidmore:
- Mental health is a priority for the government, which is why we have worked with Universities UK, the Office for Students, and other stakeholders in the higher education sector to develop guidance on measures to help prevent suicide. This guidance was published in September 2018, ahead of the 2018/19 academic year.
- In addition, the government has published the first cross-government suicide prevention plan for wider society. The plan, led by my hon. Friend, the Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention, sets out actions for local government, the NHS, the criminal justice system and the Department for Education in relation to universities. The plan focuses on how social media and the latest technology, such as predictive analytics and artificial intelligence, can identify those at risk of suicide.
There was also a parliamentary question on mental (and physical) ill health research spending.
The key findings of the report include:
- 41% of students perceive ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value from their course – this is the second consecutive year with a three percentage point improvement; 29% of students perceive ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ value, which is a drop of three percentage points since last year and five percentage points since 2017.
- Value-for-money perceptions differ according to the characteristics of students. Those from Scotland have relatively high positive perceptions (63%) while non-EU international students have relatively low positive perceptions (37%). Recent funding changes for students from Wales have not yet had any material impact on perceptions of value for money.
- Teaching quality is the main factor for students who perceive positive value (64%) and tuition fees are the main factor for students who perceive poorer value (62%).
- Among students who say their experience surpasses their prior expectations, 59% cite the ‘right level of challenge’ as the key factor. Where students report a worse experience than expected, around one-third (35%) blame themselves for not putting in enough effort. This rises to 42% among BME students.
- A new question shows most students feel they were ‘very prepared’ (16%) or ‘slightly prepared’ (44%) for university, compared to under one-quarter who were ‘slightly prepared’ (14%) or ‘very unprepared’ (9%).
- Two-thirds of students (64%) would choose the same course and same university if they were applying again. Only 4% would opt to ‘do an apprenticeship’ and even fewer would not enter higher education to ‘get a job’ (3%) or not enter higher education to ‘do something else’ (2%).
- There have been small changes to average contact hours and workload in recent years. Since 2015, there has been a decline in independent study (15.2 hours a week to 13.8) and an increase in timetabled contact hours (13.4 hours to 13.9 hours).
- Given relatively low scores for student satisfaction with feedback in this and other surveys, a new question for 2019 asked how this might be improved. The most popular option, supported by 63% of students, was ‘more detail on why the mark was awarded’.
- Students are significantly more anxious than other young people: just 16% of students surveyed report feeling ‘low anxiety’, against 37% for all those aged 20 to 24.
- A new question on disclosing mental health issues to students’ parents or guardians finds high levels of support. Two-thirds (66%) of students support disclosure ‘under extreme circumstances’ and a further 15% support it ‘under any circumstances’.
- The results confirm students want more support from taxpayers for the costs of teaching undergraduates: 22% say Government should pay all the costs and 43% say Government should pay more than half the costs. This is out of line with the recent Review of Post-18 Education and Funding (the Augar report) on England, which says taxpayers should continue to pay half.
- For the first time, students were asked about their views on two-year degrees. While over four-in-ten students were ‘very positive’ (19%) or ‘positive’ (24%), three-in-ten were ‘negative’ (19%) or ‘very negative’ (10%) and the rest were either neutral (24%) or did not know (4%).
- A notable increase in value-for-money perceptions shows last year’s comparable increase was not just a quirk or a blip. …The most effective ways for higher education institutions to continue improving value-for-money perceptions may be to make faster progress in telling students where their fees go and further improving the quality of teaching and learning….Given the big drop in value-for money perceptions after fees increased in England from 2012, any significant reduction in fees could improve value-for-money perceptions further.
- …our results suggest schools, colleges and universities could all do more to help prepare potential students, especially in the context of a growing number of students from non-traditional backgrounds (such as first-in-family students). …The notable contrast between the idea of higher education as a time when you can be true to yourself and the specific groups that feel least well prepared, such as LGB+ students, suggest targeted interventions could also help raise preparedness.
- ….The big expansion in apprenticeships that many want to see could depend more on finding new learners rather than persuading people who are already on course for a more traditional university experience to change direction – or else, we need to convey the perceived benefits of apprenticeships more persuasively
- …the results pose a challenge to the overall idea that levels of preparedness for higher education should always be high in all respects – at least, to the extent that learning gain seems to correlate inversely with preparedness. [this is interesting – it might suggest instead that these courses need to be more stretching?]
- The Survey suggests the optimal total student workload – for example, in relation to overall student satisfaction and satisfaction with course and institution – is in the 30–39 hours category. This chimes with the evidence on the best work–life balance for people in the labour market. This level of commitment leaves more time for student activities – such as involvement in clubs and societies, part-time employment and socialising – than is available to those students with the longest working hours (such as those preparing to work in the health sector). Students with the lowest workloads of all, of under 10 hours a week, in contrast face a range of challenges that affect their quality of life and their quality of learning. Regulators may well wish to ask whether any student can secure the full benefits of higher education at such a minimal level.
- The Survey provides evidence to help explain the already well-documented BME attainment gap – for instance, there are notable differences by ethnicity in perceptions of teaching quality. It remains controversial in some quarters to suggest curricula, the make-up of academic staff and the provision of support services should reflect the changing demographics of students, but the evidence base for doing this is strong.
- The Survey adds to the growing evidence on the relationship between students’ living arrangements and their quality of life. While some students will always choose to live at home for a variety of reasons, any attempt by policymakers to reduce students’ costs by encouraging more students to live at home risks encouraging less good outcomes – unless accompanied by specific, and potentially quite costly, actions to address the challenge.
- The Student Academic Experience Survey began in early 2006 as a way of measuring how the academic experience of students changes in response to funding reforms. However, despite the big shifts in funding, most obviously for students from England and Wales, the workload of students has only changed marginally – the most notable shift being the number of timetabled hours moving from being slightly behind the number of independent learning hours to slightly ahead. Advocates and opponents of so-called ‘neo-liberal’ student funding systems may well have over-exaggerated the effect that changes to student funding have on the way students and institutions approach teaching and learning.
- For many years, one of the lowest-scoring areas in a number of student surveys, including the official National Student Survey, has been assessment and feedback on academic work. While our Survey shows modest improvements on this issue, the responses to one of the new questions could help drive greater improvements. …
- A new question on disclosure of mental health issues to a student’s parents or guardian finds high levels of support, with two-thirds of students supporting disclosure ‘in extreme circumstances’ and a further 15% supporting it ‘in any circumstances’. These results are similar to those provided by university applicants in another survey back in 2017, suggesting that views have not changed much since enrolment. Some higher education staff have, rightly, pointed out the legal and practical difficulties in disclosing mental health issues experienced by their (adult) students to others, although some have recently changed practice in this area. Our results provide support to politicians, the families of students who have taken their own lives and others, such as some university staff, who have sought to encourage debate on current disclosure practices.
- A majority of students across all four parts of the UK continue to believe the costs of higher education tuition should be covered entirely or mainly by taxpayers via the government. …
- …Nearly twice as many full-time undergraduates say they would feel ‘very positive’ about such accelerated learning if they were applying to university now as say they would be ‘very negative’ about it (19% versus 10%). There are somewhat higher levels of support among students aged over 25, who might particularly appreciate the option of taking less time out of the labour market in order to secure a degree. …
The Minister speaks
Chris Skidmore was at the launch of the HEPI survey and took a very different approach from his predecessors. Unlike Sam Gyimah and Jo Johnson, who arrived with a flock of minders and gave big speeches from the podium, notably in Sam Gyimah’s case attacking the sector for focussing on putting “bums on seats” at the expense of student outcomes, the Minister took part in a fireside chat with Nick Hillman in which he came across pretty well. He was necessarily a bit vague on policy – Augar being a question for the new PM and the spending review – but repeated his message on a 3D threshold (something he was prepared to “die on a hill” over. And he said that the “bums on seats” line should be banned, because no institution was doing that. He also failed to attack the sector on unconditional offers and grade inflation – unlike Nicola Dandridge, who spoke later and claimed credit for the OfS on progress made in the sector on both issues.
He was most animated on Research – in his role as Minister for the 2.4% [investment in R&D], being very clear that he is campaigning ahead of the spending review. And he trailed his speech on Thursday evening, the third of 4, with a focus on working with industry and IP, and commercialisation. Research Professional have reviewed that speech, so we don’t have to.
He talked about investment in research [we’ve included the RP commentary]:
- Investing in new technologies is inherently risky. If it weren’t, we could comfortably leave it to the market. But so long as the UK has R&D excellence on which we can build and so long as there is an international business case and we base our decisions firmly in expert advice, we should seek to continue to invest in emerging technologies. This is a fair risk to ask the taxpayer to bear given the enormous economic opportunities on offer.
- [This is a bold move, politically. Has anyone asked the mythical taxpayer if they are happy to pile in on this investment? If the Augar review tells us anything, it is that there is not enough public support to justify the expenditure on undergraduate teaching in England. An expensive industrial strategy requires similar levels of public sign-off. That’s why Corbyn’s question about Scunthorpe is important—that’s what most people hear when you use the phrase “industrial strategy”. Just as government and universities did not explain the student finance system enough to the public, there is a big communication job to do over the investment in the industrial strategy.]
- …we need to spell out a clear strategy for our future investment. This is crucial for the government’s commitment to spending 2.4 per cent of GDP, both public and private, on R&D by 2027—the OECD average. For we need to not only raise our investment but decide the direction of this investment and what we are aiming for.
- [Your periodic reminder of what the 2.4 per cent target really amounts to as a commitment of government spending. Figures released yesterday by the Office for National Statistics show that government spending on R&D as a percentage of GDP barely changed between 2012 and 2017, accounting for 0.59 per cent of GDP by the end of that period.]
The Minister also spoke about the Government’s recently published white paper on Regulation for the Fourth Industrial Revolution, which sets out plans to transform the UK’s regulatory system, to support innovation while protecting citizens and the environment. This followed concerns raised by industry that overzealous regulation would stifle innovation.
In related news, University Alliance members have been awarded £76m to fund the establishment of 13, new innovative research institutes and centres. Their research will be funded by a grant from the Expanding Excellence in England Fund. This is part of the government’s modern Industrial Strategy aimed at maintaining the UK’s position at the forefront of innovative scientific research.
UUK published their annual student mobility report – Gone International: rising aspirations. It finds 18,510 respondents to the DLHE survey have undertaken a period abroad during their undergraduate study. This equates to 7.8% of all undergraduates with almost half of all mobility funded through Erasmus+ (49.2%).
Language graduates had the highest mobility rate of 34%, rising to 87% if linguistics students were excluded. The next highest mobility rates were for combined subjects (33%), medicine and dentistry (31%) and veterinary science (17%). Social work, computer science, sport science and nursing students are still least likely to undertake time overseas. English students were less mobile (7.2%) than the other nations.
UUK note an increase in more students from ‘underrepresented demographics’ studying abroad (including students from lower socio-economic backgrounds, black and minority ethnic (BME) students and disabled students). 5.6% of mobile students were from socio-economically disadvantaged backgrounds (9.6% of advantaged students were mobile). White students (8.3%) were more mobile than Asian (5.5%) or black (5.1%) students. Care leavers participation was 4.5%. Page 4/5 has more statistics on the other disadvantaged categories.
Most mobility was for study (75%), followed by work (22%) and volunteering (4%).
- 64% long-term mobilities of 14 weeks or more
- 15% of instances were medium term mobilities (5−13 weeks)
- 21% were short-term mobilities of less than four weeks
50.8% of mobility activities were in Europe, with 18.5% in North America and 12.3% in Asia.
Consistent with findings from previous years the report confirms that graduates who had undertaken time abroad were more likely to be in graduate employment or further study, have a higher average starting salary and less likely to be unemployed than their non-mobile peers. Here are the stats:
- Mobile graduates were more likely to obtain first-class honours or an upper second-class degree (91.6%) than non-mobile graduates (80%).
- Six months after graduating only 3.1% of mobile graduates were unemployed, compared to 4.2% of non-mobile graduates.
- Mobile graduates who were working in full-time, paid employment had an average salary of £23,482, compared to an average salary of £22,256 for non-graduates (a difference of 5.5%) six months after graduating.
- Of all working, mobile graduates in the 2016−17 cohort, 78.3% secured a ‘graduate-level’ job within six months of graduating, compared to 73.2% of non-mobile graduates
You can explore more of the detail in the report here.
Research England has published a delivery plan outlining how it will fund and support universities to deliver world-leading research and knowledge exchange. It sets out the research and knowledge exchange priorities and describes how Research England will work in partnership with other organisations such as the Office for Students. It’s one of 10 delivery plans published this week by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), outlining how UKRI will work with its partners to ensure that world-leading research and innovation continues to flourish in the UK. The 2019-20 plans highlight the areas of focus and key activities of UKRI’s nine constituent councils and its cross-cutting themes. The plans also detail UKRI’s approach to delivering the government’s target of 2.4% GDP spend on research and innovation by 2027.
Research England Executive Chair, David Sweeney, said: I’m delighted to set out in full, for the first time, the wide range of activity that Research England delivers as part of UK Research & Innovation, and our plans for the near future. The partnership between universities and UKRI is at the heart of the UK’s research and innovation success. Our Delivery Plan describes how Research England will have a key role, along with the other three devolved administration funding bodies, in supporting and building that partnership.
UK Research and Innovation Chief Executive, Professor Sir Mark Walport, said: The delivery plans announced today are the blueprints for UKRI’s ambition to deliver the future of research and innovation. They outline how we will address the major global and societal challenges of our time, catalyse collaboration and contribute to meeting the government’s ambitious 2.4% target. UKRI has had a strong first year – the Future Leaders Fellowships programme, the Strength in Places Fund and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund are all examples of the difference we can make working together as one organisation.
The Student Loans Company have published stats on student loans in England. Key Findings:
- The amount lent to HE borrowers increased by 8.4% to reach £16.2 billion in financial year 2018-19. The amount lent to FE borrowers decreased by 5.7% to reach £209.5m in financial year 2018-19.
- Net repayments posted to customer accounts within HE increased by 8.0% to reach £2.5 billion in the financial year 2018-19.
- The balance outstanding for HE loans increased by 16.6% to reach £121.8 billion at the end of the financial year 2018-19.
- The average loan balance for HE borrowers in the 2019 repayment cohort on entry to repayment was £35,950.
- The total number of borrowers still owing Higher Education loans increased by 6.0% reaching 5.3 million at the end of April 2019 compared to 5.0 million at the end of April 2018.
There was a parliamentary question on tuition fees (in light of Augar report) this week – the expected answer was given.
Q – Faisal Rashid: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, if the Government will bring forward plans to reduce university tuition fees to £7,500.
A – Chris Skidmore: The independent panel’s report to government forms an important step in the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding. The government will consider the panel’s recommendations carefully and will conclude the review at the Spending Review. The government has not yet taken decisions with regards to the recommendations put forward.
Hate Crime and Sexual Harassment
Advance HE have evaluated the £4.7 million Catalyst funding which supported 119 projects (71 HEIs including BU) to tackle hate crime and sexual violence on campus. The OfS also published a news story publicising the evaluation and highlighted the following positive outcomes:
- an increase in the reporting of incidents and evidence of a reduction in tolerance of hate crime
- the positive impact of hiring specialist staff to support students facing harassment or violence
- greater evidence of partnership working – with both students and external organisations – to tackle these issues.
Jim Dickinson blogged for Wonkhe to explore how concern for an institution’s reputation and other hindrances can stall initiatives to tackle hate crime, sexual misconduct and harassment.
Consultations and Inquiries
Click here to view the updated inquiries and consultation tracker. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to contribute to any of the current consultations.
Equality and Diversity student data
The OfS published equality and diversity data on 1st June. Findings include:
- The proportion of full-time students aged 21 to 25 entering postgraduate study has been increasing (63.2 per cent in 2010-11 to 68.8 per cent in 2017-18), while those aged 26 to 40 have been decreasing.
- Reporting of mental health conditions has seen a bigger increase than reporting of any other type of disability. The proportion of undergraduate entrants reporting a mental health condition has increased from 0.6 per cent in 2010-11 to 3.1 per cent in 2017-18.
- During the last seven years, black students had the biggest increase in postgraduate entrance, rising from 5.7 per cent of postgraduate entrants in 2010-11 to 8.3 per cent in 2017-18.
- Undergraduate entrants to STEM subjects (biological and sport sciences, physical sciences, mathematical sciences, engineering and technology, and computing) continue to be more commonly male than female. This is especially the case for engineering and technology (85.4 percent of students in 2017-18 were male) and computing (85.3 per cent).
- In 2016-17 and 2017-18, less than 1 per cent of undergraduate entrants had a gender different from assigned at birth
- The proportion of undergraduate entrants who have a parent with a higher education qualification is slowly increasing (41.9 per cent in 2015-16, 43 per cent in 2017-18). (0.9 per cent and 0.8 per cent, respectively).
- In the academic year 2017-18, for undergraduate entrants, the most common religion or belief response was no religion (44.5 per cent) followed by Christianity (29.1 per cent). Information refused was the third most common response (10.4 per cent) followed by Muslim (9.3 per cent).
- The proportion of students identifying as bisexual, gay man or gay woman/lesbian has been increasing slowly and in 2017-18, 5.4 per cent of undergraduate entrants identified as one of these sexual orientations.
Immigration: Last week we briefly mentioned Sajid Javid wants restrictions on international students’ visas lifted to enable them to work in the UK for two years post-graduation. Here is the Financial Times article if you would like to read more on this.
Senior staff pay restraint: Chris Skidmore answers a parliamentary question on VC pay restraint this week – and gives similar answers to his predecessor Universities Minister colleagues.
Carers Innovation Fund: the Government launched the Carers Innovation Fund competition which aims to support accessible, carer-friendly communities and public services and provides evidence on effective interventions to support carers. The Government is looking for creative and innovative models that look beyond statutory services to ensure that carers are:
- better recognised and connected
- better able to juggle working and caring
- better able to look after their own health and wellbeing
Proofreading: The Times explore how paid for proofreading services are likely to blur boundaries into contract cheating by providing a similar service to essay mills. Of course the reader comments on the article are as entertaining as the text itself.
Environment: Greg Clark spoke about his proposed legislation which aims to reduce Britain’s contribution to global warming. The statutory instrument aims to amend the Climate Change Act 2008 with a legally binding net zero emission target by 2050. (The Committee on Climate Change have confirmed the target is feasible and deliverable). Greg also confirmed the Government would lead a Treasury review into the costs of decarbonisation. The Minister went on to call for international action from global partners and said that whilst the UK “retain the ability in the Act to use international carbon credits that contribute to actions in other countries” the Government want them to take their own actions and do not intend to use those credits. Many members across the House echoed the sentiments of welcoming the legislation wholly but pushed the government to do more to ensure targets were met across all areas. Greg Clark was pushed to ban onshore wind, however, he said this strategy was off limits and it allowed the UK to become a world leader in this area.
Local: Local MP Simon Hoare was elected as the Chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee.
Social mobility: Justine Greening attacked the Treasury this week stating system change is needed to achieve social mobility outcomes. After eight years in government, overwhelmingly as a Cabinet Minister and running three different Departments, my conclusion is that we effectively need to abolish the Treasury in its current form. What we have right now is dysfunctional and not fit for purpose. It does not achieve the transformation in opportunity and social mobility that Britain needs. Greening went on to state the budget statement held up “the best ideas” so that the Chancellor could personally announce them through the Budget. She described the spending review as ‘dysfunctional’ and isn’t a fan of Augar which she said: “managed to waste well over a year coming up with obvious conclusions about additional funding for further education, but no doubt the Treasury is delighted that it can kick the issue into the long grass for another 12 to 18 months.” She spoke passionately about different ways the Treasury has failed on policy ideas, before suggesting “breaking up the Treasury, perhaps splitting it into a Ministry of Finance and an Economics Ministry, while merging the former with some elements of the Cabinet Office and having it report properly to the Prime Minister, so that it genuinely delivers a Prime Minister’s strategy for our country.”
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CoPMRE held its Spring Visiting Faculty Morning at the EBC with a theme of Surgical Futures. One of our guest speakers was Dr Jason Moore, Associate Professor in Mechanical Engineering, The Pennsylvania State University (USA) who presented his research on how robotics can enhance the training of future surgeons. He discussed the mechanical development of an advanced robotic medical simulation training system which allows the user to virtually practice on a diverse number of human anatomies whilst offering guided feedback. . A full report for this event can be found here VF Report Spring 2019
The next event will be held on 3rd December 2019.
This week’s policy update is an early (almost) mid-week treat. There will be a bumper edition next week.
The Minister defends universities
Chris Skidmore was in front of Education Committee on Wednesday at an accountability hearing. You can watch it here. In the parts we watched, he answered questions on encouraging apprenticeships, and while he agreed, he also countered by talking about placements and sandwich years as another way to support employability. He also defended “post 92s” as being world class and criticised those who leap to conclusions based on whether universities are in the Russell Group or not. And he said that teaching was important and a focus only on research (and negative press about institutions) was not helpful.
On the Augar review his advisor said it is not finalised yet and the Minister said he hasn’t seen a draft. He expects there will be changes “within the financial envelope that has been set”. He also says the terms of reference remain the same for the review. That’s important because (set before the ONS decision on the deficit) they said:
- The Review recommendations will be consistent with the Government’s fiscal policies to reduce the deficit and will not place a cap on the number of students who can benefit from post-18 education. Student contributions towards the cost of their studies, including the level, terms and duration of their contribution will be considered.
Separately he has given his second speech on research, which we cover in the next section, but he also delivered a speech on ‘going global’ in higher education, outlining his vision for the sector. In this speech he repeated a lot from other recent speeches and announcements, but also talked about TNE (trans national education) with enthusiasm and international research collaboration. He spoke of UK students becoming truly global citizens (and he didn’t say that they were citizens of nowhere). I think international student loneliness and mental health will be picked up increasingly alongside the other mental health stories. He mentioned “Step Change” and the University Mental Health Charter.
- I was particularly shocked to learn, when I gave a speech at a Wonkhe conference on the ‘secret lives of students’ earlier this year, that over 15% of students said they felt lonely on a daily basis. And the figures were worse for international students. In fact, 20% of international students said they do not consider themselves to have any true friends at university. So, they can lack support networks and be more likely to have concerns over their mental health. That is why we are working closely with UK universities to embed the ‘Step Change’ programme within the sector, which calls on higher education leaders to adopt the mental health of students and staff as a strategic priority.
- We remain open to exploring participation in the successor scheme to the current Erasmus+ Programme. But, as a responsible Government, we are also considering a wide range of options with regards to the future of international exchange and collaboration in education and training. This includes a potential domestic alternative to the Erasmus+ Programme. The potential benefits of the UK establishing its own international mobility scheme would include the ability to have a truly global exchange programme. And I will be driving forward this work in the coming months.
Research and research funding
New Research and Innovation Strategy: The Minister gave the second of his four planned speeches on research as the “Minister for the 2.4% [GDP investment in research and innocation]”. We reported last week’s in our update. This week’s was a little bit repetitive, if we’re honest [you can read the annotated version by HE for Research Professional here], but he did launch the International Research and Innovation Strategy which was trailed last week. As with all such documents it is long on images and rhetoric (and case studies) and short on specifics.
Some fun facts:
- UK Global Research and Innovation – 6 per cent of global research publications are produced by the UK.
- 15 per cent of the world’s most highly cited articles come from the UK.
- £23.7bn invested in R&I by UK businesses in 2017.
- Top four in the Global Innovation Index.
- Three universities ranked in the top ten globally.
- Top ten in World Bank ease of doing business rankings.
There are seven themes each with a set of commitments:
A global partner: a partner for open, excellent and entrepreneurial research and innovation.
One of our core objectives is to continue to collaborate with European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives. We want to explore association to EU research and innovation programmes, including Horizon Europe and Euratom Research and Training, networks and infrastructure.
The new strategic partnership approach with Africa announced by the Prime Minister in 2018 is underpinned by a coherent cross government science, technology and innovation approach. …
We are creating a long-term research and innovation infrastructure roadmap, incorporating leading UK and international facilities as a cornerstone, to develop an effective strategy for future requirements and investment priorities.
We will use our extensive diplomatic networks, led by our Science and Innovation Network teams …. to enhance international cooperation, build partnerships and deliver this strategy.
We will work with our universities, research institutes, the academic and business communities to promote and facilitate international collaboration and use their networks and influence to build new partnerships that produce excellent research and innovation.
Bringing together the best talent from around the world
We are committed to funding research talent, including:
- £1.3bn to attract and retain world class talent, through UKRI’s Future Leadership Fellowship and from the UK’s National Academies …
- A new AI skills and talent package supported by industry funding and up to £110m government investment including: up to 200 new AI Masters places at UK universities; new PhDs for 1,000 students at 16 dedicated UKRI AI Centres for Doctoral Training; up to five AI research Fellowships created in collaboration with The Alan Turing Institute.
We are ensuring our visa arrangements support international researchers, innovators, their teams and their families.
A suite of UK based Fellowships for promising global researchers….
Commitments to build research capacity in partner countries and create a global network of promising early career researchers with links to the UK, including FLAIR Fellowships for African researchers.
Our Knowledge Exchange Framework will support closer working between industry and academia promoting a culture of continuous improvement in knowledge exchange.
Regional DFID technology acceleration platforms working with Innovate UK Knowledge Transfer Network …
The £900m UK Research Partnership Investment Fund.
A global hub for innovation
In the UK’s Industrial Strategy we have set out the goal of making the UK the most innovative country in the world by 2030.
We have established hubs of tech innovation throughout the UK that are world-leading. …
We are working towards a global digital marketplace supporting greater transparency in public procurement…
We have an extensive Catapult network …
We are extending Innovate UK’s Global Expert Missions and Business Innovation programmes …
Through the UK Chairmanship of and participation in EUREKA we are working with members to develop a global framework for business-led R&D and innovation collaboration, and have committed a further £20m to support international collaboration through EUREKA
Incentives and financial support
A £20bn, 10-year Patient Capital Action Plan, including £2.5bn for British Patient Capital to drive £7.5 bn of investment into innovative high-growth potential SMEs.
The upper limits on the Enterprise Investment Schemes and Venture Capital Trust investment reliefs were doubled from April 2018 for knowledge-intensive companies.
British Business Bank’s Enterprise Capital Funds programme …
We will work with businesses, our leading universities, research institutes and UK Research & Innovation to make the UK an even more attractive location for R&D activity. …
Global Entrepreneur Programme helps overseas entrepreneurs and early stage technology businesses that want to relocate to the UK.
R&D Tax Credit relief for SMEs and R&D Expenditure Credit …
A global platform for the technologies of tomorrow
We are bringing forward plans to transform the UK’s regulatory system to enable innovation…. including through a Regulators’ Pioneer Fund to support regulator-led initiatives.
We will work with other countries to develop a balanced and fit for purpose international intellectual property framework that maximises the benefits of innovation and creativity. We are establishing a new partnership with the World Economic Forum Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution to develop regulation ….
We will promote better governance frameworks around the globe through the FCO‘s network of overseas posts, and BSI’s leadership role in European and international standards.
We will provide a safe and secure environment for research and innovation through physical and cyber protection.
A partner for a sustainable future
The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund …
The UK’s commitment in law of 0.7 per cent of our Gross National Income to Official Development Assistance ….
We have invested across government in targeted programmes for international research and innovation for sustainability and the Sustainable Development Goals.
We are committed to bring a whole of government approach to maximise the impact of international collaborative programmes…..
An advocate for better research governance, ethics and impact
The UK will play a full and active role in the global governance of scientific research and innovation organisations through critical global fora [there’s a huge list]
New Inquiry into Research Funding: The Science and Technology Committee have launched a new inquiry to assess the impact of potential changes in funding on the ability of UK universities to conduct high-quality research.
The committee will begin taking oral evidence on 21st May 2019 and will likely cover;
- What proportion of England and Wales’ overall science research is done in universities? How much of that is funded directly by universities?
- Has the establishment of UKRI affected the way in which universities apply for funding for research? Have the changes been beneficial?
- The Government have committed to a target of 2.4% of GDP to be invested in research and development by 2027. What will be the balance between investment in research-active universities and industry? What are the expected changes to research funding in universities?
- Would the reduction or abolition of tuition fees impact funding in such a way as to affect the ability of universities to conduct high-quality scientific research?
- If Brexit led to a reduction in EU students studying in England and Wales, would that affect science research capabilities in universities?
CBI report on R&D: The Confederation of British Industry has published a report on the ‘Changing Nature of R&D’, which highlights that despite the Government’s aim of raising R&D investment to 2.4% of GDP by 2027, it is not expected to reach this level until at least 2053. As part of this, the CBI has called on the Government to commit to making a number of commitments to enhancing the UK’s research and innovation ecosystem:
- The Government should agree to setting out a comprehensive and future focused road underpinned by commitment to increasing public funding,
- The Government should include measures to increase the number of businesses utilising the potential of data and analytics to at least 3%
- This can be achieved by delivering a ‘competency building’ package to support businesses to understand and unlock value from their data.
- The CBI calls on the Government to simplify the process behind businesses ability to navigate innovation and support productive partnerships.
- This can be achieved by establishing a new ‘business advisory group’ for UKRI.
- Implementing a business development and outreach for Innovate UK
- Increase visibility and simplicity of government and university innovation support.
- The CBI added that the UK should consolidate its position as a global leader in data-driven R&D by setting out ‘ambitious and creative policy’
- As part of this, the Government should deliver the world’s most ‘competitive R&D tax credit by ensuring that it recognises the growing importance of data-driven R&D’
- The Government should also help businesses embrace experimental policy approaches.
Last week we mentioned that UUK and GuildHE consultation on the draft Knowledge Exchange Concordat, linked to the KEF. RDS will be leading on preparation of a BU response.
A joint UUK/Research England working group has developed a Knowledge Exchange Concordat for universities and colleges in England. UUK are doing the consultation with GuildHE for Research England. The PDF consultation document is here
The Concordat aims to:
- help higher education institutions and their staff and students enhance clarity of mission
- give partners an accurate representation of the approaches and strengths of individual higher education institutions
- provide clear indicators of their approaches to developing and improving performance
- give governing bodies and government broad confidence in the activity that is taking place in higher education institutions
Principles – The eight guiding principles are:
- Mission: Knowledge exchange is a recognised part of the overall university strategy. We have a clear understanding of the institutional role and the purpose of KE and whom the intended beneficiaries are.
- Policies: We have clear policies on all the types of KE that we undertake and we ensure they are understood by staff, students, collaborators and beneficiaries.
- Engagement: We have clear access points, engagement mechanisms and policies developed to suit the needs of a wide range of beneficiaries working with institutions as publicly funded bodies.
- Working effectively: We make sure that our partners and beneficiaries understand the ethical and charitable regulatory environments in which our institution operates and we take steps to maximise the benefit to them within that context.
- Capacity building: We ensure that our staff and students are developed and trained appropriately to understand and undertake their roles and responsibilities in the delivery of successful KE.
- Recognition and rewards: We recognise the achievements of our staff and students who perform high-quality KE activities.
- Continuous improvement: We proactively strive to share best practice with our peers and have established processes for learning from this.
- Evaluating success: We undertake regular institutional and collective monitoring and review of our strengthening KE performance using this concordat and through regional, national or international benchmarks to inform the development and execution of a programme of continuous improvement.
For each principle, a set of possible enablers is proposed. These are examples of good practice and give an indication of the sort of activities that could contribute towards the achievement of the aims of the concordat. They should not be considered as a prescribed set of activities and they do not represent a checklist against which universities can be judged.
Universities that sign up commit to:
- Making it clear to staff, students and partners what they will do, what they expect within universities and how they expect to work with partners
- The regular evaluation of approaches and processes to ensure continuous improvement in what is done
- Adopting the principles outlined in the KE concordat as a framework for effective knowledge exchange
- Publicly committing to the KE concordat
- Conducting an evaluation of their KE strategy and practice, using the KE concordat
- Producing and publishing a short action plan that identifies priorities, good and innovative practice and areas where improvement is needed
- Considering and responding to feedback and advice from the Independent Panel.
The Resolution Foundation published Growing Pains – the impact of leaving education during a recession on earnings and employment. It explores the severe effect experienced by those leaving education during the 2008-09 recession and highlights that the negative effects were enduring – around 6% less hourly pay for graduates (20% less for sub-HE qualification) with these effects continuing for 6 years and the likelihood of graduates to be in a low paying occupation rose by 30% (and continued for 7 years). The report says:
- …we find that people ‘trading down’ in terms of the occupations they enter after leaving education, coupled with pay restraint in mid-paid roles, are main drivers of poor pay outcomes for those entering the labour market in a recession.
- Students graduating during the 2008 financial crisis aftermath experienced higher unemployment and poorer job prospects than their slightly younger peers. The report also highlighted that those who opted to taker a lower paid job (rather than unemployment) during their early career were blighted by poor future earnings trajectories and their job prospects to break into higher skilled more lucrative employment were damaged.
Inequality – a report and a new review
The Institute for Fiscal Studies and Nuffield Foundation have launched a report into Inequalities in the twenty-first century: introducing the IFS Deaton Review.
You can read the report here. It is only 34 pages long and an interesting read. Some points here:
- Income inequality in the UK is high by international standards. Of other major economies, only the US has higher income inequality. However, Inequality in total net household income has changed little since rising sharply in the 1980s. The UK system of state transfers – especially tax credits – has been very successful at mitigating rising inequality.
- Deaths from suicide, drug overdoses and alcohol-related liver disease have been rising among middle-aged people in England – similar to (though on a smaller scale than) what has happened in the US since the turn of the century, where the trend has been shown to be concentrated heavily among the lower-educated population. In the UK, this new trend has contributed to a small rise in middle-age mortality overall in the last few years, bringing to an end decades of continual improvement.
- Women’s employment has risen dramatically from 57% in 1975 to 78% in 2017. But whilst white British women have nearly closed the employment gap with men, Pakistani and Bangladeshi women are half as likely to work as men of the same ethnic group.
- The gender hourly wage gap is strongly associated with childbirth and rises from less than 10% at the point of childbirth to 30% 12 years after the first child is born. This reflects an extraordinary lack of earnings progression for mothers, particularly those who work part-time.
- There are stark geographical inequalities in the UK. Average weekly earnings in London are 66% higher than those in the North East. Men in the most affluent areas can expect to live nearly 10 years longer than those in the most deprived areas, and this gap is widening.
- Inequalities in different dimensions – income, work, mental and physical health, families and relationships – are likely to reinforce one another. Inequality cannot be reduced to one dimension and is instead the culmination of various forms of privilege and disadvantage stemming across wealth, politics, social networks and cultural capital.
- The last few decades have seen profound changes in the labour market. Earnings growth at the top has vastly outpaced growth in the middle, whilst real earnings have actually fallen for lowpaid men (Blundell et al., 2018).
- Globalisation may have further exacerbated inequalities in earnings: competition for internationally mobile executives drove up top incomes, whilst import competition and offshoring put pressure on working-class jobs.
- Union membership has declined dramatically over the last few decades. At the peak of union density in the 1980s, every other British worker belonged to a union; today, only one in four British workers do. In the private sector, that figure is less than one in seven. Falling union membership may have removed constraints on wage dispersion, increased the share of surplus going to executives, or more generally reduced the political clout of ordinary workers against other dominant groups
- The share of all turnover captured by the largest 100 firms in the UK has risen by more than a third since the late 1990s. The average chief executive of a FTSE 100 company is now earning 145 times the average salary, up from 47 times in 1998.
- Many of the sources of the divide are indeed global, but levels of inequalities vary greatly between countries. Government policies can play an important role in responding to structural forces and mediating their damaging effects on inequality. In some cases, government policies may themselves be the culprits for rising inequalities. Differences in tax and benefit systems will lead to different patterns of inequality. Education policy also plays a role. The vast inequalities by education in the US – in health, deaths of despair, marriage and life satisfaction – may partly reflect a large gap in earnings between high- and low-educated people, which has been rising since the 1980s.
- High-quality vocational education can improve prospects for those who choose not to go down an academic path, and retraining can help workers displaced by globalisation and technological change.
- Stronger trade unions can tip power back towards employees – in the Nordic countries, between 52% and 86% of all employees belong to a trade union
- The report sets the stage for a 5 year review be chaired by Nobel Prize-winning economist Prof Sir Angus Deaton and is expected to be the UK’s biggest analysis of inequality.
A brief Brexit mention
Over last weekend Kier Starmer, Shadow Brexit SoS said no deal would be passed by Labour MPs without a confirmatory Brexit referendum. Deputy Labour leader Tom Watson spoke on Radio 4’s Today programme on Monday to reiterate this message (although in a toned down version). Starmer said on Sunday that cross-party talks would end this week unless an offer or breakthrough occurred.
On Saturday Tony Blair took to the Guardian stating Labour should never have put itself in such a position of destructive indecision. His article aimed to encourage everyone to vote (against Brexit extremism), arguing that the final decisions in Westminster on the Brexit deal will be influenced by the European election results.
Damien Hinds appeared on Sunday’s Andrew Marr show and said that the European elections could be an ultimate protest vote opportunity.
Theresa May is expected to set out the timescale for her departure when she meets the 1922 Committee (Conservative backbenchers) on Thursday.
And as we go to press [early this week] the government is saying that they will put the EU withdrawal legislation before Parliament in early June, by-passing the meaningful vote. They have said that before. A helpful summary from Dods:
Labour has confirmed it would not back this deal without a cross-party deal agreed, and ERG Whip Steve Baker said bringing the Bill back would “eradicate the Government’s majority” by alienating the DUP and Brexiteers: “Unless she can demonstrate something new that addresses the problem of the backstop, then it is highly likely her deal will go down to defeat once again.”
- The UK needs to pass the Withdrawal Agreement Bill in order to move onto the next steps of the Brexit phase and to take the UK out of the EU in UK law. The legislation would make the citizens’ rights part of the agreement directly enforceable in UK courts, and set their relationship with the EU’s Court of Justice, as well “divorce payments”, and give effect to the so-called backstop plan for the Irish border.
- The Bill will be amendable and without substantial changes or cross party breakthrough then it is very unlikely that the Bill will pass. The rationale behind the move by May might be that the deadline for a new vote could inject a sense of urgency into cross-party talks, or it could be an attempt to fend off calls for her to immediately stand down as PM. She is due to appear before the 1922 executive committee tomorrow and was expected to set out a timeframe for her resignation.
- If the Government loses the vote in June then it will make May’s premiership as Prime Minister increasingly untenable. Downing Street have confirmed that if the vote is lost again then the UK is either set for a no deal on the 31 October or a revocation of Article 50.
Access and Foundation courses
The OfS have published a report on these courses.
- For the past few years the number of students studying Access to Higher Education Diplomas… has been declining, while the number on integrated foundation years has been increasing. This means that in 2017-18, the number of entrants to Access courses was approximately equal to the number of entrants to integrated foundation year courses. The number of entrants to Access courses declined by 18 per cent between 2012-13 and 2017-18, from 36,880 to 30,410, while the number of integrated foundation year entrants almost tripled from 10,430 to 30,030.
- This report shows that there are similarities between Access to Higher Education Diplomas and integrated foundation year courses, but also important differences. In particular, the wider geographical spread of Access courses means they may be suitable for a wider range of potential higher education students and enable progress on to many different courses, whereas foundation years may be more likely to attract students with a higher level of commitment to taking degree-level study at a specific provider.
The key findings of this report are as follows:
- Two-fifths of Access students held a qualification equivalent to A-levels before taking the course, compared with four-fifths of foundation year students.
- Most Access course entrants were over 21, whereas the majority of those starting foundation years were 20 or younger.
- Access courses were almost entirely taught at further education colleges, while integrated foundation years were predominantly taught at higher education institutions.
- This means that students usually had to travel further to take a foundation year than an Access course.
- Subjects allied to medicine were the most common subject area for entrants to Access courses, whereas business and administrative studies were the most common for integrated foundation years.
- The proportion of students who progressed to a degree programme in the four years following an Access course (62 per cent) was lower than the proportion who progressed after a foundation year (79 per cent).
- Students from both courses sometimes went on to a degree course after two or more years, rather than immediately.
- The proportion of entrants who progressed to degree-level study has remained broadly stable over time for both types of course.
- Students who started without A-level or equivalent qualifications had a lower rate of progression to degree-level study (55 per cent for Access courses, 61 per cent for foundation years), than those with A-levels (71 and 89 per cent respectively).
- Those who progressed to full-time degree-level study after a foundation year were more likely to complete their degree within four years (63 per cent) than those on a degree after an Access course (53 per cent).
- Of those who qualified with a degree, a slightly higher proportion of Access course students achieved first or upper second class degrees(70 per cent) than those who studied a foundation year (67 per cent).
The Education Policy Institute published a report on 16-19 education funding trends and implications. Some highlights are below. It is relevant to the Post-18 review because of the funding pressures and also to the debate on university admissions and access and participation.
Funding trends in sixth forms and colleges
Between 2010/11 and 2018/19, real terms funding per student in school sixth forms, sixth form colleges, and further education (FE) colleges declined substantially, by 16 per cent, from £5,900 to £4,960. This is twice the rate that the overall schools budget fell by between 2009/10 and 2017/18 (8 per cent).
Funding in school sixth forms declined by 26 per cent per full time student from 2010/11 to 2018/19. In the further education sector (sixth form colleges and FE colleges), funding declined by 18 per cent per full time student. Within this, funding for sixth form colleges fell faster than in FE colleges.
Despite funding being shifted towards disadvantaged students over this period, students in all institutions have experienced real terms funding cuts.
16-19 education has been the biggest real terms loser of any phase of education since 2010/11, but it has also suffered from a long run squeeze in funding: 30 years ago, 16-19 funding was far higher (almost 1.5 times) than secondary school funding, but is now lower.
Provision in sixth forms and colleges
Students in 16-19 education are receiving fewer hours of learning: learning hours with a teacher for students in all institutions fell by 9 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17. The deterioration of 16-19 institutions’ finances may exacerbate these trends further.
This fall in taught hours is particularly prominent in academic subjects: level 3 subjects (A level or equivalent) have seen a sharp decline in hours by 21 per cent between 2012/13 and 2016/17.
For academic subjects, there has been a large decline in AS provision, which has not been offset by rises in the number of hours elsewhere. This may raise concerns about the curriculum becoming even narrower: upper secondary education in England is already narrow compared to leading education nations in the OECD.
The government should urgently review the adequacy of 16-19 funding, to understand whether current funding rates are jeopardising the sector’s financial sustainability.
The government should assess the impact of 16-19 funding changes on curriculum breadth, ensuring that young people have a good choice of high quality post-16 academic and vocational qualifications.
The government should review the impact of funding changes on disadvantaged students and consider whether funding is supporting the government’s aim of narrowing the attainment gap.
Rethinking student loan communications
Martin Lewis, MoneySavingExpert.com, has been a vocal contributor to the student loans debate calling for both reform, greater understanding (e.g. of parental contribution) and for the way student loans are talked about to be changed to aid understanding. Martin Lewis is concerned that the word ‘debt’ is described puts off those from lower income backgrounds from considering university – stalling their chances at climbing the social mobility latter. He has collaborated with the Russell Group to pilot a new student loan statement named the Graduate Contribution Statement. He says the current student loan statement is not fit for purpose and the new statement aims to inform people of their personal situation whilst using this information to illustrate how student loan repayments really work over the short and long-term – cutting through the confusion. The report describes the features of the new statement:
- Focuses on repayments to be made, more than the debt. For the majority of university leavers, their outstanding ‘debt’ is a mostly meaningless figure that bears only a loose resemblance to what they need to repay. However, this figure, and the interest added, is the primary data given on the current statement – leaving many unnecessarily scared.
- Details how the repayments actually work. (The 9% above the threshold, currently £25,725 (in England & Wales) for 30 years, unless they clear the debt before that.) One of Martin Lewis campaigning points is to ensure this is well understood. He says:… whether you owe £10,000, £50,000 or £3 million – with a £30,000 salary, you repay £385 a year. The only impact the size of the ‘debt’ has is whether you’ll clear what you owe before it wipes.
- Explains what contributions are made each month, and over the year. It shows how much graduates are actually repaying now on a monthly basis, instead of a long list of figures.
- Predicts the total cost of higher education. As it’s predicted that 83% of university leavers will keep paying for the full 30 years, the total cost is often not related to the debt. The statement estimates the total amount they will repay within the 30 years, both in cash terms and real terms while factoring in inflation – based on their earnings trajectory.
The Graduate Contribution Statement was tested in an online survey of 5,796 students, former students and parents, some institutions (such as students unions) as well as in a series of student focus groups.
- 96% of respondents said the new information is clear
- 90% said the statement helped them understand the student finance system
- 91% success rate achieved when respondents were tested to ensure they really did understand the more complex information correctly
Here is an example of the new statement.
The report from the pilot statement will be presented to the Government, and to Philip Augar (Post-18 HE Education and funding review).
Martin Lewis said:
- “The current student loan statement is a blunt, misleading tool that is financially dangerous. It prompts often-unnecessary fear and distress from some of the millions who receive it. And worse, as it’s a gateway document, this reverberates across society, and therefore risks wrongly deterring many from a future of higher education.
- For the majority of university leavers, their outstanding ‘debt’ is a mostly meaningless figure that bears only a loose resemblance to what they need to repay. However, this figure, and the interest added, is the prime data covered on the current statement.
- In fact, a more accurate name for the student loan system would be a ‘graduate contribution’, as what counts most isn’t what’s owed but what’s repaid, which depends almost entirely on earnings. Yet the last year’s annual repayment is only mentioned in passing, and there’s no attempt to explain total repayments over the life of the loan.
- Focusing on the wrong info can have damaging consequences for individuals. One woman told me how the fear of the growing interest on her statement meant she used an inheritance to overpay thousands. But as she was in a low-earning profession, with little likelihood of ever clearing much, her overpayment wouldn’t have any impact on what she’d repay in future – so she’d simply flushed the cash away.
- Therefore, with the Augar report on further and higher education due, we are urgently calling on it and the Government to look at using our statement as a basis to redesign the official statement. This would improve understanding and decision-making for past, present and future students alike.”
David Thompson, Senior Policy Analyst at the Russell Group, added:
“The feedback it [the new statement] received through both our online survey and the focus groups we conducted was overwhelmingly positive. Respondents praised the new, expected lifetime repayments feature and the improved information about the 30-year forgiveness period as particularly helpful. I hope that the Department for Education and the Student Loans Company can act swiftly to adopt the best features of our proposed new statement. Doing so would not only be in the clear interest of graduates currently receiving statements, but may also help reassure both current and prospective students about the way student finance really works.”
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Funding: Late last week the OfS announced the £1.24 billion recurrent grant funding for HE providers which supports high quality teaching and learning. The budget has increased by 1.5% (+£19 million) from the 2018-19 level. Notable is the increase (4.7%) to £713 million for the high cost medicine, science, technology and engineering programmes. £337 million for boosting equality of opportunity and promoting greater choice in HE, of this £60 million is dedicated to the National Collaborative Outreach Programme (NCOP). It is stated that the OfS will be reviewing the funding method in the future to ensure the post-19 education and funding review outcomes are addressed.
Wonkhe report on the for-profit providers that will receive the direct grant in 2019-20. that £10 million has been allocated to 25 providers that are being funded directly by the OfS for the first time in 2019-20. These include the British and Irish Modern Music Institute (BIMM), a music college owned by Sovereign Capital; Arden University and the University of Law, both owned by for-profit group Global University Systems; SAE Education; and Pearson College – all of which were previously able to access student loans but were not previously in receipt of direct grants.
FE/HE Collaboration?: New Chief Exec of the University Alliance, Vanessa Wilson, previously Commercial Director at UK Sport, blogs for Wonkhe drawing parallels between elite sports and the HE sector:
- I see a close alignment with universities’ and colleges’ shared mission to fight for equality of opportunity and social justice, along with a collective goal to give universal access to great teaching, training and opportunities, regardless of gender, background, age, ethnicity, ability or disability.
- We need a coherent, cohesive and integrated system, with long-term investment across early years, schools, colleges, adult education and our universities. And on tertiary education, we need cross-party consensus, a joined-up strategy and commitment on the way forward, not continually chopping and changing policy direction – another reason why the long delay in Augar being published is so frustrating.
- On the divide between FE and HE she says: I am genuinely surprised by the extent the two sectors allow ourselves to be played off against one another, getting into a bidding war rather than arguing for sustained funding across the board. People, whether doing a college course or university degree, have the same aspirations, ambitions and ability to succeed.
Immigration: Ex-HE Minister, Sam Gyimah, spoke in defence of Universities in the Financial Times: I know from my time as a minister that no one in government ever took a decision deliberately to undermine the competitive position of our universities. Speaking of how the immigration policy is detrimental to universities Sam continued: you get a barely noticeable process of de-prioritisation, in which strategic decisions follow the path of least resistance. And in the current anti-elitist climate it is unfashionable to defend universities… Even in a successful sector you need to keep swimming to stay afloat — we assume our universities will continue to do well because they have always done so. This is alarming.
Gyimah highlights how the Netherlands will have the most English speaking universities in the European block and that others, worldwide, will seek to exploit the gaps we open as Brexit concludes. He says ‘we’ (presumably the Government and universities) have to be become more adept at global outreach and play the long game. Sam urges Government to bring together migration policy with export opportunities, the potential for young Britons to live and study abroad and moves to make it easier for our universities to expand overseas. Our reputation as an educational superpower is based on attracting the talented and the entrepreneurial...if we are to succeed as a country that lives by its wits and stands at the forefront of science, technology and learning, then a world class university sector must lie at the heart of a positive vision of Britain’s future.
OfS Pilot Postgraduate survey: A Wonkhe blog highlights a pilot OfS survey on the postgraduate experience outside of the standard NSS realm. It includes new questions on pre-course information and expectations, how cutting edge the programme offer is, whether there is engagement with experts in the field but from outside the HE sector (fitting with a key message in last week’s Universities Minister’s speech – which wanted to see more PhD graduates pursing a research career in industry), plus mental health questions. In the blog Jim Dickinson speculates what it could mean for the future of the NSS and concludes: The morphing of NSS into a tool that can test things that OfS thinks are important like VFM or student wellbeing is well under way. And whilst to date it’s mainly been used by OfS within the TEF, it’s starting to become clear that NSS will soon be a much more wide ranging tool for testing OfS’ success at meeting its objectives.
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This week saw the successful launch of an important new partnership between Bournemouth University (BU), the local NHS, charities and industry. The aim is using innovation to drive forward improvements in healthcare outcomes for people across Dorset. This ‘Transforming Healthcare Through Innovation’ event marked the start of a formal partnership between BU and Dorset’s Integrated Care System (ICS), which is a partnership of all NHS and local authorities in the county. This partnership fits very well with BU’s Strategic Investment Area (SIA) Medical Science. The development of Medical Science is a core component of BU2025.
It was widely recognised that the social and behavioural sciences are essential to health and health care. Dr. Phil Richardson from the NHS Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group, who leads the ICS, stressed the importance of moving from a medical model of public health to a more social model. This ties in closely with sociological work on the medical/social model conducted at BU in maternity care [1-6].
Also at the launch event Dr. Caroline Ellis-Hill highlighted the importance of humanising care in a hands-on session. BU academics in have developed a philosophically-driven approach to caring, health and wellbeing based on humanising practices. The theoretical underpinning was originally developed by BU Prof. Les Todres and colleagues [7-11]. Humanising practice is supported by work settings that encourage connection to personal experience and research which privileges subjective experience and knowing; such as phenomenology, narrative, auto-ethnography, embodied knowing and arts–based approaches.
Centre for Midwifery, Maternal & Perinatal Health
- van Teijlingen E. (2005) A critical analysis of the medical model as used in the study of pregnancy and childbirth, Sociological Research Online, 10 (2)
- MacKenzie Bryers H., van Teijlingen, E. (2010) Risk, Theory, Social & Medical Models: critical analysis of the concept of risk in maternity care, Midwifery 26(5): 488-496.
- Brailey, S., Luyben, A., Firth, L, van Teijlingen, E. (2017) Women, midwives & medical model of maternity care in Switzerland, International Journal of Childbirth 7(3): 117-125.
- van Teijlingen, E. (2017) The medical and social model of childbirth, Kontakt 19(2): e73-e74
- Luce, A., Cash, M., Hundley, V., Cheyne, H., van Teijlingen, E., Angell, C. (2016) “Is it realistic?” the portrayal of pregnancy and childbirth in the media BMC Pregnancy & Childbirth 16: 40 http://bmcpregnancychildbirth.biomedcentral.com/articles/10.1186/s12884-016-0827-x
- Taylor, A., van Teijlingen, E., Ryan, K., Alexander, J. (2019) ‘Scrutinised, judged and sabotaged’: A qualitative video diary study of first-time breastfeeding mothers, Midwifery 75: 16-23.
- Todres, L., Galvin, K.T., Holloway, I. (2009) The humanization of healthcare: A value framework for qualitative research, International Journal of Qualitative Studies on Health and Well-being, 4:2, 68-77, DOI: 10.1080/17482620802646204
- Galvin, K., Todres, L. (2013) Caring and Wellbeing. London: Routledge.
- Hemingway, A, Scammel, J., Heaslip, V. (2012) Humanising nursing care: a theoretical model. Nursing Times 108 (40) / www.nursingtimes.net
- Scammel,J ,Hemingway, A., Heaslip,V. (2012) Humanising values at the heart of nursing education. Nursing Times 108 (41)/ www.nursingtimes.net
- Scammell, J., Tait, D. (2014) Using humanising values to support care. Nursing Times 110 (15) / www.nursingtimes.net
PalaeoGo! is a project funded by Bournemouth University (BU) via its Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) that aims to show how augmented reality (AR) can be used as an educational tool at natural history museums, national parks and in any open space or landscape.
We are happy to announce that today (8th of April 2019) we have launched our first deployment at the Etches Collection Museum of Jurassic Marine Life. Visitors to the Museum can now borrow an iPad with our PalaeoGo Etches Edition app installed on it from the reception desk, and go on an AR-powered fossil hunt with [cartoon] Steve Etches himself!
As described in our previous blog post and The Conversation article, museum visitors are reluctant to install any apps on their devices, hence the need for museum-issued ones. However, while exhibiting at the Family Science Festival in Dorchester last month, we might have discovered a secret of how to seed user downloads! As part of the Etches Collection deployment we will be evaluating our approach, and we will share the findings once confirmed, so stay tuned!
This project is an interdisciplinary collaboration between computer animators, computer scientists and natural scientists. The project is led by Peter Truckel, Marcin Budka and Matthew Bennett.
Two Bournemouth University students, Matthew Dray and Amelia (Mimi) Simpson have presented their undergraduate research in Parliament last week, to parliamentarians, policy makers and fellow undergraduates at the annual ‘Posters in Parliament’ 2019 event.
This year’s event was organised by the University of Sussex and showcased more than 50 undergraduate students from around the UK. Now in its sixth year, BU has participated from the start. The annual event is an exhibition to allow MPs and policy makers learn more about the innovative undergraduate research being undertaken in various disciplines by undergraduates from a number of institutions. Other uni’s participating on the day were: Aberdeen, LSE, UCL, King’s College London, Newcastle, Nottingham Trent, Exeter, Plymouth, Sheffield, Reading and Portsmouth, etc.
Matthew Dray, a BSc (Hons) Computing student in Faculty of Science & Technology presented his research on IoT (The Internet of Things)-Enabled Landslide Monitoring System. Under the guidance of his tutor Dr Marios Angelopoulos, Matt offers up an innovative landslide monitoring system that combines state-of-the art Internet of Things and Data Analytics and an intuitive front end interface, with the main emphasis of his work on the latter. In collaboration with Bournemouth Borough Council, a pilot of the system has been deployed at East Cliff landslide. Matt says ‘the system was able to provide local authorities with a new means of efficient and remote monitoring, whilst also being a cost effective solution’. Speaking about taking part in Posters in Parliament, Matt said ‘it was an amazing experience to be apart of and was an honour to co-represent Bournemouth University at the event, even more so to be shortlisted for an award’.
‘It was great to see what other research was being done around the country and to hear about that research from other passionate students, and to talk to other students and MP’s about my own project and get their thoughts’. Matt found the experience to be an beneficial one, ‘I found it both educational and beneficial to me, and allowed me to develop key skills both professionally and personally’.
Mimi Simpson, a BA (Hons) Advertising student in Faculty of Media & Communication, shared her research on how Generation Y mothers participate in Online Mothering Communities (OMCs) as a Platform for Breastfeeding Information and Support.
‘My research developed from UNICEF declaring that improving breastfeeding rates was a national priority. As an Advertising student, I was interested in the influence that Facebook communities have on supporting and advising breastfeeding mothers. The research concluded that participating mothers have a more successful breastfeeding experience when supported by life-experienced mothers in social media communities’. Mimi also expressed the benefit of taking part in the event on the day ‘Speaking to other academics at Posters in Parliament helped me in considering future lines of research, specifically in the role social media communities play in supporting other medical areas and needs’.
Both Matt and Mimi will be presenting their research at the upcoming SURE 2019 conference in Fusion Building on March 20th. More information about BU’s undergraduate research conference can be found on the SURE website. Staff and students are welcome to take in the conference March 20th building and can book free tickets via Eventbrite.
Posters in Parliament is the prescursor event to the national BCUR 2019 conference, this year being held at University of South Wales, where a number of BU undergrads across all faculties are due to present and share their leading research.
The MSc Hotel and Food Services Management has as its focus the rapidly developing international hospitality sector which is both a dynamic and expanding part of many economies. As part of the programme we visited the Institute Paul Bocuse in France to experience the research culture and their approach to food research. We learnt how they
1. train future professionals, to be competent and open to the world of tomorrow, for industry, and academia.
2. lead scientific projects in response to current and future societal challenges.
3. innovate, create new methods, new products, and new services.
We had an excellent visit as reflected in these testimonials;
The visit to the Institut Paul Bocuse allowed me to shape my dissertation topic further. To meet academics working at the cutting edge of food research was inspiring and a very useful opportunity to discuss what my own research might look like. Food for thought!
It is difficult to express my feelings in a few sentences about 3-day-trip in Lyon. It was an interesting and memorable experience to explore the city’s gastronomic heritage and local cuisine as well as gain more knowledge on food services management from PhD students in Paul Bocuse Institute.
The BASES conference 2018 took place on 27-28 November at Harrogate Convention Centre.
Thanks to my supervisors Professor McConnell, Dr Gavin and Professor Wainwright and with the support from Bournemouth University I had the possibility to present my research titled: The effects of 8 weeks of inspiratory muscle training on the balance of healthy older people: a randomised, double-blind, placebo controlled trial. Figure 1.
You can now read what happened and look at the media from the conference clicking the twitter button right below.
Personally, I found extremely interesting the talk of Professor Steven N Blair, Professor Ken Fox and Professor John Buckley (Figure 2).
They explained, thought direct experiences, how sports science has evolved and what we (including physiologists, kinesiologists, strength and conditioning coaches) should consider when developing research proposals. One of the many take-home points was that sports science is today considered science for/of health and that is crucial to seek collaboration between researchers and the community. Paraphrasing a famous quote from J.R.R. Tolkien, it is from the ordinary folks that research questions arise.
Concluding, it was a motivating experience, and I was pleased to receive many questions about my research. Definitely, a conference worth to consider also for the next year.
If you are interested in reading more about BASES, follow the link below
If you want to know more about myself click the button right below
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Last week saw the bi-annual meeting of the Stay Active and Independent for Longer (SAIL) Research Team. Research colleagues from Belgium, the Netherlands and France travelled to Hunstanton, Norfolk to meet with UK partners from Norfolk County Council, University of East Anglia and Bournemouth University. The project is in 4 phases: Explore, Design and Develop, Test and Evaluate. October 2018 will see the SAIL project move into the third phase: Test. The visit to Hunstanton provided an opportunity to see at first hand the challenges which face the area in terms of supporting an aging population now and in the future. The Mayor of Hunstanton hosted an evening reception in the Town Hall to welcome the SAIL Research Team and to learn more about the progress which is being made.
Prof Ann Hemingway & Prof Adele Ladkin meeting the Mayor of Hunstanton with Charlotte Watts, a project partner from Norfolk County Council.
A first year BA Television Production student, Rowan Prosser and Lecturer, Annie East share their thoughts on a pilot research project using 360-degree filming technology.
Fusion BU2025 looks to ensure that students are informed in the ‘latest thinking in practice and research’ it also looks to ensure graduates are ‘innovative’ and ‘have research skills’. The doctoral research that Annie East is engaged with seeks to discover the ways in which students are working with health and safety risk management processes on their location film shoots. The pilot study looked to test the use of a 360-degree camera on a student shoot as a Virtual Reality (VR) elicitation tool for data gathering . Here Annie East and first year student, Rowan Prosser, reflect on his role as student research assistant, working with the 360 degree camera on a second year student film shoot.
Thoughts on student/lecturer collaboration.
Rowan Prosser: As a first year student the opportunity to work on academic research was both intriguing and a great opportunity to learn. The project gave me a chance to see how research is carried out in an academic way, seeing the correct processes of it all. It was all carefully considered and planned accordingly, my needs and any questions I had were answered immediately; something you don’t get when working with other students. When planning for the pilot project, the meetings that took place were well informed. In contrast, when I work with fellow students, there is sometimes difficulty in getting to the point of the discussion or the heart of the problem.
Annie East: Finding a student keen to work on research that was testing relatively new technology was key for this pilot. Meeting with Rowan for the first time as a researcher rather than as lecturer was a turning point. The power dynamics of student/lecturer dissolved with Rowan becoming more of an equal in our journey to master the technology and workflow of the camera. I chose to work with a student to lessen the power dynamic on the student film shoot; taking myself physically away from their shoot and allowing a student to operate the 360-degree camera.
Reflections on the approach.
Rowan Prosser: It was an interesting scenario to be surrounded by second year BA Television Production students. Due to the role I had (responsibility for the 360-degree camera) they all tried to adhere to my needs and requests throughout the shoot. This allowed me to make sure that my camera work was achieved. If I was in the way, they would politely ask me to move the camera. The kit used really interested me; 360-degree video is something that is slowly coming into the fold – people (including the 2ndyear students I was working with) are very interested in the camera and how it works. This allowed me to educate and show them.
Annie East: Interestingly it is not just the power dynamics of lecturer/student that are changing with this work but also student-to-student interactions. The collaboration gave Rowan a new perspective and a window into the world of a second year student film shoot, levelling the inter-year dynamics somewhat. Silently it also afforded him institutional power; he became the educator and sage.
Reports from the field.
Rowan Prosser: Observing second-year students on their film shoots gave me the ability to blend in since I was a fellow student. We were able to talk about the course, topics we enjoyed thus allowing the presence of a camera filming their every movement less uncomfortable. It was interesting to observe the similarities of 2nd-year students to 1st years on the shoot. The classic way in which clear leaders can sometimes emerge and take over other people’s role was seen, this being an issue with student filmmaking, when someone isn’t happy with how someone else is conducting their role.
Annie East: Rowan’s reflections display some of the key tensions in setting up this research project; how do we observe students in the field and in what ways does that change the way they behave. This pilot confirmed going forward that the data to be captured is not the footage itself but the conversation about the footage when each crew member put on their VR visor to re-immerse themselves back into their field. This shifts the research focus away from behaviour and towards reflections on action and reflections in action.
Rowan Prosser: I really enjoyed the experience, as the opportunity to carry out research for an academic is not something that happens a lot. It gave me a clear insight into the future on how I can carry out future research and also taught me a lot about 360 cameras which I have not previously used. The group of second year students responded very well to me being around, and in the group, so it would be interesting to see how other groups would react to my involvement.
Annie East: These reflections suggest a shift in student identity and changing power dynamics between researcher and student and between student-to-student. The confidence that this work appears to have afforded Rowan sets him on the path of the lifelong learner; someone thirsty for new challenges. The challenge for BU2025 is the possible perception that working on academic research is a rare experience. Going forward Rowan can choose to be part of the full study and be more experienced for it; a scaffolded approach to collaborative research rather than a siloed one. The vision of fusion in BU2025 features a strong sense of inclusivity which we can promote to our students creating not only rounded academics but also fully rounded students, confident to take on ‘intriguing’ research projects.
Bournemouth University BU2025 Strategic Plan 2018 (online). Available from: https://www1.bournemouth.ac.uk/sites/default/files/asset/document/bu2025-strategic-plan.pdf (Accessed 10 August 2018)
Foucault, M., 1991. Discipline and punish. The birth of the prison. London: Penguin.
Schön, D. A., 1983. The reflective practitioner. [online] : how professionals think in action. New York : Basic Books.
Research participants needed!
The Centre for Biomechanics Research (located at the AECC University College, Parkwood Campus) is currently conducting a study investigating low back joint motion patterns in pain free adults. This study has National Research Ethical approval and aims to establish normal spine motion, which will support future investigations into low back pain and its possible treatments.
To collect the required data, pain free volunteers between 30 and 70 years of age are needed who are willing to have their low backs scanned with a method called ‘Quantitative Fluoroscopy’. This will take place in the AECC University College Chiropractic Clinic and takes no more than 1 hour.
Taking part in this study means that you are helping to advance science which will benefit many patients in the future. Additionally, this is an excellent opportunity for healthcare students and staff to learn more about this emerging technology.
Please contact us at email@example.com if you are interested in taking part and we will send you more information about this study. We are looking for approximately 100 more volunteers, so we’d like to encourage you to spread this information to family and friends who can also be welcomed as participants.
Another big week in policy land. We’ve big features on grade inflation and post-qualification admissions to get your brain buzzing.
Brexit news for EU citizens setting in the UK
This week the Government released further details on how EU citizens and their families could apply for settled status through the EU settlement scheme. The link also contains the draft immigration rules. The Government issued a news story on the settlement scheme, it sets out the 3 steps applicants will complete – prove identity, demonstrate they live in the UK, declare that they have no serious criminal convictions.
Key information on the scheme:
- It is proposed that an application will cost £65 and £32.50 for a child under 16. For those who already have valid permanent residence or indefinite leave to remain documentation, they will be able to exchange it for settled status for free.
- The Home Office will check the employment and benefit records held by government which will mean that, for many, their proof of residence will be automatic. Those who have not yet lived in the UK for five years will be granted pre-settled status and be able to apply for settled status once they reach the five-year point. From April 2019, this second application will be free of charge.
- The new online application system will be accessible through phones, tablets, laptops and computers. The Government will provide support for the vulnerable and those without access to a computer, and continues to work with EU citizens’ representatives and embassies to ensure the system works for everyone.
- The settlement scheme will open in a phased way from later this year and will be fully open by 30 March 2019. The deadline for applications will be 30 June 2021.
- The Home Office will continue to engage with stakeholders, including employers, local authority representatives and community groups, about the detailed design of the scheme before the Rules are laid before Parliament.
Immigration Minister, Caroline Nokes, said: “EU citizens make a huge contribution to our economy and to our society. They are our friends, family and colleagues and we want them to stay. This is an important step which will make it easy for EU citizens to get the status they need to continue working and living here. We are demonstrating real progress and I look forward to hearing more detail on how the EU will make reciprocal arrangements for UK nationals living in the EU.”
On Tuesday the Commons Science and Technology select committee debated an immigration system that works for science and innovation. The witnesses highlighted that flexibility and speed of application were essential and advocated for a frictionless reciprocal immigration system between the UK and the EU. Read the full text of the session here. Key points:
- Science and Technology to be within the broader immigration system rather than separate special arrangements or a two tier system. A transition period may be necessary.
- One witness argued for a reciprocal arrangement with EU scientists.
- It was noted the EU are currently developing a directive allowing free movement within the EU of individuals on science visas from outside the EU.
- Mobility for short stays is essential, e.g. conferences and discussion groups – these short stays should not require visas.
- One witness noted the limited ability of small British companies that needed to bring in talent to grow. She raised that this successful navigation of the immigration system was essential and the needs of small business had to be considered within the general immigration system design.
- The problems with using salary as a proxy for awarding tier 2 visas was discussed, particularly with the regional variability within the UK
- One witness argued that research activity needed to be permitted in the indefinite leave to remain rules.
- The limitations of the shortage occupations list were noted, i.e. retrospective analysis of data created a significant lag within the system and it wasn’t responsive enough. It was postulated that these problems would resolve if the cap was removed.
Parliamentary Questions – Immigration
Sam Gyimah responded to a parliamentary question on visa requirements for students of Indian nationality studying in the UK (full text here) stating there was no limit on the number of genuine international students who can come to the UK to study and
- “we welcome the increase in study related visa applications from Indian students since last year and the fact that over 90% of Indian students who apply for a UK visa get one. This shows that international students continue to recognise the benefits of studying in the UK, and are responding to our excellent higher education offer.”
Commenting on student immigration, Alp Mehmet, Vice Chairman of Migration Watch UK, said: “Genuine students are, of course, welcome but this is a slippery slope. The last time that the student visa system was loosened in 2009 it took years to recover from the massive inflow of bogus students, especially from India. We cannot afford another episode like that.”
And there was a further question on immigration:
Q – Gordon Marsden: What additional criteria will be used to decide whether (a) India and (b) other additional countries will be eligible for inclusion in the low-risk Tier 4 visa category for overseas students.
A – Caroline Nokes: We have regular discussions with the Indian Government on a range of issues including on visas and UK immigration policy. Careful consideration is given to which countries could be added to Appendix H of the Immigration Rules, taking into account objective analysis of a range of factors including the volume of students from a country and their Tier 4 immigration compliance risk. The list of countries in Appendix H will be regularly updated to reflect the fact that countries’ risk profiles change over time.
There were three further questions on Indian students this week, all received the same response as above.
British Nationals Abroad – home fees?
Q – Paul Blomfield: whether UK nationals resident in the EU who fall within the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement will be treated as home students for the purpose of university fees after December 2020.
A – Sam Gyimah:
- There are currently specific provisions in the rules that provide access to student support for persons who hold settled status in the UK, and who have left England to exercise a right of residence elsewhere in the Economic European Area (EEA) or Switzerland.
- We have agreed with the EU that equal treatment principles will continue to apply for those covered by the Withdrawal Agreement. This means that UK nationals resident in the EU (and EU nationals resident in the UK) before the end of the implementation period on 31 December 2020 will be eligible for support on a similar basis to domestic students in the relevant member state. It will be for member states to decide how they will implement the citizens’ rights deal in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement. Entitlement to student finance and home fees status after 31 December 2020 for those outside the scope of the Withdrawal Agreement is under consideration.
Thursday’s headlines for the sector were all about grade inflation, the actual report is here. The biggest increases are shown on page 16 – Surrey, East Anglia, Dundee, University of West London, Imperial, Huddersfield, Greenwich, Southampton Solent, Wolverhampton and Aston. These charts showing the absolute highest and lowest proportion are interesting and do raise some questions about whether the call for benchmarks is partly driven by the juxtaposition of our oldest and some of our newer universities in this first group. The arguments about prestige (made in the context of a discussion about REF and TEF) in this HEPI paper by Paul Blackmore come to mind. “Although the basis on which graduates and employers make decisions is a complex one, some institutions clearly have more powerful signalling effects than others.”
Research Professional have another helpful summary with responses from Nicola Dandridge, Nick Hillman and others
- Between 1997 and 2009, the proportion of “firsts” awarded increased from 7 to 13 per cent, and in the next seven years it doubled, reaching 26 per cent by 2017. The percentage of students being awarded a 2:1 has also risen from 40 to 49 per cent since 1995, meaning that the proportion of undergraduates awarded either a first or 2:1 has risen from 47 to 75 per cent in the last 22 years. There are now 40 institutions that award firsts to at least 30 per cent of their students. The report, A degree of uncertainty: An investigation into grade inflation in universities, says that one of the most likely explanations for the grade inflation is a lowering of degree standards by institutions. It states that some academics have reported pressure from senior managers to do so, and says that half of universities have recently changed the way that they calculate their students’ final grade so that the proportion of top grades they award keeps pace with other institutions”….
- “Harriet Barnes, head of higher education and skills policy at the British Academy—which operates the Humanities and Social Sciences Learned Societies and Subject Associations Network—told HE it was “difficult to see how a national assessment would work without encouraging universities to standardise course content and assessment in some way”. “This would threaten academic diversity, limiting students’ opportunities to fully explore their discipline, and undermining teaching by academics who are leaders in a specialist area,” she said. “We also have concerns about the feasibility of learned societies setting national assessments. Not every discipline is represented by a single body, and many are run by volunteers without the capacity to set and monitor assessments.”
- Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, told HE that asking learned societies to design assessments was “an odd suggestion”, and that it was “surprising to see Reform recommending less autonomy for institutions” “I’ve long been interested in getting learned societies and others more involved in preparing course materials and helping shape courses,” he said, “but it would make most sense to do that for first-year students adapting to higher education rather than those specialising later on in their degree.”
- Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of the Office for Students, said in a statement that “if there is artificial grade inflation this is not in the interests of students, employers or the higher education sector”. She added that work was “currently under way by the OfS and other partners to assess the complex issues” tackled in the report.”
The BBC story is here.
With the counter arguments, Jim Dickinson writes on Wonkhe:
- ““Establishing causality is problematic, yet the correlational evidence suggests that when tuition fees rise, so does the proportion of top degree outcomes”. Maybe that big investment means they’re working harder. Maybe more students are working hard to achieve the standard. Maybe teaching has improved, and assessment has become more diverse. Maybe more students are taking resists. After all, “inflation itself must be driven by factors that directly translate into universities awarding higher marks”.
- Trouble is, the report then goes on to look at all the other reasons that the sector has cooked up for the miracle. A pro-VC from UEA is mocked for citing improved entry qualifications, though without mentioning the student to staff ratio shift from 18:1 to 13:1 in the rest of his quote. Degree algorithm fiddling is cited, recycling a debunked quote. And without any reference to hard work or student support or assessment techniques, it then finds a handful of academics’ anecdotes to say they’ve been pressured to lower standards. Cue the A-levels chorus of “we worked harder and so did students” from the sector, falling on deaf ears in the press and the think tanks.”
There is an interesting comment in response on the Wonkhe article:
- “Quick summary of previous responses, querying the assumption that grade inflation is necessarily bad.
- 1) If attainment gaps have closed (e.g. male/female gap, affluent/deprived student background gap, white/ethnic minority gap) by the under-achieving group catching up with the higher-achieving group, grade inflation is probably a positive thing.
- 2) If average marks awarded have risen (i.e. it is not just the case that the degree classification proportions have shifted), and if positive skew in the distribution has not been replaced with negative skew, this indicates that grade inflation is not the only potential explanation.
- 3) Even if grade inflation as conventionally understood has occurred, the cure could be worse than the disease. The cure could take the form of students undermining each other rather than working collaboratively, seeking to manipulate or complain against lecturers, students motivated by mark gain rather than a desire to learn (not the same thing), even higher levels of mental health anxiety than present.
- 4) In most subjects, students achieving first class degrees do not have better career outcomes than students with lower second class degrees. This suggests that employers do not rely on degree class as a signal and have developed effective recruiting mechanisms”
The sector wasn’t standing still on grade inflation before this week’s announcements. UUK were already tackling the issue:
- The first element of this work responds to the specific request to clarify how the sector defines degree classifications. This work is on course to produce a reference document by September, and this will aid the transparency and consistency of approaches to degree classification and standards across the sector. The work is founded on the view that students should be assessed against clear criteria rather than setting quotas for the number of students who can achieve a 1st or 2.1. Quotas can demotivate students and devalue the level of knowledge gained over the course of their studies. The reference document is intended as a practical tool to aid academic practice and to improve understanding of the classification system, including among employers. The reference point will also be useful for new providers who gain degree awarding powers without prior validation by an existing degree body, and the established academic frameworks that come with this relationship. However, it will still be essential for universities to set and maintain their own academic standards, rather than simply marking against an off-the-shelf set of criteria.
This is also discussed on Wonkhe. “There is also a need for the sector to take meaningful and timely action to respond to stakeholder concerns on grade inflation, as other contributions to Wonkhe and elsewhere have suggested in recent days. UKSCQA will lead the coordination of a sector response on this issue.”
HEPI have published a guest blog – The hard truth about grade inflation – by Dr Andrew Hindmarsh, Head of Planning at the University of Nottingham, and he also oversees the preparation of data for the Complete University Guide. It busts a number of theories:
- So-called grade inflation has been greatest at universities with low average tariff scores and least at those with high average tariff scores. One explanation for this could be that the average tariff score has increased more at universities where the average score was lower to start with. If those low tariff score universities had had entry standards that had been rising faster, then you might expect there to be an impact on the subsequent attainment of the students. See Graph 3 shows that this has not been the case. In fact, the average tariff score of universities in quartiles 1 to 3 have all gone down, while only those in quartile 4 (the highest) have gone up.
- What about teaching quality – could that explain the pattern of changes? Could it be that the universities with the best teaching quality have seen outcomes improve the most? One possible measure of teaching quality is the TEF (Teaching Excellence Framework) outcomes. …the hypothesis fails – it is the Bronze institutions which have seen the biggest changes in degree outcomes.
- The questions on teaching in the NSS could be an alternative measure of teaching quality and this time there is a run of data so the change in NSS scores can be correlated with the changes in degree classification.However, once again the hypothesis fails: there is no correlation between the change in NSS scores on questions 1 to 4 between 2013 and 2016 and the change in degree classifications
- So, what is going on? There are plenty of hypotheses left which our database cannot test. One change that has been happening is an increasing use of the full range of marks, particularly in Arts subjects. In the past, there was a tendency to avoid giving high marks with those above 80 in the Arts being very rare indeed. These high marks are much more common in the Sciences, particularly the numerical sciences, where it is possible to achieve maximum marks on mathematical problems. However, many universities are now actively encouraging all subjects to use the full range of marks with the result that, when an average mark is calculated, this is more likely to fall above a particular class boundary as the higher marks pull up the average. This hypothesis also explains why the proportion of first-class degrees has risen faster than the proportion of 1st/2:1s as you would expect more of the high marks to be obtained by students already at or close to a first-class standard. The conclusion must be that this is a complex subject and, while some explanations for changes in degree classifications can be ruled out, there are plenty more to be considered. The accusation that grade inflation is the cause needs to be justified with evidence rather than simply asserted as if it were a self-evident truth.
We’ll have to wait for the outcome of the OFS work referred to above to see what happens next.
Sam Gyimah gave a reassuring answer to a parliamentary question this week. It was focused on the TEF but if extrapolated into the context of the single national assessment recommended to tackle grade inflation it is reassuring to know the Government doesn’t anticipate going even further to observe ‘classrooms’.
Q – Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Office for Students on the merits of observing teaching as an element for assessment in the teaching excellence framework.
A – Sam Gyimah:
- Higher Education (HE) institutions, as independent and autonomous bodies, are responsible for the range and quality of the courses they deliver. Assessing the performance of an institution through observation would jeopardise the autonomy of the HE sector.
- The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) uses a range of existing metrics related to teaching and learning to make an assessment of teaching excellence, alongside a submission of evidence from the providers themselves. The metrics used for the assessment are all well-established, widely used and trusted in the HE sector. The department consulted extensively on the metrics used in the TEF.
- My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State for Education has not discussed with the Office for Students, the observation of teachers as an additional element within the TEF.
Senior Pay Guidance
The OfS has now issued guidance on VC and senior pay. Universities are required to report and justify the VC’s total remuneration package and details of senior staff paid over £100,000. OfS will publish these details across the sector annually commencing in 2019. Nicola Dandridge commented: The Office for Students is today setting out our increased expectations around senior pay. Higher education providers will have to give us full details of the total pay package of their vice-chancellor. In addition, they will have to provide detailed justification of this package. As part of this, we will be looking at the ratio between the head of institution’s pay and the pay of the other staff at the institution. This will provide additional visibility and transparency – and enable us all to ask tough questions as necessary.
In response to the guidance UCU general secretary Sally Hunt noted of the OfS requirements: much of the information being called for is already available in universities’ accounts or through freedom of information (FOI) requests.
In the Independent article Michael Barber is reported as stating the OfS will look for salaries that ‘stick out like a sore thumb’… such as … “Like a modest size university, and you are regional and you are not playing globally, and your pay is the same as a top university competing in the global market for research.”
Political Crystal Ball
Dods (political monitoring consultants) have produced a series of short policy lookahead guides contemplating what is coming up politically in the following spheres over the next six months:
The Post Qualifications Admissions – how it works across the world report was released on Tuesday comparing the UK’s HE admissions system with that of 29 other countries worldwide. The document critiques the UK’s system of offering a HE place before a student’s final grades are known, particularly noting the unreliability of provisional grades (only 1 in 6 accurately predicted).
The report calls for more than just post-qualification offer making. It outlines enhanced support for choices and decisions and a pre-results preparation week to aid social mobility (see page 17 onwards). The report does acknowledge the benefits of the current pre-qualifications admissions system: it aids students from under-represented backgrounds because they are often predicted higher grades than they achieve (page 5); changing to a post qualifications system would squeeze teaching as exams would need to move earlier in the year, it would also reduce the time HE providers have to consider applications and decide on whether to offer a student a place.
The report was commissioned by UCU and compiled by Dr Graeme Atherton (Director of social mobility organisation NEON). Given the author’s champion of disadvantage it’s interesting the report has received conflicting responses with no clear consensus of whether a change would support or further hinder underrepresented or disadvantaged groups in society.
UCAS responded to the report stating changing to a post qualifications admission system would force structural change to the school system and stating it would be harder for poorer pupils who would have to make decisions after they had finished their exams and left school. Clare Marchant (UCAS): “students from disadvantaged backgrounds would be less likely to have access to teachers and support in making application choices“.
Meanwhile The Sutton Trust argue that Atherton’s claim that under-represented students receive higher predicted grades is incorrect stating ‘high attaining disadvantaged students are more likely to have their grades under-predicted than their richer counterparts. This could result in them applying to universities which are less selective than their credentials would permit.’
UCU’s press release leads a further attack on unconditional offer making. Unconditional offers were previously seen as a supportive measure for social mobility, for example, for a young student within the care system who needed stability and security over their university destination prior to giving up their living accommodation. However, unconditional offers have increasingly received poor press over the last two years claiming students become lazy and don’t try so hard at exams once they have a guaranteed offer or that it pushes an able student towards a lower tariff university when their results would be accepted at a more prestigious institution. Concerns were also raised about unconditional offers last week at Buckingham’s Festival of HE.
The BBC has covered the report.
The report also highlights some of the challenges that the other systems face. One notable issue in some European countries is that almost automatic admission based on results plus low fees leads to huge dropout rates, e.g. in France. And if the focus is almost exclusively on grades it’s likely another subset of WP students will be disadvantaged. The report raises some questions but it would be interesting to do an analysis of other metrics such as completion and satisfaction, and WP indicators as well as graduate outcomes.
There are other issues with the current system that have been raised in recent times – e.g. concerns about the role of personal statements and the role of social capital. Given the author’s day job at the National Education Opportunities Network (NEON), there is a focus in the report on equity in the system.
The article below raises the question of conflict of interests – would such a system reduce or increase game playing in the competition for students? – note last week’s discussions in Buckingham about unconditional offers (which many commentators see as a “bad thing”).
Research Professional have a great article on the report. As the article notes there is unlikely to be a rush to review this given all the other government priorities. But as new A levels come in, raising uncertainty about grades this year, might there be more applicants choosing to use clearing to trade up or take a year to consider and apply afterwards. And whether over time this might therefore become more of a priority for review?
On Thursday there was a debate in the House of Commons on the Erasmus+ programme and discusses the future position of the UK with regard to the scheme post Brexit. The House of Commons Library have produced a briefing note on Erasmus+.
Some fun facts on Erasmus+ taken from the briefing:
- The EU sees Erasmus+ programmes as a means of addressing socio-economic issues that Europe may face like unemployment and social cohesion.
- 10,944 students in higher education in the UK participated in the 2016 applications for study placements abroad through the Erasmus+ scheme.
- In 2015-16, the most popular host countries were France (2,388), Spain (2,131), Germany (1,312), Netherlands (701), and Italy (687).The UK was the 7th highest participating country in the programme in 2015.
- The total value of all Erasmus+ projects funded in the UK has increased in each year from €112million in the 2014 ‘call’ to €143million in 2017.
- The Erasmus+ programme is run on run seven yearly cycles and the current cycle will end in 2020.
- The UK Government has promised to underwrite funding that was due to continue after Brexit and UK citizens are currently encouraged to apply for funding under Erasmus+.
- On 30 May 2018 the EU Commission announced that it is proposing that for the next cycle starting in 2021 any country in the world will be able to participate if they meet set requirements. It is unclear at present what the UK’s participation in Erasmus+ will be after Brexit but the announcement opens up the possibility of the UK’s continued involvement in the programme.
The Future of the Erasmus+ Scheme after 2020: House of Commons Debate
The Erasmus+ debate span a number of topics: social mobility, UUK’s Go International project, strategy for how students would continue exchanges with EU universities in the event of a Brexit no deal.
Sam Gyimah stated: he recognised that international exchanges were “important to students, giving them social mobility and widening their horizons, and it is valuable to our soft power.” And to clarify the Government’s position on the future participation of Erasmus+ post 2020 within the uncertainty of Brexit he committed that the Government would “discuss with the EU the options for future participation as a third country, as the Prime Minister has made clear, on the basis of a fair and ongoing contribution. So we have accepted that we will want the option to participate and we know we must pay into the programme, but obviously we want the contribution to be fair and we will have to negotiate the terms.” He reassured the House that the Government were “actively engaged in the discussions on the design of the programme and we have made the EU aware of our desire to participate in the programme, and there is a lot to welcome in the framework proposals.” On cost, he said the Government had noted “the proposal for the budget to be doubled, so we need to discuss our participation based on a sensible and hard-headed assessment of the UK’s priorities and the substantial benefit to the EU should the UK decided to participate.”
Read the full text of the debate here.
The Public Accounts Committee has been running an inquiry into Delivering STEM skills for the economy and published a report on Friday. STEM is recognised as essential to the future of UK industries and the Government has been running initiatives to improve STEM skills in the workforce including a substantial focus on STEM curriculum in schools. Although some initiatives to address STEM skills shortages have been successful there remain problems:
- Women remain underrepresented in STEM courses and jobs – only 8% of STEM apprenticeship starts are undertaken by women.
- In 2016 only 24% of those with STEM degrees were working in a STEM field six months after graduation.
- The Government has focussed on schools to grow the next generation of skilled STEM workers. However, the report finds that the quality of careers advice in schools is patchy at best, perpetuating misconceptions about STEM careers. In addition, the way that schools are funded will restrict the likelihood of pupils moving to other, more STEM-focused learning providers, such as the new institutes of technology.
- The Government is also unable to accurately assess the volume of the STEM skills shortage.
- To make better informed decisions, [Government] departments also need to tackle the apparent lack of industry and commercial experience on their STEM boards and working groups.
Government departments spent almost £1 billion between 2007 and 2017 on initiatives to encourage more take-up of STEM subjects.
The Committee made 8 recommendations:
- Following publication of the Migration Advisory Committee report in September 2018, BEIS and DfE should, within six months, set out the further steps they will take to ensure that STEM skills shortages are addressed.
- DfE should set out what specific steps it will take to ensure that Skills Advisory Panels are sufficiently aware of national and global skills supply issues to be fully effective.
- By summer 2018, the departments should review the membership of all STEM boards and working groups, and address any shortfalls in expertise—for example, in industry knowledge or experience in STEM learning and work.
- DfE must identify as soon as possible whether financial incentives for teacher training have delivered value for money, and report its findings to the Committee as promised (i.e. have the teachers remained in the profession).
- By the end of 2018, the departments should establish, and start to monitor progress against, specific targets relating to the involvement of girls and women in key STEM learning programmes such as apprenticeships.
- DfE should make better use of data on career destinations and salaries to incentivise young people to work towards careers in particular STEM sectors where there is higher need. As part of its plans to improve the quality of careers advice, DfE should work with Ofsted to consider rating the quality of advice provided in schools.
- As a matter of urgency, DfE needs to develop a clearer plan for how new types of learning institution, such as the institutes of technology, will attract the numbers of students they need to be viable.
- DfE should ensure it has effective monitoring systems in place to quickly identify apprenticeship programmes that are not fit-for-purpose, along with poor quality provision, and the action it will take in each case
Meg Hillier MP chaired the inquiry, she commented:
“Warm words about the economic benefits of STEM skills are worth little if they are not supported by a coherent plan to deliver them. Government must take a strategic view, properly informed by the requirements of industry and the anticipated impact of Brexit on the UK’s skills mix.
But Government also needs to sharpen its focus on the details, from providing sound advice to pupils through to ensuring schools have the right skills in the classroom and STEM-focused institutions are properly supported. Poor-quality apprenticeships must be weeded out and there is still much work required to address the striking gender imbalance in STEM apprenticeships.”
Read the Committee’s press release: Sharper focus needed on skills crucial to UK productivity
STEM Parliamentary Questions
Q – Robert Halfon: what assessment he has made of the potential contribution of students with a qualification in Design and Technology GCSE to filling the skills gap in engineering.
A – Nick Gibb:
The design and technology (D&T) GCSE is a useful qualification for those pupils considering a career in engineering. The Department has reformed the D&T GCSE to ensure that it is a valuable qualification and includes the knowledge and skills sought by leading employers. Content has been aligned with high-tech industry practice with strengthened technical, mathematical and scientific knowledge.
Q – Robert Halfon: what information he holds on the reasons for the decline in the number of entries to Design and Technology GCSE since 2010
A – Nick Gibb:
Design and Technology GCSE entries have declined since before 2010. In 2016/17 over 150,000 pupils in England entered a Design and Technology (D&T) GCSE at the end of Key Stage 4, which is over 25% of all pupils (data source).
Subject experts identified a number of issues with the previous suite of D&T GCSEs. They advised that the GCSEs were out of date, did not reflect current industry practice, and lacked sufficient science, technology, engineering and mathematics content. These issues could have had an effect on take up. One issue was that there were six separate GCSEs focusing on different materials (such as resistant materials and textiles) or particular aspects of D&T (such as product design and systems and control). These did not allow pupils to gain a broad knowledge of the design process, materials, techniques and equipment that are core to the subject. The Department has reformed the D&T GCSE to address these issues. There is now just one GCSE title which emphasises the iterative design processes that is at the core of contemporary practice and includes more about cutting edge technology and processes. The new GCSE now effectively provides pupils with the knowledge they need to progress to further study and careers, including in high-tech industries.
Q – Robert Halfon: what steps he is taking to revise the national curriculum to ensure that students are prepared for T-levels.
A – Nick Gibb:
- T-levels will provide students with knowledge and the technical, practical skills needed to get a skilled job. They will also allow students to progress into higher levels of technical training including degree courses in subjects relevant to their T-level.
- My right hon. Friend, the Secretary of State announced in April that he would make no changes to the National Curriculum within the lifetime of this Parliament; and there should be no need to do so to prepare pupils for T-levels. All state schools are required to teach broad and balanced curricula that will provide young people with the skills and knowledge they need to undertake post-16 education and training; and the design of T-levels will take into account the knowledge and skills that pupils obtain through the current National Curriculum and reformed GCSEs.
The DfE has published the research report: TEF and informing student choice: Subject-level classifications, and teaching quality and student outcome factors. The report notes that TEF was introduced to measure teaching quality and student outcomes to drive up teaching quality within the HE sector and inform prospective students so they can make more informed choices when choosing a HE institution. The research behind the report consider the methodology behind how subject level TEF could be delivered and gathered applicant and student views on what was important to them. The report will help inform the next iteration of the TEF.
Here are the key conclusions:
- For subject level TEF CAH2 was preferred due to its accuracy for making subject-level classifications, and is considered most sufficient for providing information to help applicants choose where to study. (See here from bottom of page 39 to understand CAH2.) It was recognised some the CAH2 categories needed rewording, particularly subjects allied to medicine which needs more in-depth consideration. The Broad (7 subject) classification system was not helpful to applicants.
- The study also highlights a number of teaching quality and student outcome factors that could be considered when further developing subject-level TEF. It’s important to consider teaching quality factors that have a short term impact on student satisfaction whilst at University with those having a longer term impact (such as graduate outcomes). There were a handful of factors that were low on the analyses and potentially, from a student perspective, could be deprioritised from subject-level TEF development. This includes teaching staff contracts, class sizes and the academic qualifications of teachers.
- The research looked at the awareness and influence of the TEF awards on students currently or about to start at a HE institution.
- 2/5 (two-fifths) of 2018/19 applicants were aware of what TEF refers to;
- 1/8 had used the TEF to inform their choice of institution, or intended to do so.
- 1/4 were aware of the TEF award given to their first-choice institution.
The research stated that as TEF becomes more embedded, we would expect applicant and student awareness and usage of TEF to grow over time, and the results from this research will form the baseline against which future awareness and student engagement can be measured.
The research concluded:
- The study demonstrates that applicants and students would value the introduction of subject-level TEF ratings. Around three-quarters of all applicants and students (68 -78%) reported that they would find subject-level TEF awards useful while only a tiny minority (3-5%) suggested it was of no use. Applicants that were aware of the provider-level TEF and its purpose were also more likely to consider subject level TEF to be useful.
Some parliamentary questions from this week relevant to the TEF:
Q – Gordon Marsden: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what discussions he has had with the Office for Students on the adequacy of the metrics for the Teaching Excellence Framework.
A – Sam Gyimah:
- To enable students to make the best decisions about their future, it is important that they have consistent independent information about the courses they are considering. The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) metrics focus on what matters to students: teaching quality, the learning experience, and student outcomes. The development of subject-level TEF will give students more information than ever before. The department has worked collaboratively with the Office for Students (OfS), and the Higher Education Funding Council for England before that, throughout the development of the TEF.
- The metrics used for TEF assessments are all well-established, widely used and trusted in the HE sector. We consulted the sector extensively on the design of TEF, including the metrics to be used, in 2016. We have recently concluded a consultation on subject-level TEF and the OfS has completed the first year of the pilot of subject-level TEF. Findings from those exercises, including on the operation of the metrics, will be shared between the department and OfS and will inform the further development of the TEF.
Q – Dan Jarvis: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what assessment he has made of efficacy of untrained PhD students being employed by universities to teach undergraduates.
A – Sam Gyimah:
- The Higher Education Statistics Agency collects and publishes data on the teaching qualifications of academic staff, but this does not enable an assessment of the efficacy of those staff or any PhD students that are teaching in universities. The Higher Education and Research Act enshrines the principle that higher education institutions are autonomous organisations with freedom to select, appoint, or dismiss academic staff without interference from government. However, the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) recognises and rewards excellent teaching in higher education. The Teaching Quality measure within the TEF core metrics uses data from the National Student Survey, including student views of the teaching on their courses. In addition, the new Office for Students published its regulatory framework in February of this year. This includes a condition that all registered higher education institutions must deliver well designed courses that provide a high quality academic experience for all students – and that providers should have sufficient appropriately qualified and skilled staff to deliver that high quality academic experience.
Science and Innovation Investment
On Thursday Greg Clark (Secretary of State, BEIS) highlighted new investment in UK talent and skills to grow and attract the best in science and innovation. Key points:
- £1.3 billion boost to attract and retain world-class talent and guarantee the UK’s position at the forefront of innovation and discovery through the modern Industrial Strategy
- Prestigious £900 million UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) Future Leaders Fellowship Scheme – open to best researchers from around the world the investment will fund at least 550 new fellowships for the brightest and best from academia and business
The inaugural UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship Scheme will receive £900 million over the next 11 years, with 6 funding competitions and at least 550 fellowships awarded over the next 3 years. The investment will provide up to 7 years of funding for early-career researchers and innovators, including support for part-time awards and career-breaks, providing flexibility to researchers to tackle ambitious and challenging areas. For the first time ever, this type of scheme will now be open to businesses as well as universities. The scheme aims to help the next generation of tech entrepreneurs, business leaders and innovators get the support they need to develop their careers. It is open to best researchers from around the world, ensuring the UK continues to attract the most exceptional talent wherever they may come from.
Complementing the Future Leaders Fellowship Scheme, the Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, British Academy, and Academy of Medical Sciences will collectively receive £350 million for the prestigious fellowships schemes. This funding will enhance the research talent pipeline and increase the number of fellowships on offer for high skilled researchers and innovators.
Over the next 5 years, £50 million has been allocated through the National Productivity Investment Fund for additional PhDs, including 100 PhDs to support research into AI, supporting one of the Grand Challenges within the Industrial Strategy and ensuring Britain is at the forefront of the AI revolution.
There was a Parliamentary Question about UKRI this week.
Q – Nic Dakin: To ask the Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, what steps he is taking to ensure that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) fulfils its mission to push the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding by appointing active research scientists to the UKRI Board.
A – Sam Gyimah: In line with the Higher Education and Research Act (2017), the Government has appointed UKRI Board members with experience across research, innovation and development, and on commercial and financial matters. This enables the UKRI Board to support and hold the organisation to account, ensuring it delivers effectively, rather than to supply discipline-specific expertise. That expertise is provided by the councils, who are uniquely positioned to understand the latest challenges and opportunities in their specific field, and they include a range of experts, including active researchers.
New LEO data
The DfE have issued the Graduate outcomes (LEO): subject by provider, 2015 to 2016, and have also published employment and earnings outcomes of graduates for each higher education provider broken down by subject studied and gender. The longitudinal education outcomes (LEO) data includes information from the Department for Education, Department for Work and Pensions and HM Revenue and Customs. The release uses LEO data to look at employment and earnings outcomes of higher education first degree graduates 1, 3, and 5 years after graduation in the tax years 2014 to 2015 and 2015 to 2016.
Main Document: Graduate Outcomes (LEO): Subject by Provider, 2015 to 2016
New consultations and inquiries this week:
- Gender stereotypes in advertising
- Growth in creative industries
- Home Office immigration charges
Resignation: The Trade Minister, Greg Hands, resigned this week in protest at the Heathrow expansion. George Hollingbery has been appointed. Previously George was Theresa May’s Parliamentary Private Secretary.
Environment: Research Professional report on the Plastics Pollution Research fund. And there is a parliamentary question on the Environment Plan.
Q – Baroness Jones of Whitchurch: To ask Her Majesty’s Government what steps they have taken to involve scientists, economists and environmentalists in developing a set of metrics to measure the progress of the 25 Year Environment Plan; and when those metrics will be published.
A – Lord Gardiner of Kimble: We have engaged with scientists, economists and environmentalists from a number of external organisations since January to inform the development of a comprehensive suite of metrics and indicators.We will engage further with interested parties over the summer to canvas views on what this suite of indicators and metrics ought to cover. This will be achieved through a combination of publicly available briefing papers and targeted technical meetings with individual organisations and small groups of interested parties. The package of metrics we propose will then be subject to a further period of formal consultation in order to ensure we get this important measure absolutely right.
HE Sector Finances: The House of Commons Library has released information on HE Finance Statistics. It considers how the balance and make-up of university income and expenditure has changed over time, particularly since 2012. Summary from Dods: After many years of increased income, expenditure, more staff and students, the higher education sector in England especially faces on ongoing fall in income from the public sector, falling numbers of some types of students, particularly those studying part-time and much less certainty about the future make-up and nature of the sector as a whole. This has meant that the future public/private funding mix, size and role of the sector are the focus of more attention than at any time in the recent past. This note gives a short factual background on changes in income, expenditure and staffing since the sector took its present form in the mid-1990s. It also gives some information on variations between institutions. It includes data on all Higher Education Institutions in the UK.
Social Impact of Sport: The Digital, Culture, Media and Sport select committee held an evidence session on the social impact of participation in culture and sport this week. The witnesses stated that sports, arts, and cultural provision yielded significant social benefits, including educational and health benefits. However, it was noted that data collection and analysis needed to improve to fully demonstrate this. There was discussion that good programmes were underway but best practice needed to be shared more effectively and communication of what was available needed to improve. It was felt that the Government should link up the various programmes underway and communicate the holistic benefits of sporting and cultural interventions. Contact Sarah for a fuller summary.
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