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HE Policy Update for the w/e 7th February 2020
With a reshuffle on the horizon this week, last week was Apprenticeships Week and Children’s Mental Health Week.
Cabinet Reshuffle – we are expecting a ministerial reshuffle to take place before Parliament enters recess at the end of next week. Politico speculates about who may be in and out of favour.
Brexit – Dods have produced an interesting briefing on the Brexit transition phase exploring the negotiating give and take and explaining what the key terms like ‘level playing field’ may translate as within the Withdrawal Agreement.
Contract Cheating – Lord Storey continues his campaign to end contract cheating by introducing the HE Cheating Services Prohibition Bill as a private members bill (PMB). As you’ll recall from previous policy updates PMB’s rarely succeed, however, they can raise visibility of the issue even when they fail. The Committee Stage within the House of Lords is next.
Private Member’s Bills – There’s no news on the Lord Holmes’ Unpaid Work Experience Prohibition Bill yet, we’re still waiting for the second reading and vote. However, Alex Cunningham, a Labour MP has also introduced a similar Bill entitled Unpaid Work Experience (Prohibition No. 2) through his win on the Commons’ PMB ballot. Alex’s bill (to prohibit unpaid work experience exceeding four weeks) is due to be read a second time on 27 March and will need to win the vote to continue passage through Parliament. Two very similar PMB’s progressing at the same time is an interesting Parliamentary twist that we’ll be watching closely. Unfortunately Alex’s PMB is number 14 in the queue so it may not ever progress due to lack of parliamentary session time.
The MP’s winning the Common’s PMB vote have declared the topics their intended legislation will cover. There is little of direct interest for the HE sector beside Alex’s unpaid work experience Bill.
(Welfare of Children) PMB aims to impose duties on certain education and training providers in relation to safeguarding and promoting the welfare of children. Mike Amesbury’s PMB (first to be debated) aims to pick up the provision for guidance to schools about the cost aspects of school uniform policies. You’ll remember mention of this floated around Parliamentary debate several times during the last Parliament, gaining traction but not progressing into law or regulation.
Several of the new Education Select Committee members have been revealed by Tes. Whips from Labour and Conservatives held elections for Committee members last night, but the result have not officially been announced. Tes has been told, however, that new members from the Conservative side are all newly-elected MPs and include a former secondary teacher and a former chair of a social mobility charity. They are understood to be:
- David Johnston (Con, Wantage)
- David Simmonds (Con, Ruislip, Northwood and Pinner)
- Tom Hunt (Con, Ipswich)
- Christian Wakeford (Con, Bury South)
- Jonathan Gullis (Con, Stoke-on-Trent North)
From the Labour side, the following members are understood to be elected to the Committee:
- Apsana Begum (Lab, Poplar and Limehouse)
- Fleur Anderson (Lab, Putney)
- Returning – Lucy Powell (Lab, Manchester Central)
- Returning – Ian Mearns (Lab, Gateshead)
Education Committee Members’ Priorities
Jonathan Gullis who is a teacher (and had to return to work at his Birmingham secondary school on the day after the general election) has set out his priorities as reducing the sizes of large multi-academy trusts to ”give power back to schools” as well as investigating the effectiveness of alternative provision and the possibility of introducing new grammar schools into deprived areas. He said: “There are a number of things to look at to be quite frank. Obviously the government has pledged a £14 billion injection into the education system which is sorely needed – and my job, along with my fellow committee members, will be to make sure this ends up in the hands of headteachers and that the money is being spent on pupils”.
David Johnston is a former chair of the Social Mobility Foundation charity. He said: “I’ll be looking at whether we are improving life chances for the most disadvantaged pupils. We also need to get the best teachers into the schools that find it difficult to attract teachers.”
Tom Hunt intends to focus on special educational needs as he has personal experience of both dyslexia and dyspraxia. He said: “I really struggled at school but I was really fortunate I got the support I needed, so I turned it around and did pretty well academically, but I’m acutely aware that a lot of pupils don’t get the support they need so that’s what I’m most passionate about.”
Labour Leadership Contest – The hustings continued for the leadership candidates all through this week.
Local MP Michael Tomlinson (Mid Dorset and North Poole) featured in Prime Minister’s Questions this week when he asked whether the PM would prioritise family hubs and ensure that they were linked to Early Years Strategy, the Troubled Families Programme, and children’s’ services reform. The PM said £165 million had been allocated to extend the Troubled Families Programme this year.
National Apprenticeship Week
It is National Apprenticeship Week and there has been a plethora of employers and organisations celebrating apprenticeships amongst discussions of future changes and sharing information to ensure more potential students consider apprenticeships as an alternative to university.
Hitting the headlines was the DfE survey with Mumsnet which set out to understand parents’ preconceptions on apprenticeships. They found:
- 63% of parents equated an apprenticeship with menial tasks believing their child would spend time making the tea (also seen as unchallenging and low quality)
- One third of parents thought apprenticeships were mainly for manual trades
- 45% hadn’t heard of degree apprenticeships
- 45% felt a university degree was more valued by employers than an apprenticeship
- 67% felt apprenticeships were inclusive and were for everyone regardless of background or age
- 49% didn’t feel they knew enough about apprenticeships to talk to their children about it as an option
Education Secretary Gavin Williamson comments on the survey:
- This research shows that outdated views are holding young people back from pursuing their dream career. Every parent wants the best for their children and when they ask you for advice about their futures, it’s incredibly daunting. But I know that when I’m asked for help by my children I will absolutely encourage them to consider an apprenticeship. So as we celebrate the life changing potential of apprenticeships I would urge all parents to do the same and look beyond stereotypes and embrace every opportunity
Here is the Mumsnet press release on the survey. Mumsnet Founder Justine Roberts said:
- The government has transformed apprenticeships, working closely with top employers like BT, BAE Systems and Greene King to create more high-quality apprenticeship opportunities so that apprentices gain the skills they need to secure a great job and that provide industry with the workforce they need now and in the future.
- Apprenticeships offer the chance to kick start a well-paid career in a wide range of exciting professions such as cyber security and aerospace engineering with options to train right up to degree level. There are many positive benefits apprenticeships are bringing to individuals and workplaces across the country. Research has highlighted that:
- The vast majority of apprentices agreed that their career prospects had improved since starting their apprenticeship – 85% of Level 2 and 3 apprentices and 83% of higher (Level 4 plus) apprentices
- On average, completing a Level 2 apprenticeship boosts earnings by 11%, and a level 3 apprenticeship by 16%
- Apprentices who complete a higher level apprenticeship could earn £150,000 more on average over their lifetime compared to those with Level 3 vocational qualification
- Of those who completed an apprenticeship, 90% secured a job or went on to further learning, with 88% in sustained employment
- Employers also report benefits too, with 86% saying apprentices developed skills relevant to their organisation and 78% reported improved productivity
- Wonkhe report that in the TES Shadow HE and FE minister Emma Hardy writes about the difficulties faced by SMEs in accessing funding for apprenticeships.
- HEPI has a blog on apprenticeships – what they are and whether higher education should have a role in delivering them.
- The National Centre for Universities and Business runs a blog that asks whether degree apprenticeships can really meet all that is promised on issues like social mobility and closing the skills gap.
Part Time Students
HEPI have published Unheard: the voices of part-time adult learners aiming to prompt a re-think of how mature part time students are engaged and attracted to degree level study. There has been a 61% drop in part time students since 2010. Author, Dr John Butcher from the Open University, said:
- Official policies like the National Student Survey and widening participation initiatives are part of the problem because they tend to play down or even ignore part-time learners.
- Part-time students are disproportionately likely to come from parts of society traditionally under-represented in higher education. Ministerial statements about there being a record numbers of [disadvantaged] students ignore part-time learners. When they are included, a big drop in the number of students from disadvantaged backgrounds is revealed.
- A new approach is overdue, especially in England which lags behind other parts of the UK in protecting part-time education. Otherwise, part-time students will continue to be peripheral, feeling like tourists passing through higher education but knowing they do not really belong.
Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, said: …people who want, or need, to study part-time have less choice than they did. The removal of some public funding in 2008, the tripling of tuition fees in 2012 and the withdrawal of some courses have had a terrible combined impact.
Excerpts from the paper:
- The crisis engulfing part-time adult learners in England points to an impoverished future in which higher education morphs into a purely full-time experience for 18-year olds fortunate enough to be born in the right place, attend the right school and gain the right A-Level grades. No more ‘second-chance’ transformations, no more learn-while-you-earn, no more enriching learning with contributions from adults who can bring different life experiences. Flexible opportunities for those disadvantaged individuals who cannot study full-time may all but vanish.
- My fear is that political infatuation with the employability discourse around advanced skills for adults, as well as a series of muddled protestations about social mobility, have concealed the part-time issue. The key stakeholders who could amend policies and drive strategies to energise part-time learning in higher education are instead busily engaged in addressing other challenges, such as: [TEF, National Student Survey, APP/WP initiatives, achieving sufficient student recruitment]
- Policymakers should recognise part-time higher education is an optional world in which complex individual student needs trump the homogeneity of institutional systems. Part time students can feel peripheral, like tourists visiting higher education but who know they do not really belong.
Page 13 onwards explores the voices of mature part timers within these three themes:
- What gets in the way? Life, money, inflexibility.
- What do we want? Clarity, inclusivity and signposts.
- What can we do? Integrate skills and feedback to enhance confidence.
And intersperses recommendations on elements universities can change to make part time learning more accessible and successful.
The OfS have released a new blog from a mature healthcare student describing the positive experience he had whilst studying radiography. The blog talks about gender balance within the healthcare sector and taking the leap from established career and family to return to study full time. The student describes the additional opportunities he engaged with including the Council of Deans Student Leadership Programme, working with the OfS, and as a Student Observer to the UK Council (radiography). The upbeat blog is quite the counterpoint to the HEPI publication which describes isolated part time students who never fully develop their sense of institutional belonging.
The Government have announced a £24 million investment in FE to enable the sector to recruit, retain and develop high quality FE teachers, including those needed for the new T levels. This is part of the £400 million announced in August last year. It includes:
- £11 million to provide bursaries and grants worth up to £26,000 to attract talented people to train to teach in FE, in priority subject areas such as STEM, English and SEND teaching.
- A £10 million boost to expand the Government’s Taking Teaching Further programme, delivered in partnership with sector body the Education and Training Foundation (ETF), which sees industry professionals working in sectors such as engineering and computing to retrain as further education teachers. The scheme has already supported over 100 people to work in FE across the country so far. This additional funding will support up to 550 more people to train to teach a range of technical subjects in 2020.
- £3 million for high-quality mentor training programmes to support FE teachers – including those just starting out in teaching – to develop and progress.
On the £400 million announced in August 2019 Education Secretary Gavin Williamson said:
- As former FE students, the Chancellor and I both know first-hand how important the further education sector is so I’m really pleased that today that government is giving our sixth forms and colleges a major funding boost – the single biggest annual uplift since 2010.
- This investment will make sure we can continue to develop world-class technical and vocational education to rival countries on the continent so we have a highly skilled and productive workforce for the future.
Specifically on the £24 million Gavin Williamson said:
- Our ambitions for a world-beating technical education system can only be achieved if we have outstanding teachers who will inspire the next generation.
- I’ve seen first-hand just how much brilliant work is already going on up and down the country. I want to thank the many thousands of further education teachers doing fantastic jobs and changing lives.
- This investment is a clear signal of the government’s commitment to helping the FE sector to continue to recruit and retain excellent teachers who will help to unlock their students’ full potential.
The Government will also begin to collect FE workforce data every year from 2020/21to ensure they have robust information and a greater understanding of who makes up the FE sector.
On the same day City AM published The graduate premium is little more than a myth – invest in further education instead. The piece is exactly as the title describes. It argues for less investment in HE (particularly disdainful of the increase in the number of young people attending HE) and suggests that better funded FE provision would result in a ‘FE premium’ salary boost. Excerpt:
Why pay extra for something which is in excess supply? This is exactly how it has turned out. Many graduates end up in mundane, low-paying jobs. The Office for National Statistics shows that 31 per cent of graduates have more education than is required for the work they are doing.
Erasmus & International Students
Chris Skidmore answered ANOTHER question relating to Erasmus – no new news – poor Chris is probably reciting these same answers in his sleep now.
Lord Duncan of Springbank, answering on behalf of the Government, sidesteps responding to a question asking how much budget has been set aside for the Horizon Research Programme beyond 2020.
The House of Commons Library has published a briefing paper on The Erasmus Programme.
- 9,720UK HE students participated in the 2017 ‘call’ (application period) for study placements abroad through the Erasmus+ scheme.
- In 2017/18, the most popular host countries for study placements were: Spain (2,220), France (2,049), Germany (1,302), Netherlands (812), and Italy (711).
- The total value of all Erasmus+ projects funded in the UK has increased in each year from €112millionin the 2014 call to €145million in 2017.
- The UK was the 8thhighest participating country in the programme in 2017.
- 31,877 students came to the UK (all study and work placements) during the 2017 call.
There was also a parliamentary question on international students asking how many university places were allocated to non-British students.
Disadvantaged Attainment Gap
Q – Ben Bradley: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, what steps his Department is taking to support working class boys to close the attainment gap. 
A – Nick Gibb:
- Educational achievement is at the heart of this Government’s commitment to ensure no young person is left behind because of the place or circumstances of their birth. Due to our reforms, 86% of pupils attend a Good or Outstanding school compared with 66% in 2010.
- ‘Working class’ is not a description recognised or measured by the Department. We measure the outcomes of those pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds as defined by the benefit-related definition for ‘disadvantaged’. We recognise that young people from disadvantaged backgrounds – including those currently or formerly claiming free school meals and currently or formerly looked after – may face extra challenges in achieving their potential at school. We introduced the pupil premium in 2011 and have invested over £15 billion – and another £2.4 billion this year – so that schools have the resources to provide extra support for disadvantaged pupils of all abilities. White disadvantaged boys and girls constitute the largest group of eligible pupils and so benefit significantly from this extra support.
- Against a background of rising standards, disadvantaged pupils are catching up with their peers. The attainment gap index shows that since 2011, the gap at the end of primary school has narrowed by 13% and the gap at the end of secondary school has narrowed by 9%. This indicates better prospects for a secure adult life for disadvantaged pupils. Our reforms, and the focus provided by the pupil premium, have supported this improvement.
- The Department recognises there is more to do for disadvantaged pupils. Our ambition is to halve the number of children who finish Reception without the communication and reading skills they need to thrive. Our £72 million Opportunity Areas programme will focus resource on areas with low social mobility. We have also dedicated £24 million to Opportunity North East to address the specific challenges in that region.
- The Department’s establishment of the Education Endowment Foundation (EEF) with a £137 million grant has ensured that schools have access to high quality, evidence-based, effective practice drawn from hundreds of trials across England. We recommend that schools consult the EEF’s resources, particularly its recent ‘Pupil Premium Guide’, when they are considering how best to support their pupils and close the attainment gap.
Collaboration – UUK issued a press release on Brexit day to reaffirm their commitment to working with HE and research institutions across Europe. The group called on their respective Governments to make this a priority as discussions about the future relationship take place. UUK describe the membership of the group: a total of 36 major domestic and international organisations, which includes the European University Association (EUA), 24 National University representative bodies, the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) and many other bodies across Europe. Excerpt from their joint statement:
- “We, the major bodies representing, and partnering with, science and higher education across the UK and Europe, are united in agreeing that we wish to continue to work together following the departure of the UK from the European Union. We call on our national governments and the European Commission to act on the commitments of the political declaration and work swiftly to agree a basis for continued collaboration through the UK’s full association to Horizon Europe and Erasmus+. Swift agreement in this area of clear mutual benefit would be good for all of us and should be reached before the end of 2020, allowing for the development of innovative and stronger collaborations over the decades to come.”
Diversity and underrepresentation – Advance HE have published Increasing Diversity: Tackling underrepresentation of protected groups in HE. It recommends developing quantitative and qualitative skills in institutional research when examining issues of student equity. Wonkhe report that:
- the recommendations draw on the findings of eleven projects that designed and implemented interventions to address specific institutional inequities. And that a wider theme is provider’s reluctance to consider targeted outreach and “positive actions”. A detailed set of definitions set out the legal position. Providers noted that targeted work had raised the profile of diversity more generally, and allowed for increased staff awareness of issues via new and challenging conversations.
Sector Leading: A new Wonkhe blog written by Bristol Student Union’s Education Officer looks the value of a university being recognised as ‘sector leading’ with an eye on what this means for equality, diversity and inclusion, particularly taking risks and trying out new ways to tackle problems and improve the student experience.
- They’re often proud of the innovative work they’ve been recognised for – and keen to communicate it. But whilst this could be an indicator that a university has gone “above and beyond”, it raises the question of whether the motivation is competition – being the first to achieve a change – or whether it’s a genuine indication of the intention to continuously be a better and more inclusive place….while there ought to be recognition given to a university that exceeds sector expectations, it is worth senior managers (and sector bodies) thinking about the effect this culture has on the motivation and appetite for change in their institutions – specifically in areas of policy on issues that require careful attention.
- The role of the OfS adds another dimension to this. It talks about wanting universities to do better, but student officers around the country report that often its influence acts in reverse… The fear of breaching a condition of registration, dropping a TEF medal or losing money leads institutions to “play it safe”, focus relentlessly on TEF metrics (to the detriment of things not counted or measured).
- Competition for student numbers has left so many of us involved in the leadership, governance and management of universities in “constant consciousness” of the impact that a programme or decision might have on reputation. At best it has a chilling effect on bravery or investment with obvious risks or without clear reputational returns. At worst, the need to recruit drives almost all decision making.
- ….[in ]the coming decade, huge issues remain unresolved. Where and how the sector intends to expand to meet demand for HE without killing communities is one. Tackling deep racial inequalities in the middle of a nasty, anti-PC culture war is another. We need real answers on climate change, to find a way to tackle the costs of student accommodation, and find a way to incentivise the development and improvement of teaching that commands more support than the TEF does now.
- To get there, we need creativity, humility and collaboration – and that means that the idea of being a “sector leading” institution needs to go. This type of discourse fails both students and staff. What should replace it should be a new, more genuine sentiment – focused on what we want to collectively achieve.
Student Loans Company: Professor Andrew Wathey (VC Northumbria University) has been appointed as the interim Chair of the Student Loans Company (SLC).He has been a Non-Executive Board member at the SLC since 2018 and was Chair of the SLC Stakeholder Forum between 2010 and 2017.
Hedgehog rankings: Hedgehog fans will be pleased to know that the Preservation Society has launched a TEF style Gold, Silver Bronze accreditation scheme for universities that are looking after their campus hedgehog population.
Mental Health: Wonkhe report that the OfS has awarded £95,000 to student mental health charity Student Minds to develop a Charter Award Scheme, following the publication of Student Minds’ Mental Health Charter. At school level the National Association of Head Teachers has issued a press statement on the (almost) doubling of the numbers of counsellors needed to support school pupils. In 2016 36% of schools sought help for children’s mental health issues, in 2019 it rose to 66%. It was Children’s Mental Health Week this week.
Student Accommodation: The BBC report on three companies who failed to meet fire safety standards in a student residence in Leeds. Action was taken and the companies fined £670,000 in total after a concerned parent reported the safety breaches. Meanwhile Deloitte said the number of student beds under construction in Britain’s biggest regional cities has fallen 16.6% due to concerns over potential oversupply (reported in The Times).
IT: Regulations relating to the Digital Economy Act 2017 require that IT qualifications be provided free of charge for those aged 19+ who do not already hold an appropriate qualification standard in certain specified IT areas.
The Future: The Association of University Administrators are running a survey as part of research identifying future development needs and how professional service roles are developing during the current rapid changes for the HE sector. The survey is open until the end of February.
Student Vote: The impact of the supposed student vote did not deliver the majority Theresa May expected in the 2017 snap general election. The phenomenon has been analysed ad nauseam ever since (revealing it is far more complex than a student vote). However, the Conservatives are concerned to court the younger vote and wary of constituencies with large student populations. Boris Johnson even unsuccessfully tried for an early September 2019 general election reputedly in part to decrease the impact of the student vote by holding it before or in the transition of the beginning of term when students would not be registered to vote in the local university address. HEPI have an interesting blog by Dean Machin (Policy Advisor at Portsmouth University) who tackles some of the anti-student suggestions on limiting the vote and sets it in a wider context by applying the logic to other marginalised sectors within society (the elderly, carers, apprentices, and the terminally ill) – with some results which would be politically unpalatable. It is worth the quick 2 minute read.
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HE policy update for the w/e 12th October 2018
Student Loans – further sales
On Wednesday the Government announced their intention to sell off another set of student loans (written statement here). Angela Rayner Labour’s Shadow Education Secretary was granted an Urgent Question within Parliament to raise the sale and requested a statement from Universities Minister Sam Gyimah. Sam stated:
- I want to explain to the House the rationale for the sale of the student loan book and make some important points. The sale will categorically not result in private investors setting the terms or operating the collection of repayments. Loans in scope will continue to be serviced by Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs and the Student Loans Company on the same basis as equivalent unsold loans. Investors will have no right to change any of the current loan arrangements or to directly contact borrowers. Furthermore, the Government’s policies on student finance and higher education are not being altered by the sale. These older loans, the borrowers of which benefited from lower tuition fees and lower interest rates, are not in the scope of the current review of post-18 education and funding.
- The sale represents an opportunity for the Government to guarantee money up front today, rather than fluctuating and uncertain payments over a longer period. That will allow the Government to invest in other policies with greater economic and social returns. We will proceed with the sale only if market conditions remain favourable and if the final value-for-money assessment is positive.
Angela Rayner continued to question the Minister stating the sale related to £4 billion of the student loan book and requesting for a valuation of the loans up for sale (it wasn’t provided). She also highlighted that the National Audit Office findings suggested the DfE made a loss of £900 million on the previous student loan book sale, with £600 million in future income lost. Finally she asked:
- Will the Minister confirm that when the sales go ahead the Government will lose a source of income for as long as 25 years in exchange for a one-off payment? Can he give us any justification for the policy of selling off an asset to flatter this Government’s terrible position on national debt? With nearly £1 billion lost in the previous sale, just how low would the sale price have to go before the Government decided that selling simply was not worth it?
- Sam Gyimah responded: Student loan sales in this country have happened over nearly two decades. This is not new…The National Audit Office did refer to the write-down of the loan book, but anybody who has studied accounting will know that the present value of a future income stream will be lower than the value if one waited 30 years. In capturing some of that money, the Government can invest in vital public services today, and that is the rationale for selling the student loan book…The sale will also be good for the taxpayer. Once people have been to university, it serves no public purpose to have the money tied up. The sale will release that money to invest in other priorities. On the valuation, the face value of the sale is £3.9 billion, but what we will do and how we will look to proceed will ultimately depend on market conditions.
The Lords were also granted a debate on the topic and picked up where Angela Rayner left off.
- Lord Watson of Invergowrie (Labour): I listened to Mr Gyimah’s exchange today with my colleague Angela Rayner, the shadow Secretary of State. Unfortunately, he dodged all of her questions on the valuation of the loans the Government are selling. He simply confirmed that the Government would forgo the 25-year revenue stream in favour of a one-off receipt…The Government have said that the revenue from selling off student loans now will enable them to invest in vital public services today. We all know that the Treasury has the final say on specifically where this windfall will go, but surely most, if not all, of it should be reinvested in the education budget; goodness knows there is a need for it.
- In a later statement Angela Rayner, commented: “The last time the Tories sold off a slice of the student loan book they lost hundreds of millions of pounds, yet this latest announcement shows they have learnt absolutely nothing…These repeated experiments with privatisation are not in the interests of either taxpayers or the students facing a mountain of debt for a university education… instead of fixing the problem the Tories are resorting to a short-term fix at a long-term cost to the country.
MoneySavingExpert.com immediately blogged to reassure students their repayments wouldn’t be affected by the proposed sale. MoneySupermarket have a breakdown of student spending which highlights a £142 weekly shortfall in the student loan against outgoings.
Brexit: EU Students and Staff
Wonkhe report: Higher education staff who are EU residents are to be prioritised in a new phase of the EU Settlement Scheme pilot, which will open in November. Eligible to apply are those who are employed by or work at a higher education institution or overseas higher education institution in the UK which is classified as such on the Tier 4 Register of licensed sponsors. The new phase will be a further pilot to scale up the testing of the scheme in addition to HE staff it also covers the health and social care sector. The new phase will open on November 1 and will run until 21 December this year.
Alistair Jarvis, Chief Executive of Universities UK, stated:
“There are nearly 50,000 EU nationals working in UK universities and they make a vitally important contribution to our campuses and communities. Many leading researchers and key university staff in the UK are from other EU countries. This enables our universities to maintain their world-class excellence in teaching and research. Highly trained international technical, professional and support staff also play an important role in our universities.
“We welcome the news therefore that they will be able to obtain settled or pre-settled status as one of the earliest groups in the scheme. This will provide much needed clarity for our EU staff and for universities. It is vital for our economy and society that the UK retains and continues to attract the best and brightest from across Europe post-Brexit.
The Immigration Minister also stated the government’s intention to double the Immigration Health Surcharge (HIS) to £400 per year (or £300 per year for students). This change will require ratification in Parliament by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords.
AI & Industrial Strategy
Next Tuesday the Education Committee will meet Pepper the robot who will answer questions in a session on the Fourth Industrial Revolution. Pepper is part of an international research project developing the world’s first culturally aware robots aimed at assisting with care for older people. The Committee will hear about her work with students across the faculties at Middlesex University, including a project involving teaching primary level children, and what role increased automation and robotics might play in the workplace and classroom of the future. After a demonstration by Pepper, the Committee will explore with witnesses, including those from Middlesex University, how robots can be used to support learning, and the skills needed to adapt to the growth in artificial intelligence and automation.
University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are in the news again with the Guardian drawing on the Education Policy Institute (EPI) report which finds UTCs ineffective as 50% of students drop out. UTCs are for 14-19 year olds, with a strong focus on technical education. They are sponsored by universities and supported by employers. The EPI report notes that there are 50 UTCs open in England. An additional 10 having closed or fundamentally changed into a different institution type in recent years.
UTCs: provision and characteristics
- Many UTCs are struggling with student numbers. A third of students are enrolled at one of the 20 UTCs with decreasing student numbers.
- A huge proportion of UTC students are dropping out after two years. Over half of students enrolled leave between the ages of 16 and 17, failing to progress from Key Stage 4 (14-16) into Key Stage 5 (16-18). Students with lower GCSE results, special educational needs and those from disadvantaged backgrounds are the least likely to continue.
- These significant drop-out rates in UTCs continue after age 16. Those that remain for post-16 study are still far less likely to complete their final studies than students in other types of education:
– 63% of UTC students studying broader vocational qualifications completed their final assessment, compared to 83% nationally.
– 69% studying occupation-specific qualifications finished, compared to 81% nationally.
– For A-levels, 80% of students finished, compared to 94% nationally.
- A large proportion of UTCs receive poor inspection outcomes from Ofsted:
– 1 in 5 were rated ‘inadequate’ – twice the national average.
– 2 in 5 were rated ‘requires improvement’ – four times more than the national average.
– Just 4% were rated ‘outstanding’ – compared to 22% of secondary schools.
Progress and outcomes of students in UTCs
- UTC students make almost a whole grade less progress between leaving primary education and the end of Key Stage 4 than other students in state-funded schools. Significantly, this poor progress is particularly acute for high attainers, who make over a grade’s less progress than high attainers in all state-funded schools. When considering maths alone, UTC students as a whole lag behind by almost half a grade. Only around half of UTC students achieve at least a pass in GCSE English and maths, compared with two-thirds nationally.
- UTC students who stay on to study A levels also perform below the state funded average. The average grade obtained at A level in UTCs is a D, compared to the average of a grade C in all state funded institutions. However, students taking technical and vocational qualifications at a UTC perform close to the national average – but higher than those in Further Education colleges. On average they achieve a distinction in applied general qualifications (mainly BTECs) and Tech levels.
- UTC students perform well when retaking their GCSEs – improving their grades in English and maths by around a third of a grade.
- 20% of Key Stage 5 leavers go on to do an apprenticeship, three times the national average (7%), suggesting that UTCs are delivering good school-work transitions.
Supporting skills needs in the economy
- UTCs offer more technical pathways than other school types, with students much more likely to choose to study STEM subjects: 10% of UTC Key Stage 4 entries are in computer science (2% are nationally), 8% are in chemistry and/or physics (twice the national average), 16% in science general/combined (12% are nationally). All these calculations exclude English and maths.
- UTCs are ensuring students are trained for jobs in technical industries where high-skilled employment is expected to grow. Employment growth is projected in sectors that UTCs specialise in such as construction, IT, and health. This could present increased employment opportunities for students in UTCs.
- The government should consider changing the admissions age for UTCs from 14 to 16. While it is common in other countries for students to make a transition in education before 16, England essentially has a pre- and post-16 system. UTCs have struggled with admissions at age 14. With poor levels of progress and retention, it is not clear that students are benefiting from a 14-19 education.
- With provision starting at age 16, UTCs should focus on delivering high-quality existing technical qualifications and eventually the new ‘T-levels’ – relevant to local and national skill needs. With UTCs only focusing on ages 16-18, this would give them an opportunity to deliver differentiated, specialised, high-quality technical education. This should allow UTC students to progress to higher levels of technical education in Institutes of Technology, National Colleges, university, or other providers, should they wish to pursue further study.
- Better measures are needed that account for the technical-oriented provision of UTCs. Improved destination measures are needed that also account for the characteristics of students, so that the particular intakes of UTCs can be taken into account.
Misrepresentation of Official Statistics: Schools
Last week Nick Gibb, Minster of State for School Standards stated the UK’s spending on education was the third highest in the world. It hit the headlines as it controversially included university student tuition loans as well as fees paid by private school pupils and positively misrepresented literacy rankings. The UK Statistics Authority criticised here, the letter highlighting it was the fourth time in the last 12 months the DfE has misused statistics. Damian Hinds, Secretary of State for Education, responded here providing alternative statistics to blur the lines of the previous misuse. Whereas the Permanent Secretary within the DfE, Ed Humperson, was willing to hold his hands up and say they’ll do better in this letter.
The future of UK research funding
From Research Professional: The House of Commons science and technology committee has published the written evidence for its ongoing inquiry into the balance of UK research funding. This inquiry was launched in July, two months after UK Research and Innovation published a strategic prospectus in which it announced that it was carrying out an internal review of the balance of funds between the research councils, Research England, Innovate UK and interdisciplinary research. It seems that UKRI would like to alter the balance in favour of more research across disciplinary boundaries and possibly more research that yields impact in its many forms.
It is interesting to look at who submitted evidence – not very many universities, although the Russell Group (and some of their members individually), UUK and GuildHE made submissions, alongside many of the Societies and Academies, the Wellcome Trust etc. So did the Department for BEIS.
Widening Participation, Students’ Achievement and Outcomes
A thought provoking blog on Wonkhe this week: Beyond school qualifications: how to make admissions truly inclusive. It tackles the false positives (admitting a student when it would have been better to decline) and false negatives (not offering to a student who would have done well) and considers the influence of a range of WP factors. The article favours foundation years to tackle the false negatives, and considers how efforts could be scaled up to admit on a different basis for a wider range of courses. It also highlights the pros and cons of the radical French université open access system.
The Office for Students published an early evaluation of the Addressing Barriers to Student Success programme covering the first year of programme delivery. It looks at how the programme is working, lessons learnt, and potential for cross-institutional partnerships as enablers for trialling and scaling up as well as the organisational and pedagogical approaches that seek to address differential student outcomes. Figure 3.5 on page 22 lists some of the successful activities which have addressed student success so far and page 33 has a what works diagram:
Finally the recommendation is for a three year programme (rather than the intended two) otherwise the results of the interventions will now be known and that the OfS should consider the academic calendar when funding programmes of this nature.
This week there were parliamentary questions on whether Pupil Premium is being used to supplement core funding, on the opt-in requirement for universities to share student mental health status information with parents, and on transition to university (mental health). Another question tackled the recruitment of Social Mobility Commissioners, the answer simply stated the recruitment was ongoing and no information would be released until the process concluded (and a further ask on the Commission recruitment attempted to establish how many applicants were solicited or unsolicited – same no response was given). . Sam Gyimah also answered a parliamentary question on student mobility study abroad programmes responding that such schemes still focus on the UK participating in the Erasmus successor programme. A further question on unconditional offers highlighted the tasking of the OfS to assess the impact unconditional offers may have on A level attainment. Finally there was a question on childcare support:
Q- David Simpson: To ask the Secretary of State for Education, whether his Department has a policy on helping students with children to study at university while providing childcare support.
A – Sam Gyimah:
- The government recognises the value of parents continuing in, or returning to, education and provides support to those enrolled on recognised education courses. Eligible student parents may be able to claim a Childcare Grant, which offers support with up to 85% of their childcare costs, depending on their household income. The maximum Childcare Grant for the 2018 to 2019 academic year is: Up to £164.70 a week for one child. Up to £282.36 a week for two or more children. Parents’ Learning Allowance is additional funding to help students who are also parents. This can be used for everyday costs of study, such as books, study materials and travel.
Birkbeck has announced that it will no longer participate in UK league tables. Their statement notes good REF outcomes and a sliver TEF, but says that their league table position “gives a totally misleading view of the College”.
- Entry tariffs – UK rankings reward universities for high entry grades, measuring inputs rather than outcomes. Birkbeck admits a wide range of students at different stages of their lives to widen access to education. To do this it has flexible entry requirements rather than strict rules about A level grades – the majority of students are mature and while many have valuable work experience, they may have been outside formal education for some time. Birkbeck’s flexible entry grades have the effect of pulling it down the rankings and, in effect, this penalises the College for its mission.
- Retention rates – Birkbeck’s students are often working or caring during the day and more vulnerable to changes in circumstances elsewhere in their lives. To compare this cohort with school leavers learning through daytime teaching elsewhere in the sector is misleading. Tables measure full-time students only. Birkbeck actually has one of the highest completion rates for part-time students in the sector. This reflects our expertise in supporting students combining work, family and other commitments with their degrees.
- Student spend – As Birkbeck students are taught in the evening, and often work during the day, the College does not provide its own dedicated leisure facilities (although students have access to the facilities shared by all members of the University of London). Again these mean Birkbeck’s score is reduced in domestic tables.
This is really a criticism of the over-simplified view that league tables give, compared to (say) the TEF (much criticised in its own right, of course, but much more nuanced). The first point above is one that will resonate with many across the sector. Progression from year 1 to year 2 is of course a metric in the TEF, which uses benchmarks so that Birkbeck would not be penalised for its model.
Postgraduate Research Experience Survey
Advance HE published the Postgraduate Research Experience Survey 2018. They note that 16,000 postgraduates responded to the survey and list the key findings as:
- Postgraduates researchers continue to rate their experience positively, with 8/10 who are satisfied overall. However, this represents a 2% decline since 2017.
- They were positive about their supervision, with 9/10 PGRs satisfied with their supervisors’ knowledge, feedback and availability. Postgraduates were less positive about the research culture, with 63% of respondents reporting positively.
- In contrast to undergraduate survey findings, PRES 2018 results indicate that UK domicile students of black ethnicity are the most likely to believe their research degree programme is worthwhile; and, again in contrast to the Advance HE – HEPI Student Academic Survey, postgraduate students working long hours in paid employment did not appear to be disadvantaged.
- PGRs with a disability, however, were less positive about their experience, facing increasing challenges as they progress through their studies.
The OfS have also issued an invitation to tender for a taught postgraduate student survey. It is described as an exploratory sample based survey intended to gather responses from around 30,000 PG students.
To accompany the tender announcements Conor Ryan, from the OfS wrote a Wonkhe blog: Listening to the postgraduate student voice.
Advance HE will publish the Postgraduate Taught Experience Survey (PTES) later this month, and the UK Engagement Survey next month.
Freedom of speech
Research Professional continues what might be called a campaign to call the Minister out on his pronouncements on free speech. The latest was in the playbook last week.
Playbook readers are familiar with the occasions it has been our journalistic duty to fact-check the claims of the universities minister Sam Gyimah during his campaign for free speech on campus. It was a surprise, then, to read over the summer an interview with the minister, given to the think tank Bright Blue, in which he said he had “received countless emails and letters from students saying that free speech on their campus is being threatened or impeded”. Wondering what amounted to “countless” these days, Playbook submitted a freedom of information request to the Department for Education. We asked for details of how many emails the minister had received from students on this topic. Sadly, the department was unable to comply with our request.
It said: “‘Free speech’ is such a widely applied term, it is impossible to narrow down all of the correspondence related to this subject.” We were told that the information was held in a “correspondence logging system” and not on a spreadsheet. “So the department estimates that the cost of complying with your request would exceed the cost threshold applicable to central government. This is £600 and represents the estimated cost of one person spending 3.5 working days locating, retrieving and extracting the information,” the department said.
Sexual Misconduct: AMOSSHE published an Insight report which researched students’ expectations of their universities following reporting or disclosure of sexual misconduct by or against students. The report notes a reluctance to report sexual misconduct and that emotional wellbeing support is crucial to student’s following disclosure.
UTCs: University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are in the news again with the Guardian drawing on the Education Policy Institute report which finds UTCs ineffective as 50% of students drop out.
Universal Credit: There has been significant hand wringing from the Conservatives over Universal Credit in recent times. FE News runs an article (written by Dept for Work and Pensions) on Universal Credit setting out the exceptions to the rule that full time students cannot claim Universal Credit.
A (short-ish) technical blog on HEPI this week discusses aligning Post-18 Entitlements and Apprenticeship Funding. It provides some facts and figures from level 2 to level 4. It concludes:
Arguably more thought needs to be given to publicly funded re-skilling entitlements. Potential options include:
- an all-age entitlement to free tuition for a second full Level 2;
- positioning fee-loans as the only source of public funding for subsequent Level 3 qualifications;
- creating separate part-time HE and adult FE fee-loan budgets for subsequent Levels 4 to 6 qualifications; and
- funding short courses through the National Retraining Scheme.
EEA Workers: Those following the Migration Advisory Committee’s EEA workers investigation and reporting may find this UCEA webpage interesting. It brings together the major sources on the topic and publishes the UCEA red amber green briefing response to the committee’s report.
Brexit – No deal prep: On Friday the Government released more guidance for various sectors on how to prepare for Brexit should we leave the EU with no deal.
Chief Scientific Adviser (Foreign and Commonwealth Office): Professor Carole Mundell was announced as the new Chief Scientific Adviser. She will also continue in her role as Professor of Extragalactic Astronomy at Bath University. The Chief Scientific Adviser represents UK science interests internationally, using science relationships to deliver the UK’s foreign policy priorities. She will work closely with the UK’s Science and Innovation Network to facilitate links between British and international scientists to drive future economic growth; tackle global challenges such as Anti-Microbial Resistance, Patient Safety, girls’ education and to support the conservation and sustainable use of the Ocean.
- Professor Mundell commented: Science is an international endeavour and is most effective when it draws on diverse talent to push the frontier of knowledge and tackle the biggest challenges facing our planet. I am honoured to have been appointed FCO CSA and am excited to work with the UK’s Science and Innovation Network and add value to the FCO’s prosperity and security work around the world.
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HE policy update for the w/e 5th January 2018
Welcome to the first policy update of 2018! Parliament is in recess until Monday 8th so there has been less activity this week. Nevertheless, here is your slimline summary of the activity since our last update.
Office for Students
The Office for Students (OfS) officially came into existence this week. The final 6 members of the OfS board were announced
- Simon Levine is the Managing Partner and Co-Global Chief Executive Officer of the global law firm, DLA Piper. A graduate of Cambridge University, he is a Visiting Professor and Lecturer at Imperial College Business School.
- Elizabeth Fagan is Senior Vice President, Managing Director of Boots.
- Katja Hall is a partner at Chairman Mentors International, previously she was Group Head of External Affairs and Sustainability at HSBC where she was responsible for external communications, stakeholder engagement, social responsibility and community investment.
- Monisha Shah is Chair of Rose Bruford College of Theatre and Performance. She is also a serving Trustee of ArtFund, an independent fundraising charity for art. In December 2015, Monisha was invited by the Prime Minister to join the Committee on Standards in Public Life.
- Ruth Carlson is a current student at Surrey University, where she is a Student Ambassador for civil engineering. She has experience as a course representative, as a former president of the Surrey University Women’s Football Team and has also worked in other institutional and regional representative forums.
- Toby Young is the co-founder of the West London Free School, and now serves as the director the New Schools Network. His teaching experience includes working as a teaching fellow at Harvard and a teaching assistant at Cambridge. He is a Fulbright Commissioner.
This appointment has been contentious with both students and academics claiming he is unsuitable (BBC News: Toby Young regrets ‘politically incorrect’ comments). In another BBC article: University job backlash because I’m a Tory the DfE are reported to have spoken of the “vital insights Toby’s experience as the founder of a free school will bring to the role”. Furthermore: “This experience will be vital in encouraging new providers and ensuring more universities are working effectively with schools.”
Mr Young has also been criticised for past derogatory comments about working class students. In response to this complaint Toby claims the number of pupil premium children enrolled at the four schools he has established counters this criticism.
Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: “If this organisation was to have any credibility it needed a robust board looking out for students’ interests. Instead we have this announcement sneaked out at New Year with Tory cheerleader Toby Young dressed up as the voice of teachers and no actual representation from staff or students.” [Note – there is student representation as Ruth Carlson has been appointed to the OfS board – see above.]
Twitter has been awash with complaints, including suggestions he is deleting thousands of inappropriate past tweets. LBC have critiqued the DfE for failing to provide a rationale response justifying why the inappropriate tweets were not considered a deterrent factor in Toby’s appointment.
Conservative Minister Margot James has also criticised the choice: “Toby Young is worthy of his appointment but it is a mistake for him to belittle sexist comments by labelling them ‘politically incorrect’, a term frequently used to dismiss unacceptable comments about, and behaviour towards, women and minorities.”
Toby has strong links with the Conservative party who are currently reported as experiencing a generation gap crisis due to the low number of young members they are attracting. Strong student opposition to Toby’s appointment may further damage the Conservatives’ reputation with younger voters further.
Click the link to read Toby Young’s statement: why I am qualified to be on board of new universities regulator
Previously announced members:
- Sir Michael Barber (Chair)
- Martin Coleman (Deputy Chair)
- Nicola Dandridge (CEO)
- Chris Millward (DfAP)
- Gurpreet Dehal
- Kate Lander
- Prof Carl Lygo
- David Palfreyman
- Prof Steve West.
League tables often attract a collective groan within HE institutions because positioning is important but the criteria and methodologies change making interpretation difficult. On Thursday the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association published A Guide to UK League Tables in HE. The report is a simple introduction for those who’d like to understand the limitations of league tables without getting bogged down in the complex terms and data.
Sally Turnball (author) said: League tables are both interesting and useful. But, as is the case in much of today’s knowledge society, we need to be able to navigate and understand this information effectively, so that it aids – rather than drives – what we do.
In summary, some difficulties are:
- Data is old – doesn’t present an accurate picture of a provider as it is today. This is exacerbated as league tables are used by pupils to make choices when they are 12-18 months away from enrolling – meaning by enrolment the institution was selected based on its performance 4 years ago.
- While the league tables collect and compare consistent data across institutions the HE sector is diverse so the data used often focuses on a narrow student population. Making it virtually meaningless for mature, part-time and postgraduate applicants.
- League tables use NSS data as a proxy to represent teaching quality – its an easily accessible data source but being opinion based its usefulness is limited because it’s not a robust or impartial evaluation of quality.
- Often providers cluster around the same scores so the rankers have to resort to decimal place levels to differentiate and allocate position on the league table – even though the differences are infinitesimal. Furthermore, changing the weighting of some criteria and excluding extreme scores – which is statistically sensible – results in exaggerated differences between provider scores and their resultant ranking position.
- Many of the valuable things done by institutions cannot be easily measured and are not incorporated into the rankings.
- Page 17 lists the metrics used to calculate the league tables, and pages 18 to 35 set out the problems associated with each metric in simple language.
The report concludes: League tables are not created for higher education providers to use as core management information. They are not based on thorough in-depth analyses of the datasets and they do not take many of the known contextual factors into account – for example, graduate employment data are not adjusted for local employment markets, despite differences in the profile of employment opportunities across the country. Yet league tables bring together a range of different sources of information about higher education providers to give a general overview of factors that prospective students might find useful when considering where to study. They provide information at both subject and institutional levels and they generate media coverage, putting areas of supposedly stronger and weaker provision in the spotlight. League tables are here to stay, and it would be ill-advised to ignore them. However, using them as the sole basis for policymaking or strategic decision-making is equally ill-advised.
Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI said: Universities are judged by their position in the league tables. Rankings determine reputation, prestige and student numbers. That is why university governing bodies hold their vice-chancellors to account for their league table positions. But users of the league tables tend to know little about how the rankings are put together. In other words, they do not know, precisely, what it is they are holding people to account for. The main league tables are not going to disappear any time soon because they provide comparative information and people find them useful. But they are easily and often misunderstood. My hope is that everyone who holds our universities to account will set themselves a new year’s resolution to look under the bonnet of the league tables before using them.
Jo Johnson spoke about free speech at the Jewish Limmud Festival on 26 December: “Our universities…should be places that open minds not close them, where ideas can be freely challenged and prejudices exposed. But in universities in America and increasingly in the United Kingdom, there are countervailing forces of censorship, where groups have sought to stifle those who do not agree with them in every way under the banner of “safe spaces” or “no-platforming”. However well-intentioned, the proliferation of such safe spaces, the rise of no-platforming, the removal of ‘offensive’ books from libraries and the drawing up of ever more extensive lists of banned “trigger” words are undermining the principle of free speech in our universities. Shield young people from controversial opinions, views that challenge their most profoundly held beliefs or simply make them uncomfortable, and you are on the slippery slope that ends up with a society less able to make scientific breakthroughs, to be innovative and to resist injustice.”
Of the OfS Johnson stated: “Promoting freedom of speech within the law will be at the heart of its [OfS’] approach to the regulation of our higher education system. The OfS will go further than its predecessor in promoting freedom of speech. …as a condition of registration with the new regulator, we are proposing that all universities benefitting from public money must demonstrate a clear commitment to free speech in their governance documents. I am pleased to say that this freedom is as important to the OfS’s new chairman, Sir Michael Barber, as it is to me. While he hoped the OfS never has to intervene in a university in relation to freedom of speech, he undertook that, if it does, it will be to widen it rather than restrict it. I’m confident freedom of speech in our universities has a bright future under the OfS. But we will continue to watch the system carefully.”
Finally Johnson reiterated: “And I want to be clear about this: attempts to silence opinions that one disagrees with have no place in the English university system. Academics and students alike must not allow a culture to take hold where silence is preferable to a dissenting voice. Universities cannot afford to be complacent about complying either with their duties to protect freedom of speech, or anything less than vigilant against hate speech (or other unlawful activity) masquerading as the exercise of the right to freedom of speech.”
On the following day Angela Rayner (Labour, Shadow Secretary of State for Education) said: “It is a false choice to suggest that universities are either places of free enquiry or places of safety. They can be both. Denying access to groups and individuals who incite violence and hatred is a perfectly sensible step to keep students safe from harm. The NUS have a ‘no-platform’ policy for a handful of racist, anti-Semitic and extremist organisations, some of which the Government itself has also banned. If Jo Johnson is opposed to that policy, he needs to be clear which of those groups he actually wants on campus.”
Leader of the Lib Dems, Vince Cable, is optimistic the PM will remove international students from the official immigration figures. He said: “…the Home Office has wildly exaggerated the number of those who overstay. This absurd policy has fuelled concerns over immigration numbers and done serious damage to our universities. We should be encouraging more students to come and spend their money in the UK, instead of needlessly hampering one of Britain’s most successful export industries.”
Theresa May has been vehement in continuing to count students within the net migration targets. Without fresh evidence it seemed unlikely the PM would change her stance, however, Politics Home has speculated May is likely to back down to avoid a vote defeat during the forthcoming Immigration Bill.
Meanwhile, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) continue their work to assess the social and economic impacts of international students studying within the UK. BU are currently preparing their response to the MAC call for evidence. Contact us at Policy if you’d like to contribute this this response.
Institutes of Technology fund
In December the Government announced a £170 million fund to establish Institutes of Technology delivering high level technical skills that meet employer needs. The Institutes of Technology will combine business, education and training providers within technical (particularly STEM) subjects to deliver the specific provision needed by local, regional and national employers. It forms part of the Government’s Industrial Strategy that will directly target skills gaps through upskilling existing and new entrants to the workforce. The first Institutes of Technology are expected to open in 2019.
Justine Greening said: “Institutes of technology will play a vital role driving our skills revolution with business and unlocking the potential of our country’s young people through better technical education. By bridging the country’s skills gaps, these new institutions will drive growth and widen opportunity.” “This Government continues to invest in developing our homegrown talent so British business has the skills it needs and so that young people can get the opportunities they want.”
Click here to view the updated consultation tracker. Email us on firstname.lastname@example.org if you’d like to contribute to any of the current consultations.
The year that was: HEPI review the major happenings of 2017 – a handy and brief refresh if you tuned out during the relentless sector debate and change last year. And Times Higher lists their 25 most popular articles of 2017 – the top spot went to the TEF results.
Research policy news: read our round up of the research news this week. And David Sweeney reflects on the change in mindset required to understand the approach to submissions in REF 2021.
Access to non-religious pastoral carers: Humanists UK published the results of their survey calling for non-religious support workers to be appointed to university chaplaincy and pastoral support teams. The survey sampling is limited in that it was only drawn from their student membership.
Industrial Strategy: The House of Lords has produced a library briefing on the Industrial Strategy and the UK Economy
Artificial Intelligence & Automation: The House of Commons Library has produced a briefing paper on Artificial Intelligence and Automation in the UK. Increasing digital skills, filling employment gaps, and funding for AI research are key issues for Government who seek to grow the AI industry. A sector deal for AI was announced in the Autumn 2017 Budget. This briefing paper considers the impact of AI and automation on the UK workforce, including how working lives may change. There are a broad range of predictions caveated by uncertainties such as the rate of technological development, rate of deployment, and the geographical variations. The paper concludes that the impact is likely to be significant and the Bank of England predicts that 15 million jobs will be influenced by automation over the next 20 years. You may also find the THE article from May 2017 Which countries and universities are leading on AI research interesting.
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JANE FORSTER | SARAH CARTER
Policy Advisor Policy & Public Affairs Officer
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