Tagged / teaching

HE policy update w/e 27th January 2017

Industrial Strategy Green Paper

The Government launched the Industrial Strategy Green Paper and consultation this week. The paper focuses on improving Britain’s innovation and productivity in key areas alongside upskilling the workforce to become world leading. The government suggest a number of areas of industry specialism that should be supported:

  • clean energy
  • robotics
  • healthcare
  • space technology
  • quantum technology
  • advanced computing and communications

The document frequently references the role of Universities as innovation leaders pushing for commercialisation and greater productive cooperation with business. It states that the ‘neglect of technical education’ should be redressed and insinuates that higher-level technical education will be pushed towards the new Institutes of Technology (£170 government investment announced – see below). There is an emphasis on rebalancing the difference in Britain’s economic geography through infrastructure investment. In addition, it criticises how UK research funding is currently heavily invested in the ‘golden triangle’ (Oxford, Cambridge, London) and calls to build on research strengths in businesses as well as other universities. The strategy has a strong focus on STEM and Wonkhe have reported that The British Academy are urging the government not to forget investment in social sciences and humanities teaching and research, which they argue are vital to the continued development of the UK’s services sectors.

The consultation ends in April, we’ll be in touch shortly about how you can contribute to a BU response.

While the strategy has only just been launched it was preceded by the announcement of the new Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (Nov 2016) and consultative workshops. The workshops aimed to ensure that the challenges identified match UK business capability and are based on the best available evidence for scientific and commercial success on the global stage. The challenges mirror the industry specialisms proposed in the green paper but also mention the creative industries and integrated cities. The workshops conclude this week, implementation plans are expected to follow from the government and the first challenge is expected to be announced in March.

In an interesting article in The Conversation Graham Galbraith, VC at Portsmouth, urges Universities to shun new institutions for innovation and instead form a network of hubs building on relationships with employers, skills organisations and FE colleges. Furthermore he resists the government’s distinction between academic and technical education, seeing the productivity answer through flexible routes to university study and developing skills courses that employers need in accessible ways. He believes the university sector would deliver this far more quickly than new Institutes of Technology. Galbraith also criticises REF 2021: “The government wants the UK to be better at commercialising its world-class, basic research. But the… require[ment]…to include all academic staff…will have the effect of making universities re-balance their staff’s priorities so that there is more focus only on peer-reviewed research and less on outward-facing activities like business collaborations.”

Brexit –The Supreme Court has ruled that Parliament must vote to trigger Article 50 which begins the Brexit process. The government timescale is to trigger Article 50 by end of March and to this end they have introduced a European Withdrawal Bill (EWB). The European Withdrawal Bill gives the PM the power to notify the European Council of the UK’s intention to withdrawn from the EU through the required Act of Parliament. It is being fast tracked through Parliament. Parliamentary time is scheduled for 31 Jan, 1 Feb, 6-8 Feb.  The House of Commons Education Select Committee continues visits to Universities (Oxford, UCL) to examine impact of Brexit on HE. At the UCL visit (Wednesday) Michael Arthur (Provost) broke the UCAS data embargo revealing a 7% drop in EU applicants in the current cycle. The Guardian leads with ‘first decrease after almost a decade of unbroken growth blamed on… Brexit’. Committee Chair, Neil Carmichael is reported on Twitter as asking whether HE needs a sector-specific Brexit deal – panel response ‘yes absolutely!’

Higher Education and Research Bill (HERB) – The Lords continue to scrutinise the HERB carefully with the long list of amendments.  The list has stopped growing quite so quickly but new amendments proposed this week include one to set up a new UKRI visa department that will sponsor academics (507ZA). So far apart form the first one, no amendments other than government amendments have been passed, but the level of debate and the length of the list suggests that there may have to be some concessions by the government. James Younger, the government lead on the Bill in the Lords, wrote to Peers on 25th January about the bill.

Given the timing of the Brexit discussions, Wonkhe speculate that to achieve the timescales for the Bill and to clear sufficient parliamentary time for the European Withdrawal Bill to be passed the government may make concessions on HERB.  Key discussions this week:

  • NSS statistically unfit for TEF – Lord Lipsey discussed the statistical inadequacies of NSS and the implication for this as a TEF metric. The NSS in the TEF is using—or rather, abusing—statistics for a purpose for which the NSS was never designed.” Lipsey acknowledged that the Government have gently retreated from the emphasis on NSS scores – in their latest instructions to assessors they stated: “assessors should be careful not to overweight information coming from the NSS“. This was reinforced by Chris Husbands, Chair of TEF, who informed a meeting at the House of Commons this week that his team would “not be overweighting the NSS” when awarding ratings this year.  The proposed amendment was withdrawn after Viscount Younger: stressed the NSS was not the primary source of information for the TEF and that the framework was about much more than metrics. “Providers submit additional evidence alongside their metrics, and this evidence will be given significant weight by the panel”. HE continued: “we cannot ignore the only credible, widely used metrics that captures students’ views”.
  • There were also debates about the gold/silver/bronze ratings and the government provided reassurance that Bronze was “above a high quality baseline”. This contradicts statements made by some in DfE before the final specification was agreed about Bronze institutions “needing improvement”. The panel have praised positive communication on this subject.
  • Validation – The government have issued a factsheet for the Lords on Validation which provides explanation from the perspective of an alternative provider seeking to enter a validation arrangement. It describes Clause 46 of HERB, which gives the Office for Students (OfS) power to commission authorised HE providers to provide validation if other providers decline. It states such authorised providers are free to choose whether they wish offer this service, however once an arrangement is in place the OfS could require them to validate award) delivered by other registered HE providers. The commissioned arrangement would be made public.  The controversial Clause 47 which appoints OfS as the validator of last resort was also discussed. The controversy arises as OfS isn’t an academic institution and doesn’t hold Degree Awarding Powers. The OfS will advise the Secretary of State (SoS) if intervention is required (likely through an evidence based report and stakeholder consultation) and the SoS would then authorise the intervention through regulation which is subject to parliamentary scrutiny.
  • Contract Cheating – The amendment proposed by Lord Storey on contract cheating was withdrawn following Government reassurance. Lord Storey provided a passionate discourse including detailed sector information and cheating statistics. Baroness Goldie confirmed that the Government were addressing cheating referencing the (Aug 2016 published) QAA investigation and Jo Johnson’s commitment to close working to progress the recommendations. She revealed that the Minster would shortly announce a new initiative to tackle cheating in conjunction with QAA, Universities UK, NUS and HEFCE.

TEF

The 15 page written submissions for year 2 of the TEF were finalised and submitted this week, and this was the final opportunity for institutions to opt out of the TEF. Although there may have been others who have not published their positions, most Scottish Universities have opted out, as well as the Open University. Given the difference in the Scottish funding system they have less to gain from the TEF – but the 4 who have opted in have noted international reputation as a crucial factor. The OU explain their non-participation is due to the poor fit of the metrics with their social mobility demographic.

And the future of the TEF? According to Research Professional, a German academic has criticised the way that teaching excellence funding is being used in Germany.

“Whereas lower-ranked universities have tended to spread their funding from the programme thinly across faculties and courses, higher-ranked institutions have had the luxury of being able to focus on priority areas, the analysis found.

“You are starting to see emerging differences between disciplines taught at different universities,” Bloch told Times Higher Education on 17 January. For the first time, elite universities are starting to build up strong institutional identities when it comes to teaching, in an effort to get further ahead.

“It will be a long time before we reach the stratification that you see in the American system [around teaching], but we are seeing a difference for the first time in how resources in teaching are distributed,” he said.

UCAS 2016 entrants report – this data includes applications, offers and placed rates by sex, area background (LPN-polar 3), and ethnicity. BU’s report can be selected from the drop down menu towards the end of the webpage. The Guardian reports on the lower offer rates to black applicants. Wonkhe covers the HEIs that have a significant upward or downward trend in acceptances

Research Impact training: Parliament are running a Research, Impact and the UK Parliament event in Bristol on Wednesday 1 March. It covers the basics of the Parliamentary process and how academics can engage with parliament through their knowledge and research to inform scrutiny and legislation, including the impact of influencing policy to support REF submissions.

HEA Call for expressions of interest: teaching research methods in the Social Sciences

HEA have launched a call for expressions of interest in working with the HEA Social Sciences cluster on their strategic project – teaching research methods in the Social Sciences projects. Project strands include:

1.      Developing STEM skills in qualitative research methods teaching and learning
2.      Assessment for learning in research methods
3.      Teaching research methods within HE programmes in FE settings
4.      Making the most of open educational resources (OER) in research methods teaching and learning
5.      Research methods and knowledge exchange

For further details and to submit an expression of interest: http://mail.heacademy.ac.uk/12ZA-ZWSN-6DLHZU-DXEGR-0/c.aspx

Erasmus Staff Mobility Funding Competition for BU launches today!

You may or may not have heard of the Erasmus Staff Mobility scheme which BU has run for the last few years. If you have, then you will know it is a great scheme. If you haven’t then now is a great chance to learn more. Grants are available for BU staff to visit an enterprise or university in Europe and undertake teaching or training. This is not only a fantastic experience in itself but also a really great way to start to develop your networks. Your visit can be between 5 days and 6 weeks and non-academic staff can apply to the teaching strand too.

This year, I have taken over the gauntlet from Deborah Velay and incorporated the Erasmus Staff Mobility fund into the Fusion Investment Staff Mobility and Networking Fund. There is a really short application form to complete and the deadline is December 1st. The processes have been combined to improve our efficiency in delivering this scheme to you.

The Fusion Investment Fund was launched today and you can find out more on this absolutely brilliant scheme by following the link posted on the blog.

 

Strategies for use of news websites in journalism education

Funding Source: Association for Journalism Education
Chief Investigators: Dr Einar Thorsen and Sue Wallace, The Media SchoolBournemouth University
Research Assistant: Dr Caitlin PatrickThe Media SchoolBournemouth University

 

Project brief

Journalism is among the most rapidly changing industries, affected by both technological advances and shifting consumer habits. This makes it paramount for journalism education to keep pace with trends such as changing journalism practices and the migration of audiences to online journalism. One possible outcome of this imperative is for online news or magazine websites to be developed to a) showcase student reporting, b) serve as an educational tool in professional journalism practices, and c) facilitate research into news and journalism innovation. Journalism courses are increasingly making use of their own websites in one or more of these ways, but development, as in the news industry itself, has tended to be haphazard and quite often on a trial and error basis.

This project seeks to address this problematic by conducting a survey of news and magazine websites used in journalism courses, their history, evolution and integration into education practice. The aim is not to produce a standard model to be applied in every case. Rather, the intention is to collect and share experiences to inform education and curriculum development. The sharing of best practice can also help to maintain high standards in journalism education.

 

International survey

Phase One of the project launched in March 2012 and involves an international survey into the use of news and magazine websites in journalism education.

We would be most grateful if anyone involved in journalism education could assist by completing our survey:
https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/websites-in-journalism-education

We are interested in the views of both staff and students, so please circulate as widely as possible.

The survey is completed anonymously. For staff it takes no more than 10-15 minutes to complete, with the student section possible to complete in 5 minutes. All staff and students on undergraduate and postgraduate journalism courses are encouraged to partake and we welcome your participation.

 

Case studies

Phase Two of the project will take place in the second half of 2012 and involve up to five site visits to observe how websites are used in live news days simulating real-life news operations. During these visits we propose to conduct follow-up interviews in conjunction with examination of websites, to scrutinise in finer detail the patterns of application and usage.

 

Project outcomes

This project will investigate both technological and editorial issues associated with use of websites in journalism education.

Findings from this research project will be made available online and as contributions to relevant scholarly journals, including the AJE journal Journalism Education, outlining experiences, advice, and different models of application. The findings may also be of use to accreditation bodies and industry panels.

If you would like further information on the project, you can view the original project brief.

Funding Opportunities: HEA & MS Society

We have received information on the following funding opportunities which may be of interest to staff.

Teaching Development Grants from the Higher Education Academy

1. Round 2 of the Individual Grants scheme will open on January 3rd 2012, with a maximum of £7,000 per project, with a focus on employability or internationalisation.

•          The submission deadline is February 19th 2012.

•          Unsuccessful bids from the previous round could be re-submitted if they can be revised in line with the feedback you received from the HEA.

•          However, any bids that do not satisfy the two key principles of student engagement and outputs of benefit beyond BU, or do not thoroughly address ethical issues, will not be considered by the reviewers. So it is critical to get these sections as strong as possible.

•          Successful bids from the July 2011 round are here: http://www.heacademy.ac.uk/teaching-development-grants

2. The Collaborative Grants scheme opens on February 27th 2012, with a submission deadline of April 22nd 2012.

•          The maximum funding per project is £60,000, one bid per institution.

•          These can be either collaborative bids between BU and external bodies, or interdisciplinary between different departments within BU.

•          With collaborative bids, there must be a minimum of two UK HE partners, but other partners could include FECs, private providers or overseas HEIs.

•          The project must be led by a Fellow of the HEA and matched funding is required. 

•          Some further details are available here to support early thinking, but more information will be available in January.

If you would like to discuss potential projects, please contact Jennifer Taylor, Janet Hanson or Linda Byles (both Janet and Linda are TDG reviewers for the HEA).

MS Society Grants 2012

The MS Society intends to run three grant rounds in 2012:

  • Grant Round 1 – PhD Studentships and Innovative Awards
  • Grant Round 2 – Project grants and Junior Fellowships
  • Grant Round 3 – PhD Studentships and Innovative Awards

The MS Society 2012 Grant Round 1 for Innovative and PhD Studentship awards will open on the 17 January 2012, with a deadline for applications 12 noon on 10 February 2012.

For an overview of all the intended 2012 grant rounds and guidance on how to apply for an MS Society research grant please see thier website: http://www.mssociety.org.uk/ms-research/for-researchers/applying-for-research-grants

What do they fund?

As the largest dedicated charitable funder of MS research in the UK, the MS Society welcomes applications for projects that will increase the understanding of, and find new effective treatments for MS, as well as improve care and services for people affected by MS. The Society will consider any application that is relevant to MS. Applications are divided into two funding streams:

  1. Care and Services Research Research proposals that are focussed on relieving the symptoms of MS, developing and evaluating services for people affected by MS or exploring the social and economic impact of MS are classified as care and services research applications.
  2. Biomedical Research Research proposals that are focussed on identifying the causes of MS and/or identifying and developing disease modifying therapies are classified as biomedical research applications. In response to a strategic review the Society has issued a highlight notice for translational and clinical biomedical research and would particularly encourage applicants to submit proposals with this focus.

If you have any questions the society’s research team are happy to answer them at: research@mssociety.org.uk or on: 020 8438 0822.