Matching our success with ambition

The REF has shown that we continue to excel in research, but our success needs to be matched by ambition from government.

This week proved to be a hectic one for everyone involved in higher education. After six years in gestation, the publication of the Research Excellence Framework results was piped to the post on Wednesday when BIS released the science and innovation strategy. Both hold real significance for the research community.

A day is a long time in research policy…But first, the REF.

Continue reading

Posted in Research | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Patterns and trends 2014

Today, UUK has published its long-standing, annual publication Patterns and trends in UK higher education, which focuses on time-series of topics around students, staff and finance in higher education. The data in this report goes up to the academic year 2012–13, which is currently the latest available data in this detail. For this blog, I’ve picked out two items, one on part-time students and one of the institutional graphs from the annexe to showcase the variety of data available in this report.

Continue reading

Posted in Data | Tagged | 1 Comment

Defending the role of quality-related research funding

Recent announcements by government suggest that the role and purpose of funding streams that enable universities to make decisions at the local level are under threat. Only last week at a board meeting of Universities UK members’ we were told we need to be prepared to make a robust case in support of quality-related (QR) funding. Today sees the launch of a report (published by HEFCE) which provides clear evidence of the vitally important role that such funding plays in supporting the world-class research produced by our universities.

UK higher education is rightly regarded as a world-leader, and the impact that our universities have on our own economy and society is huge. Our universities contribute £73 billion a year to the UK economy, and have been linked to 20 per cent of GDP growth between 1982 and 2005. On a wide array of measures, we are consistently found to have one of the very best tertiary education systems in the world.

Continue reading

Posted in Fees and funding, Research | Tagged , , , | 1 Comment

Students – just like a fine wine

This was one of the themes that Professor Janet Beer (Vice-Chancellor, Oxford Brookes University) touched on in her presentation at the Enhancing the Student Experience Conference held yesterday at Universities UK. The essential message was that students are like wine, and for those who are partial to a glass of red, you know that no two years are the same and this is a similar case for our university students. This challenges universities to make sure that student experience remains valid and worthwhile for their ever changing ranks of students and every year means something different.

The answer to how they should do this was loud and clear at the conference – from both universities and students – genuine partnership.

Continue reading

Posted in Students | Leave a comment

The best lies ahead for higher education

Last week, I attended an excellent event hosted by NESTA called: “Future Shock – the issues that should be talked about at the election, but aren’t”. Speakers from a range of fields and disciplines outlined the long-term trends that are affecting the economy, society, and the workplace, and which are likely to have significant impact regardless of the colour(s) of government after next May’s general election.

Five of the most pressing trends are highly relevant for the future of higher education policy in the UK. These are all developments taking place now, and which are already beginning to make their impact felt. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No room for complacency in the drive for efficiency and excellence

February 2015 sees the launch of a report led by Professor Sir Ian Diamond highlighting examples of efficiency in higher education. In the first in a series of blogposts that Efficiency Exchange will run ahead of the launch, Sir Ian emphasises the need to build on previous work towards the goal of creating smarter, stronger universities.

Higher education is a jewel in the UK’s crown. The UK has the second highest concentration of the world’s top universities and we rank first by field-weighted citation impact – an indicator of outstanding research quality and something which rightly attracts students and scholars from around the world.

UK higher education is also a hugely significant economic actor, supporting more than 700,000 jobs and contributing in excess of £70bn to the UK economy. This contribution ranks alongside that of legal services and is considerably more than computer manufacturing, basic pharmaceuticals and the air transport industry.

Continue reading

Posted in Efficiency and sustainability | Tagged | Leave a comment

Universities have their eye on the prize

As Longitude Prize 2014 opens for entries today, I hope many university researchers will feel encouraged to take part.

The £10 million Longitude Prize 2014 is a prize developed by Nesta, with Innovate UK (the new name for the Technology Strategy Board) as funding partner, to find solutions to a new global challenge.

At the end of June, the public voted for antibiotic resistance to be the focus of the 2014 Longitude Prize, which was set up to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the original prize (a £20,000 reward for finding a way to determine longitude at sea accurately).

In a time where heading to the doctor after the first sneeze is becoming the norm, we need new and improved ways to diagnose and treat bacterial infections worldwide. The Longitude Prize will go to the person or the team behind a new way to detect and understand bacterial infections.

Continue reading

Posted in Quality and standards, Research | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Professor Sir David Eastwood – UK delegation to India

Professor Sir David Eastwood was part of last week’s delegation to India of UK university leaders and the universities minister Greg Clark. In this blog, Sir David talks about the visit and the value of growing UK-India higher education links.   

The rise of India as an economic power house is without question, but the depth and scale of its ambitions to transform the country’s higher education system is without parallel.

India’s determination to engage with the global higher education market has been evidenced during a Federation of Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (FICCI) Higher Education Conference in New Delhi last week. Continue reading

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Highlights from our new HE facts & figures booklet

With an array of statistics published every year about higher education and universities, Universities UK is publishing some of the more striking numbers into an annual pamphlet-sized ‘facts and figures’ booklet.

In recent years, we started to use charts rather than tables and the document has gone on to become one of the most popular downloads on the Universities UK’s website. Using simple, eye-catching charts and info-graphics, the pamphlet helps illustrate, in simple terms, the current trends in the university system.

Some of the charts also highlight – in quite clear terms – the considerable economic, social and cultural impact of our universities. With a general election on the horizon, we hope this document is distributed as widely as possible to help make the case for why any government should Back Universities.

Continue reading

Posted in Data, Higher education statistics | Leave a comment

Labour MP John Denham outlines alternatives to current tuition fees system

On Friday 7 November, former Labour cabinet minister John Denham MP gave evidence to Universities UK’s Student Funding Panel. In this guest blog, he outlines his ideas on reforming the student funding system in England.

England’s universities are boxed in. The initial cash boost from high fees is rapidly eroding. A year by year squeeze threatens teaching quality and research excellence at a time when higher education is more important than ever.

Continue reading

Posted in Fees and funding, Students | Leave a comment