HE White Paper: ‘In bed with an elephant’

The HE White Paper is a good illustration of the complexity of policy-making in a UK with powerful devolved administrations and with a central government that has roles both as England’s ‘devolved’ administration and as the UK Government.

The White Paper may be seen principally as a piece of English administration, but in this complex constitutional dynamic there are inevitably major cross-border impacts.  So from a Scottish perspective, we’re experiencing some turbulence in the wake of England’s pursuit of a marketised model of higher education that has been rejected by the overwhelming majority of politicians in the Scottish Parliament.      Continue reading

Posted in About Higher Education, Fees and funding | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

The Queen’s Speech – what it means for universities

Now that the Queen’s speech has been delivered, we finally have cast-iron confirmation (although it now comes as no surprise) that there will be a Higher Education and Research Bill in this year’s batch of legislation.

The sector’s wonks and lawyers will, however, have to wait just a little longer to see the details of the Bill which won’t happen until tomorrow, at the earliest. Having waited 24 years since the last time the legal basis of higher education was substantially revised, perhaps we can stretch to one more day; although given the bill may be being debated by MPs as soon as early June, it feels at this stage like every hour is crucial. Continue reading

Posted in About Higher Education, Fees and funding, Students | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Counter-extremism, Prevent and implications for universities

The Queen’s Speech today included details of further legislation to “prevent radicalisation, tackle extremism and promote community integration” via a Counter-Extremism and Safeguarding Bill.

Details are scarce at this stage, but we understand it will include measures to introduce a new ‘civil order regime’ to restrict extremist activity.

This will no doubt prompt debate about the government’s broader strategy to prevent terrorism. And, as far as the higher education sector is concerned, it will provoke further analysis on how universities can balance their obligations to secure free speech within the law and prevent individuals from being drawn into terrorism. These are not new issues. Continue reading

Posted in Government and parliament, Students | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

White Paper: what next for government’s Teaching Excellence Framework?

The higher education White Paper, published yesterday, provided more information on the government’s proposals for higher education in England. In particular, it included further detail on proposals for a Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), intended to give prospective students more information about the teaching they will receive on courses, and to incentivise excellent teaching.

To coincide with this, government has published the technical consultation dealing with the second phase of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF 2).

To date, the TEF proposal has encouraged a sector-wide conversation about teaching and learning and has the potential to make a positive, long term contribution to practice. Continue reading

Posted in About Higher Education, Students | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

The Higher Education White Paper – all you need to know

Following what feels like a period of extended radio silence since the higher education Green Paper consultation closed, we now have the government’s response in the form of a higher education White Paper – Success as a Knowledge Economy.

It is a long and fairly dense document, with a lot to digest. The detail will be critical, particularly in relation to how the objectives of the White Paper are reflected in the wording of a Higher Education Bill, but a first reading would suggest that there are no really significant surprises around the core issues. Continue reading

Posted in About Higher Education, Students | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Why it’s vital that students vote in the EU referendum

I’d be lying (and that’s something Vice-Chancellors should never be caught doing) if I said that I played any part at all in the 1975 referendum on Britain’s membership of the Common Market.

I was 16, I had plenty of other things on my mind and the referendum was something in the distant background. I have a vague recollection of being out one Saturday morning in a (then new) shopping arcade, and having leaflets thrust into my hand by earnest-looking adults. Continue reading

Posted in Students | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How universities can promote student volunteering and social action

If the #iwill campaign is successful, an additional 1.5 million young people will be involved in regular social action by the year 2020.

This could include a wide range of activities from mentoring their peers, befriending the elderly, improving urban environments and dealing with waste in the countryside. This ambitious aim can only be realised through tangible actions taken by influential partners from the business, voluntary and, crucially, education sectors. Continue reading

Posted in Students | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Universities and employer sponsored study – potential for growth

High-quality, work-related education has existed for many years in the form of employer sponsored qualifications – including diplomas and degrees – at undergraduate and postgraduate level. Indeed, across UK universities, 10 per cent of students are already on employer sponsored programmes, a total of 235,000 students. This appears to be a far higher number than any published ambition for the new Higher or Degree Apprenticeships.

I believe both routes – apprenticeships and sponsored degrees – are valuable components of workforce development plans.  We need to ensure, however, that both continue to be supported if we are not to damage the good practice that currently exists and has been built up over a long period. Continue reading

Posted in Business, industry and employability | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

How universities are tackling sexual violence

Sexual crime in society is significantly under-reported. Within criminal justice services this is widely understood to be a fundamental public health problem. We know this to be a global problem with concerns raised in North American universities about sexual violence as documented in the film ‘The Hunting Ground’.

The Universities UK conference held in London earlier this week addressed this challenging issue. A number of themes emerged. One such theme was around the question of why universities should engage in this area of work. It is surely axiomatic that we would take steps to ensure the health and well-being of our students. Given that we know of marked under-reporting we have a civic duty to ensure that any students who are survivors receive support and are empowered to work with us in coming to decisions that are best for them. Continue reading

Posted in Students, Uncategorized | Tagged , | Leave a comment

The apprenticeship levy is coming – what it means for universities

As our recent report the future growth of degree apprenticeships shows – in a relatively short space of time – a large number of universities have become involved with the new degree apprenticeships that are part of the government’s apprenticeship drive.

From a standing start – just over a year and a half ago – we now have seventy universities registered with the Skills Funding Agency (SFA) as training organisations that can deliver degree apprenticeships.

The next apprenticeship-related consideration for universities will be how they deal with the government’s proposed apprenticeship levy. Continue reading

Posted in Business, industry and employability | Tagged , , | Leave a comment