Opening the British Mind?
If you fancy breaking your metropolitan elite filter-bubble, then have a read of UKIP’s latest policy paper on higher education policy, Opening the British Mind - the party's most detailed statement on HE to date. The paper, released last week by the party’s parliamentary resource unit (effectively Douglas Carswell MP’s private office), proposes linking tuition fees to graduate salaries and criticises the sector for “[serving] the interest of its providers at the expense of the people who pay for it". On the site this morning, longstanding watcher of UKIP HE policy Tom Bailey has read the report (so you don't have to) and finds the proposals less nostalgic but still dangerous.
Not in TEF
The University of Edinburgh has announced that it will not participate in the TEF. In a statement on its website, the university claims that decision has been taken along "with a significant number of other Scottish universities". Although it was widely expected that many Scottish universities would not participate in TEF, the University of Edinburgh is the first to announce its intentions in this way and so the statement implies that the decision (if not the timing of the announcement) has been coordinated in advance with other universities. Expect many similar statements to follow in the coming days and weeks.
HEPI has published the full text of its 2016 annual lecture, delivered by Martha Kanter, former US Under Secretary of Education during President Obama’s first term. Entitled ‘Recreating the American Dream: Wealth Creation for the 21st Century’, Kanta reflects on the election of Donald Trump, the rising costs of higher education in the UK and US, and the need for greater transparency in both countries’ sectors. Kanter argues for a new “wealth-creation framework” for universities, “which informs how we look at achieving success in life beyond how much money one earns”.
On Thursday, UCAS will release the second round of equality data, showing offer rates made by universities to students broken down by gender, ethnicity, and socio-economic background. The first release of this dataset, made last summer, caused a big splash and pointed to possible evidence of bias against non-white applicants in some universities. This Thursday’s release will also show how individual universities performed in last year’s admissions cycle.
SFC funding row
Leaked papers from accountants Scott-Moncrieff show the Scottish Funding Council failed to deal with £50 million of unspent reserves which led to internal confusion, left funded projects in doubt and caused a serious communication breakdown between the Scottish Government and SFC. It's an odd tale of many twists and turns, the Herald reports on the story in detail this morning.
New DLHE to be centralised
HESA has announced that the reformed survey of graduate destinations, otherwise known as ‘New DLHE’, will be a centralised survey. This decision has been taken by the stakeholder group overseeing the review of graduate destinations data, primarily due to concerns about the robustness of the current DLHE data. Responses to HESA’s autumn consultation on this issue were split on the merits of centralising the survey, which is currently conducted by institutions themselves and seen as a useful way to monitor the success of their graduates. HESA is keen to stress that this will be a process of “open centralisation” and that institutions’ ability to offer support to alumni and rapidly monitor their data returns will be maintained under the new system. HESA set out their latest thinking and plans on Wonkhe here.
REF2021 wonkery ramps up
HEFCE’s nationwide programme of consultation events on the design of REF2021 are well underway, with events this week in Bristol, Manchester and London. Last week, it was announced that Kim Hackett and Anna Lang would be the REF manager and deputy manager respectively. Along with Steven Hill, HEFCE’s Head of Research Policy, they form the new generation of REF wonks who must hit the road to front up the perennially unpopular policy, such is the fate for any wonks who work on such contentious policy. Previous REF supremo David Sweeney even tweeted last week "Looks to me as if the title of Lord Voldemort of the #REF2021 is passing to @stevenhill". Good luck to them. On the site, Martin McQuillan has picked apart the proposals for the next exercise: Stern times ahead for REF game players.