|The higher education week ahead
Just two more weeks and one more Monday Morning Briefing before the end of term, which is now in sight. A collective ennui appears to have emerged in the sector after a turbulent few months, but policy is not quite done with us yet. We expect the Government to announce a review of the REF this week, the Green Paper consultation countdown continues to tick and there's more action expected at the BIS Select Committee on Tuesday. We also have some announcements relating to Wonkhe - new partners, features and an expansion.
50 shades of green
By my reckoning there are now just 26 working days left until the Green Paper's consultation deadline on the 15th January 2016. Since the Nurse Review and Spending Review appeared, the wonks and others have been able to knuckle down and begin the often-fraught process of negotiating a full response on behalf of their respective agency, institution (or indeed themselves). Of course the debate continues on the site - you can stay up to speed with our Green Paper tag. The latest:
TEF and the importance of university teachers - Andy Westwood argues that the HE sector may have something to learn from the school sector in the way that teachers there engage in the policy debate.
Three muddles that will undermine the TEF - Professor of Higher Education Paul Ashwin on the selection of metrics, aggregation of quality to the institutional level and levels of TEF vs fee increases.
Critics line up on role of graduate outcomes in TEF - Zaki Dogliani for Policy Watch reports from voices at last week's BIS Select Committee hearing and others that are lobbying for graduate outcomes data to be left out of the TEF.
REF to get a new ref
First announced in the Spending Review, the Government is expected to launch its review of the REF this week and concern about this in the sector remains high. It is already widely expected that the REF will end up finding a home at the new Research UK as the Office for Students takes shape and the Government is able to make the changes to legislation needed to move the HE and research bodies around. What is feared, however, is that Government intends to use this as an opportunity to make substantial changes to the REF - critically to make it more reliant on metrics. This is to meet their 'simplification' agenda in the research funding landscape - a set of changes described by James Wilsdon last week as the price the sector will pay for the Government maintaining the science budget. How high this price will be exactly remains to be seen and this fresh review will need to triangulate a great deal of politics and very strong feelings on every side of opinion. Its terms of reference will be a clue as to which side of the fence the Government expects it to sit, but we know that it will be run completely independently of HEFCE and the sector (something already seen by some as an early warning sign). It will also be led by an outsider - likely from business. The review will run until July 2016 - expect us to return to this in depth as it develops.
Turning up the heat
If last week's marathon session wasn't enough for you, Tuesday morning at 9.15 sees the BIS Select Committee's quality assessment inquiry ramped up to a new level of drama: HEFCE CEO Madeleine Atkins and interim QAA CEO Douglas Blackstock are appearing at the same time before the Committee. Close watchers of the quality debate over the last fifteen months (and all the in-fighting between agencies that has gone with it) will be paying close attention. Those who have kept a close eye for even longer will remember Peter Williams (then QAA CEO) admitting in a similar evidence session that standards across the sector were not comparable. The fights in the sector that followed never really ended, indeed many of today's divisions can be traced back to that moment. Given the spotlight, and the history of drama at these occasions, witnesses are likely to be well-behaved, but the Committee will do its best to draw out thorny opinion. Alongside BIS civil servant Polly Payne (25, 2015 Power List), Jo Johnson will appear before the Committee on Tuesday morning, where he will be asked to defend his plans for the TEF. You can watch all the action live here.
I shot the sheriff
Wonkhe is on the hunt for a Deputy to Mark Leach to help take the organisation to the next level. It's an exciting time for us as a little startup and as we grow we now have a rare opening for someone exceptional to play a big role in shaping our future. Read more and apply here.
Wonkhe welcomes five new partners
On Friday we were delighted to announce that five new awesome partners have joined the Wonkhe family. Shakespeare Martineau, Jisc, University of Exeter, University of Birmingham and Kingston University have all joined Wonkhe. Each will work with us on a number of different projects and will play a critical role supporting our site and community. Read the full release here.
Introducing The HE Wire
Today we launch version one of a new feature on the home page of the site which we're calling The HE Wire. This is a manually curated ticker of HE news and updates from the UK, as well as global developments that we think are of interest to UK universities. Many of the developments that appear in The Wire will also be covered more fully elsewhere on the site, but The Wire will often be where we break news first. The Wire will also feature commentary and analysis about HE from elsewhere on the web. Sometime's @Wonkhe will Tweet Wire entries - you'll know when we do as we'll tag each at the start with WIRE: Development of The Wire still goes on, and further features will be added over the coming weeks.
The rest of the week's HE agenda
Monday 7th December
EVENT: Academy of Social Sciences Annual Lecture, London
Tuesday 8th December
EVENT: Royal Society - Teaching excellence: Can one size fit all? London
EVENT: APPG Stamping out sexual harassment and ‘lad culture’ in the sector, London
EVENT: SRHE Newer Researchers Conference, Newport
EVENT: QAA Alternative providers enhancement conference
EVENT: Innovative learning: Driving educational change, Manchester
EVENT: NUS lobby on plans to cut maintenance grants, London
PARLIAMENTARY: Minister, HEFCE, QAA, OIA, OFFA evidence at BIS Select Committee quality inquiry, London
Wednesday 9th December
EVENT: ARMA Elsevier Workshop
EVENT: HEA/HEPI Seminar on TEF, Parliament
PARLIAMENTARY: House of Lords Social Mobility Committee hearing, London
EVENT: UUK Enhancing the Student Experience conference, London
EVENT: Study UK Implementing the new Counter Terrorism Prevent duty, London
EVENT: Westminster Forum Investment for UK scientific facilities, London
EVENT: ARMA Negotiation Skills for Life and Work webinar
EVENT: SRHE Annual Conference, Newport (until 11th)
Thursday 10th December
REPORT: HEPI report on employability
EVENT: Social Market Foundation - The Skills Gap: Is it a myth?, London
EVENT: AUA Introduction to Higher Education - A Toolkit for New Professionals conference, London
Friday 11th December
Meeting: AHUA Executive Meeting, London
Stay ahead of the curve by subscribing to the Wonkhe Calendar here.
Let your colleagues and friends know they can subscribe to this email here.