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Good morning. It's week three in the Big Brexit House and there's still no escaping the fallout from the referendum vote. Elsewhere, post-16 education is facing fresh reform, the HE Bill is still in political limbo and a new grouping of institutions is set to launch this week. 

Practical fallout from Brexit

We're now moving into the third week of shock and fallout from the referendum and having discussed the economic and policy implications in depth over the last two weeks, attention has turned to the early (probably premature) practical implications of the vote that are being felt across the academy. Even though the formal process of leaving the EU has not begun, worrying new trends are being noticed by UK academics. 

Applying for the EU's Horizon 2020 funds involves the building of consortia, usually a minimum of three organisation from across member states or associated countries. But many early reports suggest that colleagues in European countries are growing reluctant to collaborate with British researchers while uncertainty lingers about their ability to work in the UK. Names are being taken off bids, events cancelled and plans for collaboration downsized as it remains unclear how British research and researchers will be able to interact with the institutions of the EU in the future.

The European Commission has been unable to give clarity about the status of Horizon 2020 projects with British participants once the withdrawal negotiations are completed in a few years time. Horizon 2020 is run by the European Commission, and the President of the Commission, Jean-Claude Junker, has so far shown an unwillingness to treat Britain leniently in exit negotiations. Carlos Moedas, the European Commissioner for Research and Innovation, has tried to reassure by saying that the immediate status of projects has not changed, but has also said that “implications on specific policy areas, including research, will have to be addressed in due course”. It’s clear that there is a long road ahead for the negotiations and Moedas will be a pivotal figure for the sector as Brexit negotiations unfold. Have you experienced any practical changes since the referendum result? We are collating reports - email

Still poles apart

We now know that David Cameron’s successor will be the second woman to be Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. Theresa May will face Andrea Leadsom in the run-off ballot of Conservative Party members. Leadsom’s rise from relative public obscurity pre-referendum has been astonishing, propelled by Brexiteers and anti-modernisers on the Tory backbenches. She has the backing of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, amongst others.

Very little is known about Leadsom’s views on higher education. However, if they are similarly hostile to those of her supporters on the Tory backbenchers and in UKIP, then we may be able to infer them. A leak from one of her staffers advocates she plans to “wage war on political correctness” and campaign for a return of grammar schools - we may thus expect some cynicism towards widening participation and university expansion.

May, on the other hand, has been the pantomime villain of the sector during her time as Home Secretary because of her clampdown on international students and possibly illegal deportations of nearly 50,000 students. Her department has been accused of deliberately impeding universities’ international recruitment - a battle that has now been raging for several years. Ironically, May's experience in government and position as the 'moderate' in the race will make her the sector’s likely preferred candidate. Her election would mean more continuity, probably including the continuation of the government’s existing legislative agenda, and university leaders may prefer the devil they know...

Labour’s internal battles take central stage today as former shadow business secretary Angela Eagle announces her challenge to Jeremy Corbyn. Tomorrow, the party’s National Executive Committee will rule on how the contest will proceed - crucially on whether Jeremy Corbyn will automatically go forward on the ballot despite the leader not having the required support from his parliamentary colleagues usually needed. Many commentators agree that the party could be heading towards a permanent split.

There are whispers in the tea rooms of Westminster of a new political party and total realignment of British politics if the right-wing Andrea Leadsom wins the Tory leadership, and left-wing Jeremy Corbyn renews his mandate as leader of the Labour Party. Provisionally called ‘The Democrats’, this new party would absorb the Lib Dems along with moderate MPs from Labour and the Tories - many of whom found much common ground working together on the Remain campaign.

Skills shakeup

On Friday, BIS and DfE released the Sainsbury Review of technical and vocational education. The report proposes massive changes to post-16 education by abolishing over 20,000 vocational qualifications with 15 new technical education pathways. Students will have to choose between the ‘academic’ route to university or the ‘technical’ route at the age of 16, and will no longer be able to take a mix of academic and vocational qualifications. Instead, there will be options for ‘bridging’ qualifications between the two separate routes. Steve West, Vice Chancellor of UWE and a member of the review panel, has emphasised the importance of flexibility between the two routes.

Although aimed at shaking up non-university educational pathways, these reforms will have substantial implications for universities’ work in access, outreach and admissions. Nearly a quarter of university acceptances in 2015 held a vocational qualification alongside or instead of A levels, and that proportion has increased substantially in recent years. One outstanding question about the reforms is whether applied general qualifications such as BTECs will come under the scope of these reforms; Sainsbury has made comments that have caused some confusion on this matter. The post-GCSE cut-off will also force institutions to rethink where they focus their outreach and access activity in schools. The plans are due to be phased in between 2019 and 2022, by which time universities will have already spent several years adjusting to the recent reforms to A levels and GCSEs.

On Wonkhe, David Morris has provided an overview of the proposals and their wider implications for HE.

Bill still stuck in the slow lane

If you were hoping for the Higher Education and Research Bill to make some progress this week, then you'll be disappointed. The second reading is the next stage, and it's definitely not happening this week. Potential parliamentary time to discuss the Bill was probably squeezed out by the decision to hold two full days of debate on the Chilcot Report. We also know that Monday next week - the first of the final few days of this Parliamentary session - will be taken up by a controversial vote and debate on Trident renewal. That leaves only a couple of short days of parliamentary time next week available to complete a second reading of the Bill before recess begins on 21st July. BIS had hoped that the second reading and committee stages (at least) would be complete by the holidays.

Numerous sector experts have been primed and are waiting in the wings to give evidence at a bill committee this summer - but there's little chance they will have their say this side of the Autumn. Assuming Prime Minister May or Leadsom and their new government continue with the current government's legislative agenda, there's now unlikely to be much significant progress of the Bill until later this year. 

The Wonkhe Daily is an email briefing written by HE wonks and delivered before work every day to thousands of professionals in the sector who need to stay ahead of the hectic HE policy and news agenda. 

“The Wonkhe Daily is by far the smartest, the most discriminating, and the best informed daily briefing in the sector.” - Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor, Nottingham Trent University

Independence day?

Sector Kremlinologists will be interested to learn that on Tuesday, a new organisation called 'Independent Higher Education' will be born. Previously Study UK, its rebirth as Independent Higher Education is interesting for a number of reasons. IHE is positioning itself as the representative body for private/challenger/alternative providers (take your pick). Sweeping away those variable labels, the new group hopes that the 'independent' name will catch on. Clearly echoing 'independent schools', it's a word that probably means more to the public than those others - although HE policy wonks might well quibble about the validity of the comparison given the complicated balance of public and private funding and of regulation across the whole sector.

Significantly, IHE is a representative body to sit alongside Universities UK and GuildHE - not a mission group like the Russell Group or University Alliance. The purpose of setting it up this way is to ensure that the 'independent' providers have a formal seat at the table in sector governance as UUK and GuildHE currently do through board places and 'ownership' of sector agencies. How far that approach will be embraced by the traditional sector remains to be seen. But following the White Paper, this corner of HE is set to expand, so it could become difficult to exclude them from the policy and delivery machinery of the sector - particularly as they have such strong government support right now. BIS has also been asking for private providers to organise into a collective for some time so that policy can be channelled through one representative voice. 

Independent Higher Education is not to be confused with the Independent Universities Group (IUG) - ostensibly a mission group for the 'elite' end of the private sector. Its chair, Regent's University head Aldwyn Cooper, had stated the ambition for IUG to become to the "Russell Group of the alternative sector", but the group has so far failed to get properly off the ground, and relations between the various vice chancellors involved is poor. Independent Higher Education is hoping for a strong start to make it harder for its part of the sector to end up factionalised and divided. History shows that they might struggle, but it will certainly be interesting to see how the sector's internal machinery is shaken up by their arrival on the scene.

What else is going on?

- Tomorrow night is the deadline for the TEF Year 2 technical consultation. You can respond here and read our extensive coverage of the TEF so far here. Elsewhere, HEFCE has updated the sector on its progress for implementing the TEF, including the fact that over 1,200 applications were made to be TEF assessors. And BIS have released a list of providers that are eligible to take part in TEF 1. 

- On Thursday, UCAS will release the latest application stats for the 30th June deadline in the 2016 cycle.

- Thursday is also the deadline to respond to HESA's consultation on the future of the DLHE survey.

You might have missed on Wonkhe

Andrew Boggs argues that Northern Irish universities are facing a brain drain and crisis in funding.

Joy Elliot-Bowman picks over the first HESA data release on alternative providers to assess what the data tells us about that part of the sector.

Katie Britton argues that universities should do more to aid the refugee crisis.

Registrarism last week was on the international challenges now facing UK universities.

Also on the week’s higher education agenda

Monday 11th July

EVENT: Royal Society - roundtable on the Higher Education and Research Bill, London
REPORT: HEFCE - Annual Report and accounts

Tuesday 12th July

PARLIAMENTARY: HoL Science and Technology Committee hearing - Government funding of International Development R&D, 10.30am
PARLIAMENTARY: HoC Ten Minute rule motion - EU Citizens Resident in the United Kingdom (Right To Stay), 11.30am
PARLIAMENTARY: Welsh Assembly - Plenary, 1.30pm
DEADLINE: BIS - TEF 2 technical consultation
REPORT/EVENT: British Academy - Crossing paths: forging interdisciplinary institutions, careers, education and applications, London
EVENT: UUK - Research seminar: the policy challenges for UK research, London
EVENT: Independent Higher Education - launch reception, London
EVENT: Leeds Beckett University - Delivering excellence in Higher Education 2016, Leeds

Wednesday 13th July

PARLIAMENTARY: Hoc Science and Technology Committee hearing - Leaving the EU: Implications and opportunities for science and research, 9.30am. Witnesses include Jo Johnson.
MEETING: GuildHE -  board meeting on Brexit
MEETING: HEFCE - board meeting
REPORT: UCAS - Teacher Training (UTT) End of Cycle Report 2015
EVENT: HEA - Surveys Conference 2016: Linking Enhancement and Excellence, Birmingham

Thursday 14th July

REPORT: UCAS - 30th June deadline applicant statistics for 2016 cycle
REPORT: HEFCE - trends in transitions from undergraduate to postgraduate study
DEADLINE: HESA - Review of destinations and outcomes data consultation
PARLIAMENTARY: HoL short debate - Will EU citizens lawfully resident or working in the UK when the UK leaves the EU have an unconditional right to remain in the UK, 11am
EVENT: The Bridge Group - Differential graduate outcomes by socio-economic background and their causes, London
EVENT: Open Forum events - TEF: Raising Quality Standards, Manchester
EVENT: British Academy - annual dinner

Friday 15th July

MEETING: UUK - sector agencies subscriptions working group
REPORT: IPPR - teacher training  
DEADLINE: ECU - applications for race equality charter

Have a great week,

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