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Good morning. 

Mark is away so I'm minding the policy shop this week. Today sees the release of the responses to the HESA consultation on graduate outcomes and the DLHE survey. The HE Bill will finish Committee Stage tomorrow, and has so far survived unscathed from the opposition's suggested amendments, but will the government have to be more conciliatory in the Lords?

And this week's edition of BrHExit watch is somewhat more encouraging than last week.

David Morris, Deputy Editor

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Later this morning the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) will release its synthesis of responses to the consultation on the future of public interest data about graduates, also known as the ‘new DLHE’, which was launched back in May.

Many have argued that the present form of the DLHE, with the focus on the six month survey of outcomes, is inadequate for today’s sector. The consultation has also been prompted by the new availability of the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) dataset, enabled by the recent Enterprise Bill. LEO will link students’ education data with their employment and benefits data, giving a comprehensive and long-term picture of the relationship between education and the labour market.

However, LEO will not give us much insight into graduate employment outcomes beyond salary levels, such as industry, occupation, and skill level of work. The new DLHE is expected to bridge this gap, creating a mixed-methodology approach to understanding a wider range of graduate outcomes, and addressing flaws in the current survey.

The definition of ‘graduate success’ and ‘graduate job’ will likely form the core of the coming debate over outcomes data. This is only exacerbated by influential organisations such as the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) arguing that too many graduates are in non-graduate occupations, which made headlines last week.

HESA’s initial consultation set out the challenge to ensure that a new DLHE is future-proofed, fit for purpose, and more efficiently administered. The consultation mooted administering the survey centrally, rather than by universities as it is at present. It was also open to new options for when the survey should be conducted, ranging from six months after graduation to 48 months. Respondents are expected to be split and have a wide range of views on these issues that HESA might find it challenging to reconcile.

HESA will be releasing some suggested new models for the DLHE around the new year. Today’s consultation synthesis will be available here from 10am.

On Wonkhe, David Morris summarised the issues at hand for the new DLHE back in May, whilst Charlie Ball outlined in more detail the implications of LEO back in February. In June, Wonkhe and HESA held a joint event on the consultation; you can read the live blog from the event here.

Forthcoming Wonkhe Events

Friday 25th November, Coventry University London:
Universities and Schools: Selection, Sponsorship and Social Mobility

Join us for a one-day conference to explore the government's new agenda for education. Confirmed speakers include Les Ebdon, Director of Fair Access; Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of UUK; Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI; Chris Millward, Director (Policy), HEFCE. Booking now open.

Tuesday 8th November, King's College London:
UPP Foundation / Wonkhe Policy Forum

The first of in a series of free evening policy and networking evenings. Our first theme is The student journey: admissions, access and widening participation. These are an opportunity for HE wonks to debate the big issues of the day, always followed by drinks. Speakers include Wes Streeting MP; Anne-Marie Canning, Director of Widening Participation, King’s College London; Sonia Sodha, Chief Leader Writer, The Observer. Register your place

Work to be done on antisemitism

The House of Commons Home Affairs Select Committee devoted a chapter of its Antisemitism in the UK report to "campus antisemitism", with particular attention to Oxford University Labour Club and the National Union of Students.

In a damning conclusion, the report says that NUS President Malia Bouattia “does not appear to take sufficiently seriously the issue of antisemitism on campus.” Referring to widely-reported comments she had made in the past, the report said that and Bouattia’s reference to “Birmingham University as a “Zionist outpost” (and similar comments) smacks of outright racism, which is unacceptable, and even more so from a public figure such as the President of the NUS.”

The report calls on Universities UK to produce materials to support universities and their students in engaging on the question of Israel and Palestine, and “how to ensure that pro-Palestinian campaigns avoid drawing on antisemitic rhetoric.” It also considers the case of the Oxford University Labour Club and the subsequent Royall investigation which found evidence of antisemitic incidents.

You can read the Select Committee’s report in full here, and NUS’s response here.

Also on Wonkhe

  • Is the external examination system an anachronistic waste of time and resources? The sector needs to stop simply tinkering with it and consider more drastic reform, argues Katie Akerman.
  • If you can’t import students, export degrees instead. Transnational higher education is growing quicker than ever, but it’s not all about branch campuses. Raegan Hiles introduces us to the latest developments in TNE.
  • Liz Marr explains how the Open University will support the next generation of new HE providers through its new validation service, and assuage the established sector’s fears about quality.
  • Nearly two in three higher education institutions in the UK have faced a cyber-attack in the last 12 months. Tom Yazdi suggests three steps for universities to protect themselves.
  • There’s been a lot of hysteria about clowns lately and a lot of it focused on university campuses. Let’s hope it doesn’t last. Paul Greatrix investigates ‘True Clown Crime on Campus’.

BrHExit watch

Last week was a slightly more encouraging one for universities as the government confirmed that EU students entering English higher education in 2017-18 would have full access to student finance throughout their courses, even if the UK leaves the EU during that time (as is expected). The Welsh government followed up with the same assurance. The Scottish government waited until Friday to confirm the same, with the SNP also promising to continue free tuition for EU students post-Brexit.

The move is a welcome result for Universities UK’s extensive lobbying on this issue. UUK President Julia Goodfellow made EU student finance the headline of her recent speech to the conference of the vice-chancellors’ membership body. However, the move was not welcomed by the right-wing press, which revisted concerns about the repayment rates of EU graduates.

The saga over international students and immigration continued through last week. Excellent investigative work by The Times revealed that the Home Office had suppressed its own study that shows it may have previously grossly overestimated the number of international students overstaying their visa.

The Times also revealed that Amber Rudd had recently been overruled by the Prime Minister on removing students from net migration figures, the holy grail of the sector’s lobbying on this issue for some years. The paper’s findings, along with comments by Justine Greening last Sunday that the government would only focus on ‘overstayers’ and ‘sham’ degrees, suggest that Theresa May and her advisors are increasingly isolated on this issue.

Polling released by Universities UK on Friday also suggested that there is little political capital for the Prime Minister to gain by pushing ahead to reduce international student numbers. Concurring with a similar poll conducted two years ago, it finds that at least 60% of UK adults would like to see the same number, or more, international students in the UK. Of those that expressed a firm view, the number rises to 75%.

In the coming Home Office consultation on international student numbers, the challenge now for the sector is to find a way to reach a settlement with the government that helps it save face without doing any damage.

Finally, as if to underline how the government’s thinking is joined-up on this issue, the Foreign Office is this week running an ‘Education Week’ as part of its ‘Global Britain campaign’, “to remind international students, schools, education institutions etc that the UK is a global leader in the university education sector.” After news of Rudd’s announcement on international students broke around the world, they may have an uphill battle on their hands.

The university lobby continues to advance its case in the press with David Willetts writing in The Guardian and the University of Sheffield’s Keith Burnett making the case for international students in Newsweek.

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HE Bill update: Wasted Time?

The Higher Education and Research Bill was subject to further debate and scrutiny in the Public Bill Committee last week, and the Commons Committee stage will conclude tomorrow. The Committee has gone through 82 of the Bill’s 113 clauses; the only dramatic tension hanging over tomorrow’s session is whether the MP’s make it all the way through to the end.

A small group of Labour MPs has tried, and failed, to secure amendments on uncoupling TEF from higher fees, student representation at the OfS and in private providers, and refining legislative language on academic freedom, institutional autonomy, and widening access. The Conservative whip has been tight, with few governing MPs appearing to take an active interest in the Bill’s content aside from Jo Johnson himself: this is very much his baby. We can expect that trend to continue tomorrow, and also when the Bill passes the Report stage and Third Reading in the Commons.

However, the heat is turning up for the Bill’s consideration in the House of Lords. Expect significant interventions from Martin Rees and Alison Wolf, particularly on the creation of UKRI, and remember that many members of the upper house have strong links to universities as former or current vice-chancellors, chancellors, governors or academics.

On Wonkhe, David Morris asks whether the Bill’s long journey through Committee stage has been much more than a waste of time.

You might have missed...

In one of the more surreal (ahem) higher education stories of last week, The Guardian reported on the sale at Christie’s of part of the Edward James collection from West Dean, a specialist education provider with a portfolio including a number of higher education programmes. According to its chief executive, the sale will not denude the College of it’s important teaching collection: it will still have two Dali lobster telephones, amongst other artworks.

Also on the agenda 

The chairs of several crucial parliamentary committees will be elected by MPs on Wednesday. The chairs of the Commons Science and Technology Committee (Conservative), Exiting the EU Committee (Labour), and International Trade Committee (SNP) are up for grabs. You can follow the nominations (which close on Tuesday) here.  

The 157 Group of Colleges will be launching its new name and mission this week, after an extensive review of the group’s mission and purpose by FE-outsider and new(ish) chief executive Ian Pretty. The group of 32 colleges will now be known as the Collab Group.

Also on this week's higher education agenda

Monday 17th October

REPORT: HESA - Synthesis of consultation responses, review of data and public information about graduate outcomes

Tuesday 18th October

MEETING: MillionPlus - Private roundtable on white working class boys and access to HE, Parliament
PARLIAMENTARY: Higher Education and Research Bill - Public Bill Committee

Wednesday 19th October

MEETING: HEFCW - HE strategy consultation event. Key note from Kirsty Williams (Cabinet Secretary for Education)
PARLIAMENTARY: Election of chairs to Commons Science and Technology Committee, Exiting the EU Committee, and International Trade Committee
EVENT: JISC - Campus network engineering for data-intensive science workshop
EVENT: ECU - Dignity and respect on campus: a workshop for ECU subscribers
EVENT: Launch of the Collab Group (formerly the 157 Group)
EVENT: HEPI - Expert Policy Seminar “Higher Education in New Zealand: What might the UK learn?”

Thursday 20th October

REPORT: HEFCE - Graduate satisfaction with undergraduate choices
REPORT: QAA - Concerns Scheme outcomes (2012-16)
EVENT: HEFCE - Annual Meeting 2016
EVENT: QAA - 7th ENQA General Assembly (day 1)
EVENT: CGHE Seminar - Measuring teaching excellence; challenges and possibilities
EVENT: JISC - Research data spring showcase
EVENT: ECU - Let's talk about race, webinar

Friday 21st October

EVENT: Leadership Foundation - East and West Midlands Regional Event: Leading Change in Higher Education
EVENT: UUK - Brexit or Brenter? Transnational education and the implications of the EU referendum
EVENT: QAA - 7th ENQA General Assembly (day 2)

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