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21 05, 2014

HEPI-HEA Spring Conference

21 May, 2014|Events|0 Comments|

The quality of the student experience is under the spotlight like never before. The Government wants students to be consumers but is frustrated at the pace of change. Students say they want to be partners in learning but do not always get sufficient attention. Higher education institutions say they are improving facilities but that it is hard to measure success.

Just what does a good student experience look like at the most innovative institutions?
Are students in the UK getting a better or worse experience than students in other countries?
What does the different data on the quality of education in British universities show?

All these issues will be discussed in detail at the HEPI Spring Conference, organised in partnership with the Higher Education Academy with media support from the THE.  Attendees will also get the first sight of the 2014 HEPI / HEA Student Academic Experience survey. For the first time, this annual survey will give a complete picture of the education being received in England by students paying £9,000 a year. This year’s survey also includes the first ever comprehensive assessment of the well-being of students in UK universities, which will be compared on the day to the well-being of the nation as a whole. Speakers include: the Rt Hon David Willetts, Minister for Universities & Science;  Rob Behrens, Chief Executive, Office of the Independent Adjudicator, Rachel Wenstone, Vice President, Higher Education, NUS; Professor Stephanie Marshall, Chief Executive, Higher Education Academy; Anthony McClaran, Chief Executive, Quality Assurance Agency; Phil Baty, Editor, THE World University Rankings; Professor Edward Acton, Vice Chancellor, University of East Anglia, and Professor Alison Wride, Principal, GSM-London.  In addition, Nick Hillman, HEPI Director, and Dr Paul Bennett, HEA Director of Surveys will […]

14 05, 2014

HEPI University Partners’ Annual Policy Briefing Seminar

14 May, 2014|Events, Seminars|0 Comments|

Invite-only seminar for HEPI University Partners focusing on the policy challenges in HE looking ahead to the General Election of 2015, chaired by Nick Hillman, HEPI Director.

Download: Agenda: Annual Policy Briefing Seminar for HEPI University Partners

23 04, 2014

HEPI-HEA House of Commons Breakfast Seminar – 21st century learning – MOOCs and the challenge to innovate

23 April, 2014|Events, Seminars|0 Comments|

There is much speculation about the impact of MOOCS and their potential to transform global higher education.  Some fear that they will largely replace traditional courses and programmes and that students will stop going to physical universities.  Although mass market online learning is unlikely to replace the brand value of traditional universities or the employment opportunities they potentially offer, they could represent a threat to the markets in which some institutions operate.   In addition, it seems highly probable that MOOCS will have an impact on more conventional higher education, but in ways that are as yet uncertain.  What are the key issues facing universities as they meet the challenge to deliver 21st century learning?  How can institutions develop an effective   business model that combines the huge economies of scale with free access to courses?  And what about accreditation – is it possible to develop rigorous methods of assessment for MOOCs as well as accreditation towards qualifications?

Speakers: Simon Nelson, Chief Executive, FutureLearn  and Professor Sir Peter Scott, Professor of Higher Education Studies, Institute of Education

28 03, 2014

How Hefce can help predict the degree class of Will from The Inbetweeners

28 March, 2014|Blog|0 Comments|

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (Hefce) have published new research on degree performance according to the backgrounds of students.

It is incredibly important research and shows, for example:

large gaps in the performance of students from different ethnicities – almost three-quarters of white students with BBB in their A-Levels secure a First or Upper Second degree, but only around half of black students do so
women continue to pull away from men in higher education, as they outperform their male classmates with the same prior educational attainment
students from less well-off areas underperform against similarly-qualified students from better-off areas.

It is worth nothing that Hefce’s report is not (and does not claim to be) the full picture because it doesn’t, for example, explain what happens in the labour market after study. Degree classification is not the only material factor in determining a graduate’s journey through life. Those who got less than an Upper Second include David Dimbleby, Hugh Laurie and Louis de Bernières.

But the report is long-awaited and the findings will be digested very carefully in Whitehall, the Office for Fair Access and academia – not to mention Fleet Street. Institutions will compare their own performance to the average and look to see if they need to target resources more carefully at particular groups of students.

The findings that will inevitably get the most attention are those on schooling. Hefce says it is school type, rather than school performance, that is important. In essence, it matters less whether you went to a bog-standard or top-performing school but it does matter whether you went to a state or an independent one.

If someone wanted to caricature this, they might say it matters not a jot if you attended Dotheboys Hall […]

27 03, 2014

A baker’s dozen on the RAB

27 March, 2014|Blog|2 Comments|

There has been fervent debate about the Resource Accounting and Budgeting charge, known as the RAB charge, in recent days. I was even invited to speak about this rather technical concept on the Radio 4 Today programme last Saturday. It is all because the Government has just increased the figure to 45%.

The RAB shows the amount of money loaned to students that is expected by the Government never to be repaid, leaving taxpayers to pick up the bill. It is often confused with the proportion of former students who will never repay their full loan, but that is different (and substantially higher).

Here are 13 ‘facts’ about the RAB.

Many of us in HE policy struggle with its ramifications – for example, exactly what it means for the BIS accounts, for the deficit and for the debt. The Labour HE spokesman, Liam Byrne, is presumably one of the few people working on HE policy outside government who really understands it, as he is a former Chief Secretary to the Treasury.
It bounces around a lot. In recent years, it has gone from 40% to 28% to 33% to 40% to 45%. There used to be different RAB figures for maintenance loans and tuition loans but the RAB is no longer published in that way.
It matters because it is one of the figures necessary for calculating how much public investment is made on higher education (although I don’t think it is counted as such in OECD reports). Many of those condemning the Government for having to revise their RAB calculation upwards actually want more public investment in HE so take a nuanced (or, depending on your view, contradictory) position. Others condemn the Government for the revisions while apparently […]

26 03, 2014

HEPI-HEA House of Commons Breakfast Seminar – HE in England – one sector or every university for itself?

26 March, 2014|Events, Seminars|0 Comments|

As the Coalition Government’s HE reforms begin to have a real impact, discussion is now focused on the best strategies to effectively ensure the health of the sector over the longer term.  With a recent survey of senior university leaders suggesting that some universities may close as a result of political and financial change in the sector, how can institutions best respond to the challenges thrown up by the new market-oriented approach to HE delivery? Given the diversification of HE systems across the UK, with all 4 nations publishing new policy statements in the last 2-3 years, is collaboration possible between institutions in the new competitive world of HE?  And how will we judge which university is successful or not?

Speakers: Professor Sir David Watson, Principal, Green Templeton College, University of Oxford and Michele Sutton, President, Association of Colleges

24 03, 2014

Quango Killer

24 March, 2014|Blog|5 Comments|

Hepi thanks Andy Westwood for becoming the first guest blogger on the new Hepi website.

Higher education is facing the biggest shake up of agencies and quangos for over twenty years. Politicians, think tanks and commissions are queueing up to create new organisations in HE and to simplify what looks like extraordinary levels of complexity to any outsider. The Office for Fair Trading is the latest, but the Higher Education Commission, the IPPR and of course Lord Browne have said the same. Politicians of all parties are asking how to redesign and simplify the regulatory landscape.

Lord Browne recommended a single regulator – a model that politicians, keen on symmetry and neatness, are often drawn towards. The idea of HEFCE as the lead regulator emerged in the current Government’s higher education white paper, though with no sign of a bill to ultimately enshrine such a role. As the sector becomes more like a market, the arguments for a market-like regulator such as an Ofcom or Ofgem intensify.

But sector-owned regulation is one of the big things that distinguishes the different policy frameworks in higher and further education. It goes to the heart of peer review – the idea that we in higher education are best placed to determine what is good and what is not. In HE we tend to take it for granted – but it’s a fundamental part of the sector if not explicitly a part of the autonomy that we routinely defend. Cuts to HEFCE spending in this year and next, alongside forthcoming legislation, could threaten its existence.

So what do we want? How should we pay for it? What should we defend? It is a maxim that form should follow function and that’s a […]

18 03, 2014

Welcome to the Debate

18 March, 2014|Blog|0 Comments|

‘Lobbying’ is a dirty word but, done well, it can mean telling people in power things they don’t already know.

26 02, 2014

HEPI-HEA House of Commons Breakfast Seminar – Higher education – a fair access challenge?

26 February, 2014|Events, Seminars|0 Comments|

A recent report from the Social Mobility and Child Poverty Commission provided new evidence of the scale of the fair access challenge within HE including an estimate that there are 3,700 state-educated students ‘missing’ from Russell Group universities in England. Part of the explanation, according to the Commission, is that many students who have the right grades do not apply to the most selective universities. But for the sector as a whole, perhaps the greater challenge now lies in convincing prospective students with the right qualifications to apply to university in the first place. With the erosion in the graduate premium placing the spotlight on the value of a university education, who goes to university is likely to become the key question for the sector in the 21st century. And with the evidence pointing to our leading universities becoming less not more socially representative how can universities, schools and colleges work more effectively together to bridge this “applications” gap?

Speakers:Professor Craig Calhoun, Director,  LSE and Sir Michael Griffiths, Immediate Past President, ASCL & Head of Northampton School for Boys 

20 02, 2014

Unfinished Business?: Higher education legislation

20 February, 2014|News|0 Comments|

The new Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute (Hepi) comments on his first Hepi report, Unfinished Business? Higher education legislation.