News

12 Jun, 2018

Most students think taking illegal drugs causes problems for users as well as society and want their universities to take a tougher stance

12 June, 2018|News|4 Comments

The Higher Education Policy Institute and the University of Buckingham have worked with YouthSight on a survey of attitudes towards drugs among full-time undergraduate students.

The research shows a majority of students think illegal drugs cause problems for individuals and society – 88% think drug usage causes problems ‘for the mental health of the user’ and 68% think it causes problems ‘for society in terms of contributing to criminality’.

A majority of students want their university to take a tougher stance on ‘students who repeatedly use drugs’ (62%) and on ‘drug dealers’ (also 62%).

Nearly three-quarters (71%) of students have not taken illegal drugs during their time in higher education.

The findings contrast with a report from the National Union of Students (NUS) and Release, published in April 2018, that suggested most students (56%) had taken drugs and nearly two-thirds (62%) ‘showed relaxed attitudes towards student drug use’. The two studies have different methodologies: while the NUS survey was targeted at specific groups (such as ‘Students for Sensible Drug Policy UK channels’), the new survey used YouthSight’s large Student Panel, with the results being weighted to reflect the body of full-time undergraduate students.

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, said:
This survey provides an important corrective to some of the wilder ideas about today’s students. They are more hardworking and less hedonistic than is often supposed. A majority recognise the dangers of taking illegal substances.

Some people blame universities when they become involved in students’ personal lives. Others blame them for not doing enough. Our survey shows most students support their institutions taking a tougher, rather than a more relaxed, line on the use of illegal substances by fellow students.
Anthony Seldon, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Buckingham, who […]

7 Jun, 2018

Keynote speeches from the HEPI Annual Conference, 7th June 2018

7 June, 2018|News

The Opening Keynote by Sam Gyimah MP, Minister of State for Universities, Science, Research & Innovation is available here.

Lord Mandelson’s Afternoon Keynote is available here.

7 Jun, 2018

Turning the corner on value for money – 2018 HEPI / Advance HE Student Academic Experience Survey highlights students’ belief that value for money in higher education is improving

7 June, 2018|By Nick Hillman|News

In a marked reversal of a five-year downward trend, students in the United Kingdom are reporting statistically significant improvements in perceptions of value for money from their higher education experience. This is the headline finding from the 2018 Student Academic Experience Survey (SAES) published today by Advance HE and the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI).

More than 14,000 students took part in the SAES, an annual survey that began in 2006 and has been recording the views of students about their academic experience and their attitudes towards policy issues that impact upon them. The SAES offers insights and commentary and is widely quoted and used to inform policy and practice in higher education in the UK.

Among the highlights, this year’s survey reveals:

38% of students in the UK perceive ‘good or very good’ value from their course. This is a three percentage point improvement over last year’s survey and reverses a five-year downward trend.
Fewer students studying in the UK, 32%, perceive ‘poor’ or ‘very poor’ value when compared with 34% in 2017.
In particular, there is a clear, statistically significant, improvement among students from England, representing the largest number of students, where 35% report ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value.
There has been an improvement (though not statistically significant) among students domiciled in Scotland, where 60% of students surveyed perceive ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value, while students from Wales and EU students studying in the UK report similar perceptions of value as last year, 48% and 47% respectively. Perceptions of value in Northern Ireland remain in decline – albeit not statistically significant.
Students at institutions which secured a Gold award in the Teaching Excellence Framework are more likely to have received good value; but there […]

6 Jun, 2018

Response to the release of TEF 3 results

6 June, 2018|By Diana Beech|News

Dr Diana Beech, Director of Policy and Advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI), responds to this morning’s release of the TEF 3 results:

‘Today’s TEF results appear good news all round. Of those providers which reapplied for an award under TEF 3, many managed to upgrade their previous awards. This shows there is much to be learnt with the benefit of hindsight and reflection on what worked in the 2017 exercise (as featured in HEPI report 99, Going for Gold: Lessons from the TEF provider submissions).

‘As the TEF evolves, so too will institutional ability to handle and interpret the TEF assessment criteria effectively. What we should now start to see is institutions from across the sector being rightly recognised for the pockets of teaching excellence they provide, not hampered by doubt about how best to formulate the required provider submissions.

‘I was particularly pleased to see two Welsh universities – Aberystwyth and Swansea – gain a Gold award this year. This shows the TEF is much more than a registration requirement for providers in England under the new Office for Students (OfS), but a policy initiative that is raising teaching quality and improving student outcomes right across Great Britain.’

24 May, 2018

Oxbridge students work harder, are more satisfied and get better value for money than other students but have less creative and original teaching

24 May, 2018|News

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) is publishing a report on the student experience at the University of Oxford and the University of Cambridge. The study shows how this differs from the experience at other Russell Group universities and all UK universities.

How different is Oxbridge?, by Charlotte Freitag and Nick Hillman, includes a Foreword written by David Palfreyman, Fellow of New College, Oxford, and a member of the Board of the Office for Students.

The report is based on data from the annual HEPI / HEA Student Academic Experience Survey collected between 2012 and 2017. The responses of 1,625 Oxbridge students are set against the responses of 18,354 students at other Russell Group universities and then compared to the responses of 60,221 undergraduates across all UK universities.

The key findings include:

59% of Oxbridge undergraduates are ‘very satisfied’ with their course compared with 31% of students at other Russell Group institutions;
77% of Oxbridge students but only 46% of other Russell Group students perceive their course to provide either ‘good’ or ‘very good’ value for money;
Oxbridge students work 43 hours per week during term-time on average, 12 hours more than other Russell Group students or all students;
96% of Oxbridge students but only 36% of other Russell Group students have at least one hour per week in classes with 0 to 5 other students;
59% of students at other Russell Group institutions have at least one class per week with more than 100 other students, compared to 42% at Oxbridge and overall;
82% of Oxbridge students but only 13% of other Russell Group students receive feedback within one week; and
52% of all UK students say their teachers use original or creative teaching methods ‘a […]

10 May, 2018

New report calls on universities to take radical steps to make higher education accessible for all

10 May, 2018|By Diana Beech|News|1 Comment

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) and Brightside have today released a collection of action points for the new Office for Students on unlocking access to higher education.

Reaching the parts of society universities have missed: A manifesto for the new Director of Fair Access and Participation contains the views of 35 leading thinkers from academia, university administration, Parliament, think tanks and the media. Contributors include the President of the National Union of Students, Shakira Martin, the Chair of the Education Select Committee, Rob Halfon MP, and the Sutton Trust’s Director of Research, Conor Ryan.

Their proposals include:

experimenting with post-qualification admissions;
appointing a Commissioner for Student Mental Health;
requiring targets for students from care;
delivering mandatory unconscious bias training for staff;
granting fee waivers to asylum-seekers;
guaranteeing mentoring for every pupil who wants it;
curbing the use of unconditional offers;
mandating statistical returns on sexual orientation; and
founding new Oxbridge colleges to widen access.

Nick Hillman, Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute and a contributor to the publication, said:
Real progress has been made in extending access to higher education. But we are only at the first furlong on a long journey. People from rich households are more likely to reach the most prestigious institutions, white working-class boys rarely make it to higher education and there is a big black attainment gap. Groups like disabled students, LGBT+ students and refugees all face barriers in meeting their potential.

The time for woolly ideas is over. We hope our specific recommendations for action are considered, tried and then evaluated for their effectiveness. My own recommendation is the foundation of some new Oxbridge colleges to open our most selective institutions up to a wider clientele.
Anand Shukla, Chief Executive of Brightside […]

30 Apr, 2018

HEPI calls for an urgent reinvigoration of part-time learning before Brexit, more support for students’ living costs and a co-ordinated strategy for fighting ignorance about university life among those applying for higher education

30 April, 2018|News

In line with this week’s Call for Evidence deadline, the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) is today publishing its response to the Review of Post-18 Education and Funding, entitled Post-18 Review: 10 Points-of-Note on fixing the broken parts of our education and training system.

Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI and the author of the report, said:
We welcome the Post-18 Review as an opportunity to fix the broken parts of our education and training system.

There is an urgent need to reinvigorate part-time learning. Perhaps the only certainty about Brexit is that it will become harder to recruit skilled people from abroad. This makes it doubly important that we put the right regime in place to improve the skills of people already in the UK. Any new support should cover bite-size learning for those not yet ready to embark on a full degree.

The most broken part of the funding system for full-time students is support for living costs. So there is a strong case for the return of maintenance grants. We also call on Ministers to start telling parents how much they are expected to fund students’ living costs, so that families can prepare for this huge financial hit in advance. There is not a single good reason to keep parents in the dark.

In addition, it is time that students got more information about where their fees go and schools, universities and government should act together to tackle the shocking naivety among university applicants about higher education. Most of those applying to university do not realise rent will be their biggest cost apart from fees, around two-thirds think they will get more contact time at university than they’ve had at school, which is rarely the case, and […]

5 Apr, 2018

Upending the rankings: Benchmarking widening participation in universities

5 April, 2018|News|2 Comments

HEPI is today publishing a new Policy Note, Benchmarking widening participation: how should we measure and report progress?, written by Professor Iain Martin, Vice-Chancellor at Anglia Ruskin University, which looks at each university’s success in widening participation and ensuring access to people from all backgrounds.

The paper puts forward a new measure of equity in participation, which demonstrates graphically the most equal – and most unequal – HE institutions in the UK.

Nick Hillman, Director of HEPI, said:
This analysis reveals which universities reflect wider society best, and those which have further to travel. It remains surprisingly controversial with some people to suggest that our oldest universities should mirror our society more closely.

Yet everyone benefits when there is the best possible fit between individuals and institutions. For example, learning outcomes are better when students from diverse backgrounds study alongside each other. On these sorts of issues, policymaking on schools can sometimes seem ahead of what goes on in the university sector.

Tackling the challenge is fraught with problems. The biggest obstacle is probably a fear among parts of society that have historically dominated our most selective universities that they could be squeezed out. That is one reason why the best way to deliver fairer access to selective institutions is the same as the best way to deliver widening participation overall, which is to provide more places.
Iain Martin, Vice Chancellor of Anglia Ruskin University and the author of the report, said:
Widening participation and ensuring that students from all backgrounds are provided opportunities to study at a university that matches their talents and aspirations has been a pivotal part of English higher education policy and strategy for many years.

While much has been achieved, it remains that we do not have […]

15 Mar, 2018

Joint Committee for Human Rights publishes HEPI analysis of university free speech policies

15 March, 2018|By Diana Beech|News

The Joint Committee for Human Rights (JCHR) has today (15 March 2018) published on its website a report prepared by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) into the free speech policies of UK universities.

Given growing concern about the perceived suppression of free speech on campuses around the country, the report analyses a sample of policies from UK higher education institutions to determine whether they assist free speech or are likely to frustrate it.

Intended to assist the JCHR to evaluate the practicality and efficacy of existing free speech policies formulated and employed by UK universities, the report uncovers some worrying inconsistencies. It finds:

not all universities have updated their codes of practice on freedom of speech following the implementation of the Prevent Duty in August 2015, with some policies dating back to 2010;
not all universities agree on the definition of what constitutes a meeting to which policies on freedom of speech apply – some suggest they apply only to larger gatherings (like lectures or cultural events) while others say they can apply to meetings of three people or more;
free speech laws in Catholic higher education institutions may come into conflict with Canon Law in sacred spaces; and
loopholes can also occur in the law in areas where institutions deem their policies on free speech not to apply, such as during academic teaching, sporting or cultural events, trade union meetings or committee meetings.

Most strikingly, the report finds universities largely tend to see their codes of conduct as applying to students’ unions. This is in stark contrast to the advice issued by the representative group Universities UK, which argues that student unions are legally separate bodies from universities and not directly subject to the legal […]

15 Mar, 2018

New HEPI report reveals 300,000 more higher education places will be needed in England by 2030 to keep up with demand

15 March, 2018|By Diana Beech|News

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has published a major new piece of research looking at future demand for higher education places in England over the next decade.

The report, Demand for Higher Education to 2030, by Bahram Bekhradnia and Dr Diana Beech builds on HEPI’s long history of exploring demand for higher education but comes seven years after the last report on this topic.

The report examines the impact of major policy changes, demography and entry standards on participation rates. It shows:

the number of 18-year-olds in England is set to rise by 23 per cent by 2030;
if demography were the only factor, without any increase in participation, there would be an increase in demand of 50,000 full-time higher education places by 2030;
if participation also increases in the next dozen years or so at the same rate as the average of the last 15 years, then we can expect an increase in demand of 350,000 full-time higher education places by 2030;
countervailing factors that could reduce demand include Brexit, which is expected to reduce the number of places needed by around 56,000;
so the most likely outcome by the end of the next decade is a net increase in demand for full-time student places of around 300,000; and
demand for higher education places would be increased further if males were to match the participation of females during this time – although we do not predict that this will happen in the foreseeable future, if it were to do so then the extra demand could total over half a million new places.

In 2016/17, there were about 1.2 million full-time first-degree students in England, so demand for almost a third of a million additional places […]