REF rumbles on

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This week saw the publication of REF 2021 panel reports from each of the four main panels and units of assessment, alongside a summary report and blogs from the chairs of the Equality and Diversity Advisory Panel (EDAP) and the Interdisciplinary Research Advisory Panel (IDAP) - both of which flag detailed recommendations to follow when the reports are published in June 2022.

The conversation about research often focuses on the sciences. For James Coe, REF 2021 makes a powerful case for the quality and value of research in the arts and humanities.

The UK Research Integrity Office (UKRIO) has published a four-year strategy, committing the organisation to support research of “integrity, quality, and efficacy” and strengthen relationships with the wider research community.

The British Academy and the Wolfson Foundation have unveiled five new British Academy/Wolfson Research Professorships.

Access and participation

OfS has published an update to their analysis which compares how likely those who entered higher education with unconditional offers are to continue their studies with those who entered through other routes.

Academics and student leaders have told MPs of their frustration at the denial of and the lack of practical action to tackle the “ingrained institutional racism” experienced by black students and staff on university campuses.  David Kernohan, Acting Editor of Wonkhe watched the session and outlines the evidence submitted.  Read more in the Guardian.

Equality of access has been achieved in Scotland’s tertiary education sector, according to new research published by the Scottish Funding Council. The 2020-21 Report on Widening Access tells us that 21.1 percent of full time entrants came from the 20 percent of most deprived areas.

A new report from Universities UK concludes that the Home Office must develop a more accessible and affordable visa process if the UK is to retain its position as a global leader in science and innovation.

Finance and funding

The Times reports that Ministers have pledged to stop student loan interest rates rising from 4.5 per cent to 12 per cent, in response to an observation by the Institute of Fiscal Studies last month.

OfS has published the arrangements for the distribution of capital funding for financial years 2022-23 to 2024-25.  They include details of a 2022 bidding exercise, with capital funding to be distributed between financial years 2022-23 to 2024-25.

UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) has announced that nine projects will receive a share of £18.9m to support universities in reducing the carbon footprint of research facilities and making research more environmentally sustainable.

In Parliament

Covered by the BBC, the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee heard evidence for its inquiry exploring diversity in STEM subjects. Jasper Green, Schools and Subject Lead for Science in the Ofsted Curriculum Unit, stated research indicates that subject choice at a younger age is not helping address imbalances in subjects.

The House of Commons Education Committee this week hosted a roundtable discussion on the future of post-16 qualifications, with industry and business representatives. Several of those present expressed a desire to see work experience built into the curriculum.

The Education Committee has also released a report on prison education, which calls for a pilot “education prison” or secure campus to be developed in partnership with a local university.

People news

Former Chief Executive Officer at the Office for Students Nicola Dandridge will be taking up the role of Professor of Higher Education Policy at the University of Bristol, starting in October.

Julie Sanders has been announced as the next principal of Royal Holloway, University of London. She will take up the role on 1 October 2022.


The National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) will coordinate a new World Access to Higher Education Network (WAHEN). Launched this week at the UNESCO World Higher Education conference, WAHEN will encourage collaboration between universities, charities, foundations, and NGOs to improve access to higher education across the globe.

The European University Association has welcomed seven new members, including Aston University and the University of Essex.

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