To say it’s been a busy couple of weeks in Westminster would be an understatement. We are not going to attempt to summarise all of the changes to the Conservative front benches here but, of note, is the appointment of Andrea Jenkyns as Minister for Skills, Further and Higher Education, following the appointment (and swift resignation) of the Michelle Donelan as Secretary of State for Education.
Quality and regulation
Last week Universities UK and GuildHE members committed to “reversing pandemic grade inflation” and returning to pre-pandemic levels of upper degree classification by 2023. This article on Wonkhe asks if we can ever go back to less inflated grades.
Elsewhere, Conservative leadership candidate Kemi Badenoch has promised to tackle “pointless” and “costly” degrees if she is chosen as the UK’s next prime minister.
Finance and funding
On Thursday Research England published its funding decisions for university research knowledge and exchange, which included a 10% increase in quality-related research funding. The Times has the story.
Meanwhile, a report from UKRI suggests that university spin-out companies are twice as likely to succeed if they receive Innovate UK funding. You can read the press release on UKRI’s website and The Times also has the story.
The Department for Education has published its 2021/22 student loan forecasts for England. Headlines include that full-time UG higher education students who started in the academic year 2021/22 are expected to borrow an average of £42,000 over the course of their studies and only 20% of that same cohort are expected to repay their loan in full.
Admissions and outreach
The Times Higher Education reports that record numbers of students are expected to start courses in UK higher education in the next academic year, with 44% of 18 year olds applying through UCAS. The data also shows an increase in applications from students from disadvantaged neighbourhoods.
Last week saw the publication of the 2022 National Student Survey results. Advance HE have produced a useful summary of the headlines, for those that do not want to plough their way through the full data set. Bath was delighted to retain its position as the highest scoring institution in England, and third in the UK overall, when compared to the 121 Higher Education institutions listed in the Guardian University Guide.
On Monday NUS published the results of a survey of 3500 university students, college students and apprentices which found that 96% were cutting back due to the rising cost of living. The survey also found that 11% of students were accessing food banks, compared with 5% in January 2022, reflecting the rapid increase in inflation in the first half of the year.
On Tuesday OfS announced that it would be distributing £15m to universities and colleges for 2022/23 to fund student mental health support. The funding aims to enable higher education institutions to develop effective joint working between their student support services and local NHS mental health services.