Funding, grade inflation and cheating

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The UK HE sector earned £44 billion in 2020-21, according to the latest financial data release from HESA; 79 providers reported a deficit while 195 had a surplus at the end of the year.  An assessment of the latest data is available on Wonkhe.

The OfS published allocations of recurrent funding to HE providers for 2022-23 to support teaching activities.


Unions and employers were unable to reach an agreement on a proposed pay rise offer for university staff, making further strikes more likely in the new academic year.  The University announced one-off payments to support colleagues this week.

Science Funding

The CEO and Chair of new Advanced Research and Invention Agency (ARIA) were announced on Tuesday.  ARIA will enable exceptional scientists and researchers to identify and fund transformational research that leads to new technologies, discoveries, products and services.  The Times provides more background.

An independent review of UKRI, the UK’s main science funder, published yesterday suggested that ‘ambiguity’ over its role was holding back progress, discussed by the Times and Wonkhe.

Knowledge Exchange

Universities UK (UUK) has published a review of the Knowledge Exchange Concordat recommending that the concordat is conducted again within three years, that institutions should build long-term plans for knowledge exchange activities, and that the sector should collaborate to build a library of best practice, resources, and case studies on knowledge exchange.

Free Speech

As reported in the press last week, nearly 200 speakers or events were rejected by English universities and colleges in 2020-21, according to figures from the Office for Students (OfS), collected during Prevent monitoring.  This Wonkhe article demystifies the data.

Quality and Regulation

The Quality Assurance Agency (QAA), the independent quality body, steps back from providing assessments for OfS due to non-compliance with European standards; explored in Wonkhe.

A new OfS Insight brief published today examines grade inflation in English higher education.  OfS analysis has shown that the proportion of first class degrees awarded in England has more than doubled, from 15.7 per cent in 2010-11 to 37.9 per cent in 2020-21.

It was announced yesterday that Northeastern University - London becomes the first new university under OfS powers.  From April 2019, the OfS had powers to approve the use of the word ‘university’ in the name of a registered higher education provider.

Student Affairs

Sixteen per cent of students say they have cheated in online exams this academic year, according to a new survey.  The polling was not sophisticated but still concerning (Wonkhe). The University’s Academic Integrity Test is being updated for 2022-23.

The Race Equality Charter as a tool to help universities tackle racism is discussed by the Chief Executive of Advance HE.

Following last week’s OfS announcement of joint working between providers and the NHS to support student mental health, an interesting Times article written by a security guard at a UK University gives insight.

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