From Free Speech to the Cost of Living Crisis

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OfS Updates

A new equality of opportunity risk register is among the proposals for consultation, as the Office for Students (OfS) launches a consultation on its new approach to regulating equality of opportunity in higher education.

The OfS has published guidance for universities and colleges on the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF). The guidance sets out how universities and colleges will be assessed for TEF ratings in 2023, and an explanation of how expert TEF panels will carry out assessments.

The OfS will consult on a new condition of registration next year that will effectively put into regulation the “statement of expectations” on harassment and sexual misconduct that has been out for evaluation for the past few months.  It has also begun work to develop a “prevalence survey” to understand the scale and nature of sexual misconduct affecting higher education students in England. Discussed on Wonkhe and in the THE.


The UK now spends more than 2.4 of GDP on research and development, meeting the government’s target to match the OECD average.  However, this accidental meeting of the target is explored by Wonkhe, with a piece today on the politics of hitting the target.

The government will abide by its funding commitments for research and development laid out in last year’s Comprehensive Spending Review, including funds set aside for Horizon Europe association and ARIA. This is according to an answer given yesterday in Parliament by Treasury economic secretary Richard Fuller.

The results of a THE survey of 400 international researchers deemed to be the research leaders of the future were published this week.  The topics included university support for researchers, impact versus publications, interdisciplinarity and internationalisation.

Free Speech

The Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) has published a report including a series of recommendations around the Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill, saying that in its current form, it could well make the situation worse by introducing further caution and further administrative burden to those inviting speakers to debates.  This is discussed further by the THE.

The think-tank Civitas has published a new briefing about free speech and decolonisation at UK universities, saying that more than 70 per cent of UK universities have decolonisation policies.

International students

Wonkhe discusses the Home Secretary's rhetoric on international students and their dependents considering it both dangerous and wrong and suggests that clamping down on international student numbers is an anti-growth strategy.

Students should be allowed to complete up to three courses on a single visa to ensure that the UK does not fall behind its rivals in attracting overseas talent, according to a new policy proposal from London Higher.

Hardship funding for international students is examined on Wonkhe.

Student Welfare

The OfS has published an independent evaluation of its Mental Health Challenge Competition finding that the programme delivered key changes in mental health outcomes for students.

Universities UK has published recommendations calling on universities to be more proactive in preventing student suicides, covered by the BBC.  Developments around policy on preventing student suicide are discussed on Wonkhe.

Cost of Living Crisis

MillionPlus has published research into the impact of the cost of living crisis on students, finding that the 300,000 students likely to be worst affected include a higher proportion from traditionally underrepresented groups, with black and mature students the most at risk.  London Higher has issued a briefing paper on responding to the cost of living in London, looking at the impact of rising prices on staff and students in the capital.

The BBC reports that students at University of York living off campus will receive grants to help with living costs.

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