Weekly Digest

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The House of Commons Education Committee has been urged to hold an inquiry into the operation and performance of the Office for Students, to ensure that it is fulfilling its role and responsibilities within the sector as a fully independent regulatory body, discussed by the THE.


The Department for Education and the Office for Students have updated their Framework Agreement in line with recent Treasury changes to the template agreement for non-departmental public bodies. Though most of the changes are minor it is notable that language on the need for OfS to work closely with UKRI has been removed.


Student recruitment

The Ucas personal statement is to be replaced by a series of questions following concerns that it was too stressful for UK students.


An extraordinary growth in income has been caused by higher enrolments and post-Brexit fee uplifts and bolsters finances of Russell Group institutions.


A study conducted by LSE Consulting on behalf of the Office for Students (OfS) highlights the role institutions play in enhancing and supporting the experience of international students studying in the UK.  The OfS has also published a topic briefing.


Student issues

Teaching students basic life coping skills may help boost grades and graduation rates, especially among low-income and minority students.


The Welsh government will increase student maintenance support by 9.4 per cent for the 2023-24 academic year, more than three times the rate of uplift for England, also discussed on Wonkhe.


OfS’ Director for Fair Access and Participation John Blake has written a blogpost on the initial findings of the regulator’s research into the impact of the cost of living crisis on students, noting “particular concern that those student groups already facing the greatest risks to equality of opportunity are experiencing greater levels of hardship”.


Charity Animal Aid has released a resource showing which UK universities conduct experiments on animals based on Freedom of Information requests. The website claims to provide students and applicants with information about “how their tuition fees are being spent” and to promote alternative methods in science.


Equality matters

Universities are increasingly committed to equality, diversity, and inclusion work, discussed here.


Wonkhe discusses creating inclusive spaces for black, Asian, and minority ethnic (BAME) staff and students and also looks at the latest OfS proposals on widening access.


There has been a sharp increase in the number of antisemitic incidents at UK universities, according to a report by the Community Security Trust (CST) with THE commentary available.  The UK’s National Union of Students has not been a welcoming place for Jewish people for “at least a decade”, according to an independent report into antisemitism, also covered by the BBC.


A new online portal has launched to promote opportunities for refugees and people seeking asylum in the UK to access university.  The Displaced Student Opportunities UK website – created by Refugee Education UK, Student Action for Refugees, and Universities of Sanctuary – is intended to showcase academic scholarships, grants, short courses and mentoring for displaced students.


Staff data and pay

Details of staff employed at higher education (HE) providers in the UK for the academic year 2021 to 2022 were published by the Department for Education and the Higher Education Statistics Agency.  The sector has seen a growth in the use of zero hours contracts, that just 0.7 per cent of professors are Black and a sharp rise in the proportion of academic staff with teaching only contracts, fully explored on Wonkhe.


The University and College Union (UCU) committee backs escalating action in February and March after rejecting employers’ initial pay rise offer.  The first day is confirmed as Wednesday 1 February, covered by the THE.


The number of academic staff working in the UK who were originally from countries in the European Union has fallen for the second year in a row, new figures show.



Peer reviewers for a leading Royal Society journal will receive a £100 voucher for every paper they assess, which can be used to reduce future publishing costs.


Researchers from marginalised backgrounds “face systemic barriers to securing research funding” created by funders and universities, a new report from the University of Oxford has found, discussed further in THE.


Think tank HEPI has released a policy note on how to improve the relationship between researchers and policymakers based on interviews with former ministers, special advisers and officials.


Catapults are getting more funding and more political attention. But what do they do and what are they for?  Structuring research funding around big, exciting “missions” is getting a lot of political traction.

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