Tag: UK

News: Report in UK highlights role of universities in public and private sector

UUKUniversities UK (UUK) has published a new report examining the role of UK universities in the economy. Universities UK was established in 1918 and is a network of 133 executive heads (vice-chancellors/principals) of universities in the UK. The organization is funded through its members and works as an advocate for the sector.

The new report is a part of their series regarding “The funding environment for universities”, with emphasis in this issue being on economic development, regional growth and labour market issues.

Examining national data, the report rather explicitly places higher education to a market relevant position, identifying the sector as a “high-growth UK export industry”, aside having a role in skills production and innovation. The report collected data for 2011-2012 year and highlights that the sector generated over 100 billion euros in output, employing over 375 000 people. Together with additional jobs that are dependent on universities, the sector stands fro 2,7% of UK employment in 2011.

The report further highlights the role of universities in innovation and knowledge production (knowledge exchange, commercialization, indirect innovation and network creation, and entrepreneurship support services), as well as producing the necessary skills. The report highlights that: “The UK is seeing a growth in high-wage analytical, non-routine jobs; an expansion ofmanual low-wage roles; and a contraction of middle-wage jobs” (p.4), emphasizing the role of universities in this shift. In the press release of the report, UUK cites Dame Julia Goodfellow, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Kent, who highlights: “The UK must ensure that the higher-level skills required in the labour market are met and our universities have an important role to play in meeting this demand, both through their more traditional model of three-year undergraduate university study, and by developing other routes  to higher skills.” She continues further: “Universities are a globally recognised source of innovation and research and, in turn, attract direct foreign investment. They generate knowledge and discovery that can boost both the private and the public sectors.

Hedda podcast: Party politics and political economy of the welfare states


Professor M. Busemeyer (University of Konstanz)

Episode 47 of our podcast series features Prof. Marius Busemeyer (University of Konstanz).

In the podcast, he discusses some of the key findings from his recent book “Skills and Inequality. Partisan Politics and the Political Economy of Education Reforms in Western Welfare States”. Summarising key aspects of how skill regimes have developed in europe, he further reflects on what he as a researcher found as the most interesting finding and shares his thoughts on the practical implications of his research.

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Prof. Marius Busemeyer is Professor of Political Science at the Department of Politics and Public Administration at University of Konstanz. He received his PhD in political science from University of Heidelberg in 2006. Between 2006 and 2010 he worked at Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne, Germany. He further received his Habilitation in Political science at University of Cologne in 2010. From 2011 he has worked as a professor at University of Konstanz where he is a head of department in Politics and Public administration since 2014. In 2010, he received a grant from German National Science Foundation (DFG) (Emmy-Noether Program) for his work on “The Politics of Education and Training Reform in Western Welfare States”, and in 2012 he received the European Research Council (ERC) Starting Grant. His main research interests are in the area of comparative political economy, welfare states, public spending, social democratic parties and theories of institutional change.


Hedda podcast: Student engagement with knowledge as a means to define quality

Episode 44 of our podcast series features Dr. Paul Ashwin from Lancaster University in the UK. In the podcast we talk about student engagement with knowledge as a key feature of quality in higher education, and he reflects on some of the key results from a three year long study on pedagogical quality and inequality in the UK.

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Click here to download the Policy makers guide (pdf) that the research team has prepared based on the project results. 

View also the publications that the podcast is referring to:

Dr. Paul Ashwin  (Lancaster University)

Dr. Paul Ashwin
(Lancaster University)

Dr. Paul Ashwin is employed as a Senior Lecturer and Head of Department at the Department of Educational Research at Lancaster University in the UK. Earlier he has worked at the Institute for the Advancement of University Learning, University of Oxford and Newham College of Further Education. His key research interests are related to the relations between teaching-learning and knowledge-curriculum practices in higher education, as well as the implications of this for both policy and practice. He has also a keen interest on the methodological development of higher education studies in this area.

Australia on top regarding total costs for studying

HSBC, an international banking organisation has examined study costs in 13 countries in terms of tuition and overall living costs to determine the most expensive countries to study in.

Their results indicate that Australia is with a relatively clear margin the most expensive country to study in – topping the list for both highest tuition fees as well as highest living costs. Australia is followed by US and UK in the list of most expensive countries, but the costs for studying in UK are over 20% lower than in Australia – from over 38,5 thousand dollars down to just over 30 thousand annually. It should also be noted that tuition fees in United Arab Emirates are also above those of UK, despite recent considerable increases in UK.

With a clear margin the cheapest country to study in is Germany, where average annual tuition is 625 dollars, and living costs account for 5650, about 40% of those in Australia.

Average cost of studying in 13 countries (Source: HSBC.com)

Average cost of studying in 13 countries (Source: HSBC.com)

Read the whole review here.

Guest blogger: How students become consumers of higher education

Dr. Joanna Williams
(University of Kent, UK)

In this post, dr Joanna Williams from University of Kent (UK) argues that there is a complex process by which students adopt a consumer perspective to higher education, and it is not merely tuition fees that contribute to this. 

The entry draws on her recent book “Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought“, London: Bloomsbury. 

Recent news reports suggest the true cost of a university education for English students may be close to £100,000. It is perhaps not surprising then that students are increasingly described as ‘consumers’ of higher education (HE) (see Brown: 2011 and Molesworth, Nixon and Scullion: 2011). In Consuming Higher Education: Why Learning Can’t Be Bought I argue that the payment of university tuition fees (currently £9000 each year for English students) is a symptom rather than a cause of students being considered as consumers. Students are constructed as consumers both before entering HE and while at university by a range of government policies and institutional practices, many of which pre-date tuition fees paid by individual students. Indeed, students were first referred to as ‘customers’ of HE in government publicity in 1993, five years before they were required to pay any fees at all (see the Conservative government’s 1993 Charter for Higher Education).

Students are constructed as consumers from the moment they first begin to think about attending university. Government-sponsored websites offering guidance to school children present university as mainly concerned with future employment and material reward: ‘Higher education could boost your career prospects and earning potential … on average, graduates tend to earn substantially more  … Projected over a working lifetime, the difference is something like £100,000’. The government’s perception of the benefit of HE emerges clearly: it is to enable youngsters to get a job and earn money. Education is presented as an essentially private investment from which material rewards can be accrued. The ‘good consumer’ will shop around to choose the university that will most efficiently yield the highest return on their investment.

Guest blogger: Rewarding excellent teaching in the UK – from policy to practice

Dr Rebecca Turner and Prof David Gosling
(University of Plymouth)

In this blog posting Dr Rebecca Turner and Prof. David Gosling examine how a national policy initiative attempted to promote the agenda for rewarding excellent teaching within the UK.  It considers the interplay between national policy and local agenda and the implications for achieving change in higher education

This entry is based on the article: “Rewarding Excellent Teaching: the translation of a policy initiative in the United Kingdom. Higher Education Quarterly, 44 (4) 415-430.

There is a well-rehearsed argument that systems of reward for teaching and learning and for research should be more equitable. Since the 1970’s policymakers have been calling for increased recognition to be given to those who are excellent teachers because of the role they play in educating future generations. However, despite the prevalence of awards for teaching, and the growth of the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning movement, recognition for teaching still appears to be falling behind that of research, with increasing fears of the implications of this for teaching quality – as highlighted in a recent article by Vassiliou & McAleese (2012).

In the UK, under the New Labour government, considerable attention was paid to the issues of teaching quality from the late 1990’s.  There were several national initiatives with the dual purpose of promoting and rewarding high quality teaching and learning.   The largest of these was the Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning (CETL) initiative, introduced by the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) in 2004.  The declared purpose of the initiative was to reward excellent teaching and to invest in the identified excellent practice in order to increase and deepen its impact.  The CETLs were awarded after a two-stage competitive bidding process in which a case was made for self-identified excellence within or across a network of institutions.  In 2005, 74 CETLs were awarded, each receiving up to £500,000 annually with an initial capital investment of up to £2 million. This in itself marked the CETL initiative out as significant because it was the most generously funded initiative targeted at improving teaching there had ever been.

News: British students more satisfied than ever

End of last week, HEFCE published the newest results from the annual National Student Survey (NSS) in UK. This years edition can perhaps be seen as surprising, provided that the numbers reported refer to a historically high satisfaction rate amongst studentsin the 154 higher education institutions (HEIs) and 106 further education colleges (FECs). The overall satisfaction was reported to be 85% in average, and also distance institutiosn such as the Open University received high marks for their courses in additional to the usual highly ranked institutions.

The survey measures a number of aspects about course provision and satisfaction, including indicators about teaching, assessment and feedback, academic support, organisation and management, learning resources, opportunities for personal development, overall satisfaction, in addition to evaluation of students unions and NHS practice placements in cases where this is relevant.

Regarding teaching, four indicators were measured and all indicated a satisfaction rate well over 80%, where highest scores were received for skills in explaining subject matter and somewhat lower scores were received for making the subjects interesting. In average the scores for teaching indicated an over 85% satisfaction rate for all parts of the UK. The scores for assessment and feedback were somewhat lower, but nevertheless 7 out of 10 students in the UK are happy with the assessment practices, a considerable increase from 2005 when the same number was 6 our of 10. Nevertheless, when examining the numbers for dissatisfaction, assessment was the section with highest score of dissatisfaction.

Guest blogger: The elicitation of research impact through engagement

dr. Richard Watermeyer (University of Cardiff)

In this guest entry, dr. Richard Watermeyer from University of Cardiff examines the  public engagement agenda and shift towards using “impact” as a core element in evaluating the quality of research in UK. 

This guest entry draws on the article “From Engagement to Impact? Articulating the Public Value of Academic Research”.

In recent years the UK’s Higher Education (HE) community has been tasked with responding to a mandate of increased transparency, openness and a willingness to more proactively and fluently engage with public constituencies, particularly cohorts outwith the realms of common or established interaction, in the pursuit of greater social inclusion and cohesion.

Advocates of engagement in HE have mobilised around a discourse of dialogue, upstream engagement and knowledge co-production co-opted from the burgeoning disciplinary field of Science and Technology Studies (STS) and proponents of a public understanding of science movement, which/who emerged in the UK in the mid-1980s and promulgated the social responsibilities of the scientific community and the social and economic advantages of a more integrated and cohesive arrangement between scientific experts and lay publics, predicated on the latter’s early dialogical integration and sustained involvement in the deliberative aspects of the research process.

New HEIK working paper on changes in English higher education

The research group HEIK (Higher Education: Institutional dynamics and Knowledge cultures) from the University of Oslo has recently launched the third issue of the HEIK Working Paper Series. The working paper series features papers on various issues related to higher education research, both from HEIK members and selected national and international guests.

The paper is titled “The regulated market and the process of change in English higher education: Lessons from Oxbridge” and is written by prof. Ted Tapper. Professor Ted Tapper has extensive experience in the fields of political science and higher education. He was a long time professor at the University of Sussex, and holds a research professorship at the Oxford Centre for Higher Education Policy Studies. One of his core interest areas has been on the relationship between education and politics and he has extensively published on system level governance and policy issues related to higher education.

You can view the abstract and download the paper here.

Funded PhD studentships by Higher Education Academy in UK

For those interested in doing a PhD in higher education, Higher Education Academy in the UK has announced two funded PhD studentships.

The grants are linked to specific thematic areas linked to employability: work experience and mobility.

Both of the grants cover three years of tuition and maintenance scholarship (yearly £13,590 + £850 to support research training)

Studentship 1: ‘Articulating learning and employability through experience’ at Keele University.

This studentship will explore how HE students’ engagement in different forms of work experience (i.e. paid employment, placements, internships and volunteering) contributes to their leaner skills and employability, and there is an expectation of interdisciplinary work. You can find more information about the expected focus, Keele University and application procedures (necessary documents etc) by downloading the announcement here (pdf). Application deadline: 20th of June 2012  at 5PM (GMT+1h).

Studentship 2: ‘The Impact of Different Forms of International Student Mobility on Learning and Transitions to Employment’ at University of Surrey.

This studentship will explore how HE students experiences with various mobility initiatives (i.e. mobility programmes, dual degrees, short visits, work placements abroad etc) contributes to their learning and employability later on. You can find more information about the  focus and application procedures here (reference 8771). Application deadline is 25th of June 2012 at 09AM (GMT + 1h).