By Ian McNay
Press reports, 31 January, on UCAS statistics on the 15 January deadline showed remarkable unanimity around telling, shall we say…not the whole truth:
– Girls lead the way as degree applications hit record levels – Times
– Record numbers of 18-year-olds apply to university – Telegraph
– University applications hit record high – Guardian
The Telegraph had a second story claiming the number of applicants aged 20 and over had increased by 5%.
All this gave comfort to [English] ministers who claim that high fees have had no long term effect on applications. So, let us look at the longer term and compare the cycle for 2014 entry Continue reading →
By Jennifer Leigh
I wasn’t sure what to expect from the SRHE Newer Researchers conference. The day began with Mike Neary’s thought provoking keynote on ‘students as producers’. He explained this as an act of resistance to ‘students as consumers’ rather than ‘student engagement’ or ‘student-led teaching’. We were then thrust into a very full day of research seminars, all supported by an active twitter back channel.
The conference organised the presenters into Continue reading →
By Ceredig Jamieson-Ball
Conducting research into how different parts of the higher education sector have responded to policy developments can help us develop better support for academics and institutions as they seek to ensure that students have the best possible learning opportunities. The same evidence-base, gathered now, will provide vital data when it comes to influencing future policy and understanding how changes might affect those at the centre of higher education – students.
Over the last few years reform of higher education in the UK has provided a discussion point for everyone with an interest in the sector, from parents to policy-makers, from academics to administrators. It’s now three years since the Browne report, and there is still plenty of discussion about what the upper limit on tuition fees in England should be and how the devolved governments around the rest of the UK are financing higher education. Continue reading →
By Marcia Devlin
University teaching appears to be back in fashion in Australia this year. A report, Taking university teaching seriously, was released this year by an independent think tank, just prior to the federal election. The report argues for a greater number of ‘teaching-focused’ academic staff across the higher education sector. The idea is that teaching-focused academics, as the name suggests, focus their time and effort primarily on teaching and related scholarship. The precise split of time between teaching preparation, practice and scholarship varies depending on the particulars of the appointment. This report followed another earlier in the year commissioned by the commonwealth Office for Learning and Teaching, Teaching-focused academic appointments in Australian universities. Both reports outline the reasons for restricting the growth of such appointments to date and the arguments for potentially increasing them. Continue reading →
By Paul Temple
We all know that universities are, above all, people businesses. Every university depends on specialist staff to provide often complex services typically to thousands of students, some of them on a one-to-one basis. Their academic staff members are mostly expected to work at the intellectual frontiers of their disciplines, and are relied on to do so with minimal supervision. The people management issues involved here must therefore be a central concern for any university’s senior management: get this wrong, and the place is in real trouble. So the HR director has a task of at least comparable importance to her colleagues directing teaching, planning research, or exercising overall financial control. Universities are all about people, so HR has to be a key function – right?
Wrong. The analogy with finance, in particular, is tempting but false. Continue reading →
Rob Cuthbert – Editor, SRHE News
This editorial is in affectionate memory of policy
making for English higher education, whose
demise is deeply lamented.
The signs of decline had been evident in the recent series of policy decisions, especially the ‘Not-the-Higher-Education-Bill’ series in 2011-2013. England had claimed a dubious victory in the infamous ‘White Paper Test’ by simply telling everyone how marvellous the result would be, without actually playing the game. In the legislative series after the White Paper Test, matches were repeatedly scheduled then cancelled with nothing more to show than the odd shred of policy, until England captain Alastair Willetts finally announced that the series had been won and it would not be necessary for his team to take to the legislative wicket at all. Nevertheless he was repeatedly caught in slips without scoring… Continue reading →