At a critical time for Higher Education, post the EU referendum and as we await the passing through parliament of the HE Bill, Professor Peter Byers welcomed Ant Bagshaw to give a WONKHE perspective on the policy landscape and its implications and opportunities for universities. In the opening seminar of this year’s Research and Practice in HE Seminar Series, Ant, in surveying the main discourses around the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF), Research Excellence Framework and Brexit, gave an honest, critical, and often wry, account of the challenges, opportunities and shortcomings of current policy. Alongside this, the audience of academic and professional services staff were provided with an overview of other developments of interest to HE, for example: degree apprenticeships; changes in NSS and DLHE methodologies, the pensions deficit, as well as changes to quality assessment. Degree apprenticeships, for example, are seen to offer potential for new or different partnerships with business and industry and may address shortfalls in applicants from elsewhere.
Reasons to be cheerful?
In a wide ranging discussion following Ant’s presentation, the focus returned to Brexit and TEF. In both, it seems, there are reasons to be optimistic. EU applicant numbers have so far been maintained and there are indications that international students will still see the UK as an attractive destination for study and not be deterred by prospects of higher fees. However, the university sector must exercise its lobbying power to, amongst other things, ensure that students are not included in net migration targets.
Despite serious reservations that the Teaching Excellence Framework, in its current form, will not deliver the government’s original intentions, Ant saw definite value for universities in using the metrics. They might be used to celebrate, both internally and externally, what is being done well but also to prompt honest and critical reflection on areas to target for enhancement in respect of the student experience.
WONKHE is a non-partisan organisation that seeks to improve policymaking in HE. They welcome contributions from all within the sector, for further details please view their website: http://wonkhe.com/ or contact Ant Bagshaw directly.
Hosted by the Teaching and Learning Academy and the PVC Education, Professor Peter Byers, the Research and Practice Seminars will continue throughout the year. The next seminar will take place on Wednesday 30th November and be delivered by LJMU’s Joe Moran, Professor of English and Cultural History at the Faculty of Arts, Professional and Social Studies. Through a seminar entitled Shyness and the University, Professor Moran will reflect on his research on shyness and explore the implications for academic practice and teaching in HE.
For further information about the seminar and to book a place please contact TLAcademy@ljmu.ac.uk