HEW Weekly Wrap Up 4 April 2014

News – Technical consultation – responses

On 2 April 2014, the Welsh Government issued a statement on the responses to the Higher Education (Wales) Bill Technical Consultation. 21 responses were submitted. The summary of responses is available on the Welsh Government website. The Bill is due to be introduced to the National Assembly for Wales in May 2014.

News – UCAS 2014 March deadline figures

The total number of 2014 cycle applicants is 612,750 at the 24 March deadline, a continuation of the 4% increase in applicants seen in January (compared to the previous cycle). Although most courses in the UCAS scheme have a deadline of 15 January each year, 24 March is the deadline for some art and design courses. Applications to Wales were up by 4% overall compared to the previous cycle, in line with the UK average. This included a 5% increase from English-domiciled students and a -2% decline from Welsh-domiciled students. Applications from Welsh-domiciled students increased by +3% overall, including a +7% increase to England. Wales had the highest percentage increase from EU students (+13%) of any UK country. Wales also had a +28% increase in overseas applications compared to the UK average of 10%. For further details see the UCAS website.

News – Open access post 2014 REF

The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) has published a circular letter on behalf of all four funding councils setting out the policy for open access in relation to the post 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF). The core of the policy is: to be eligible for submission to the post 2014 REF, outputs must have been deposited in an institutional or subject repository on acceptance for publication, and made open access within a specified time period. The requirement applies to journal articles and conference proceedings. Articles and proceedings accepted for publication after 1 April 2016 will need to fulfil these requirements.

News – Decline in global demand for English HE

HEFCE analysis shows the first dip in international student entrants to English higher education courses in three decades. The analysis is based on data from England, but the trends may be of interest to members. The study found that: international entrants to full time postgraduate taught programmes in England decreased by 1% between 2010/11 and 2012/13; EU entrants to full time undergraduate courses fell by almost a quarter in 2012-13; there are almost equal proportions of UK and Chinese students in full time postgraduate taught masters programmes; and demand for transnational education (TNE) continues to grow, and showed 5% growth in 2012/13, compared with the previous year. Further details are available on the HEFCE website.

News – UUK publication – economic impact

Universities UK (UUK) has published a new report detailing the economic impact of universities. The report highlights universities’ increasingly significant impact on the economy in terms of output, contribution to gross domestic product (GDP), job creation, and overseas investment. It also estimates the economic activity generated elsewhere in the economy through knock on. The report finds that in 2011-12, the UK HE sector: generated over £73billion of output – up 24% from £59billion in 2009; contributed 2.8% of UK GDP in 2011 – up from 2.3% in 2007; generated 2.7% of all UK employment and 757,268 full time equivalent jobs; generated £10.7billion of export earnings for the UK; and received less than half its income from public sources. The report is available on the UUK website.

News – Independent review of the role of metrics in research assessment

On 2 April 2014 David Willetts, Minister for Universities and Science, asked HEFCE to review the role of metrics in research assessment and management. Professor James Wilsdon (University of Sussex), has been appointed as chair of the review, and will be supported by an independent steering group. A call for evidence will be issued shortly. The project will run until Spring 2015. Further details can be found on HEFCE’s webpage.

News – National strategy for access and student success in HE – driving forward change

A national strategy developed by the Office for Fair Access (OFFA) and HEFCE was published by the UK Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) on 3 April 2014. The report is available from the UK Government’s publications webpage (see also HEFCE’s news).

Consultation – NAfW – Making Laws in the Fourth Assembly

On 3 April 2014 the Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the National Assembly for Wales (NAfW) launched a consultation on its Inquiry into Making Laws in the Fourth Assembly, requesting responses by 30 May 2014. Further details are available from the consultation homepage.

Event – IWA debate – Is it time to lift the cap on university tuition fees?

On 10 April 2014 the Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA) is holding a free debate in Cardiff. Plaid Cymru Education spokesperson Simon Thomas AM and the National Union of Students Wales Director Hannah Pudner will argue the Welsh Government should continue to fund Welsh students and will debate with Professor Nick Barr from London School of Economics and Professor Teresa Rees who believe the cap should be lifted. Details are available on the IWA website.