HEW Weekly Wrap Up 14 March 2014

HEW Weekly Wrap Up 14 March 2014

News – Updated contact information for the HEW International Unit post

Colleagues are aware that Raegan Hiles has been working on both Wales-specific and UK-wide international policy. The UK-wide activity is expanding, so Raegan will continue her work based in London focussing only on UK-wide policy relevant to internationalisation. Please contact Rachel Cable on regarding HEW international issues until new arrangements have been made.

News – HEFCW Remit Letter 2014/15

On 12th March 2014, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales (HEFCW) published its Remit Letter for 2014/15 as received from the Welsh Government (dated 4th March 2014).  This annual letter confirms the detailed allocations for the HEFCW budget Expenditure Lines for 2014-15, and the terms and conditions of grant. In summary:

  • The total allocation for financial year 2014/15 is £362.6 million, representing a reduction of around £20 million from 2013/4 in line with allocations in Welsh Government’s Final Budget, approved in December 2013.
  • The Remit Letter highlights the following areas in particular:
    • New partnership – calling for HEFCW and the sector to develop a more robust partnership through which the national strategic priorities set out in the remit letter can be delivered
    • Jobs and growth – highlighting the need to focus on future employability
    • Widening access – highlighting in particular the need for a more systematic approach to measuring institutions progress in this area
    • Review of HE funding and student finance – confirming that the HEFCW will be expected to provide support for the Review and have observer status on the review panel
    • Cost of provision – requesting HEFCW to undertake an assessment of the actual cost of degree provision compared with fees charged, reporting by December 2014.
    • HE (Wales) Bill – highlighting the need for HEFCW to prepare for its increased regulatory role
    • ITT and other government priorities – in particular requesting HEFCW to take forward the Welsh Government’s  response to the recommendations contained in the report on the Review of ITT in Wales in 2013

For a copy of the Remit Letter see the HEFCW website.

News – OFT Report on HE in England

The Office for Fair Trading (OFT) produced its report on HE in England on 14 March 2014.  Overall, this highlights that in many respects that England is performing to a very high standard, however it identified a number of challenges that need to be addressed relating to four broad themes:

  • Informed student choice – identifying further scope for better integration of information sources, highlighting barriers for students in transferring to different courses or institutions, and pointing to the benefits of the centralised UCAS admissions system while highlighting concerns raised over access to services and information.
  • Relationships between students and institutions – identifying practices that may mean some institutions could be failing to meet their legal obligations under consumer protection legislation, identifying significant scope for clarifying institutions’ responsibilities in relation to students, and recommending that the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) initiates a compliance review.
  • Competition between higher education institutions – highlighting that the OFT has received no complaints or evidence of either explicit or tacit collusion between higher education institutions with respect to fee setting.
  • Regulatory framework – highlighting the complexity of the current framework and identifying considerable challenges in relation to the lack of a level playing field, the role of self-regulation and whether it establishes a proper accountability system that reflects the interests of the wide range of stakeholders, and the lack of exit regimes for situations in which courses close or an institution fails. The OFT identify further scope for the CMA to inform the design of the regime.

HEFCE’s response is available from its website. 

Appointments – UCEA Deputy CEO

UCEA has announced that Sue Endean has been appointed as its new Deputy Chief Executive. Sue joins UCEA on 5 March 2014, from her recent role as Director of Human Resources at the University of Essex. Further details are available on the UCEA website. 

Publication – HEFCW circular ‘Strategic Approach to the Student Experience 2013/14 to 2015/16’

The latest circular from HEFCW aims to provide a fuller picture of strategic intentions in the period 2013/14 to 2015/16, incorporating progress to date. It builds on HEFCW’s strategic approach to the student experience 2010-11 to 2012-13, the outcomes of which have been published and takes account of HEFCW’s Strategic Equality Plan.

Publication – BIS Response to the Witty Review 

On 14 March 2014, the UK Government published its response to See Sir Andrew Witty’s report ‘Encouraging a British Invention Revolution’. For the publication of the response see the BIS website.