Universities Wales Weekly Wrap Up – 20 November 2015

Plans for the National Student Survey 2016

HEFCW has released a circular on plans for the NSS 2016. The circular also provides further information about outcomes of earlier surveys and general features of the survey.  Approximately 302,100 students completed the survey this year, taking the response rate to 71 per cent, the highest rate the NSS has achieved in its 11 year lifespan under Ipsos MORI.  The 2016 survey questionnaire will remain the same as 2015. On completing the survey, students completing first degree programmes will be invited to take part in a separate ‘click-through’ survey asking them about their intentions after graduation.

Nurse Review Report

BIS published the outcomes of the review of the UK Research Councils, led by Sir Paul Nurse, on 19 November 2015 (see here).  This includes for instance the recommendation that the seven Councils making up RCUK should evolve into Research UK headed by a highly distinguished scientist acting as the single Accounting Officer and reporting to a single oversight Board. Research UK would be accountable for overall research strategy and e.g. managing cross-cutting funds. The Report also argues strongly that the dual-system of support should continue with a clear focus on excellence, supported by good communications and interactions between the Research Councils and funders in England and the devolved nations. For UUK’s initial response see here.

Devolved arrangements are primarily discussed on pages 15 and 24. In particular the report comments (p.24):

“The Research Councils support and develop the best research and researchers across the whole of the UK. It is recognised that there is a need to solicit and respond to distinct research priorities and evidence requirements identified by the devolved administrations, and I recommend this is best done through regular dialogue between relevant UK and devolved Government departments, their officials including Chief Scientific Advisers, and the heads of research at the relevant higher education bodies. To maintain critical mass in research, the devolved nations should look to maintain strong and close scientific interactions and collaborations across the whole of the UK. They should also ensure they have, and respond to, high quality scientific advice in their own structures.” (p.24).

The Innovation Advisory Council for Wales (IACW) workshops

National innovation bodies (NIBs) are becoming a common feature of government support for innovation around the world.  From Tekes in Finland to CORFO in Chile, and Innovate UK closer to home. These organisations are designed to catalyse commercial developments in science and technology and support businesses to innovate through a variety of methods including grants and loans; equity investments; building international links and managing public sector procurement. Typical functions include networking, innovation advice, skills, finance, infrastructure and support for R&D.  There is wide variation in the role, governance and function of innovation bodies and there appears to be no single, ideal model. Many of the world’s most innovative regions and nations have some form of independent body responsible for the promotion and support of innovation.

The Innovation Advisory Council for Wales (IACW) is currently examining the role of innovation bodies in supporting regional economies. The Council would like to invite you to a workshop to hear your views on the possible creation of an innovation body in Wales.

2 workshops will be held in South Wales on:

  • 26th November from 5pm – 7pm at the St Davids Hotel, Cardiff; and
  • 10th December from 3pm – 5pm at the Welsh Government QED office, Treforest

Please contact Philippa Costello to express an interest –


Post Study Work Visa

On 17th November the Mayor of London along with senior representatives from the capital’s universities proposed new measures to help London’s universities to arrest the sharp decline in Indian student numbers following the removal of the UK’s Post Study Work Visa. The visa, which was removed in 2012, gave non-EU students the right to remain in the UK for two years after graduation. The measures proposed by the Mayor include:

•         A Commonwealth work visa for up to two years. This would be with India in the first instance, but could be extended to other Commonwealth countries if successful.

•         A work visa for graduates in science, technology, engineering and maths (STEM) for up to two years.


Earlier this year, the Mayor wrote to Minister of State for Universities and Science, Jo Johnson to express his concerns that more needs to be done to address the decline.