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Public Policy|Southampton

Higher Education Digest | May 2017

ballot box

Highlights from this month's Higher Education Digest include:

General Election

1. The upcoming General Election has dominated HE policy in May. With Parliament dissolved and Government unable to publish reports due to Purdah, most focus has been on what different political parties are promising for universities in their manifestos, and what HE representative bodies are calling for.


2. The election manifestos for all the main parties were published in May, in advance of the General Election on 8 June. Key elements relating to universities from the different manifestos are shown below.


3. HE-related commitments from the Conservative Manifesto include:


4. HE-related commitments from the Labour Manifesto include:


5. HE-related commitments from the Liberal Democrat Manifesto include:

6.                  Other Manifestos have been published, including UKIP, SNPPlaid Cymru and the Green Party.


HE representative bodies – election priorities

7. Universities UK set out its priorities for the next Government on 4 May. It has five priorities:

8.   A similar list was produced by the Russell Group and University Alliance. The Campaign for Science and Engineering produced a vision for UK science and engineering, under 6 themes of culture, people, investment, diversity, connectivity and infrastructure. They wrote a letter to each of the main party leaders asking a series of questions about how an incoming Government would support science and engineering, and have published replies from, Labour, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats, the SNP and Plaid Cymru.

EU Research Funding

9.  On 24 May, the four UK National Academies (Royal Society, Royal Academy of Engineering, British Academy and Academy of Medical Sciences) published a report on the role of EU funding in UK research and innovation. Some of the findings of the report include:

 Guardian University Guide

 10.  The 2018 Guardian University league tables were published on 16th May. The top five Universities in the ranking are Cambridge, Oxford, St Andrews, Durham and Bath. The University of Southampton was placed 35th, with two individual subjects rated in the top five nationally (Civil Engineering and Electronic & Electrical Engineering).

Universitas 21 Ranking of Higher Education Systems 2017

11.   The U21 Ranking assesses national higher education systems as a whole (rather than individual institutions). The top five countries overall are: the USA, Switzerland, the UK, Denmark and Sweden.

UCU Report – Gender pay gap

12.    The University and College Union published a report on 25 May on the gender pay gap in UK universities. The data show an overall mean gender pay gap in 2015/16 of 12.0% for academic staff and 9.9% for non-academic staff, with the widest gender pay gap at senior management level. Only 23.9% of staff at professorial level were women. At the current rate of change in the gender pay gap, the report concludes that it could take 40 years to close the gap.


Gavin Costigan

Director, Public Policy|Southampton


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