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Public Policy|Southampton

Higher Education Digest May 2018


Highlights from May 2018

Prime Minister’s Speech on science and industrial strategy

1. On 21 May, Theresa May gave a speech at Jodrell Bank on science and a modern industrial strategy. In the Speech, the PM announced that the UK would seek full association with the successor to the EU’s Horizon 2020Programme. The speech also set out four new “missions”, based on the four “grand challenges” which are already in the Industrial Strategy (artificial intelligence and big data; urbanisation; ageing population; and climate change). The four missions are:

Guardian University League Table

2. The 2019 Guardian University League Table was published in May. The top five Universities in the ranking are Cambridge, Oxford, St Andrews, Loughborough and Durham. The University of Southampton was placed 23rd, up 12 places from last year.

Proposals for EU Research Budget

3. The process of negotiating the next EU budget (which begins in January 2021) is underway. The first step is the Commission proposing a budget, which they did on 2 May. This then opens negotiations with the EU27 before a final agreement is reached over the next 2 years. Under the proposals, research and innovation investment would increase by 50%, including €100 billion for Framework Programme 9 (which will be called “Horizon Europe” and Euratom.

UKRI – Strategic Prospectus and Framework Document

4. UKRI has published a Strategic Prospectus. The prospectus sets out three overall aims – pushing the frontiers of human knowledge and understanding, delivering economic impact, and creating social and cultural impact by supporting society to become enriched, healthier, more resilient and sustainable. It sets out four values (collaboration, excellence, innovation and integrity) and four foundations (leading talent, openness and transparency, a trusted and diverse system, and research culture).

5. Meanwhile, the Department of Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has published a Framework Document for UKRI, setting out the purpose, powers and duties of UKRI, its aims and accountabilities, and the partnership principles between BEIS and UKRI

Graduate Earnings data - Postgraduate

6. In May, the Department for Education published graduate earnings data for postgraduates. Similar data has been published for undergraduate students in recent months. The data show:

            - PhD - £39,200/£33,600

            - Research Masters - £33,700/£29,800

            - Taught Masters - £35,200/£29,500

International Student Survey

7. QS Enrolment Solutions have published the results of their 2018 International Student Survey. With over 67,000 students from 191 countries, the findings include:

Postgraduate Mental Health

8. The Office for Students has published a report by Vitae on the factors affecting wellbeing and mental health in postgraduate researchers. Recommendations from the report include:

Postgraduate Loans

9. The Office for Students has published a report on the effect of postgraduate loans, which were introduced in 2016-17. The report found that overall, there was an increase in postgraduates in courses eligible for the loans, but a decrease courses not eligible. Within the overall picture, the data show:

Post-18 Education Review – external submissions

10. May saw the closing date for organisations to submit responses to the post-18 education review. Most of the representative bodies have published their submissions. The Russell GroupUUK and UCU responses are here.

Admissions to the University of Oxford

11. There was a lot of coverage in the press in May about admissions to the University of Oxford, highlighting in particular low numbers of black student entrants. This coverage followed publication by Oxford of its first admissions report.

Office for Students – funding allocations

12. The Office for Students has published the annual funding allocations for universities for recurrent and capital funding for 2018-19.

Universities working with schools

13. In the original Government Schools for Everyone consultation, the Government proposed that all universities might be required to set up or sponsor a school as part of future activities. In the long-delayed Government response to that consultation, the Government has instead agreed that a wider range of activities working with schools to raise attainment will be acceptable, along the lines already undertaken in many universities and included in Access Agreements. This follows considerable opposition from the HE sector, and a fear that a lot of good work already being done would be lost.

Migration Advisory Committee Survey cancelled

14. The Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) is currently undertaking an inquiry into the costs and benefits of international students. As part of that inquiry they released a survey about the impact and experiences of international students. However, this survey was pulled due to significant concerns about some of the questions and the lack of controls to filter out multiple and non-student submissions.

Gavin Costigan


Director of Public Policy|Southampton


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