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New regulatory framework will usher in "golden age" for HE, says OfS chair

The new regulatory framework for universities will have “an unflinching focus” on students but not reduce English  higher education to a “crude transaction between buyer and seller” said Sir Michael Barber as the government published a 181-page consultation report on its proposals.

Think tank report calls for fees to be capped as low as £5,000

Tuition fees should be capped at as low as £5,000 and the interest rate on student loans lowered to match inflation levels, according to a report published by the free-market think tank the Centre for Policy Studies.

HESA releases details on the future of student data

The Higher Education Statistics Agency has published the specification of student data to be returned by higher education providers from the 2019/20 academic year. The release represents the biggest change to the way student data is collected since the Cheltenham agency’s first data collection in 1994.

Leicester launches four multidisciplinary research institutes

The University of Leicester is building on the worldwide success of its work on Richard III to launch four new research institutes that will tackle issues of global importance.

Multidisciplinary thinking and the incredible teamwork of the kind that led to the discovery and reinterment of Richard III is behind the University of Leicester’s pioneering research institutes in Precision Medicine, Space and Earth Observation Science, Structural and Chemical Biology, and Cultural and Media Economies.

The institutes are expected to deliver a step change in research breakthroughs as they set out to grapple with some of the biggest medical, scientific, economic and social questions around including many of those targeted by a £1.5 billion Global Challenge Research Fund set up by the government earlier this year.

The new institutes will bring together experts from a range of academic disciplines to focus on areas of study that will have a real impact on peoples’ lives, such as the development of medical treatments tailored for individual patients.

The brains behind the multi-million pound venture say this approach to conducting research is in step with the latest government policy and should be the norm for studies that must now demonstrate their impact on the world.

Professor Iain Gillespie, Leicester’s Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise, said: “With Richard III we got it right, and it worked brilliantly well. But what we need to be able to do is provide an environment where that is the norm, rather than an exception.

“What we need to ensure is that we have the conditions that allow Richard III type projects to emerge, even when they are not pushed towards us but we are generating them ourselves.”

Professor Paul Monks, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Head of the College of Science and Engineering at the University of Leicester, who is also working on the development of the institutes, confirmed: “We want Richard III to be the norm for the way we do things. It shows you how to deliver excellent research with impact.”

The professors said students at Leicester will also benefit from the institutes, as the research would inform teaching and expose students to the latest cutting edge advances affecting a wide range of disciplines. Other institutes are already in the pipeline and could be announced as a second tranche next year.

Professor Paul Boyle, Leicester’s President and Vice-Chancellor, said the development was part of a new “discovery-led” approach to higher education affecting both research and teaching and bringing the two closer together.

He said: “Our commitment to discovery is all about imaginative new thinking, and these institutes will underpin fundamental advances in our understanding of the world around us. They are also intended to be focal points for global research conversations.

“The institutes will bring together colleagues from across the university to grapple with fundamental questions that arise at the intersection of different disciplines. This is all part of our commitment to pioneer a distinctive elite of research-intensive institutions.”