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Statements from ministers this week have made it clear that higher education in England is facing significant reforms, re-setting its focus towards helping to plug the UK's skills gaps and rebuilding the economy. Fariba Soetan, Policy Lead for Research and Innovation at the National Centre for Universities and Business, argues that the proposed changes bring a welcome focus on graduate outcomes and supporting the careers of young people.
Universities UK and GuildHE have commissioned the Quality Assurance Agency to develop a new approach to reviewing and enhancing the quality of UK TNE. QAA will consult on a new review method later this year and will launch a programme of in-country enhancement activity in 2021.
After a week of largely disappointing news for UK higher education, Nicola Owen, Deputy Chief Executive (Operations) at Lancaster University, fears that gloomy forecasts for the future of the sector may prove to be uncomfortably accurate.
As the Higher Education Statistics Agency launches a consultation on plans to reform the Destination of Leavers from Higher Education survey, Dan Cook, HESA's head of data policy and development, outlines the proposals and the reasons for the review.
Data around graduate outcomes has never been more important. With a shifting higher education landscape, and significant changes in the graduate labour market, it is vital that we have meaningful and robust data on what HE students do after graduating. HESA, working with a wide range of experts, have been running a review to ensure we capture and publish this high quality data (informally referred to by its hashtag as the ‘#NewDLHE’ review).
We have developed a new model which better reflects the diversity of HE provision and the growing variety of graduate outcomes. This model will capture rich, robust and comprehensive data using a more efficient and future-proof methodology. It will also contain new questions which will redefine how we discuss successful graduate outcomes.
We are currently running a public consultation on our website to gain feedback on these proposals, which is open until 7 April. If the proposals are accepted, we anticipate running the first NewDLHE survey in December 2018, with the first data published in January 2020.
What is the model?
The NewDLHE review proposes a model for data collection which will replace our current Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education surveys that contact graduates 6 months and 3 years after graduating.
This new model will combine a universal census survey of graduates with linked data from other sources (such as salary information from HMRC). This survey will take place 15 months after the graduate completes their studies, which gives graduates a meaningful opportunity to progress in their post-graduation activities, while still being close enough to the point of completing studies that high response rates should be achievable.
How will the survey be administered?
We have developed a model of open centralisation. This means the survey will be administered centrally ensuring the we capture the most rigorous and reliable data through a consistent approach to data collection. But the survey will be governed collaboratively by a steering group comprising staff from HESA along with representatives from universities and colleges, HE sector bodies and other key partners.
Through this move to open centralisation and the use of linked data, we anticipate realising significant savings across the HE sector. Current graduate destinations survey activity – including the Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey in both HE providers and FE colleges, and the Longitudinal DLHE survey – costs the HE sector over £6 million a year. We have developed projections that show the NewDLHE will potentially realise savings in the region of £1.5 million per year.
What data will be captured?
We will continue to publish salary data and the percentage of graduates in graduate-level employment (two traditional measures of graduate outcomes). But we have also created new ‘graduate voice’ questions to capture alternative measures of graduate outcomes. These measures capture three areas: meaningfulness or importance of the activity to the graduate, skills utilisation and graduate’s progress towards future goals.
The survey will also include new questions to gather insights into graduates pursuing non-traditional career paths, including those developing creative portfolios or starting their own businesses.
Our consultation is now open. We are seeking your mandate for us to deliver this proposed model which we believe will significantly improve understanding of graduate outcomes.
The consultation invites feedback on the different aspects of the model and asks for your guidance on the issues we need to be aware of should we gain support to implement it. The deadline for responses is 7 April 2017.
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