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Fog starts to clear on road ahead for HE

Rachel Hewitt, Director of Policy and Advocacy for the Higher Education Policy Institute, sees signs of a clearer route out of the Covid crisis beginning to emerge for higher education.

HE needs the right rules to protect free speech and tackle degree fraud

Ross Renton, Principal of ARU Peterborough, questions ministers’ approach to defending free speech on campus, but welcomes their efforts to outlaw essay mills.

A week in HE brings something old, new, borrowed and blue – but little to warm the heart

Higher education consultant Jon Scott reviews a week in which the hearts of those working in HE may have been set racing for all the wrong reasons.

New policy papers prompt contrasting views on the way ahead for HE

Rhiannon Birch, Director of Strategic Insights and Planning at the University of Derby, observes how the recent deluge of HE policy papers has brought contrasting reactions and opinions on how the sector should engage with government proposals.

Pandemic brings "significant disruption" to universities' innovation projects, survey finds

The pandemic has caused significant disruption to many universities' activities that help to drive innovation in the economy, with Nearly 90 per cent warning that many innovation projects have been delayed,
according to a report on a survey from the National Centre for Universities and Business.

Findings from the survey of 61 institutions show that during the first national lockdown 88 per cent of universities found a 'significant proportion' (more than 10 per cent) of their innovation
projects had been delayed, while nearly half (48 per cent) reported that the scale and scope of projects were being reduced.

More than a third (36 per cent) of universities saw more than 10 per cent of their innovation activities and projects with external partners being cancelled, and approaching
half (45 per cent) saw declines of at least a 6 per cent in the overall level of innovation activities they have with industrial partners.

Activities in strategic sectors such as aerospace and automotive manufacturing and within the creative industries are reportedly much more adversely affected. A lack of financial resources to support collaborations,
insufficient government funding to such activities and the current inability to access the necessary facilities and equipment for work to continue are reasons behind these changes.
 
Dr Joe Marshall, Chief Executive of NCUB said: "Covid-19 has brought the importance of collaboration between academia and industry firmly into public awareness. Indeed, breakthroughs such as the Oxford-AstraZeneca vaccine are only possible because of the advent of collaborative partnerships. This is why the new survey data released today is so worrisome. Nearly 90% of universities have been forced to delay a significant proportion (more than 10%) of new innovation projects with external partners, and over a third have reported that projects have been cancelled."

Tomas Ulrichsen, Director of the new University Commercialisation and Innovation Policy Evidence Unit at the University of Cambridge, who led the study and authored the report said: "The new findings released today show that Covid-19 has had a hugely disruptive impact on universities and their ability to continue to contribute to innovation through the current health and economic crisis. We have seen the transformational effects of universities and businesses working together in finding practical and innovative solutions to wicked societal problems.

"This is why the findings of our study are so worrying. A strong, resilient and sustainable system of universities, research institutes and technology development organisations, working in close partnership with the private, charitable, and public sectors will be crucial to driving an innovation-led economic recovery and tackling other critical and urgent global challenges. Unless we proactively tackle the many challenges facing universities and their innovation partners to reverse these worrying trends, we risk not only hampering our economic recovery but also the UK's longer-term competitiveness in key sectors."

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