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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.
Loughborough University has been named University of the Year for the second time in three years in the latest Whatuni Student Choice Awards .
UK higher education had more than its fair share of ups and downs over the past week. Charlie Ball, Head of Higher Education Intelligence at Prospects, charts the highs and lows.
As the Office for Students places a moratorium on ‘conditional unconditional offers’, Jon Scott, HE consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester, reviews the context of the decision and considers its implications.
Top performing research units are most likely to contain highly experienced well qualified staff with a wide range of experience and strong networks who enjoy a high level of autonomy, a study has concluded.
The study by the Policy Institute at King’s College London and the research institute RAND Europe identified eight key characteristics of top performing units in the 2014 Research Excellence Framework.
Staff in units whose submissions were in the top 1.5 per cent of the REF were more likely to have PhDs, professorships, international experience and salaries which were at least partly-funded from external sources.
Top-performing units also “had a degree of earned or accountable autonomy” and were “allowed to get on with what they were doing”, partly because it was recognised that they were successful, says a report on the findings published by the Higher Education Funding Council for England.
The best submissions were made by units that had good collaboration and networks, a coherent strategy and diverse funding sources, plus supportive institutional and departmental practices. Top performers were also found to award more research doctoral degrees than average units, were focused on recruiting the best people and retaining them, and received more income per researcher than the average unit.
Staff in top-performing units benefited from training and mentoring programmes and were rewarded for strong performance, and also displayed “a distinct ethos of social and ethical values”, the report adds.
“While the literature points to the importance of department size, critical mass and a focus on general productivity as a measure of success, our own observations relate to the characteristics of staff within departments, and the importance placed on recruiting the best,” it says.
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