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The vast majority of students were satisfied with their university course in 2020, despite the Covid-19 lockdown from March, a sector-level analysis of the National Student Survey results has found.
Jonathan Baldwin, managing director of higher education at Jisc, looks at the changing role of post-Covid university leadership and the enduring need for collaboration.
The government's announcement of a major review of the National Student Survey signals a worrying shift in the HE regulatory landscape, warns Jon Scott, higher education consultant and former Pro Vice-Chancellor (student experience) at the University of Leicester.
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.
Research England has published a consultation document outlining how the Knowledge Exchange Framework could work, and invited universities to take part in a pilot of the proposed system.
The KEF aims to measure and benchmark HE institutions' performance in knowledge exchange activities and provide businesses and other users of HE knowledge with information on these activities to help them identify potential university partners.
Under the plans, the KEF would be an annual, institutional-level, largely metrics-driven exercise, with all measures drawing on existing statutory returns and external sources. The KEF will group institutions into clusters for the purposes of benchmarking to take account of their diverse missions and other factors affecting the type of knowledge exchange they are involved in.
Research England aims to capture the range of KE activities in seven equally weighted broad areas, known as "perspectives", including research partnerships; working with business; working with the public and third sector; skills, enterprise and entrepreneurship; local growth and regeneration; IP and commercialisation; and public and community engagement. It also plans to supplement the perspectives of ‘public and community engagement’ and ‘local growth and regeneration’ with additional narratives.
The consultation proposals build on three KEF documents published in November 2018: Summary of KEF call for evidence responses, KEF Cluster Analysis Report, and KEF Technical Note. A technical advisory group for the KEF, chaired by Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield, advised Research England’s Executive Chair, David Sweeney, on the development of an approach to KEF metrics.
The consultation will be open until midday, Thursday 14 March 2019. English Higher Education Institutions can respond to it by completing a survey.
Professor Jones said: "The UK’s universities, through their knowledge exchange activities, make huge contributions to their cities and regions, and to the UK’s economy and society more widely. I hope that the Knowledge Exchange Framework will highlight these contributions, and help universities develop this important aspect of their mission, as well as encouraging more organisations – including companies, public bodies and civil society organisations – to partner with universities for mutual benefit."
Research England’s Director of Knowledge Exchange, Alice Frost, said: "We are pleased to be able to formally launch a consultation on our proposals for the KEF, which we have developed with input from Professor Richard Jones of the University of Sheffield, and from the KE steering group led by Professor Trevor McMillan of Keele University. It is essential we get a broad range of views to ensure the KEF is a useful tool for universities and users, contributing to delivery of the Industrial Strategy, so would encourage HEIs to respond to our survey."
Institutions have been invited to apply to be part of pilot of the proposed system that will run between February and April 2019. Interested applicants should read the guidance before completing the form in the consultation document, and submit it to KEPolicy@re.ukri.org by midday, Friday 25 January 2019.
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