The CHEAD Policy Briefing will take a break over August to return early in September when it is to be hoped things will have settled enough for new policy maps to begin to emerge. It feels almost foolhardy to attempt a policy briefing as events rush past us – however, here’s a brief snapshot.
May is still putting together her Cabinet, of course, but we know that HE is moving back to DfE where it will have to complete with ring-fenced secondary spending – and, given widespread academisation, it’s not clear how much this will really help to join up the ‘pipeline’ and promote the widening participation agenda. Research and science will be staying in BEIS, the new successor department, so BIS agendas are likely to continue to dominate HE discourse and planning, but separating teaching and learning from research across different departments will make advocacy and lobbying more difficult and complicated. It’s also unclear how this will affect moves to integrate HE better with employer agendas. DfE has also traditionally been a department with a much weaker voice than that of BIS. All of this rather undercuts the hope that the move back to DfE heralds a move away from instrumentalisation.
DfE is headed up by Justine Greening whose voting record on education issues is consistently hardline. Greg Clark moves from Communities and Local Government to Secretary of State for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy which merges business and energy. He’s a former Social Democrat and considered ‘soggy left’. BIS has been carved up between various departments but research now lies within BEIS. Early days but even the sound of the long-lost phrase ‘industrial strategy’ is encouraging – however, May is known for a tendency to gild the lily. Brexit continues to hang uncertainly in the air with more new appointments to see it through thus splitting BIS – and our lobbying focus – yet again.
The Higher Education and Research Bill is now scheduled for a second reading next week and the new DfE is tasked with pushing these HE reforms and apprenticeships forward – although the Bill is now split across two departments. In the meantime, CHEAD has now responded to the HESA DLHE Review and the TEF Technical Consultation for Year II. CHEAD also held our first Open Policy workshop on 11 July which was a huge success in generating insights into TEF implemention at ADM discipline level feeding into BIS. We’re hugely encouraged by how very much our members appreciated this more inclusive and networked approach to policymaking and how effective it is in quickly synthesising an agenda which is genuinely representative of the sector’s key issues.
CHEAD Policy activities will hit the ground running again in early September so look out for our September activities and policy briefings in our newsletters. In the meantime, CHEAD wishes our members a happy and relaxing Summer break.