Policy Update May 2017

May 5, 2017

It has been rather a momentous Spring for Higher Education. The HE Bill received Royal Assent on 27 April, REF 2021 and the New DLHE have completed their main consultation phases and are moving towards implementation, the TEF pilot is already on the ground, the Industrial Strategy consultation has been absorbing everyone’s attention and Article 50 has been invoked. We are now heading for a General Election with washup completed, Parliament dissolving just after midnight on 2 May, and civil service in ‘purdah’. The election will mean not only a new Government and Cabinet but also reconvening committees, inquiries etc. Meanwhile, CHEAD will be identifying more opportunities for pre-election lobbying.

Meanwhile, you might want to respond to the THES HE election survey

HE Bill

As expected, there were significant concessions on the part of the government in the final stages of ‘ping pong’ in ‘washup’. However, hopes that the Hannay amendment might pass with support from some Conservative MPs were dashed. The Prime Minister remained adamant and amendment 156 was watered down pretty much to the point of irrelevance. Rather than removing students from the net migration statistics, the amendment which was actually passed (in the teeth of palpable frustration from many in the Lords) only provides that the OfS, FCO and BC must do their best to communicate a welcoming environment for international students. The OfS is also required to collect and communicate more accurate statistics on the number of international students coming to the UK.

A revised amendment which provides for an independent review of TEF at the end of its first year was passed. It will include: whether the metrics used are fit for use in the TEF; whether the names of the ratings are appropriate for use in the TEF; the impact of the TEF on the ability of providers to carry out their research and teaching and other functions; and an assessment of whether the scheme is, all things considered, in the public interest.

Revised amendments were also passed which will delay the link between differentiated TEF ratings and tuition fee caps so that this will not be introduced for over three years, with the first year of differentiated fees as a result of TEF ratings being no earlier than the academic year beginning in the autumn of 2020/21. The inflationary uplift will be applied across the board until then. There will be an independent review and Parliamentary oversight, and decisions relating to the link between fees and TEF will be devolved. Lord Kerslake (crossbench) thought that “the gold, silver and bronze rankings are not long for this world”. Despite cross-party recognition that we need to move to subject-level TEF as soon as possible, there will be an extension to the rollout of subject-level TEF until after 2020 due to its complexity. HEFCE will not announce the pilot TEF ratings until after the election on 8 June but efforts to get them scrapped altogether failed. Flexibility on fees for accelerated courses will be permitted.

There was a great deal of debate over the definition of a university — with many in the Lords keen to include aspects of the university as a public good whilst Jo Johnson offered a narrower definition based on teaching and research with some concession towards “self-critical academic communities”. The government remained stalwart in fending off calls for inclusion of any definition of a university in the Bill however. There will now be a process of consultation with interested bodies to develop guidance from the Secretary of State for the OfS on what should be considered before granting university status which, according to Viscount Younger of Leckie (Con), “may include factors such as: track record in excellent teaching; sustained scholarship; cohesive academic communities; interdisciplinary approaches; supportive learning infrastructures; dissemination of knowledge; the public-facing role of universities; academic freedom and freedom of speech; and wider support for students and pastoral care.” Powers to grant and vary DAPs will also be subject to consultation with an independent body to be set up by the OfS whose role would resemble the current QAA ACDAP. The appeals provision was also strengthened somewhat.

In many ways, despite considerable concessions, the final form of the Bill is disappointing — but significant routes have been left open for future debate and the devil will be in the detail. CHEAD will remain keenly engaged with developments.

Other HE and FE policy news:

  • Education Select Committee Report on the impact of Brexit on UK HE published April 2017
  • The Technical and Further Education Bill also received Royal Assent on 27 April 2017.  The Bill includes the creation of a new insolvency regime for colleges which will now be able to ‘go bust’, and the expansion of the remit of the Institute for Apprenticeships to cover technical skills. There’s a detailed overview in FE Week and the #SaveOurAdultEducation campaign.
  • Education and Skills Select Committee report indicates that Flagship apprenticeships policies will not fill growing skills gap unless they concentrate on sectors and regions where training is most needed.
  • Via TES: The quality of degree apprenticeships will be regulated by Hefce instead of Ofsted

Brexit and the Industrial Strategy

The Industrial Strategy will set the agenda for sustaining and growing the UK economy through Brexit and beyond and it is crucial that the creative sector achieves a ‘sector deal’ as one of 5 key high-growth sectors of the UK economy initially identified by the government. Along with — and indeed imbricated with — the HE Bill, TEF, REF, and HE data, this will be a major focus for CHEAD over the coming academic year. 

Government has long been chary of the contentious outcomes of industrial strategy preferring to leave economic policy to the vagaries of global markets and, it might be said, has reaped the whirlwind in Brexit. The May government is taking a more interventionist approach and embarking upon a new Industrial Strategy. No doubt a strong and stable one!

Whatever your view on Britain’s past industrial glories or who is to blame for our current predicament, few would disagree that the UK economy now faces multiple challenges of regional decline, Brexit, and a ‘fourth industrial revolution’. The Industrial Strategy does not seem to be proposing to address the decline in ‘traditional’ industries or to pick industry ‘winners and losers’ — for broadly sensible reasons it is focusing on a ‘sectoral’ approach. Given that the UK is predominantly a service economy, its most successful sectors are going to be service sectors and a key problem of negotiating Brexit is that these service sectors are heavily dependent on ‘passporting’ frameworks built into trade agreements. As is well-known, 40% of our exports depend on passporting into the EU’s single market, yet the Industrial Strategy is very coy indeed about Brexit.

The strategy focuses primarily on negotiating the fourth industrial revolution by focusing on global ‘hi-tec’ sectors, research and innovation. There is also a focus on regional development in which creative HEI’s already play an important role. The Green Paper sets out 10 ‘pillars’ to drive forward the industrial strategy across the entire economy, several of which are of particular interest to creative industries. The first two are about innovation and skills — both refer explicitly to STEM but not to creative disciplines. Whilst this is popular in the SE’s ‘Golden Triangle’, the importance of creative and higher skills needs to be recognised. The Industrial Strategy needs to address the significant challenges facing art, design and creative higher education through the convergence of the Higher Education Bill with Brexit and with immigration policy. Art, design and creative HE may share many of the concerns set out in the The Science and Technology Committee’s report on the Industrial Strategy Green Paper but it is important that we take the opportunity of CHEAD/APDIG’s Brexit consultation to articulate a clear agenda specifically for creative HE.

Pillar 8 is about cultivating world-leading sectors and the government has now named the creative industries as one of five being considered for ‘sector deals’. Peter Bazalgette will be conducting a review of the role of the creative industries in our future prosperity. The government is calling for a set of clear proposals for ‘sector deals’ to underpin high-growth areas such as the creative industries. Education is clearly a key ‘pillar’ of the creative industries and it is crucial that creative HE should be involved in developing proposals for a ‘sector deal’ for the creative industries.

Pillars 9 and 10 are about regional development and the regional and national institutions required to support growth. CHEAD has been promoting the role of art, design and creative HE in regional economies and in driving creative clustering — but we need more evidence to support this case. CHEAD held two consultation events in early Spring in Edinburgh and Chester involving not only creative HEIs but also regional creative industries and regional development representatives. One of the key issues emerging from these consultations was how little recognition has been given to the role of creative HEIs in the creative as well as wider economies, especially at regional level.

We are currently developing relationships and have carried out some initial campaigning around our manifesto for the creative HE sector in relation to the Industrial Strategy and Brexit, which we will build on through our forthcoming Brexit consultation:

  1. The protection and promotion of the global prestige and leading role of UK creative Higher Education (HE) must be a priority in Brexit negotiations.

  2. Ensure that UK creative HE remains a beacon to the brightest and the best staff and students globally. Prioritise a modern visa system fit for the 21st century – in which creative industries will become increasingly important. This includes fostering an international culture across HE and the creative sector; removal of international students from net migration figures; simplified visa arrangements for international students; and new post-study pathways. Confirm the status of existing EU staff within UK HE institutions. Maintain access to Erasmus+

  3. Ensure continued access for UK researchers to EU and international research collaboration frameworks. Ensure continued access to adequate UK creative research funding. Maintain access to Creative Europe framework.

  4. Prioritise art, design, creative media, science and technology equally – a STEAM powered approach will become increasingly crucial to post-industrial economies.

  5. Take urgent action to restore public confidence in creative education career pathways. Creativity is one of the core skills for pro-active engagement and successful management of changes to professional and social practices for the 21st Century. Creative education should be given the same priority as STEM education with a Creative Sector Champion appointed.

  6. Set up a creative skills commission to address an urgent need for coherent planning and development of the skills needed for the 21st century economy and society.

  7. Ensure that schools timetable at least one creative subject in order to be eligible for an ‘outstanding’ rating by Ofsted. An excellent education must include the creative thinking and skills which are widely offered in the independent sector.

  8. Ensure continued rapid growth in the UK creative sector including adequate resource for creative start-ups and scaling, IP protection, and support for creative business networks. The UK creative sector is growing at almost twice the rate of the wider UK economy and is worth £84 billion a year.

  9. Introduce creative enterprise zones and build on the key role already played by creative HE in regional economies and creative clustering.

  10. Ensure adequate support to foster the range of national, regional and local arts which play a crucial role not only in national life and identity but as a vital arena for experiment and cross-fertilisation on which the UK’s global reputation for innovation and original content depends. British films, music, video games, crafts and publishing have been taking a lead role in driving the UK’s economic recovery.

CHEAD has responded to the Industrial Strategy Green Paper and to the Industrial Strategy Commission Inquiry whose report is due in September. We will shortly be publishing dates for the regional consultation events for the CHEAD Brexit Manifesto we are developing with APDIG to be launched in the House of Lords in September 2017 as Parliament returns from the Summer Recess with a new government. The Brexit Manifesto consultation process will refine and build our objectives for creative HE in the Industrial Strategy. CHEAD will collaborate to the fullest with other sector bodies and lobby to ensure that an appropriate ‘sector deal’ is achieved to sustain and grow the UK’s globally prestigious creative HE and industries. 

Additional Brexit and Creative Industries news:

 Creative Industries and HE Data

WonkHE recently published an ‘open letter’ to Michael Barber, the new head of OfS (known to be a huge enthusiast for data-driven productivity management) calling for caution towards over-reliance of metrics.

The DCMS published its Economic Estimates: Consultation response summary in April: 

  • DCMS will continue to use 4-digit SIC codes and define the cultural sector as those industries with a cultural object at the heart of the industry. They are considering whether to add video games and will feed into future discussion of SIC definitions.
  • DCMS will continue to use the international definition of the digital sector and refer to it as such rather than the ‘tech sector’.

IPPR has released a report on the impact of unpaid internships on diversity in the graduate labour market:

  • While 3.7 per cent of job vacancies are in information and communication or arts, entertainment and recreation sectors, these sectors account for 11.4 per cent of internships
  • Sectors commonly understood as ‘creative industries’ that have the highest concentration of internships available relative to job vacancies
  • Creative internships are particularly concentrated in London — 76.1%
  • The creative occupations already lack diversity compared to the wider workforce: 30% of London’s under-30 working population belongs to an ethnic minority group but only 16.4% of London’s creative workforce in the same age group. 64% of creative workers has a professional parent compared to 44% across the workforce.

The report includes a number of recommendations for HEIs and creative industries.

New DLHE: HESA has responded to the consultation and is working on a final version of the draft process. No news yet on a further consultation regarding future DLHE fees.

The THES Pay Survey is out and its findings are sobering:

  • The average professor in the UK was paid about £2,500 less last year in real terms than in 2010-11
  • A ‘pay gulf’ between black staff and white counterparts and a dearth of black senior managers
  • Minimal improvement on the gender pay gap, especially at professorial level

Creative Sector Manifestos 2017:

CHEAD’s next Membership & Networking meeting: Pedagogy, Innovation, TEF and Beyond:
May 24 @ 10:30 am4:00 pm, Woburn House, London

Creative Education is facing a number of key challenges including a a shift towards evidence-based models in HE teaching, a crisis in secondary creative education, and changes in the way that graduate outcomes are measured. How do creative HE leaders grapple with these challenges? Book your place here.



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