Sandra Booth

Policy Briefing February 2019

Happy Chinese New Year! 2019 is a great year to make money, and a good year to invest! 2019 is going to be full of joy, a year of friendship and love for all the zodiac signs and especially for those born in the year of the Pig.

Views from World Education Forum. Davos. General Policy UK-EU. HE, Culture and Arts. Degree Apprenticeships. Regions. Speculations on Augur Review and our New Minister’s speech from RADA.

Briefing produced by Sandra Booth
Main sources: DfE, BEIS, DCMS, ACE and Policy Connect. #CHEADPOL

Full Brief with live links can be viewed here.


Education for the Global Economy.

Speaking from the World Education Forum, Education Secretary Damian Hinds confirmed 2,343,095 as the total number of UK HE students in 2017/18, up 1% on the year before, according to the latest figures from the HE Statistics Agency.Britain’s education sector remains one of our most lucrative international assets, with exports overseas generating almost £20 billion for the UK economy. This is a 26% increase since 2010, placing the education revenue alongside industries such as automobiles and advertising. The revenue includes over £13bn from higher education.

Meanwhile the Immigration Bill passed to 2nd reading. This is the Government’s flagship policy on the post Brexit framework for immigration, settled status policy and bringing an end to freedom of movement. The Home Office launched the pilot of its settled and pre-settled application schemes for EU citizens seeking residency in the UK post-Brexit and waived the £65 administrative charge.

Chris Skidmore gave his first major speech at RADA as new Universities minister and rather encouragingly he stated ”As we move forwards into the future, the last thing I want to see is value judgements emerging which falsely divide the Sciences and Engineering from the Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences. To do so would be a travesty. Our future success depends on all these disciplines being completely intertwined.”

BREXIT plus Augur leads to another difficult few months of uncertainty for HE. Notwithstanding the timing of a possible next General Election. The FT, reporting on the Post-18 review latest rumours, suggested that the current fee level might remain although the proportion paid through loans could vary. The Augur Review is due to report next month but many suspect this will just be tweaking rather than a substantial overhaul of fees and funding. More likely any implications for HE and FE will be announced via the Comprehensive Spending Review and emergency budgeting as a result of a deal or no deal scenario.

Longer Term

The OECD published its latest report on current trends shaping education, listing three in particular (globalization, digitalization, ageing societies) that are challenging what’s expected of education in the future.

The Chancellor confirmed in a speech at Davos that a large chunk (£100m) of the funding set aside a couple of years ago for research and innovation in technology would be used to create a thousand new PhD places in the UK to work on next generation AI revolution.

The Business Secretary announced from Davos that the UK would partner with the World Economic Forum Centre for the 4th Industrial Revolution to work up a more ‘agile’ approach to regulation as part of the Industrial Strategy.

Arts Policy

Arts Council issues no-deal Brexit guidance for arts organisations.

A new document draws together relevant Government policies on topics including touring to EU countries, moving goods across borders, and adapting to a new intellectual property landscape.
A joint Arts Council England and De Montfort University initiative will follow 100 children born in Leicester for the first 25 years of their lives. Impact25 is a major study to track impact of creative activity on children aged 0-25.

Jeremy Wright: It’s an exciting time for the cultural sector!

Department for Culture, Media and Sport announced that it will be making a £20 million investment by launching the new Cultural Development Fund (CDF), which aims to regenerate local communities by investing in culture, heritage and creative projects. Five locations will be able to invest in place-based culture, heritage and creative industries to help drive economic growth.
Speaking on Cultural Value, he went on to say “Creativity, arts and heritage make our towns and cities unique and our communities better places to live.”
The £20 million fund will be shared between projects in five locations, from a new creative hub in Worcester’s historic railway arches to a programme of international events and public art in Grimsby.
The CDF is expected to create over 1,300 new jobs, provide 2,000 people with skills training, and support more than 700 businesses.

HE Policy

Unconditional Offers.

The Office for Students (OfS) published its thinking on unconditional offers, which have risen steeply by 114,000, from 3,000 in 2013 to 117,000 in 2018. The report indicates that there are two types of offer; the ”openly unconditional” and the ”conditional unconditional”, and that these can have a negative effect on A Level or equivalent BTEC performance. While the initial intention behind the use of unconditional offers might be contextual and worthy, the OfS has pledged to carefully monitor their use and consult on future best principles to avoid what’s being termed ‘pressure selling’ and ‘marketisation’.

Post Qualifications Admission.
The National Education Opportunities Network (NEON) and UCU published a new report on the university admissions system, revisiting the case for a post-qualification application (PQA) system as part of a wider 3-stage admissions process which would see applications submitted in early August and the new Year 1 beginning in November. Looking at higher education admissions systems in 30 countries showed that England, Northern Ireland and Wales are the only ones where admissions to higher education are based on predictions of achievement rather than actual performance.

Accelerated Degrees.
The House of Commons voted to approve the proposed accelerated degree regulations and have passed the required legislation for accelerated degrees to become available from this September.
The accelerated degree proposals would mean that higher education institutions could offer two-year courses, charging only 20% more per year than a standard three-year course. Given the accelerated learning this would enable students to make a total saving of 20% in comparison to a three-year degree course.

Degree Apprenticeships.
Policy Connect and HE Commission launched a new report on degree apprenticeships.
Employers and providers see degree apprenticeships as a good policy addition to the range of skills pathways. However, many also felt that there were significant challenges in making the system work, and a number of major improvements are needed.

Latest figures show there were 132,000 people starting apprenticeships in the first three months of the 2018/19 academic year – a rise of 15% on this time last year. According to the OfS, in 2016/17 there were 2,580 degree apprentices registered on degree apprenticeships, of which 1,750 started that year (OfS, 2018). The latest DfE figures reveal a total of 10,870 Level 6+ learners on higher apprenticeship standards in 2017/18, however these figures are for Level 6+ starts broadly and not degree apprenticeships specifically(DfE, 2018).

Almost 5,000 school-leavers started degree apprenticeships in 2017-18, more than double the year before.This approximates to 3% of all apprenticeship starts (DfE, 2018).
There are now over 100 HEIs now on the Register of Apprenticeship Training Providers who are approved to deliver to levy payers. However, preventing them from delivering to non-levy smaller businesses will not allow the Government to deliver on its ambitions set out in the Industrial Strategy (BEIS,2017). Other issues the report highlights include addressing cold spots for degree apprenticeship provision, bureaucracy and lack of pace surrounding implementation, HEIs frozen out of non-levy provision and concerns of a ‘middle class grab’ resulting in a mismatch with apprenticeship’s wider social mobility aims.

TEF review panel sets to work.
The Independent review of TEF will be chaired by Dame Shirley Pearce.
The independent review of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) has launched – with a call for views released alongside details of the panel and a programme of work that includes “listening sessions”, employer and international engagement, review of costs, and the commissioning of statistical analysis.

DfE also published an evaluation of Year 2 of the TEF based on surveys of higher education providers and applicants to higher education. Providers reported increased focus on student experience and employability in the last two years and attributed at least some of this activity to the TEF.
DfE are suggesting the framework has added to some of the burdens for providers, but was in turn beginning to focus attention on high quality teaching, notably among those seeking Gold or Silver awards.

Interestingly, amongst prospective students, fewer than half (43%) had heard of the TEF. Students who applied to institutions holding a Gold TEF award were more likely to have heard of it. Only 15% of prospective students used the TEF rating in their decision-making process.

Schools Performance.
The proportion of pupils achieving a grade 5 or above at GCSE in both Maths and English has increased from 42.6% to 43.3% since last year. In addition to this, 95.5% of pupils are now entering EBacc science at GCSE, up from 63.2% in 2010, including a rise of around 7% in the number of girls taking at least one of these subjects.

Ofqual launched its proposals for school inspections from this September along with accompanying commentary and research with consultation remaining open until April 5 2019. Explaining the new framework, Ofsted Chief Inspector Amanda Spielman outlined the proposed new inspection framework which will include assessing whether provision is ‘broad and balanced’, hopefully this means does it include access to Arts.

A new Teacher recruitment and retention strategy has been announced with incentives targeted at attracting and retaining teachers in the profession, and in key subjects, to counteract the worrying rates of attrition.

CIF have launched their flagship Careers Enterprise Programme to raise awareness of opportunities for work across the creative economy. Through the programme around 2 million young people will be able to access better advice about pursuing a creative career, and leading organisations and individuals from across the creative industries will engage with more than 160,000 school-age students by March 2020.

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