Business Intelligence: A round-up of the week in HE: 27th November 2020

Business Intelligence: A round-up of the week in HE: 27th November 2020

HE Policy

Value for money in the Office for Students: Annual report 2019-20 (OfS, 25/11/2020)

This report focuses on the efficient, effective and economic use of the OfS’s resources within the organisation for financial year 2019-20.

Browne, COVID and the Humanities. What next? (HEPI, 26/11/2020)

Are we due for another debate about the Humanities?

There should be a fund to support technical teaching excellence (WonkHE, 26/11/2020)

Chris Hall makes the case for government to fund the development of specialist teaching of higher technical qualifications.

Spending Review 2021 (WonkHE, 25/11/2020)

What’s in the Westminster spending review for HE?

Very little.

HE expansion critic ‘leads Treasury probe’ into university costs (THE, 24/11/2020)

Controversial Tory peer said to head Treasury committee, prompting concerns it could be eyeing funding and fee cuts

Covid 19

Two Covid tests for students in England before quick Christmas exit (BBC, 24/11/2020)

Students in England will be urged to take two Covid tests three days apart, to cut the risk of spreading infection when they travel home for Christmas.

OIA publishes case summaries of complaints arising from the impact of Covid-19 (OIA, 26/11/2020)

We have published our first set of case summaries of complaints arising from the impact of coronavirus.

Further Comment: Students may be compensated for lost teaching during UK lockdown (Guardian, 26/11/2020)

Learning from the first wave of students’ Covid-19 complaints (WonkHE, 26/11/2020)

Ombudsman shows caution on complaints over Covid online shift (THE, 26/11/2020)

We need to reinvent no detriment for January 2021 (WonkHE, 27/11/2020)

Students in their thousands are signing new petitions calling for “no detriment” policies for this part of the pandemic. Jim Dickinson assesses the demands.

Did students and universities squeeze through the pitfalls of the pandemic? (WonkHE, 23/11/2020)

How are students responding to the constraints of Covid? ONS has been finding out, and Jim Dickinson isn’t at all surprised by the results.

DfE lobs a brick through the Student Travel Window (if you’re a nurse) (WonkHE, 25/11/2020)

Version one of DfE’s guidance on “student movement and plans for the end of term” was spectacularly unhelpful on issues relating to work-based learning.

Can we prevent England’s student departure window from breaking? (THE, 27/11/2020)

Until they have their allotted departure time, no one is meant to travel home. So, asks George Bass, should security guards dive on anyone pulling a suitcase?

Most returning students’ campuses to get pre-Christmas Covid tests (THE, 23/11/2020)

More than 100 universities sign up to take part in rapid testing programme, but plans for post-festive return yet to be set out

Student Numbers, Admissions, and UCAS

What’s wrong with a January start…? (PIE, 24/11/2020)

How many international students in the northern hemisphere are going to want to wait until after they have finished their secondary education to even begin to make an application? Why not go to the US, the Netherlands, Ireland, or anywhere else that offers a September start?

Five questions currently on the minds of university recruitment teams (HEPI, 23/11/2020)

Has COVID impacted applicants’ ambitions?

A level inequality is baked in, not a 2020 phenomenon (WonkHE, 27/11/2020)

The detailed equality analysis of 2020 A levels is here!

Attainment, assessment and the sawtooth effect (WonkHE, 23/11/2020)

A thoughtful Ofqual report on the impact and management of assessment changes gives the admission debate a lot to consider.

January university start ‘off the table’ for UK admissions reform (THE, 25/11/2020)

Ucas signals that admissions body has moved towards supporting post-qualification offers

Jarvis: publish historic entry grades to make admissions fairer (THE, 26/11/2020)

Universities UK chief executive urges greater transparency in admissions

University Funding and University Status

Universities must address the oversupply of courses (WonkHE, 23/11/2020)

University course portfolios suffer from weak governance, argue David Roberts and Amy Ross – with consequences for financial sustainability.

Tuition Fees and Student Finance

University challenges: can I have a tuition fee refund? (Guardian, 24/11/2020)

Students may be able to claim compensation for unfulfilled promises by universities – but it won’t be quick or easy

First-year EU students face £800 Brexit bill if not in UK before 2021 (Guardian, 27/11/2020)

Visa and health fees likely to be levied on those who started UK courses overseas due to Covid

International Students, VISAs and UKVI

Int’l students encouraged by vaccine hopes (PIE, 27/11/2020)

Nearly a quarter of international students are considering moving forward their plans to study abroad because of a potential Covid-19 vaccine, QS has found.

Oversight and transparency key in agent relations (PIE, 26/11/2020)

Institutions which adopt a laissez-faire approach to dealing with agents had the worst outcomes and lowest satisfaction levels with the results of their agent relationships.

In-person teaching driving student choice (PIE, 23/11/2020)

International students’ choices of where to study are increasingly driven by the availability of face-to-face teaching, according to new research from IDP Connect and UUKi.

China study visas to UK more than halve amid pandemic (THE, 27/11/2020)

But large upturn in Tier 4 visas granted to Indian students tempers overall fall

Overseas Activity and Internationalisation

UK ‘must adapt overseas recruitment or decline like car industry’ (THE, 26/11/2020)

Senior leader says universities should focus on improving and charging more for transnational education

Widening Participation

New data highlights equality gaps for estranged students (OfS, 26/11/2020)

Students who are estranged from their parents are considerably less likely to be awarded a first or 2:1 and more likely to drop out in their first year of studies, according to new experimental data released by the Office for Students (OfS).

Associated documents: Differences in student outcomes – further characteristics – Office for Students (OfS, 26/11/2020)

Update to associations between characteristics of students – Office for Students (OfS, 26/11/2020)

‘You need someone on the inside’: the state school students helping peers into Oxbridge (Guardian, 23/11/2020)

Student-led projects are demystifying the application process for Oxbridge hopefuls from less privileged backgrounds

Flexible learning can improve diversity and inclusion in higher education (OfS, 27/11/2020)

The OfS-funded Institute of Coding is finding that flexible, modular, digital skills education can improve diversity in learner cohorts and the tech workforce.

Student Experience and Standards

Making external examining fit for the future (Advance HE, 26/11/2020)

Dr Lia Blaj-Ward  points to ‘the emphasis on the importance of calibration across the sector’ as the highlight of Advance HE’s external examiner course.

New research on the impact of Accreditation is published by Advance HE (Advance HE, 25/11/2020)

Advance HE has published independent research on the impact of institutional accreditation and its contribution to the professionalisation of teaching and learning in higher education.

Retaining students during Covid-19: responding to the challenges (Advance HE, 23/11/2020)

John Fairhurst considers the need to adapt support services to cope with Covid-19 and describes Bloomsbury Institute’s response to the challenge of ensuring students have ready access to the support they need.

Enhancement Themes – they’re collegiate but are they effective? (WonkHE, 27/11/2020)

The QAA’s Ailsa Crum evaluates an Enhancement Theme all about evidence and evaluation.

Learning and Teaching

How can virtual classrooms help institutions evolve and adapt to new challenges? (PIE, 27/11/2020)

“A virtual classroom solution encourages the collaboration and sharing of ideas and knowledge”

Using Enterprise Education to ‘level up’ the life chances of our students (Advance HE, 26/11/2020)

Dr Charles Knight discusses the need for Enterprise Education and why it is more important than ever against a backdrop of uncertainty for ensuring equitable outcomes for all.

Mid-Career Teaching Reflections: Classroom Activities Throughout the Semester (Faculty Focus, 23/11/2020)

One-minute papers have deservedly become one of the more common classroom activities deployed by teachers.

Helping Online Students Succeed (Faculty Focus, 27/11/2020)

When students do poorly on an assignment, faculty generally chalk it up to either a) lack of effort or b) lack of intelligence. But problems in product are usually problems in process, and often students lack the “self-regulated learning strategies” needed to be successful

Pedagogy has nothing to teach us (THE, 27/11/2020)

Most lecturers dread educationalists’ holier-than-thou, discipline-blind invocations of the latest teaching fads, says an anonymous academic

Pastoral Concerns

University of Bristol hands free drug testing kits to students (BBC, 24/11/2020)

Director of student health Alison Golden-Wright, said it was not about “condoning” drug use but to give students “good information”.


Ulster University warns of creative sector impact (BBC, 24/11/2020)

More than one-third of jobs in arts, culture and heritage are vulnerable as a result of coronavirus restrictions.

Dyson Institute uses innovative teaching model to develop students’ employability (Advance HE, 24/11/2020)

Programme set up by technology firm’s owner James Dyson embeds workplace training in their degree apprenticeship programme.

Student internships work, but they need to be paid (WonkHE, 25/11/2020)

Sarah Carter explores what government could do to ensure that students internships are fairly paid

Politicians must rethink their ideas about graduate success (THE, 21/11/2020)

Research on dance and drama graduates demonstrates that post-degree satisfaction is not all about salaries

UK HE bureaucracy ‘a bit of a monster’, says REF creator (THE, 26/11/2020)

Panel warns that action is needed to tackle excessive competition and casualisation if research careers are to remain attractive

Economy and Skills

Vision launched for the future of employer-university collaboration (JISC, 26/11/2020)

New report sets out to address the impact that automated technology will have on the future workplace, and how the higher education sector can prepare by 2030.

Let’s ‘build back better’ on post-COVID digital transformation (JISC, 25/11/2020)

Speaking alongside the universities minister, Michelle Donelan, tonight, Paul Feldman explains why students must be at the heart of tech-enabled teaching.

2020 Spending Review: Skills, talent and levelling up (NCUB, 25/11/2020)

We have poured over the detail of the Spending Review to consider what it might mean

for universities, business and their collaboration.

IT in HE

Beyond COVID-19: The future of digital teaching and learning (OfS, 25/11/2020)

The shift to emergency remote teaching has been a crash course for many universities and colleges in digital teaching and learning, and many have achieved things previously thought impossible.

‘Forget the rhetoric’:12 steps towards digital accessibility (JISC, 27/11/2020)

The latest wave of accessibility regulations came in on 23 September, yet many universities and colleges are still on a journey towards compliance.

The top 20 edtech startups ready to address the education sector’s biggest challenges (JISC, 26/11/2020)

Jisc and Emerge Education have relaunched step up, an innovation community that aims to transform higher and further education by matching edtech start ups with colleges and universities to solve their biggest challenges.

More than three quarters of HE teaching staff want to use technology in their teaching (JISC, 23/11/2020)

A survey of 2,677 teaching staff published today by Jisc finds that almost 80% of teaching staff feel motivated to use technology in their teaching (79%).

Face value: why won’t students turn their cameras on? (WonkHE, 27/11/2020)

Should students be made to turn their cameras on in small group online teaching? Jack Harvey wonders why they don’t.

Digital assessment: leave no one behind (WonkHE, 26/11/2020)

As the end of term assessment period looms, digital assessment offers a Covid-safe solution and improvements to accessibility, say Dave Kenworthy and Wayne Houlden.


We need more than workshops to support the wellbeing of PhD researchers (HEPI, 27/11/2020)

A recent report from HEPI by Bethan Cornell points to systemic failings that create conditions that contribute to poor mental health and mean researchers are less likely to engage with the support available.

‘Adjust your projects’: UKRI’s announcement is a red flag for research (HEPI, 25/11/2020)

Increasingly, there is a question at the heart of doctoral education about its purpose that few in the sector seem interested in answering.

How many postgraduate research students are writing up? (WonkHE, 25/11/2020)

The proportion of PGR students recorded as “writing up” in HESA data has been creeping up over the years. Is this a sign of a growing crisis? We don’t know, and that is the problem.

UK boosts research budget but fails to confirm £22 billion target (THE, 25/11/2020)

Chancellor’s spending review research boost leaves questions around earlier promises, as funds committed for Erasmus replacement

UK Arpa ‘would be laughing stock’ if led by Cummings (THE, 23/11/2020)

Plans for new research funding agency expected to go ahead despite exit of former top adviser to PM

Equality and Diversity

Universities UK calls for urgent action on racial harassment in higher education (UUK, 24/11/2020)

Universities UK has published a new set of recommendations designed to decisively tackle racial harassment as part of efforts to address racial inequality in UK higher education.

Further Comment: Universities must improve awareness and understanding of racial harassment and white privilege, guidance says (Independent, 25/11/2020)

University leaders should be given anti-racist training on ‘white privilege’, new guidance says (Telegraph, 24/11/2020)

UK universities perpetuate institutional racism, report says (Guardian, 24/11/2020)

Tackling racial harassment in higher education (Advance HE, 24/11/2020)

Tackling racial harassment in higher education (WonkHE, 24/11/2020)

UK v-cs ‘should take lead on tackling racial harassment’ (THE, 24/11/2020)

Locating bias in higher education marking practices (Advance HE, 25/11/2020)

Introducing the first in a mini-series of literature reviews on bias in higher education, Hannah Borkin, mixed-methods researcher at Advance HE, shares some of the findings on the prevalence of bias in assessment and marking practices.

How should universities approach decolonisation? (THE, 26/11/2020)

The movement to ‘decolonise’ university curricula has leaped into the political and educational mainstream

‘One in five’ female students in UK is victim of sexual assault (THE, 26/11/2020)

Ethnic minority students twice as likely to be assaulted in teaching space as white classmates


UK commits funding to domestic Erasmus+ alternative (PIE, 27/11/2020)

UK education stakeholders have thanked the government for committing to funding an Erasmus alternative in the event of no agreement being reached

Trends, Developments and Opinions

The glut of prizes is undermining the true value of research and teaching (THE, 26/11/2020)

Universities are now committed to ‘celebrating success’ and to treating every failure as just a stepping stone on the way to further success. Yet this, argues Joe Moran, is a betrayal of what really matters in the academy

Universal higher education is the key to combating misinformation (THE, 25/11/2020)

A high level of public information literacy will minimise the spread and influence of falsehood, says Tim Blackman

Comparator Institutions in the local, trade and national press

Anglia Ruskin

Students’ tough week living off foodbank parcel (Cambridge Network, 27/11/2020)

Social Work students at Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) lived off foodbank packages for a week to learn about food poverty and raise money for charity.


University of Bedfordshire to explore how Covid-19 changed public perception of carers (Luton Today, 25/11/2020)

The Beds Talks series are a programme of community-facing events that are driven by topical issues and current university research


Coventry University refuses to say what action it took against students at huge party that broke lockdown rules (Coventry Telegraph, 24/11/2020)

The university says revealing the information would be in breach of data protection rules


How AI is being used to boost the East Midlands economy (Business Live, 24/11/2020)

Academics and researchers working alongside business to try and give region same presence of areas like Manchester


Nottingham Trent University students fined for lockdown party (BBC, 26/11/2020)

Nearly 40 people were handed fines after police raided a party at a student accommodation block in Nottingham.


This Staffordshire University student has a ‘bone lab’ in her bathroom (and it’s all in the name of forensic research) (Sentinel, 27/11/2020)

Emma Morgan hopes to improve the way burned bodies are identified by using specialist lighting to detect them