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This month: the Research Excellence Framework. Last month: The Autumn Statement – implications for Higher Education, STEM investment and postgraduate careers.

The University and College Union (UCU) has called for a fundamental review of UK research in a report released a week before this year’s REF results, UCU says it wants to see a complete overhaul of research and development that goes beyond the planned operational review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF).

The Research Excellence Framework (REF), an exercise that assesses the quality of academic research, is a huge deal for universities and academics. The results of the 2014 Research Excellence Framework (REF), announced recently, demonstrate the world-leading quality of research conducted in UK universities. For the first time in an exercise of this kind, the REF also highlights the wide-ranging and significant benefits that UK research brings to the economy and society. The REF informs policy development around Higher Education funding for the next six years. Funding experts Research Fortnight created ‘power rankings’ based on how they assessed each university.

The UK is the best place in the world to undertake research, according to HEFCE’s response to the Government’s Science and Innovation Strategy. The UK research system is world class, delivering significant impact and substantial benefits for our economy and society. HEFCE has also recently published a review of the use and impact of its quality-related research (QR) funding, which demonstrates the irreplaceable value universities place on this income stream.



I hope you find this information useful.



News Headlines

Training elderly in social media improves well-being and combats isolation
Training older people in the use of social media improves cognitive capacity, increases a sense of self-competence and could have a beneficial overall impact on mental health and well-being, according to a landmark study carried out in the UK.

Government unveils £6 billion package for UK science and innovation
The government unveils its ambitious new plan to keep British science and innovation at the forefront of global excellence.

Erasmus Mundus Graduate Impact Survey – 55 percent of graduates have jobs within two months of graduation
The Erasmus Mundus programme gives students from the whole world the chance to study in two or more European countries at Master’s level. What do students and prospective students expect from a European masters programme, and how do Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses fulfil these expectations? Check out this year’s Graduate Impact Survey .

UK Labour Market, December 2014
The proportion of people aged from 16 to 64 in work (the employment rate), was 73.0%, higher than for May to July 2014 (72.8%) and higher than for a year earlier (71.8%).

University of Exeter Career Mentor Scheme helps students on path to business success
Students in Exeter are developing vital employability skills by working alongside business leaders from Devon, the UK and around the world.

Higher education and local growth: launch of local profiles data
HEFCE has published a new interactive data toolkit based on local higher education profiles.

Graduate labour market statistics – July to September 2014
These statistics provide information on graduate and non-graduate earnings and employment rates for England.

University of Exeter to help Cornwall’s young people access higher education
The University of Exeter will play a pivotal role in helping more people in Cornwall access higher education, it has been confirmed.

Survey shows good progress on EU funding for local growth
Universities UK has published a survey providing an initial assessment of how universities are preparing for the European Structural and Investment Funds programme 2014 – 2020 (ESIF). This shows that the higher education (HE) sector is making good progress. Interest is also higher than the previous 2007-2013 programme.

HEFCE input – the Science and Innovation Strategy and Science Capital Roadmap
HEFCE has published submissions to two Government consultations.

National networks to help more young people access higher education
A new £22 million scheme involving over 200 higher education institutions and reaching 4,300 secondary schools and colleges aims to encourage more young people into higher education.

UK graduate recruitment prospects ‘at 10-year high’
The first students to pay higher university tuition fees will graduate into the UK’s most attractive job market for a decade, a High Fliers study suggests.

Higher Education Research Publications

Earning by degrees – differences in the career outcomes of UK graduates
Examines how graduate career outcomes differ depending on the subjects studied and the institution attended.

Young people’s perceptions about post-18 education and training options: a report for the University and College Union
Shows that the three main reasons given for not going to university (too expensive, no guaranteed job and fears of debt) are the same top three concerns raised by young people who do intend to go.

International Research Publications

Education and Training Monitor 2014
The Education and Training Monitor is an annual series that reports on the evolution of education and training systems across Europe, bringing together the latest quantitative and qualitative data, recent technical reports and studies, plus policy documents and developments.

The validation challenge – how close is Europe to recognising all learning?
The European inventory on validation of non-formal and informal learning provides an unrivalled source of information detailing how validation of prior learning is developing across Europe.

Contextual data for the Research Excellence Framework 2014
The table shows the total full-time equivalents (FTE) of staff identified as eligible to be submitted to the REF 2014 by HE provider and REF Unit of Assessment.


The Fourth Work-Life Balance Employer Survey
Presents the findings of a major study of work-life balance among British workplaces with 5 or more employees.

Hands-on communities – the community and wellbeing benefits of learning and sharing practical skills
Explores how organisations seeking to make practical activities a force for good can maximise their impact by illustrating how do-it-yourself (DIY), gardening, and other hands-on activities may significantly boost wellbeing. They can also help strengthen communities and combat unsustainable throwaway consumerism.

At what price justice – the impact of employment tribunal fees
Analyses the latest Ministry of Justice statistics and reveals that: 1) there has been an 80 per cent fall in the number of women pursuing sex discrimination claims. 2) the number of women pursuing pregnancy discrimination claims is also down by over a quarter, with just three per cent of women seeking financial compensation after losing their jobs; and 3) during the first three months of 2014 the number of race discrimination and sexual orientation claims both fell by 60 per cent compared to the same period in 2013.

Young people’s experiences in the workplace
Insight into what motivates young people as they make the transition into employment including: what makes work desirable; organisational commitment, and; employee involvement and voice at work.

A map of social enterprises and their eco-systems in Europe – country report, United Kingdom
Maps the broad contours of social enterprise activity and eco-systems in 29 European countries (EU 28 and Switzerland) using a common ‘operational definition’ and research methodology.

The pregnancy test – ending discrimination at work for new mothers
Suggests pregnancy and motherhood can seriously affect a woman’s career. Around a quarter of women don’t return to work after maternity leave, and one in six of the mums who do go back, change jobs because their employer won’t allow them to work reduced or flexible hours. Identifies ten ways pregnant women and new mothers are mistreated at work and five things that need to change.

Improving access to work for disabled people – second report of session 2014–15
Examines Universal Credit implementation, monitoring DWP’s performance in 2012-13. Provides Government’s response to the Committee’s Fifth Report of Session 2012-13.


Westminster Higher Education Forum: Next steps for the Research Excellence Framework
23 April 2015, central London

David Sweeney, Director, HEFCE will be speaking at this event.

HEFCE Annual Conference 2015
4-5 February 2015, Senate House, London

The conference is an invitation-only event for heads of higher education providers in England and representatives of HE stakeholder organisations.

The future for open access and the move towards open data
26 March 2015, Central London. This event is CPD certified.

This conference is timed to follow the publication of Research Councils UK’s review of the impact of Open Access so far, expected in early 2015. The conference will focus on key remaining implementation issues as well as looking forward to next steps for policy, in light of Government’s stated aim of adopting an Open Data culture for publicly funded research.