Something is coming… what do we know?

It’s been a fair old while since my last post, and not an awful lot has changed. But ahead of the publication of the Nurse Review (expected on the 19th November) and the Comprehensive Spending Review (due on the 25th November), some reflections to help manage expectations might be valuable.

  • The Higher Education Green Paper has already provided some views from Government about the ‘direction of travel’. HEFCE will be scrapped in favour of an Office for Students, where the focus will be entirely teaching orientated. What does this mean for HEFCW? Who knows.
  • What it means for Quality Related (QR) funding is that someone else will be responsible for dishing out that particular pot of cash to Universities in England. Remember, QR funding is based on a formula derived from REF outcomes. HEFCE coordinated REF. So where will REF-of-the-future sit?
  • The Dual Support System is held in high regard throughout all of this, so the mechanism for allocating competitive funding (research councils) is likely to continue. In October, research councils made a joint statement of intent to work more closely together. But does that mean they will also absorb QR funding allocation? And REF? And would that be appropriate?
  • On the subject of REF, there were references to the expense and laborious nature of the exercise. However, what would we become if we didn’t have a framework of excellence against which to benchmark ourselves? REF provides credibility to the UK research environment, and allows us to benchmark on a consistent basis against our peers. It reinforces what is important (most recently impact and equality & diversity), and makes universities exciting and vibrant places to be. REF is important!
  • Despite The Metric Tide, the Green Paper makes some suggestion of there being a use for a metrics based “mini REF” style exercise. What does that mean for the REF ‘proper’ rankings? What impact would that have on QR allocations?

Who knows what the upshot of it all is. It would be interesting to hear others views on what could happen and the kind of environment we may find ourselves in as a result in 10 years time… Any thoughts?

Comments

  • Jennifer Evans

    I’m interested in it because we submit to REF, which is essentially led by HEFCE, so we will want to be aware of how research excellence is assessed in the future (we still don’t have any answers to this… CSR on Friday might help). There are proposals for a mini-REF so this is of significant interest. But of course there aren’t any details so we can’t really comment.

    HEFCW give us QR, but if there are moves to shuffle that away from HEFCE’s old remit then maybe HEFCW’s remit will change too and maybe they won’t have that budget to give us any more. And where QR ends up might be different too, with different models which will effect how much money we automatically get from Government. The Green Paper does ask what we think about the potential models for this, I think.

    Maybe the Comprehensive Spending Review will help shed more light… due Wednesday…

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