This week on the podcast we discuss the relationship between science, society and politics. There’s also new report from HEPI on postgrads, a Policy Exchange report on “training”, and new legislation on student accommodation in Scotland.
With Rachel Sandison, Vice Principal External Relations at the University of Glasgow; Debbie McVitty, Wonkhe’s Editor; David Malcolm, Head of Policy at NUS; and Wonkhe’s Editor in Chief Mark Leach.
Items this week:
- Covid-19 coverage continues on the site here.
To get involved in The Wonkhe Show, email firstname.lastname@example.org
(Please note this is auto-generated and un-edited)
[00:00:01] It’s the Wonkhe show. We’re talking Science and Society Postgrads, a policy exchange report and student accommodation in Scotland. It’s all coming up.
[00:00:09] Got a system in a way that the accommodation market works where much of the marketing and the encouragement to sign up for student competition is done months and months in advance in some cases. November and December of the year before or so, students are signed up to accommodation contracts for an academic year, nine months or so in advance. And so for many of us, you know.
[00:00:41] Welcome to the show. I’ll direct way into this week’s higher education news, policy and analysis. I’m Watkis editor in Chief Markovich and joined by three brilliant guest this morning to help us wade through the policy fjords in London, we have David Malcolm, head of policy for the National Union Students. David’s reason for optimism this week?
[00:00:59] Well, I’ve been working at home like everyone else, and I went look on to a hedge. And I’ve got some sparrows nesting in the hedge. And it’s been very soothing watching them sort of Beilenson with bits of Twigson fruit and all sorts of other things in the. And it’s just nice to know that life continues as normal for some creatures on this earth.
[00:01:17] And in Glasgow, we have Rachel Sansone, vice principal external relations for University of Glasgow. Rachel, tell us a highlight of the week this week.
[00:01:24] Oh, wow. And so many actually, the sun is shining in Glasgow and has been now for weeks, and which is quite a revelation. And also, I’m a new aunty. So my sister gave birth to a baby boy. Yes. So my wee nephew Sunny has arrived, which is a huge reason to be cheerful and optimistic. And on a slightly different note, I did find out yesterday that my favourite pizza restaurant in Glasgow is reopening this weekend for a tickly delivery, which has brought me complete and utter joy. So, yes, lots of reasons to be cheerful.
[00:01:53] And also in London. We have Watkis editor David McVitie. Debbie, tell us something that’s cheered you up this week.
[00:01:58] Well, the continuation of the animal theme are little kittens cheer me up this week because they’ve been super cute and they’re coming are sitting on my lap. And that’s just been lovely.
[00:02:07] It’s 20 years since the Inferential Science and Society report was published. Debbie, tell us, why did it matter? Why are we talking about it Almalki so much this week?
[00:02:15] Well, if we could all agree that Ecover, 19, has created an opportunity amid the gloom to showcase the best of UK science and research. But in the past couple of weeks, there’s been a series of controversies about scientific advice and how it works to ship government policy. So we’ve heard the resignation of Neil Ferguson from the Scientific Advisory Group on Emergences, or Sege, as we’ll call it from now on, because of because he was found to have broken the Loxton rules. We’ve heard questions over secrecy of membership of Sege. And then when the membership list was published last week, there was questions about whether it was sufficiently independent of government and whether it covered a broad enough range of expertise. And in the wake of that, we’ve had the creation of a new shadow group calling itself Independent Sege, which has been created under the auspices of former chief scientific adviser Sir David King. And that group’s been particularly critical of our government, has been engaging with the science and and has questioned what’s what’s you know, how the government is is presenting science in its in its press conferences and communications. And then the latest is that there’s been further challenge over the government’s research sustainability task force and the transparency of the membership on that. So that was that was published just yesterday. And I think all of these instances open up a debate about the role of science in policymaking, about questions of transparency and accountability, but not just high science informs policy, but how the public has input into scientific priorities and how the public sort of engages the science in a meaningful way.
[00:03:44] And it’s something we’ve been working on before. Before Kopacz 19 hits 20 years ago, the House of Lords Science and Technology Committee published a report which was not groundbreaking in the sense that it was sort of picking up on, I think, two trends, trends in the discipline anyway, around around questions about science’s engagement with the public. But it was certainly, certainly noteworthy because it was it was a kind of a spark for for quite a lot of activity. And that report basically recommended a shift from the dominant model of public understanding of science, which kind of caught to mind this idea of kind of expert scientists, you know, declaiming from on high to greater grateful and ill informed public. And that sort of became known as the deficit model of public engagement and to proposing a more democratic model in which the public, its users of science, funders of science and scientific institutions would which be kind of cool, producing science in a more intimate and a much more democratic way. And that became noticeable to public engagement in science. So we were as I say, we were working on this before Kopacz 19 hit covered 19. And some of the issues that I’ve described really brought these questions about public trust and science, about the role of science in shaping government policy into sharp relief. So we’ve seen some really useful thinking on these topics, which I won’t go into in detail, but but I strongly commit to our listeners.
[00:04:59] Thanks, everyone. Rachel, you you work for a major research intensive university, and it feels like science is having a real moment right now. And I’m interested to know how that’s filtering through your university community during the crisis.
[00:05:14] Yeah, I think that’s a really important point. I think, Cam. You know, we we felt a little bit battered, I think, across the higher education sector for a number of years now in this kind of revolt against the academy and experts. And it does feel like the pandemic is giving us an opportunity to really showcase the importance of research within the higher education sector and the very direct societal impact that can have. And at Glascock, we are actually hosting the National Testing Centre for Scotland. The Lighthouse lab, which has just been utterly tremendous and we have over 800 volunteers from across our university community that are literally testing 24/7 in that lab. So I do think that this does provide an opportunity for us to pivot a little and really shine a spotlight on the incredible, incredible research activity that universities deliver on behalf of society. And we are very much in the frontline of the fight against climate 1983.
[00:06:07] I wonder if if any of you I mean, we’ve been talking about this in the last few days, but, you know, science science is never non-political. And there’s a lot of row of a lot of controversy over membership of these different groups. So we’ve got the festival staged and the the sort of opposition stage and now the government’s research task force. And they all seem they all seem inherently this cool and they’re both in their kind of make up and also their purpose.
[00:06:34] Yeah. I was really interested to listen to the independent Sege press conference this week, because, you know, that very question about the political affiliation of the group. And it’s sort of known that that the political affiliation of the group is more towards the left than perhaps would be considered mainstream. And this question was put to sort of a king by a journalist from the Daily Mail and sort of a king said this is completely irrelevant, you know? Well, of course, we didn’t look at political affiliations when assembling the script. And, you know, can I ask you, please, to focus on the science and not on sort of inanities, basically? I think you know, I think there’s a question here about is it reasonable to expect scientists in any context to put aside their political affiliations? Because if you consider the political affiliations, do represent values and kind of perspectives on the world, you know, is it reasonable to expect them to put that aside in thinking about how they produce science and draw on science to formulate advice to government? I would argue no. But at the same time, I’m sort of wary of a model that says we must publish the affiliations of everyone who takes on these sorts of roles, partly because of the risk the individuals involved, and partly because I think it does people a disservice to some extent to suggest that that they can. No, you know, that they can’t take a view that is, if not necessarily independent of their politics, that that is that there can be sufficient conscious of their own politics to be mindful of what the implications of that might be for how they’re presenting information. But I can also see that that would be very much hedging it for a lot of people who would feel that kind of transparency, accountability very much compromised by it, by such a view.
[00:08:16] I wonder if anyone’s got a view about what what we should be asking of the government’s new research task force.
[00:08:21] Is that another thing that was kept secret and it’s just been revealed in the last 24 hours includes sector figures, vice chancellors and the relevant ministers in Scotland, Wales?
[00:08:33] I think part of the issue, of course, is that trust in politicians is really low when they are seen to be involved in either interpreting or acting scientific advice. I think you can accept perceptions and, you know, you can witness the concern about the idea that Dominic Cummings was attending the meetings of original speech as a people be concerned, if he was involved, the sort of Sangalli figure that what would come out of that would necessarily be sort of tainted or or sort of pulled towards the what the government needs the scientific advice to see in order to make itself look good. And so I think any time that, you know, because it’s in politicians, it’s that sort of fear that Salu, that fear that the then that will kind of affect the trust in science and the scientific advice. And again, you can sort of see that across the pond in America where know component Anthony, folks here are sort of this strange double act every time there’s a press conference. And it’s only by Trump’s sort of egregiousness in terms of making up scientific theories as he stands there that, you know, the trust remains, I think, in Dr Voce to be giving good advice to the American public. But I think it can also be kind of overdone in terms of the chatter in the newspapers. There was a Survation poll last week that said that 64 per cent of people agreed that they trusted science to take scientists more know as a result of the crisis. But equally, I think the point that Debbie was making about the value that people place in transparency is definitely there in 97 per cent in the sample said that the data should be public so that the public do want to be engaged in what’s going on and understand why the scientific advice is what it is.
[00:10:12] Let’s see who’s been blogging for us this week.
[00:10:14] And I want heedlessness. My name’s Victoria Holbrook and I’m the assistant director for government. I can’t keep my peace. This week is about valuing diversity in governance.
[00:10:24] I’ve been on my mind for quite some time.
[00:10:27] We all know that board diversity to priest father. But the reason that this is so important now is because we’re going through such major change. We need the brightest minds from all backgrounds and perspective to help us determine. Strategy. And the crux of it is who gets to inform and make decisions, matters.
[00:10:46] And it really matters now more than ever. It’s about avoiding blindspots. It’s about innovating. But it’s also about stakeholder engagement, confidence and trust for making the case that diversity needs to be addressed right now.
[00:11:00] If we’re to come out of this stronger and I propose some ways this could be done. So I hope you enjoyed it.
[00:11:07] Hi, I’m Heidi Baker. I need a head of winning his passion and outreach at the University of Surrey in a quick piece about the implications of school closures for disadvantaged students.
[00:11:16] Not only those hoping to head to higher education this year, but also the knock on effect that he will have on students for years to come and certainly explores the measures that have been put in place to assess students and this year to avoid the risks associated with grades and the reality that actually underperforming grades is just one component of our education system that disadvantages already disadvantaged students.
[00:11:39] There are so many other things that have happened up to this point and already that that aren’t kind of being considered. And it looks at the education disadvantage and clearly, on average, about 18 months and have a kid of home schooling is likely to increase this gap. And also what it means, students don’t have opportunities to access IJI culture and develop cultural capital. And how this is likely actually to continue when schools go back to. Well, and finally look the opportunities that we WPT in this unique partnership. And we should be focusing on at this point and how we can make the most of this period. Western are at home with the families and particularly students that are disadvantaged and how we can try and ensure that learning is happening at the family and together and which hopefully will be more impactful and more meaningful for the future as well.
[00:12:30] Now, this week, happies published a major report into the status of postgraduate education in the UK. Rachel, what are your key takeaways from this?
[00:12:37] Yes, or a new report from Hepi published today, which does explore the city to push greater education over the past decade. And it builds on the two early reports Hepi released in 2004 and 2010. And I think it really highlights as a period of extreme turmoil and postgraduate numbers over the past decade with both positive and negative outcomes. But I think it’s worth remembering that this is a decade where we have faced the 2008 financial crises. The change to student funding, removal of the Pew study, work visa and of course, Brexit, which we haven’t been talking as much about Offaly. But of course, this is still there on the horizon. I think all of that being said, actually, the report is fairly positive in its conclusion that overall there has been a 16 percent growth in postgraduate study and particularly a marked growth in international student numbers. A study in the UK and mainly thanks to Chinese students who are coming for postgraduate study in our universities. Other key headlines that have come out of this report is that, perhaps unsurprisingly, the introduction of postgraduate Luann’s for study at Masters level has led to a marked increase in UK domicile student numbers following several years of decline or stagnation. But there has been a significant decline in numbers of older part time students accessing lifelong learning and, of course, a decline in EU domiciled students from 2016 as a result of Brexit. There has been some interesting research as well around the growing imbalance between female and male postgraduates and also the fact that TMD has grown significantly over that period. So we now have more international postgraduates studying for UK postgraduate programs. It will reseize than we do in the UK. In fact, many students have more than doubled since 2007 2000. And the one last thing actually that I would pick up from the report is just that and Masters Luann’s have really improved participation among students from disadvantaged backgrounds. And I find this particularly pleasing that students from disadvantaged backgrounds gnomic up 49 percent of the cohort, and that’s actually up from 35 percent in 2008, 2009.
[00:14:40] David, tell us about the WP agenda and postgrads.
[00:14:46] Obviously, it’s something that when the push graduate loans are being discussed was a hot topic. Was that the idea that postgraduate study emptily top masters was the new frontier in widening participation? That is because only the better off students could access it, that it was replicating the issues and the disparities between different social groups. Just like I said, at the undergraduate level where it was previously, no extending that to push budget level. So the absolute you know, it was absolutely the right intention, I think, to open up graduate study and make sure that those students who couldn’t afford to pay the site of their own pockets of their family finances, that they could get access to this. I do have some concerns about that. I think that Lindsay opened up that access. Is there? There’s no question. But the repayment conditions are designed to ensure that loans are cost neutral to the public purse. And that’s. Quite a significant consideration in terms of when you go into the workplace after it’s the kind of cost of that to you, and especially then if you choose to then go on to do doctoral study and you’re taking a further along on top of that to pay for that study. And he’s not settlements are the only way you fund this or indeed family. What is also notable to me, I think, is that over the period, there’s been significant decline in funding from employers to do this sort of study.
[00:16:08] And this is sort of this is something we’ve already seen with the extension of Lewin’s for part time undergraduate study and the analysis that was done by individuals like Klick Colander and others showed that that was a result of a combination of reduced training budgets by employers, an increase in fees that meant that they were less willing to stump up the cash when they did have the budget. And of course, them saying that, well, if you got Lewins, you don’t need that sponsorship anymore. But what I worry about is that people who continue to get employer sponsorship and if we don’t pay for this, are going to be those who are in better off situations from better social backgrounds. And similarly, the doctoral study. Those who can access the Research Council studentship, which mean that you don’t pay fees and you get some money for maintenance. Again, I would be quite confident there are some biases there. And again, it will be students from better backgrounds, from from so demographics who you know, we do have some of the advantages in society who will get the studentship more likely. And whereas, again, poorer students and others have to rely on loans. So I do worry that the introduction of the loans that we have to be very careful that it doesn’t actually in some ways exacerbate some of the inequalities that it’s actually trying to address.
[00:17:19] Yeah. You’ve always got to be a bit careful. You’re talking about data on socioeconomic background of postgraduates because it’s one of those data things that’s incredibly hard to measure. But there does seem to be some indication that introducing the loan has led to increased participation among the most disadvantaged groups and kind of poolers and such economic classification of the kind of two ways you can try and get a snapshot of that. But it’s also seems to have increased participation by perhaps a greater amount among the most advantaged. So there’s a question, I think, about the you know, what do you what are you thinking about whether to do postgraduate? You’re obviously you know, there’s a kind of question about the sort of interest in the subject and stuff like that. But I think in some ways it’s a more it’s a more kind of classically rational question about, you know, is this worth the investment for a student thinking about whether to do. And that’s what that’s why I think one thing is quite a good thing about this report, is this question about different grips that gets a better return on investment. Because if you think about it, I mean, what we know from longitudinal educational outcomes is the salary differentials vary enormously by not only things like region, a university of study, but also gender, social class, those sorts of things. And so, you know, I hear what you’re saying. It is the kind of concerns about the replication of existing inequalities. I do wonder whether in the same way as the pay off for women in terms of the salary outcome in particular is greater because women are more disadvantaged in the labour market.
[00:18:42] Overall may also be true for disadvantaged students, which is not necessarily to say that, you know, it is, of course, fundamentally unfair that, you know, women under a disadvantage, students under other kind of less advantaged grips would need to invest in a post graduate in order to be able to secure that advantage. But it’s certainly, I think, needs reform, tax calculation.
[00:19:02] And I would I would agree with that, Debbie. I think the report does try to call some of that and in fact, do the growing imbalance between female and postgraduates whose standards are 60 to 40 respectively. And that’s partly due to the fact that there is much higher female participation in teaching, in nursing and so those particular areas. So it might not necessarily be that. And women NPG has drawn overall, it’s just that women in particular programs has grown as a result for those professional pathways being required to get graduate employment. And I think there is an issue around salary piece in particular. So although it says that postgraduate study benefits women more, it’s because of the lower salary thresholds in the first place that it’s actually it’s it’s a very complicated picture. I think you’ve always got to look at all of this data and place and context to it.
[00:19:49] But that’s also true of of Bain participation, isn’t it? Because there’s some indication that particularly black Caribbean, British people by maybe actually slightly overrepresented a postgraduate study and uncertain, and that the Times this morning led with kind of fewer white men in postgraduate study. And I think that that becomes a problem if you are confident that every form of postgraduate study confers essential advantage. And, of course, you know, if we’re talking about more postgraduate nursing, initial teacher training, you know, these are absolutely fantastic pathways. But they are also kind of requirements to to enter the field. And therefore, you know, we have to kind of look at particular segments of postgraduate study and the kind of patterns there, as well as looking at the overall picture.
[00:20:29] I think one of the other things that’s really interesting that the report calls out quite starkly is the gross being buoyed by international students and, of course, international students from China in particular, which make. 30 percent of the postgraduate cohort. And actually, you know, the report does flagged that, of course, this this was analysis that was done pre covered 19 and actually fought well the next few years, looked like for the sector. And as a result of the impact, the pandemic and student choice around travel and still coming to the UK for an international education, that seems to me the critical question.
[00:21:03] And then the context of what we’re likely to see, a global recession, if not a depression. What is it likely to do to demand there?
[00:21:12] Well, the report put the this in the report was was correct. It was brought together before before Colvert 19 hit. But the author, Jennifer Heise, does speculate that while the world was certainly going to see serious severe dip in international postgraduate study, although the transnational provision and some forms of that may may be able to continue and there’s a potential ray of light there. But actually, the suspicion is, is that home postgraduates demand may increase as a result of of of bad economic circumstances. Certainly that was, I think, modestly true, the last financial crisis. And one one shouldn’t probably be too cheerful about that because, of course, you know, people think this graduate city hope that it’s because of the kind of, you know, positive calculation of boats about the benefit to them, the value for them. But you know that that could be a feature of the years to come.
[00:22:06] Yeah. And I think also, you know, assuming EU students have to pay international fees after Brexit transition period, and it is predicted that numbers may declined by 60 percent. So that’s over 11000 fewer EU students studying at our universities. And you know that in some ways, you know, if you’re just looking cleanly at the economics, some universities may say, well, Kaede, that’s fine on the basis that we still have a healthy number of fee paying international students from other parts of the world. But there is just no certainty that that it will now be the case. And, you know, predictions based Sami Marginson and others are seeing that, you know, the impact of Corven 19 will be felt by the higher education sector for a five year period. And so we need to be really realistic about for international groups is going to look like and actually know how realistic the government’s international strategy is. I think not very unless the government actually really works closely with the sector to ensure we have the right policies in place to support international growth. And, you know, we we need to be able to move on to study work, being a reintroduced. You know, I think we’re getting lots of positive noises that this will happen over the summer, but it actually hasn’t yet. And we need to get those messages out to the marketplace. But we also need to look at prioritizing international immigration, plus Colvard 19 in the way that the Australian sector now has. And that will require government support to make happen.
[00:23:24] And I think even for domestic student recruitment, whilst I would agree in any normal recession, as it were, you would expect to see an increase in demand for education if given the option of that or unemployment. But I think this is not a normal recession. And some of the same calculations for postgraduate study will surely apply for all the things have been discussing as regards undergraduate study. So do people feel they’ll get the quality of education that they would want in a scenario where they’re not sure if they’ll be able to attend the campus? And they’re not certain about whether online education is the right thing for them. So that I think will will need to be a consideration or it certainly might dampen some of that demand.
[00:24:03] Otherwise it would arrive or locked down.
[00:24:08] We’re running wonkier a series of online events exploring different aspects of higher education policy and the common landscape, representing new thinking about how we get out of the crisis and what happens next. Go to Warnke dot com such events to find out more and put your place. Our policy exchange has published a new report from David Goodhart on how the crisis presents opportunity for government to reshape the education landscape. David, what’s your take?
[00:24:35] Well, I think the white community tends to look quite closely. Anything that policy exchange says at the moment, because, of course, one of Gov. Williamson’s special advisers here, Mansfield, was the head of education, the part of him taking up that role. And this isn’t what his reports typically. This is from difficult. The author of The Road to Somewhere. So I was, you know, quite notable a few years back when assessing what was happening around Brexit and sort of who the country’s political divides have changed. And his feeling from those people is somewhere, two people of anywhere. And he’s actually quite a blue labour figures. He’s also been influential in that to beat within the opposition party. And so he’s written this report about saying there’s an opportunity here to use the crisis to address some of the problems he perceives in the UK’s training and education, that sort of tertiary level. And I think if you wanted to be slightly jaundiced, debated. Well, when I was reading the report earlier this week, my my first thought was that, you know, the opening sort of introduction and first few paragraphs is really just a telegraph article, I thought. And although it turned out it was a spectator article that’s been published this morning. And, you know, if you want to plea Ichi article Bingel, then you can circle the references to Japanese vocational education system. You can tick off referring to further education as the Cinderella sector. There’s a disparaging mention of the 50 per cent target, etc.. So to some extent, you know, although it’s a think tank report, it doesn’t come across as delivering any particularly new analysis.
[00:26:11] But then you get to the ideas and he’s got ideas for what should happen to training in the UK. And he believes that, too, can be done relatively simply in one medium term. So the first is an opportunity grant. He says that all adults should be given 50000 pounds in grant forum with top up loans for a more expensive study. And it’s basically going to be available to all individuals and enable them to take up courses broadly in further education. Although he sort of hints that some sort of higher education might be possible around this. And it’s a sort of a variation on the proposals in the report for a local learning loan. Similarly, the Lib Dem Little Loan Commission’s recommendations for a new form of individual learning account, although more of this in grant form than either of those two reports suggested. And indeed, yes, we’ve been suggesting something very similar for study leavers coming into the coronavirus world in the next few months. But I think it was it’s a good idea on the whole, and you need to guard against abuses. He mentions that was a feature of the system of individual learning accounts that was introduced in the early 2000s. I think there are some barriers in creating the capacity speech FFM which take this up. And there’s no mention, as is often the case with these sorts of proposals, of how students are meant to have to put their living on course costs during study. The second proposal he comes up with is a new model of apprenticeship education.
[00:27:45] He wants to completely replace the current ship model. This is all in England, by the way, with what he calls a radically simplified model where the government funds 50 percent of apprentices and employers from the other 50 per cent, but directed solely at school leavers up to the age of 24. I think it’s quite ambitious to say that that’s a simple solution, that you just replace the entire pension system overnight. And regardless of the merit of the ideas anyway, the employers at the moment and you know, what we are going through and us is some sense that the employers just aren’t offering apprentices at the moment. You start to have slumped and employers, because of all the challenges facing, aren’t wanting to start new apprentice programs. So I think, again, regardless of whether or not we have the right system at the moment, the problems it’s facing aren’t necessarily going to be solved by that approach. And finally, in France was of interest to the higher education sector. He proposes a slightly more medium term initiative of treating. You played universities, which are essentially the return of polytechnics, seeing that as a condition for any postcrisis support for higher education. Government should insist that other than the sort of elite academic institutions that, you know, the number of institutions should shift their missions to be more like the old can of Woolwich speech, stale polytechnic of a range of applied learning courses aimed at more mature students. People who do not wish to study offer more sort of short courses or condense courses or part time courses, such courses, etc, etc..
[00:29:17] He basically says we should move towards the US community college model. And again, it’s an interesting proposal, Linda. You know, there are obviously there’s a need to make sure that we are offering the right sort of a set of programs for a very diverse society and diverse student group and that the three year full time undergraduate move away from home model is not the only one offered, but it’s sort of again, it’s it’s a huge suggestion to move to everyone, to this this model. And he sort of seems very ambivalent. On the one level. He sort of says that there’s not enough academic rigour in institutions outside of the academic elite. But then wants to move every single vocational subject into these apparently not very rigorous universities. So there’s some sort of, you know, ambivalence around this approach. And, of course, you know, the real fundamental issue is the risk that we just recreate the binary value. There was a reason that that was removed and that there was, you know, a disparity in funding between the traditional academic universities and polytechnics. There was differences in prestige. And again, in a context where this government has been very clear about student choice, driving, how higher education works. The idea is sort of basically saying students aren’t making the right choices and we need to make those choices for them or as he puts it, sort of slightly restrict the choices at each level to get the right outcomes.
[00:30:42] So there’s lots in here and lots that’s probably gonna make this such a quite nervous. One of the things that jumps out to me was his suggestion of of selective and conditional bail outs. To respond to Korvettes to to create these applied universities and under the binary divide, as he as he talks about.
[00:31:04] And, Debbie, the, you know, policy change reports already in government and they are influential. I mean, do you think this this this will carry any weight?
[00:31:12] Well, I think like everything, these these ideas influence government, but they are also influenced by what is perceived to be the mood in government. So it’s, you know, the truck, the traffic, the traffic is two way. And certainly some of these ideas speak to themes that we’re all very familiar with from the orga review. You need to be at level four and five. You need to have more kind of seamless sequencing between further and higher education and, you know, and the perceived need to kind of tackle these perennial problem level degrees, though the specific courses are so rarely actually identified and called out.
[00:31:44] I think it was a bit of a guitar.
[00:31:47] And I think I think this does probably reflect some some thinking in government, despite the best efforts of universities, is that he’s just really, really comfortable with the existing hierarchy of of subjects and universities. And he sort of sees the you know, and he’s and he sees that as sort of fixed and correct. And and he’s you know, he’s great. And he’s quite comfortable with the distinction between academic and vocational, except when it comes to medicine, engineering law, which which he gets district to be to be higher avocational. I think from the government’s perspective, if the question is how do we achieve our objectives with the sort of minute with a minimum level of of effort, disruption and resource, which is always, you know, should always be the question when you’re at work making policy choices, you know, because, you know, there’s no point in disrupting unnecessarily.
[00:32:34] And I think a lot of these girls could probably be achieved using policy levers that that does already exist off funding, funding, policy levers, perhaps, you know, select student number controls without having to create a thing called an applied university. I mean, that’s just a sort of Brunton question, isn’t it?
[00:32:51] And so I don’t imagine that the universities see a universal relegation of of particular kinds of university, which, you know, which which do deliver very high quality education, as we know across the academic and vocational. If you if you accept that divide. The exception, of course, is when if in circumstances if a university did get in financial trouble. And of course, the government has no control over whether that those universities are specialist universities, you know, big civic universities, research intensive universities. So in some cases, it may then be possible to say, right, well, we need you to do more with the local Effy college or whatever it is as a condition of bail out. But unless you’re planning a sort of wholesale reform of the sector and being interventionist, then you’ve got little control over exactly how and high and where that happens.
[00:33:37] And Rachel, how how how do these ideas play out in Scotland? Whether the landscape looks looks rather different when it comes to these seems.
[00:33:47] Indeed. And I’ve got to be honest, I did Lettow a little say when I read the paper. I absolutely agree with the maxim. Never waste a good cases. And I think Cam, I think absolutely there is an expectation that there may be some sexual reform as a result of the pandemic. However, I am not sure this is it. And certainly in Scotland we have already had widespread reform of the Effy college sector, in particular with the merger of numbers of colleges across Scotland to create super colleges that would have any clearer articulation pathways with an ichi’s. I do think that the notion of a. Courses just seems a little dated to me, and it does give this impression that universities are not focused on real world problems and providing skills for society. And I think I think that’s untrue and a little bit unfair. And I also think I was reading through the paper, it kind of gave rise to more questions and it provided answers for, you know, when we talk about the Industrial Revolution 4.0. We we need to be treating people for jobs that don’t yet exist. So how would any H-E provider be able to manage that? And I also wasn’t really clear. I mean, the report acknowledges that some sectors could shrink and others would gallop ahead. Great. But is the training that would be provided to support the galloping sectors or to rebuild the feeling ones? And I wasn’t really quite sure.
[00:35:09] It seemed to me that the paper itself was full of of some contradiction. And, you know, it reference low value degrees, but it didn’t really cold was in a clear way. So I’m also not quite sure what low valued degrees are. So, yeah, I mean, I think I think there are definitely some challenges with the proposals that are being put forward. Of course, the training or retraining grants of 3000 pounds would also be used up very quickly. I think I’m not sure where that would come from or what it would be expected to cover and how employment relevant it would be and how that could be potentially determined. One of the interesting things actually in Scotland of Leet is that the Scottish Funding Council have just invested in micro credentials across the sector. So the University of Glasgow is one of many universities that want to bid for investment from the FFC to host 10 week online micro credential programs that would give 10 credits will be credits that could be built towards degrees study. And these are all focused on upskilling. So once that we have around your leading change leadership in health management care. Absolutely. Programs that are linked in two particular sectors and career pathways. And actually that might be something that we see much more of in the sector over the years to come.
[00:36:23] J.c. Kiewa, a partner at NY. I’ve recently contributed to a pop up think tank called Our Other National Debt, which brings together policy proposals for sectors which have contributed the most to the national effort over recent months. My essay is called We Haven’t Had Enough of Experts and it I argue the expertise is had a really rough ride over the last few years, but Coalbed has shone a light on the amazing science going on. It’s really showing the public the value to society and those people who toil away in labs analyzing data to push human knowledge and understanding just that little bit further. And I believe we can use this moment to make the case for expertise more broadly in society and what I call the expertise infrastructure on the Pinda. So universities, research institutes.
[00:37:12] Next up, the Corona virus bill in Scotland has some measures around student accommodation that are being looked at very closely, I think, across the UK. Rachel, can you talk us through what it does?
[00:37:23] Yes. So am Scottish accommodation bill. Basically, notice periods, first joint accommodation in Scotland are to be introduced as parts of emergency coronavirus legislation to be lodged the Scottish Parliament this week. In essence, what that means is that students currently tied to a contract in halls of residence or other purpose-built student accommodation would be able to give seven days notice before ending their lease subject. Parliament’s approval of the legislation new agreements entered into by students whilst the laws enforced, will also have a 28 day notice period to leave as well. So students won’t be held liable for accommodation they cannot use as a result of the pandemic and lockdown.
[00:37:59] What can we learn from this approach for the rest of the UK?
[00:38:01] As you can imagine, I think students in other parts of the UK are looking very closely at the provisions in Scotland and wanting to replicate them elsewhere in Scotland. It’s sort of closing a a gap in the legislation, if you like, in the students in the private rented sector, shoot hostess plants already. Can you give that notice and be released on the contracts with 20 days notice, which that’s true of all of that type of accommodation, Scotland, not just students, whereas that’s not true at all in England, Wales or Northern Ireland. And so it will be a bigger shift in the way, a bigger concession in principle for that to be introduced in other parts of the UK. But I think it’s very much something that students are looking very closely at, partly because we’ve got a system and in a way that the studio condition market works where much of the marketing and the encouragement to sign up for studen accommodation is done months and months in advance. In some cases November and December of the year before or so, students have signed up to accommodation contracts for an academic year, nine months or so in advance. And so for many of those students, no plans are going to change quite radically. They don’t know if they’re going to go back to in-person study or study at all. Perhaps there was some suggestion that 30 per cent had already signed up to a contract for next year in. Statistics that came out yesterday. And so for many students looking ahead, not just those that are in accommodation, knowing you might want to leave where that’s not already possible, it’s actually looking at what’s going to happen next year and the contracts that people have signed up so far in advance.
[00:39:37] Yet I have discovered that things have changed. And indeed, for us, we are really concerned that this model of doing things, even with a coronaviruses, is disadvantaging students and as tenants and putting too much power in the hands of landlords and letting agencies. We think this needs a complete change, not just for this year and for this crisis, but for for for the benefit students in the longer term.
[00:40:00] The one gray area can actually be interesting to see how this is implemented and if if it if it isn’t deep pastors and for those students entering to new accommodation contracts during the lifetime of the bill, and they will be able to give 20 days notice and if they are able to provide college related reasons for that. But actually how we determine whether someone is leaving the accommodation as a result of corvids and illicit reasons or actually just because they’ve changed their mind. And that will make it quite difficult, I think, for halls of residence to model a impact, actually, because we we just don’t yet know what that legislation will look like in school.
[00:40:38] So that’s about it for this week. Remember to delve deeper into anything we discussed today. You’ll find links in the show notes. Don’t forget, you can subscribe to the podcast automatically. Just search for the show by Apple podcast Spotify or wherever you get your podcasts. We’ll find the feed you need on monkey dot com podcast. And if you fancy appearing, it gets an orchid show. Drop us an e-mail or team at Lockie dot com. We’ll be in touch. So thanks to David, Rachel, Debbie and everyone at team for making it happen. Kind of scenes. And until next week, stay Wonkhe.