01 June 2012
During a month in which economic pressures have been constantly in the headlines, it is heartening to see that higher education continues to rise to the challenge of stimulating economic recovery and growth.
A HEFCE-sponsored report, launched at the Big Innovation Centre (an initiative of the Work Foundation and Lancaster University), highlights the sector’s significant contribution to the economy, and looks at the ways in which universities are using HEFCE’s higher education innovation funding (HEIF) to deliver dynamic, high-value innovation infrastructure and knowledge exchange activity.
In May, HEFCE invited expressions of interest from UK universities for the £100 million UK Research Partnership Investment Fund (UKRPIF): another welcome development in challenging economic times. The UKRPIF will support long-term capital projects that attract significant private funding. Applications will be judged on value for money and how much they build on existing strong research capability.
During visits to the Universities of Durham and Worcester, New College, Durham, and the Worcester College of Technology, and a stimulating meeting with the UK Deans of Science, I saw further evidence that learning and teaching, research and knowledge exchange continue to thrive. At Worcester, I saw the stunning new £60 million library, which is shared between the university and the city and county councils: an excellent example of partnership working which benefits both students and the wider community.
On 17 May the Interim Regulatory Partnership Group (IRPG) brought together representatives from the national agencies, the NUS, sector bodies and universities and colleges to discuss the findings of the project it had commissioned on mapping the higher education system. Delegates reaffirmed the principles on which any changes to the system should be based – a commitment to quality, talent and diversity in higher education, respect for institutional autonomy, and the protection and promotion of the student and wider public interest. Notwithstanding the absence of legislation in this Parliamentary session, confirmed in the Queen’s Speech at the beginning of the month, there was a real appetite for continuing to work together to promote a coherent, pragmatic approach to improving the effectiveness of the system and reducing the burden of regulation.
Page last updated 6 June 2012