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Madeleine Atkins, Chief Executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, said in response to Jo Johnson’s speech:

‘The interests of students are at the heart of the Minister’s priorities for higher education. Value for money, teaching excellence and successful outcomes for students from all backgrounds are all vital elements of a high-quality student experience, and HEFCE looks forward to working with Government, students and the sector on these key areas.  

‘Excellent learning and teaching are crucial to the delivery of a high-quality student experience, and to the outstanding international reputation of our universities and colleges. HEFCE is committed to working with the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, the sector, the Quality Assurance Agency and the Higher Education Academy to develop the green paper on a teaching excellence framework in parallel with our consultation on new approaches to quality assessment, which we hope will provide the space and stimulus for a wide-ranging discussion. Risk-based, proportionate quality assessment will provide the bedrock of a future framework, ensuring that excellence and innovation in teaching and a focus on successful student outcomes are encouraged and incentivised.  

‘The Minister emphasised the need to place the security and broad comparability of academic output standards at the centre of future approaches to quality assessment. Our proposals for quality assessment in this area are already stimulating the ideas and discussion that are needed.

‘We welcome the Minister’s focus on the importance of informed student choice, and his endorsement of HEFCE’s work, with the other funding bodies, to pilot new questions on student engagement in the National Student Survey. HEFCE is also exploring with the sector approaches to learning gain in order to help students and the sector understand better the impact of higher education, and the value of investing in it.

‘The emphasis on making further progress on the successful participation of students from all backgrounds recognises the centrality of excellent teaching to student success and progression, and reflects the way HEFCE has increasingly focused our Student Opportunity funding. This will be a key theme as we review our approach to investment in the future.’