Policy Briefing – November 2017

November 21, 2017

Now we’re settling into the new academic year, implementation follows last years’ frenetic policy pace. REF 2021, Graduate Outcomes survey, LEO, and and OfS and UKRI are taking shape whilst TEF is already on the ground. BEIS is currently analysing responses to its consultation on the Industrial Strategy (to which CHEAD responded on behalf of the creative HE sector), and the Bazalgette report has been published which will be used to inform work towards a creative sector deal for the Industrial Strategy over the coming months.

CHEAD REF Nominations

Organisations and associations with an interest in research have been invited to nominate candidates for panel membership. In the interests of transparency and inclusivity, a template has been developed by CHEAD for those seeking our nomination for panel membership to complete, the template can be found here. The deadline of 21 November has passed but we will leave the form open until Friday 24 Nov to accommodate policy update readers!

Fothcoming CHEAD Events

CHEAD Pavilion at the CII Design Summit, Hyderabad, India (December 5-6)
The summit is a platform to create an enduring partnership between design organizations and this year’s Summit theme is The New Narrative. The UK and Indian design higher education sectors have a long history of cooperation and partnership. In the context of the CII’s 2015 India Design Report, the British Council’s report on the Future of Design Education in India and CHEAD’s own Brexit Manifesto, we are keen to maintain and build on our valued relationships with India’s design education sector.
Find out more and book here

CHEAD’s Autumn Membership Networking Meeting (November 23 @ 10:30 am – 4:30 pm, Kings Cross, London) will provide a forum for senior managers and employment services within creative HE get to grips with the practical changes in DLHE, LEO, and TEF but also with the ideas and interventions currently shaping the creative graduate employment landscape. With speakers including Rachel Hewitt, HEFCE; Kate Wicklow, GuildHE; Sally Benton, Design Council; Richard Sant, UAL; Linda Marchant, NTU; Wendy Mason, AA2A; and Theresa Easton, Artists’ Union England. Book your place here — free to CHEAD members.

Policy Update

Industrial Strategy

The final report of the Industrial Strategy Commission was published 1 November. There’s almost no mention of the creative sector specifically but this does need to be seen in the context of its overall findings. The report is critical of a ‘sector based’ approach and places strong emphasis on regional balancing as well as more investment in R&D and supporting innovation across the economy. “Sector-focused policy can only be successful if its understanding of sectors is accurate. Our current sector classification is too rigid and defined by a backwards-looking classification that fails to reflect today’s economy (and its future trajectory). . . Any sector-based interventions should be “designed to facilitate the strong potential for new entrants as well as well as incumbents to capitalise on future opportunities and based on sound analysis of future markets.”

There is also a very welcome critique of purely metric approaches to valuing public investment and emphasis on “whole supply chains” which may facilitate arguments for a ‘creative ecology’ approach to measuring the value of creative industries:

“The assessment of potential public sector investments is based on standard cost-benefit analysis methodologies which tend to undervalue potential non-linear benefits from investments that will accrue over time . . . An over-reliance on Value for Money criteria methodologies steers investment decisions towards short-term ‘efficiency gains’ or cost cutting.”

There is also a call for closer relationships between regional policymakers and industry, more accurate regional data, and the development of additional regional economic centres to relieve the congestion of resources in London. The government should stop spreading resources too thinly, accept the agglomeration economy and focus on the development of a few high-value regional clusters.

Overall, however, the report focuses almost exclusively on high-tech and ICT with almost no mention of the creative sector.

Bazalgette Report

There has been a flurry of activity around creative industries since the Creative Industries Federation’s (CIF) position paper back in 2016 putting the case for the importance of the creative industries to the UK economy and subsequent recognition of the creative industries as a key sector for the Industrial Strategy.  The Bazalgette Independent Review of the Creative Industries was published on 22 September and growing talent pipelines was a key area included in the brief. It might be felt, however, that greater input from the creative HE sector would have produced a more nuanced set of recommendations in this area.

The report recognises rising competition in the global creative industries and the need for urgent action to ensure a continued leading position for the UK. There is a very welcome acknowledgement of the prevalence of small and micro-enterprise in the sector and the report calls for a change in policy approach to accommodate the fragmentary nature of the creative industries rather than attempting to change in the structure of the creative industries sector – as previously tended to be envisaged by BEIS.

Sir Peter Bazalgette worked closely with CIF and the Creative Industries Council (CIC) and one of its headline recommendations is a very welcome focus on regional growth – support for regional growth is prioritised through an approach based on the City Deal model, supported by a £500 million Creative Clusters Fund. This will be awarded to clusters that compete for status and support on merit to be a ‘Key Creative Cluster’ … [through] a bottom-up process which allows localities, which often have a firmer grasp of their growth potential and needs than central government, to direct policy development. However, issues with the City Deal model identified by The Conversation in 2016 might remain relevant here, and CHEAD’s own Industrial Strategy consultation exercise also encountered ongoing issues with regional networks such as LEPs and Growth Deals. A proposed ‘ladder of growth’ could allow creative businesses of different sizes to receive adequate investment funded by the British Business Bank and private investment. There might, however, have been greater consultation with the Creative HE sector and it is important that the role of the creative HEIs should be more fully understood in the context of regional clustering and growth.

The UK HE sector as a whole is losing competitiveness in the global rankings for research-driven institutions which the Higher Education Policy Unit, in a recent Guardian article, attributes to austerity as any ‘Brexit effect’ has yet to be reflected. The Bazalgette report also calls for greater recognition of the role of creative industries in R&D and recognises that investment in this area is too low.  Industry should work with a small number of universities and existing creative clusters on a flexible, modular ‘Creative Leaders’ scheme to cultivate a network of highly skilled cluster leaders around the UK. Much of the resource to support R&D, however, seems to be expected from improving uptake of tax credits in the creative industries whilst Innovate UK should also increase the proportion of its investment in creative industries. This would seem too little and too late and it would also seem crucial that UKRI should play a larger part in ensuring the growth of the contribution of art and design to he UK’s overall research and innovation programmes. Bazalgette calls specifically for greater investment in emerging technologies such as virtual, augmented and mixed reality – which cross art, design, and computer science and, again, more emphasis on interdisciplinary research, the importance of which is recognised in the initial decisions on REF 2021, would be extremely welcome.

Overall, Bazalgette also seems a little disappointing in its analysis of the future of the creative skills pipeline. The report calls for an ‘attraction strategy’ to ‘inform and excite’ young people, teachers, and parents about creative careers. Again, it seems this is to be left to industry to develop a ‘communications campaign’ backed up by online advice and curriculum materials. This call matches well, however, with CHEAD’s pilot work in this area with the Ideas Foundation and Canon which we hope to continue to develop later this year. Bazalgette strongly suggests that HE should work with the Saturday Club Trust from 50 to 250 in five years.

In addition, the report calls for academia to collaborate with Government and industry to establish a Global Creative Industries Observatory as a strategic authority based in the UK.

The appointment of Sir Peter Bazalgette to the non-executive Board at UKRI was announced on 28 September.

In August, the DCMS published a report on The role of culture, sport and heritage in place shaping.

CIF Creative Freelancers Report and
Taylor Report: Employment Practices in the Modern Economy

The Creative Freelancers Report identifies key differences between the creative freelance economy and the ‘gig’ economy with its somewhat notorious ‘zero hours’ contracts. It’s findings are consistent with those of CHEAD’s earlier report Creative Graduates: Creative Futures. Creative graduates prioritise continued creativity and tend to maintain their social relationships from university throughout their careers as a particularly rich form of social capital. Emerging statistical and data practices designed to measure graduate outcomes may fail to capture the specificities of creative graduate employment — although HESA’s new Graduate Outcomes survey contains new questions designed to capture such information. Besides the emphasis on creativity and creative control which typifies creative graduates, creative skills tend to be highly specialised so it makes economic sense for these to be marketed as services rather than developed as full-time posts within creative enterprises. The report also notes that single parents may choose the flexibility of freelance work as more compatible with childcare responsibilities.

The CIF report makes a number of key recommendations including a Ministerial brief in BEIS for freelancers, freelancer visas, a creative careers PR campaign, and assurance that creative HE will not be penalised by new data-gathering methodologies. The report also calls for the protection of creative spaces from residential development, a ‘business booster network’ for creatives, accreditation of creative skills MOOCs.

The Taylor Report focuses, instead, on workers in the ‘gig economy’ – Uber drivers, ‘click work’ etc. Both reports recognise the important differences between these two sectors of the economy. Crucially, Taylor recognises that pay is not the only measure of a job’s value. “… [F]air and decent work is about more than pay. The most recent British Social Attitudes survey shows that less than half of us feel our job is just a way of making money.” The report develops a schema of what constitutes ‘good work’ and it seems clear that creative freelance work ‘ticks the boxes’ as meaningful work, regardless of pay levels. Taylor has also called the Government to take account of the role of creative HE as well as creative industries and the freelance economy in regional economies.

Research & Innovation

HEFCE has published initial decisions on REF 2021:

UoAs have been reduced from 36 to 34 with D32 “Art and Design: History, Practice and Theory” and film and screen studies in D33. Impact weighting has been increased by 5% whilst outputs weighting is reduced by 5% but the inclusion of impact strategy increases the significance of impact weighting to 25%. HESA cost centres won’t be used to allocate staff to UoAs which will be welcome. Equally welcome will be an interdisciplinary identifier for outputs in the REF submission and sub-panels will include appointee(s) involved in assessment of interdisciplinary research. Less welcome may be quantitative metrics used at the discretion of sub-panels.

AHRC Creative Industries Clusters Programme

The AHRC announced the call for the Creative Industries Clusters Programme in October. The Programme will support eight Research and Development (R&D) Partnerships between industry and a group of universities to respond to challenges identified by the creative industries in their cluster. CHEAD will be organising a sandpit shortly. In parallel, a national Creative Industries Policy and Evidence Centre will be established to produce independent evidence and analysis for the industry and for policy-makers and CHEAD has been participating in the AHRC consultation for the Creative Industries Policy & Evidence Centre but this is likely to be located in sociological or policy department rather than in a creative HEI.

Knowledge Exchange Framework

Jo Johnson’s announcement of the KEF framework at the HEFCE Conference in October was barely telegraphed in advance and has taken the HE sector somewhat by storm. KEF is primarily intended to increase licensing income per research funding pound but will also measure ‘community’ engagement. Research England will have responsiblity with £40m additional HEIF funding. There is not much information at this stage, the KEF portal on the HEFCE site just refers to impact resources. Research England will be carrying out a consultation. It’s expected that KEF will be required to secure HEIF funding. Whilst KEF will run alongside REF and TEF, Johnson said there will be no crossover with impact evaluation in REF.

Creative HE

Justine Greening confirmed Chris Millward as the first Director for Fair Access and Participation at the Office for Students on 8 Sept.

Michael Barber, Chair of the OfS, took the top spot in The Guardian’s list of the 50 most influential people in HE citing his introduction of data-driven ‘deliverology’ into education under Blair and his espousal of low-cost private providers over state education systems in developing countries. He has set out some of his key drivers for the OfS in a speech at UUK in June. Barber’s previous record suggests a degree of ‘hands on’ in his new role which would be unusual for a Chair. It might be felt that the model driving the HE Bill’s reforms has lost ‘white heat’ a little as MOOC fever abated and ‘innovative’ skills programmes were all too often revealed as little short of scams. The plan for OfS and the diminished role for HEFCE joined only in the person of Jo Johnson still fail to take seriously the crucial relationship between pedagogy and research in HE. It seems to be imagined that a Minister straddling two departments and a commitment from the OfS Chair to ensure integration will be sufficient, which seems optimistic to say the least. In the rush to ‘disrupt’ the HE model in Silicon Valley style based on a largely discredited IPPR report, a more considered and evidence-based review of our model of university education, research, and innovation needs to be engaged.

Policy Connect has published One Size Won’t Fit All: The Challenges Facing the Office for Students which found that, rather than diversifying HE provision, changing the fee regime and lifting the cap on student numbers had rather tended to intensify competition for standard HE provision. The report makes suggestions on how the OfS might expand the range of provision beyond the standard 3-year, campus-based model:

  • universities need to work more flexibly with small and medium-sized enterprises in their provision of sandwich degrees and degree apprenticeships
  • over-reliance on retention in TEF metrics could lead to discouraging institutions from more flexible approaches or from taking ‘risky’ students
  • innovative delivery models are characteristic of ‘challenger providers’ rather than established universities and recommends that the Office for Students must give greater attention to the provision of the non-standard offer wherever it is found
  • more work is needed by the OfS for a consumer model to work effectively and the OfS should monitor the diversity of provision across the higher education sector and report annually to Parliament on trends and options for changing patterns of provision

What this is likely to amount to on the ground is the rapid expansion of ‘deliverology‘ in Higher Education and increasing pressure on the post-1992 and independent sectors. Many are scratching their heads as to what’s happened to the review of guidelines for DAPs promised in an amendment to the HE Bill in washup.

LEO and Graduate Outcomes

Prof Vicky Gunn of Glasgow School of Art has prepared an analysis of LEO and Graduate Outcomes survey (New DLHE) exclusively for CHEAD members. CHEAD members can download Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) and Graduate Outcomes here.

WonkHE has published a report by a consortium of student unions researching student attitudes to TEF — Teaching Excellence: The Student Perspective.

In another part of the forest, the Commons Select Committee is inquiring into Algorithms in decision-making examined with academics. This might sound dry but it’s part of a global effort to bring data-based decision-support within social and political accountability. Hitherto, it has tended to be assumed that computers are more reliable at crunching data than the human brain and are free from human bias. This view is increasingly discredited and it is to be hoped that increasing scepticism and accountability will facilitate more effective policy engagement with the new metrics coming into HE.

New Education & Skills Measures

The Rt Hon Justine Greening, Education Secretary, announced a set of measures on 1 October designed to help young people access a wide choice of education and training including raising the earning threshold for student loan repayments from £21,000 to £25,000.

From the party Conference, it looks as though fees will be frozen at their current levels rather than being cut. This also draws some of TEF’s teeth as it depended on linking TEF outcomes with fees. As mentioned in our last briefing, in any case as far as students are concerned, maintenance grants appear to be the key issue and the NUS appears fairly unimpressed by frozen fees.

Stats for participation in HE were released 28 Sept showing that fee levels don’t appear to be correlated with participation as participation reaches 49%. WonkHE reported that this will lead to a significant increase in the outstanding student debt and sector bodies are concerned that the Government should not seek funds from universities to fill the gap.

Much as it struggles with the relationship between research, innovation, and pedagogy, there seems to be a wide tendency towards the inappropriate elision of practical skills with critical skills. In recent discussions with industry bodies, it has been striking that, whilst industry clamours for critical and strategic skills the discussion of skills provision seems firmly stuck in a narrow vision of technical skills development. Creative HE really needs to develop a clearer articulation of the nature and value of critical and strategic skills development in tertiary creative education.

The quality of apprenticeships and skills training inquiry

The Education Select Committee is accepting written submissions; the deadline is Friday 5 January 2018. The inquiry examines whether employers, learners and tax payers are getting sufficient value for the time and money invested in training, and whether more needs to be done to detect poor-quality provision.

NESTA has published a report into the future of work

The Future of Skills: Employment in 2030 report highlights the skills that are likely to be in greater demand in the future, which include interpersonal skills, higher-order cognitive skills, and systems skills.


Following revelations concerning the rather spectacular unreliability of student migration statistics relied on by the Government, the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC), has been commissioned to assess the impact of international students in the UK. MAC has indicated its understanding that concrete statistics may be difficult to produce and that there was a willingness to accept case study evidence from reliable sources. The MAC is chaired by Prof Alan Manning of the LSE. The call is now closed and Submissions are currently being analysed. CHEAD worked with CIF and APDIG to answer the call.

HE Funding

Whilst Adonis’ assertions that UK HE funding is close to collapse are treated with general scepticism, there’s no doubt that the HE finance model is in crisis. The Economic Affairs Committee has been taking evidence in an Economics of higher, further and technical education inquiry — the inquiry is now closed and evidence being reviewed. The inquiry will investigate how post-school education is funded and whether it is focused sufficiently on the skills which the British economy requires.


CHEAD will issue a briefing supplement once the details of tomorrow’s budget is known. Pre-budget briefings indicate it’ll be all about austerity again.

Campus Politics

There has been much ‘chatterati’ discussion of whether American-style ‘culture wars’ are coming to the UK. In this context, some aspects of student politics have taken on a wider audience than usual. This debate tends to be framed within a discourse centred on the construct of ‘free speech’. One can’t help reflecting that, whilst it has its origins in British liberalism, free speech is not enshrined in the (lack of static) UK constitution and has been legally limited largely by consent to exclude hate speech as well as older legal forms of proscribed speech (incitements etc), not to mention libel, slander, ‘D’ notices, Prevent, etc.

The Joint Select Committee held an evidence session: Is freedom of speech restricted on university campuses? The importance of this is underscored by Universities Minister Jo Johnson’s recent call for the Office of Students, which will take on regulatory responsibility for the sector on April 1 2018, to champion free speech in universities. Alongside questioning increasingly ludicrous notions of BBC ‘balance’, one also can’t help but ask which ‘free speech’ has suddenly become so precious to the UK government?

CHEAD Policy 2017-18

CHEAD’s agenda for the coming year includes valuing creative HEIs in regional economies, the role of algorithmic decision-making in creative HE, valuing the full range of art and design disciplines, and addressing the overvaluation of purely economic valuations of creative employment. CHEAD will have a very active focus on the implementation of the HE Bill, REF, TEF, KEF, and HE data and frameworks. We will also be tracking the transition to Research England and OfS and responding to forthcoming consultations.

CHEAD will be continuing its partnership with APDIG and working closely with CIF to address the development of the Industrial Strategy and Brexit process.






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