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A Framework for Higher Education in Scotland: Higher Education Review Phase 2

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A Framework for Higher Education in Scotland: Higher Education Review Phase 2

8 Conclusions and Implementation

We will work with SHEFC, higher education institutions and others to deliver our national priorities as summarised below:

In teaching and learning

Making best use of capacity: 50% of young Scots now participate in higher education. The Executive does not plan any significant further expansion of government-funded places in higher education institutions. We need instead to work with institutions to make the best use of the existing capacity of the Scottish higher education sector.

Enhancing Quality: As institutions develop and change their teaching provision it will be essential that quality enhancement is embedded in all teaching activity.

Relating supply to demand: The capacity of institutions to anticipate, lead and respond to the range of external drivers for changing demand will be critical to future success.

Flexibility: Institutions will need to offer learners a greater degree of flexibility of provision and modes of delivery. They will have to recognise and respond to the changing needs of different types of learner and SHEFC's own systems need to be able to recognise and support more flexible and innovative provision.

Access and Participation: We need to see real improvement in the proportions of students from the most economically disadvantaged groups benefiting from provision in our HEIs and to improve retention rates across students from all backgrounds.

Articulation and routeways: Increasing the opportunities for articulation - for example through the development of "2+2" opportunities will help us meet our ambitions for access and participation, flexibility and best use of capacity. Potential and current students must have better information, advice and guidance to inform choices; relevant learning and experience should be taken into account by institutions in admitting individuals into degree courses, and institutions have to be flexible on appropriate entry points. The full accreditation of prior learning should be addressed as much as an issue for students entering with traditional qualifications as for non-traditional students.

Graduate skills and employability: It is a strength of the Scottish system that HE provides a generalist broad-based education to nurture critical reflective thinking and a breadth of knowledge and understanding, as well as vocational qualifications to provide specific knowledge and skills. Institutions must have robust systems in place to ensure that courses are, and continue to be, relevant to the needs of learners and to the wider needs of the economy and society. In addition to proficiency in specific skills, the development and recognition of the need for 'soft skills' is also important and should be seen as a core element of the learning experience which institutions should provide.

International markets: The presence of international students enhances the environment for all students - both academically and culturally. Retention of highly skilled graduates from overseas also has the potential to make an important contribution to the future economic and social well-being of Scotland. There is scope for greater collaboration amongst stakeholders and more strategic marketing of Scottish higher education overseas - both in encouraging students to come here and in the provision of distance learning opportunities. Making the best of the distinctiveness and reputation of Scottish education to attract greater numbers of international students is an important goal. We must work together effectively to achieve it. Because Scotland has a relatively compact sector, we believe that collaboration rather than competition will maximise the benefits to the sector, and indeed Scotland, as a whole. Closer collaboration is compatible with maintaining the existing profile of particular courses and institutions in overseas markets while raising the overall profile of Scotland to the benefit of all.

In research and knowledge transfer

Investing wisely: Scotland is a small country with a strong research base. We cannot be world-class at everything, but we do already have world-class strengths which have to be sustained, and valuable research in a range of areas. As our Science Strategy has already set out, our investment needs to be targeted if we are to attract and retain the best researchers, including post-graduate students, especially in the most expensive areas. It needs to be flexible enough to shift emphasis as new opportunities develop, including enabling decisions to be taken by any individual institution about promising new areas. To underpin this, we will still also need to maintain a broad basic research expertise within Scotland - but it will become increasingly important to make sure this is managed in a way which makes the most effective use of available resources. Because the Executive provides less than half of institutions' research funding, one of the key purposes of our funding is to produce a high-quality research base to leverage further investment from other funders.

Connectivity: Most research investment is concentrated in a minority of institutions. But all Scottish higher education institutions rightly have some involvement in research and there are talented researchers across the sector who need to be able to link into the wider research community - to share ideas and facilities. At the same time, some of the most exciting breakthroughs in research in the next decade are expected to be at the boundaries between disciplines, across the sciences, arts and humanities. The funding system needs to encourage exploration at these boundaries.

Knowledge transfer: Our Science Strategy already makes it clear that we want researchers to engage with the potential users of their research as a matter of routine, particularly in the areas which are closest to application, to create the greatest chance of exploitation. Scottish institutions have a relatively strong track record of commercialising research - but the strongest links often appear to be with companies outside Scotland. The Executive's priority must be to strengthen the links between higher education research and businesses and investors in Scotland, to create a high technology, knowledge-based economy. Researchers should be encouraged to communicate the results of research to the wider community and to involve potential users in the design and development of research. We believe there is scope to do more in particular to improve the engagement between researchers in the social sciences and local and national policy makers and service deliverers, so that our capacity in the social sciences is fully exploited to help improve social justice and the quality of life.

In governance and management

Governing bodies: Effective governing bodies are crucial to the development and delivery of relevant, robust and strategic aims in institutions, for protecting their long-term financial health, for monitoring the quality of their management, and for assuring that institutions are contributing to the Executive's overall goals for the sector. Governing bodies are also critical to ensuring that HEIs are properly accountable to a range of funders and other stakeholders.

Leadership and Management: The key to delivering high quality teaching and research that Scotland needs is having well-managed, valued and motivated staff in our institutions, and sound business practices. For institutions to be able to recognise and prepare effectively for future challenges, to develop and successfully plan and implement change while empowering and developing staff, strong and purposeful leadership is essential. High quality management should be pervasive.

Collaboration and maximising the effective use of resources: Institutions need to work well individually and collectively if they are to make best use of the resources - human and physical - available to them. This will sometimes include international collaboration.

In funding

Funding levels: The Executive will continue to monitor carefully the level of its funding of higher education as part of our wider commitment to lifelong learning - as the Enterprise and Lifelong Learning Committee of the Scottish Parliament has recommended.

Funding sources: For its size, Scotland has a large higher education sector. It is a net importer of students from elsewhere in the UK, it attracts growing numbers of students from overseas and competes well for research funding from the UK Research Councils, major charities and others. Drawing on diverse sources of income will continue to be important for institutions.

Funding systems: While the Executive sets the overall settlement, SHEFC determines the funding systems and methodology for distribution. It is important that systems are robust and responsive, able to adapt to cope with innovation and change.

We will measure achievement by continuing to work to existing targets to:

  • Increase the number of graduates as a proportion of the workforce 39
  • Support 150 joint academic and industry ventures by 2006 40
  • Increase support to 16-19 years olds from low income families to stay on at school and/or FE college, thereby raising the participation and retention of this group by at least 5% by 2007-8 41
  • Increase the proportion of students from disadvantaged groups in higher education. 42
  • And by developing new measures and targets on:
  • Improvement in access from the most economically disadvantaged groups
  • Improvement in retention of students from all backgrounds
  • The numbers of students successfully completing a qualification relative to the funded places allocated
  • The recruitment of overseas students

As a key means of taking forward the priorities for higher education in Scotland for the next 10 years, we will expect SHEFC to ensure that its funding systems put in place the incentives and disincentives required to deliver the outcomes that the Executive is seeking from higher education.

We will also expect all institutions to use the priorities set out in this document to inform their own planning and to play an active part in the Strategic Dialogue process initiated by SHEFC.

Conclusions and Implementation

Implementation Plan

The summary below provides the basis of an action plan for implementing the strategy identifying roles and responsibilities.

• early action (by 2004)

•• longer term (by 2006)

•••ongoing

The Scottish Executive will:

Timescale

Take forward the commitments in this report in partnership with the Funding Councils and institutions, including the development of measures and targets to monitor progress, in order to make the most effective use of existing resources. (7.1)

•••

1.

Introduce legislation to merge SHEFC and SFEFC. (4.24) (7.3)

2.

With SHEFC, develop a measure for the number of students successfully completing a qualification relative to funded places allocated, and set a Scotland-wide target for an increase in that figure to which all institutions will be expected to make a contribution. (4.2)

3.

Take receipt of proposals in the summer from the Funding Councils on how we can use the outcome of the FE/HE articulation exercise undertaken by the Scottish Advisory Committee on Credit and Access (SACCA), in collaboration with the Wider Access Regional Forums. This will cover mapping, student tracking and bridging arrangements to maximise the benefits to learners and extend good practice in this area. (4.25)

4.

Encourage HEIs, FE colleges and the SQA to collaborate when qualifications are being developed, so as to maximise the potential for articulation and transition across sectors, and to improve information to students on courses where specific arrangements are available. (4.27)

•••

5.

Review the current arrangements within the Executive for communicating future workforce requirements in key public sector areas, including arrangements for the funding of health-related education and development, and with SHEFC put in place better mechanisms for addressing these requirements. (4.8)

6.

Work with Careers Scotland and Universities Scotland to develop a 'question card' which helps prospective students ask the right questions about the employment prospects of those courses which have an explicit vocational purpose. (4.31)

7.

Work with the representative bodies in the sector and the Funding Council to set new sector-wide targets for improvement in access from the most economically disadvantaged groups and for the retention of students of all backgrounds, and monitor performance against these. (4.15)

8.

Stimulate more disadvantaged young people to remain in education by increasing support to 16-19 years olds from low income families to stay on at school and/or FE college. (4.23)

••

9.

Develop an entitlement programme for those leaving care whose schooling has been interrupted. (4.23)

•••

10.

Pursue our aim of better results for all pupils leaving school but with clear and specific action to improve results for those currently underperforming. (4.23)

•••

11.

Strengthen our relationship with EducationUKScotland by providing annual core funding for its operation for the next 2 years from 2003-04. (4.34)

12.

Invite NUS Scotland, EducationUKScotland, Universities Scotland and the Association of Scottish Colleges to consider the development, and adoption by institutions, of an 'international students' charter' to which all FE and HE institutions should be encouraged to subscribe. This will provide international students with a reference point indicating a minimum standard of help and support, including specialist advice, they can expect in coming to any institution in Scotland. (4.37)

13.

Monitor the collaborative efforts of institutions through their work with EducationUKScotland. Take into account their performance and the progress towards the specific targets being developed by EducationUKScotland in deciding on any future funding for this area of activity. (4.35)

••

14.

Ask EducationUKScotland, working with HEIs and further education colleges, to examine how the availability of "2+2" and similar arrangements can give Scotland an advantage in attracting overseas students. (4.40)

15.

Establish an implementation team within the Executive, with external advice as appropriate, to look at ways to attract more people to live and work in Scotland. Within this, we will consider ways in which more international students can be encouraged to stay in Scotland after they graduate. (4.42)

16.

Enable SHEFC by 2005-06 to increase by at least 100% (from the current baseline of 6 million) resources for investment in knowledge transfer grant (KTG), providing incentives for much more intensive interactions between HE and business. KTG is being reviewed by SHEFC with the aim of incorporating a range of suitable metrics to help drive and share best practice in commercialisation. As part of this review, we will also ask SHEFC to consider how KTG might be used to stimulate human resource practice which better supports Knowledge Transfer activities. (5.15)

••

17.

Examine and promulgate the lessons from existing best practice in HE-business interaction in Scotland. (5.19)

••

18.

Encourage the development of education programmes to help the higher education and business sectors, including venture capitalists, better understand each other's perspectives on commercialisation. (5.22)

19.

Act on any recommendations as appropriate from the current review of the Interaction of Higher Education and Business in the UK (The Lambert Review). (5.27)

••

20.

Support Scottish Enterprise to invest 450 million over 10 years in Intermediary Technology Institutes in life sciences, communications technology and energy, and encourage and incentivise the higher education sector to engage with the ITI initiative by earmarking 10 million for investment in higher education institutions by 2005-06 to assist their involvement with ITIs, as part of the overall additional funding for science and research announced in SR2002. (5.18)

••

21.

In the context of the current UK-wide review of research assessment, work with the other administrations to develop a system which encourages and supports strategic decision-making within institutions and provides wide-ranging data on the state of the Scottish research base, including enabling judgements to be made about its development over time. (5.3)

22.

Recommend that the new research assessment system being developed at UK level does not discourage research which crosses disciplines and institutions. (5.13)

23.

Recommend that the revised research assessment method being developed at UK level does not discourage more outward-looking behaviour by researchers. (5.24)

24.

Introduce the necessary legislation to support the creation of the new Arts and Humanities Research Council as a full UK-wide research council, encouraging closer links between the arts and humanities and other disciplines, all of which are already funded within the Research Council UK structure. (5.12)

25.

Showcase and promote the best of Scottish research to an international audience, working closely with bodies such as the Royal Society of Edinburgh. (5.26)

•••

26.

Explore with Universities Scotland how Scotland can derive even more value from international links and the scope for building connections between alumni networks and Globalscot. (6.14) (4.41)

27.

Commission a third phase of this review to examine in depth the specific long-term issues for the Scottish higher education sector which may arise from developments elsewhere in the UK. We will ensure that that exercise is fully embedded in the overall implementation of the Lifelong Learning Strategy. (7.2)

28.

Use the third phase of this review to look at ways of developing the range and value of non-public sources of funding available to higher education. (7.6)

29.

Play a full part in the Task Force on private donation proposed in the DfES White Paper, and take action on any recommendations. (7.5)

30.

Work with Universities Scotland and SHEFC to deepen the understanding of trends in recruitment and retention of staff in Scotland, including the implications of the age structure of the current higher education workforce. (7.4)

The Scottish Executive will continue to:

31.

Provide data via Futureskills Scotland and other sources to inform learning providers, employers and learners about future supply and demand. (4.10)

•••

32.

Improve the quality and consistency of information for all learners through learndirect scotland, working with Careers Scotland and Futureskills Scotland and others to ensure that learners have a seamless service incorporating the provision of information and guidance. (4.7)

•••

33.

Support investment in ICT in HEIs whether through SHEFC or the Enterprise bodies. (4.14)

•••

34.

Welcome innovative admissions strategies by individual institutions which seek to recognise talent and potential. (4.18)

•••

35.

Monitor progress through the Performance Indicators published annually by the Funding Council, and monitor the mix of entrants through the UCAS process. (4.16)

•••

36.

Work with Whitehall departments and other devolved administrations to progress the Prime Minister's Initiative and achieve the targets set for increasing the numbers on overseas (non-EU) students who come here to study and consider ways in which the diversity of education across the UK can be fully reflected in these and related activities. (4.38)

•••

37.

Welcome students from the EU to Scotland and see the expansion of the EU as offering potential to attract to Scotland talented young people from across Europe. Encourage our own students to take up opportunities to study in other parts of the EU, for example through the ERASMUS programme. (4.39)

•••

38.

Invest in science and research in higher education, to maintain a fully competitive research base and to support the UK-leading work SHEFC already has in hand using research grants both to support existing excellence and develop emerging areas. In doing this, ask SHEFC to give particular attention to the health of the basic science disciplines. (5.1)

•••

39.

Work with SHEFC to identify strategic Scottish development needs and support the strengthening of the research base in these key areas. (5.7)

•••

40.

Participate in the UK-wide Foresight programme. (5.5)

•••

41.

Maintain strong links with the Office of Science and Technology particularly in relation to the work of the Research Councils, and enable SHEFC to increase its contribution to the joint OST-Funding Council SRIF by 50% from 2004-05. (5.6)

•••

42.

Publish regular measures of commercialisation activity by HEIs in Scotland in order to monitor trends in activity and to compare against UK and other country benchmarks. (5.20)

•••

43.

Use our guidance to SHEFC to reinforce the need to embed good human resource management throughout the sector. (6.7)

•••

44.

Consider positively proposals for mergers between institutions wherever these have come from a shared agreement and commitment to the benefit of such a move from the institutions themselves, are endorsed by SHEFC, are welcomed by the wider community and stakeholders and benefit overall provision of HE in Scotland. (6.11)

•••

• early action (by 2004)

•• longer term (by 2006)

•••ongoing

The Scottish Higher Education Funding Council should:

Timescale

Use funding levers effectively, working with the Executive and higher education institutions to make best use of existing resources and progress the implementation of the commitments in this report.

•••

1.

Develop and extend its Strategic Dialogue Process, as a unique forum which brings together the Chairs of governing bodies as well as the Principals of all HEIs. (6.2)

•••

2.

Target any further expansion on those institutions which can demonstrate that, by a variety of strategies, they are seeking to use existing places more effectively. (4.1)

••

3.

Examine whether the current approach of providing teaching funding in a single block with no separate identification of capital is sustainable, in terms of the incentives it provides, or does not provide, for longer term investment in the teaching estate. (7.10)

4.

Examine the scope for providing institutions with more information on future year allocations than at present, to aid planning. (7.11)

5.

Ensure that in making any changes to funding systems the potential impacts on institutional and individual behaviour are properly assessed, to minimise unexpected and unintended consequences. (7.9)

•••

6.

Look at future labour market requirements and types of learner and use this analysis to help institutions to develop their provision so that it meets future demand. (4.6)

•••

7.

Build on the work being done on careers education, information and guidance and its potential to contribute to the employability of learners. (4.30)

••

8.

Examine what more specific work could be done, or incentives put in place, to stimulate the further development of more flexible provision. (4.11)

••

9.

Work with the Enterprise Networks to plan the most effective use of resources to meet demand for learning and training, agreeing joint targeting and funding where appropriate. (4.5)

•••

10.

Monitor closely the implementation of the new Quality assurance arrangements, to ensure that these deliver real benefits to students, reduces low value-added bureaucracy and continues to provide a sufficient level of assurance and accountability. (4.3)

•••

11.

Ensure that the revised quality assurance arrangements encourage all institutions to work closely with employer representatives and professional bodies wherever they are developing and delivering specifically vocational courses. (4.29)

•••

12.

Have the QAA/SHEFC/US/NUS Quality Working Group examine the proposals in the DfES White Paper which relate to quality, to identify if any proposals in it which are not already covered in the new Scottish arrangements should be considered for adoption here. (4.4)

13.

Play its part in helping to achieve the full implementation of the SCQF. (4.28)

•••

14.

Examine access and retention strategies in its consideration of individual HEIs' strategic plans, to discuss with individual institutions any further action that may be required, and to share good practice. (4.21)

•••

15.

Monitor the use of its widening access premium, which is aimed at improving retention, assess its added value and advise the Executive by the Autumn 2003 on its impact. Expect the sharing of good practice on retention to be built into any future initiatives. (4.22)

16.

Support and encourage the sustainable development of e-learning in Scotland in partnership with the sector and other stakeholders including through consideration of the recommendations made by SHEFC's e-learning group in its forthcoming report. (4.13)

•••

17.

Draw on the advice of the new Scottish Science Advisory Committee on science priorities in making future investment decisions and complete a detailed study of the results of the most Research Assessment Exercise by summer 2003, to identify strengths and weaknesses in the research base, sharing the results of this with SSAC. (5.4)

•••

18.

Ensure that teaching in all institutions benefits from advances in research, including through facilitating research-intensive institutions working with non research-intensive HEIs. (5.14)

•••

19.

Use the funding available for research to attract sustainable resources from other funders. (7.8)

•••

20.

Continue to develop the Scottish Research Information System. (5.25)

•••

21.

Use an element of the science and research funding announced in SR2002 to help talented individuals in non-research intensive institutions strengthen their links with other institutions. (5.10)

••

22.

Provide detailed advice to the Executive on the potential for securing in Scotland new inter-disciplinary, inter-institutional research at the boundary between the sciences and the arts and humanities. (5.11)

23.

Ask Scottish Enterprise and SHEFC to examine together the feasibility of establishing a Scottish centre of expertise in commercialisation. This would help Scottish-based businesses and HEIs to interact more effectively, for example through making specialist advice more readily available. The centre, possibly based in a local enterprise company, would target businesses with limited experience of exploiting research and working with HEIs, and also HEIs with limited in-house commercialisation expertise. Scottish Enterprise and SHEFC should provide an initial report to Ministers on how this could be taken forward by the end of September 2003. (5.16)

24.

Work with Scottish Enterprise to further develop their close working relationship so that commercialisation and knowledge transfer activity can be enhanced and incentivised. (5.17)

•••

25.

Work with Scottish Enterprise to promote entrepreneurialism by providing opportunities for students and researchers to obtain necessary management and business skills through initiatives such as the Scottish Institute for Enterprise. (5.23)

•••

26.

Continue to regularly review the guidance and training provided for governors to ensure they are prepared for and effective in their roles and update the "Guide for Members of Governing Bodies in Scottish Higher Education Institutions and Good Practice Benchmarks" and make it clear that all institutions should draw on this in providing support for the members of governing bodies. (6.1)

•••

27.

Provide support to the sector through management development programmes, consider the implications of the Leadership Foundation proposed in the DfES White Paper and what relationship Scotland should have with that body, and consider how Scotland can benefit further from programmes developed UK-wide, such as HESDA's Personal Development Programme for Leaders of Schools and Departments. (6.5)

•••

28.

Explore with HEIs the potential for further opportunities for inter-institutional collaborations where there are strategic, financial or other benefits to be gained. (6.12)

•••

29.

Retain an element of funds for the purpose of supporting valuable proposals for collaboration which are driven by institutions themselves. (6.10)

•••

• early action (by 2004)

•• longer term (by 2006)

•••ongoing

Higher education institutions are expected to:

Timescale

Take account of the priorities set out in this report in determining their institutional direction and ethos and in the development of their strategic plans, and work with the Executive and SHEFC in taking these priorities forward.

•••

1.

Have mechanisms in place for regularly reviewing their provision and realigning their portfolios in response to demand. (4.9)

•••

2.

Draw on the information available from Futureskills Scotland and the Sector Skills Councils in reviewing and developing their provision. (4.32)

•••

3.

Develop their student base, to reach out successfully to individuals who are willing and able to fund themselves, or find employer funding, to extend their experience of higher education. (7.7)

•••

4.

Help to raise aspirations and break down barriers to learning for different types of learners - including lone parents, disabled people, women returners, those from family backgrounds who have not traditionally continued in education, or those living in remote locations - by recognising and responding to their diverse needs - being creative and flexible in the design and delivery of provision. (4.12)

•••

5.

Use the outcome of the SACCA exercise to examine the scope for extending their own involvement in providing progression and articulation opportunities. (4.26)

6.

Actively examine the possibilities for the development of more opportunities for progression to degree-level study from SCQF level 7 and 8 courses provided by further education colleges. (4.20)

•••

7.

Work with EducationUKScotland to support and inform the six areas of activity identified as priorities for its activities: partnerships, representation, market analysis, international promotion, web-based services and collaboration. (4.36)

•••

8.

Ensure that, in reviewing and developing course content, transferable and 'soft' skills will be developed and recorded. (4.33)

•••

9.

Contribute to closing the opportunity gap between those who achieve their full potential and those who do not, recognising that different strategies will work for different institutions, and that there needs to be flexibility to allow institutions to choose how they will make their contribution. Access and equality of opportunity regardless of factors such as gender, ethnicity, disability or background must be the goal. (4.17)

•••

10.

Build links with schools and further education colleges, in particular by playing a full part in the Wider Access Regional Forums, and supporting the work of initiatives such as Greater Opportunities of Access and Learning for Schools (GOALS) and Lothian Equal Access Programme for Schools (LEAPS). (4.19)

•••

11.

Take a strategic approach to the use of resources for research and to focus these on the areas where they are most likely to produce work of value. (5.21)

•••

12.

Encourage their staff to seek out beneficial research collaborations, in Scotland and beyond, with HEIs and other organisations. (5.8)

•••

13.

Actively promote and support the sharing of research facilities. (5.9)

•••

14.

Contribute to strengthening the sharing of existing commercialisation expertise within the sector, including expertise in Intellectual Property. (5.21)

•••

15.

Recognise that good management and leadership across institutions is fundamental and demonstrate their commitment to good practice in the management of human resources. (6.3)

•••

16.

Meet their legal obligations for equal opportunities in the management of people. (6.4)

•••

17.

Recognise that good business systems, including good management information systems, are an essential element of good management. (6.8)

•••

18.

Foster constructive relations with employee representatives, adopting best practice in dealing with trades unions. (6.9)

•••

19.

Reduce as far as possible the use of short-term contracts and actively manage that group of staff, taking account of the implications of the EC Fixed Term Workers Directive and the Fixed Term Employees (Prevention of Less Favourable Treatment) Regulations 2002. (6.6)

•••

20.

Look for opportunities for collaboration which will achieve quality and best value across all aspects of their business. (6.13)

•••

21.

Share best practice on developing and sustaining alumni networks. (4.41)

•••

Conclusion

At the heart of this review has been an open dialogue with the Funding Council, institutions and organisations representing those with an interest in higher education. We want this process to continue as we move forward, guided by a shared commitment to responsiveness, relevance, quality and coherence.