Policy watch

January 17, 2008

HEFCE FUNDING CONSULTATION: Review to focus on accountability

A consultation has been launched on changes to funding arrangements between the Higher Education Funding Council for England and institutions. It will focus on the financial memorandum, which sets out the conditions attached to Hefce funding that institutions must comply with, and the Accountability and Audit Code of Practice, which sets out Hefce's audit and accountability requirements.

Both documents are under review, and Hefce said the proposals would bring them up to date and ensure that they are better aligned to a sector in which institutions are "autonomous and demonstrably sustainable".

According to the consultation document, Hefce is proposing a new, less prescriptive, "principle-based" approach to the financial memorandum as part of the review.

The council said: "We continue to encourage effective accountability on the part of institutions, and these revised documents will serve to better achieve this no matter how the mix of public-private funding evolves in coming years."

- See: www.hefce.ac.uk/pubs/hefce/2008/08_01/

RESEARCH COUNCILS UK: Diamond remains chair

Ian Diamond, chief executive of the Economic and Social Research Council, is to continue as chairman of Research Councils UK, the partnership of the UK's seven Research Councils, for a further year. Professor Diamond, who has had the role since September 2004, said that the new year would bring some "stimulating challenges" for the councils.

QUALITY ASSURANCE AGENCY: Healthcare benchmarks revision

The Quality Assurance Agency is consulting on revisions to a series of "subject benchmark statements" for nursing, midwifery and specialist community public health nursing in Scotland.

There are benchmark statements for all courses in the UK, which are designed to allow "the UK's academic community to describe the nature of study, and the academic standards expected of graduates", according to the QAA. "They provide a picture of what graduates might reasonably be expected to know, do and understand at the end of their programme of study."

The statements have been reviewed and revised to "reflect current service delivery developments, including policy changes and their implications for programmes of professional preparation", and new statutory regulations. Responses are due in by 3 March.

- See http://www.qaa.ac.uk/academicinfrastructure/benchmark/scottish/default.asp

MARINE SCIENCE RESEARCH: Government rejects agency plan

The Government has rejected a suggestion by the former Science and Technology Select Committee to set up a new marine agency to bring public-sector funders of marine research together with universities and end users.

Responding to the committee's report on the state of marine science, the Government said that a "one size fits all" approach as suggested by the creation of the agency was "not seen as appropriate"; it would also require additional funding "at a time when budgets are under pressure".

Instead, it says it will establish a new "marine science co-ordination committee" to improve cross-departmental mechanisms for marine science management and take forward many of the committee's recommendations.

FAST-TRACK TEACHER TRAINING: Kingston to take lead in scheme

A successful consortium that offers fast-track training for teachers in local schools is being reorganised.

Kingston University will now be the lead partner in the West London Partnership, which links Kingston and Roehampton universities with St Mary's University College, Twickenham, in a scheme that trains up to 400 new teachers a year.

The Graduate Teacher Programme works with 11 local education authorities, from Hillingdon to Surrey, providing them with qualified teachers in record time.

Training can be as short as three months, with each student receiving individual tuition based on their previous knowledge and experience.

The project was set up in 2001 to relieve teacher shortages and has since been rolled out nationally.

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