Stuart Croft hosted an all-staff meeting on Wednesday 26 October 2016, with around 350 staff attending.
At the meeting, Stuart gave an overview of major policy issues and the challenges these create for the UK higher education sector and for Warwick. He highlighted the current difficulty the sector faces in identifying where we can seek to shape and influence the government’s agenda, and the importance for Warwick to present a compelling vision of our education and research values.
Stuart discussed a number of areas:
- the progress of the Higher Education and Research Bill through parliament, and ongoing concerns at Warwick regarding the impact of the bill on the autonomy of universities and on genuine innovation in teaching and student experience, and unease about increased marketization of the sector.
- the current government debate regarding international student numbers within UK migration figures, and concern at the continued lack of clarity from government on what the EU referendum outcome would mean for the UK. He noted his personal concern that the government had failed to reassure other EU nationals living here of their continued welcome in the UK.
- the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) mechanism, concerns over the metrics proposed, and the expectation that TEF will govern a university’s ability to recruit non-UK students.
- the Stern review of the Research Excellence Framework (REF). He also considered the government’s plans to link universities and schools, and the opportunities these plans may present for enhancing social mobility.
Looking regionally, he outlined the hope that universities could use expertise in science and innovation to work with local government and industry to influence and support investment to improve regional infrastructure and productivity in support of the government’s industrial strategy, and outlined the opportunities presented through the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) for universities to work collaboratively on skills and innovation to ensure higher education is seen as a core strength of the region.
Stuart took a number of questions at the meeting on the TEF, students’ selection of universities, how Warwick could support our non-UK EU national staff, our priorities for regional engagement, the impact of the REF on staff recruitment processes, and how universities might better communicate their vision of higher education to the new UK government.