List of Recommendations

Chapters 1–5
None

Chapter 6
1 We recommend to the Government that it should have a long term strategic aim of responding to increased demand for higher education, much of which we expect to be at sub-degree level; and that to this end, the cap on full-time undergraduate places should be lifted over the next two to three years and the cap on full-time sub-degree places should be lifted immediately.

Chapter 7
2 We recommend to the Government and the Funding Bodies that, when allocating funds for the expansion of higher education, they give priority to those institutions which can demonstrate a commitment to widening participation, and have in place a participation strategy, a mechanism for monitoring progress, and provision for review by the governing body of achievement.

3 We recommend that, with immediate effect, the bodies responsible for funding further and higher education in each part of the UK collaborate and fund – possibly jointly – projects designed to address low expectations and achievement and to promote progression to higher education.

4 We recommend that the Funding Bodies consider financing, over the next two to three years, pilot projects which allocate additional funds to institutions which enrol students from particularly disadvantaged localities.

5 We recommend to the Government that:

  • it considers the possibility of restoring to full-time students some entitlement to social security benefits, as part of its forthcoming review of the social security system. This review should include consideration of two particular groups in current difficulty, those who temporarily withdraw from higher education due to illness and those with dependent children aged over 16;
  • the total available to institutions for Access Funds should be doubled with effect from 1998/99 and that the scope of the funds should be extended to facilitate participation by students who would otherwise be unable to enter higher education.

6 We recommend:

  • to the Funding Bodies that they provide funding for institutions to provide learning support for students with disabilities;
  • to the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education (see Recommendation 14) that it includes the learning needs of students with disabilities in its research, programme accreditation and advisory activities;
  • to the Government that it extends the scope of the Disabled Students Allowance so that it is available without a parental means test and to part-time students, postgraduate students and those who have become disabled who wish to obtain a second higher education qualification.

7 We recommend that further work is done over the medium term, by the further and higher education Funding Bodies, the Higher Education Statistics Agency, and relevant government departments to address the creation of a framework for data about lifelong learning, using a unique student record number.

Chapter 8
8 We recommend that, with immediate effect, all institutions of higher education give high priority to developing and implementing learning and teaching strategies which focus on the promotion of students’ learning.

9 We recommend that all institutions should, over the medium term, review the changing role of staff as a result of Communications and Information Technology, and ensure that staff and students receive appropriate training and support to enable them to realise its full potential.

10 We recommend that, over the medium term, the representative bodies, in consultation with other relevant agencies, should seek to establish a post-qualification admissions system.

11 We recommend that:

  • institutions of higher education, over the medium term, integrate their careers services more fully into academic affairs and that the provision of careers education and guidance is reviewed periodically by the Quality Assurance Agency;
  • the Government, in the medium to long term, should integrate careers advice for lifelong learning, to complement services based inside higher education institutions.

12 We recommend to students’ unions and institutions that they review, on a regular basis, the services offered to their students and adapt them as necessary, in particular to meet the needs of part-time students.

13 We recommend that institutions of higher education begin immediately to develop or seek access to programmes for teacher training of their staff, if they do not have them, and that all institutions seek national accreditation of such programmes from the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education.

14 We recommend that the representative bodies, in consultation with the Funding Bodies, should immediately establish a professional Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education. The functions of the Institute would be to accredit programmes of training for higher education teachers; to commission research and development in learning and teaching practices; and to stimulate innovation.

15 We recommend that the Institute should:

  • develop, over the medium term, a system of kitemarking to identify good computer-based learning materials;
  • co-ordinate the national development, over the medium and long term, of computer-based learning materials, and manage initiatives to develop such materials;
  • facilitate discussion between all relevant interest groups on promoting the development of computer-based materials to provide common units or modules, particularly for the early undergraduate years.

Chapter 9
16 We recommend that all institutions of higher education should, over the medium term, review the programmes they offer:

  • with a view to securing a better balance between breadth and depth across programmes than currently exists;
  • so that all undergraduate programmes include sufficient breadth to enable specialists to understand their specialism within its context.

17 We recommend to institutions of higher education that, over the medium term, their admission procedures should develop to value good levels of competence in communication, numeracy and the practical use of information technology.

18 We recommend that all institutions should, over the medium term, identify opportunities to increase the extent to which programmes help students to become familiar with work, and help them to reflect on such experience.

19 We recommend that the Government, with immediate effect, works with representative employer and professional organisations to encourage employers to offer more work experience opportunities for students.

20 We recommend that institutions of higher education, over the medium term, develop a Progress File. The File should consist of two elements:

  • a transcript recording student achievement which should follow a common format devised by institutions collectively through their representative bodies;
  • a means by which students can monitor, build and reflect upon their personal development.

21 We recommend that institutions of higher education begin immediately to develop, for each programme they offer, a ‘programme specification’ which identifies potential stopping-off points and gives the intended outcomes of the programme in terms of:

  • the knowledge and understanding that a student will be expected to have upon completion;
  • key skills: communication, numeracy, the use of information technology and learning how to learn;
  • cognitive skills, such as an understanding of methodologies or ability in critical analysis;
  • subject specific skills, such as laboratory skills.

Chapter 10
22 We recommend that the Government, the representative bodies, the Quality Assurance Agency, other awarding bodies and the organisations which oversee them, should endorse immediately the framework for higher education qualifications that we have proposed.

23 We recommend that:

  • the Quality Assurance Agency should specify criteria for franchising arrangements;
  • these criteria should rule out serial franchising, and include a normal presumption that the franchisee should have only one higher education partner;
  • franchising partners should jointly review and, if necessary, amend existing arrangements to ensure that they meet the criteria, and should both certify to the Agency that arrangements conform with the criteria;
  • there should be periodic checks by the Agency on the operation of franchise arrangements to verify compliance;
  • after 2001, no franchising should take place either in the UK or abroad except where compliance with the criteria has been certified by the Quality Assurance Agency.

24 We recommend that the representative bodies and Funding Bodies amend the remit of the Quality Assurance Agency to include:

  • quality assurance and public information;
  • standards verification;
  • the maintenance of the qualifications framework;
  • a requirement that the arrangements for these are encompassed in a code of practice which every institution should be required formally to adopt, by 2001/02, as a condition of public funding.

25 We recommend to the Quality Assurance Agency that its early work should include:

  • to work with institutions to establish small, expert teams to provide benchmark information on standards, in particular threshold standards, operating within the framework of qualifications, and completing the task by 2000;
  • to work with universities and other degree-awarding institutions to create, within three years, a UK-wide pool of academic staff recognised by the Quality Assurance Agency, from which institutions must select external examiners;
  • to develop a fair and robust system for complaints relating to educational provision;
  • to review the arrangements in place for granting degree-awarding powers.

26 We recommend to the representative bodies and the Funding Bodies that the Board of the Quality Assurance Agency should, as soon as possible, include a student and an international member.

Chapter 11
27 We recommend that the Funding Bodies, through the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC), should continue to manage and fund, on a permanent basis, quality and cost-effective Communications and Information Technology (C&IT) services for researchers and should, in due course, introduce charges for services on a volume-of-usage basis.

28 We recommend to the Funding Bodies that the Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) should be invited to report, within a year, on options to provide sufficient protected international bandwidth to support UK research.

29 We recommend to the Government that a new Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) should be established as soon as possible.

30 We recommend that companies should take a strategic view of their relationship with higher education and apply the same level of planning to it that they give to other aspects of their operations.

31 We recommend to institutions of higher education that they should, over the next two years, review their postgraduate research training to ensure that they include, in addition to understanding of a range of research methods and training in appropriate technical skills, the development of professional skills, such as communication, self-management and planning.

32 We recommend that the Funding Bodies and the Research Councils commission a study to evaluate the funding of interdisciplinary research, including the incentives and disincentives. The report should be ready to inform the next Research Assessment Exercise.

33 We recommend to the Funding Bodies that, in the interests of transparency and applying international standards properly, the practice of including one or more international members in all Research Assessment Exercise (RAE) panels, wherever possible, should be introduced to the next RAE.

34 We recommend:

  • to the Government that, with immediate effect, projects and programmes funded by the Research Councils meet their full indirect costs and the costs of premises and central computing, preferably through the provision of additional resources;
  • to the Funding Bodies that the next Research Assessment Exercise is amended to encourage institutions to make strategic decisions about whether to enter departments for the Exercise or whether to seek a lower level of non-competitive funding to support research and scholarship which underpins teaching;
  • to the Government that an Industrial Partnership Development Fund is established immediately to attract matching funds from industry, and to contribute to regional and economic development;
  • to the Government that it promotes and enables, as soon as possible, the establishment of a revolving loan fund of 400 to 500 million, financed jointly by public and private research sponsors, to support infrastructure in a limited number of top quality research departments which can demonstrate a real need.

35 We recommend to the Government that it should establish, as soon as possible, a high level independent body to advise the Government on the direction of national policies for the public funding of research in higher education, on the distribution and level of such funding, and on the performance of the public bodies responsible for distributing it.

Chapter 12
36 We recommend to the Government that institutions of higher education should be represented on the regional bodies which it establishes, and that the Further Education Funding Council regional committees should include a member from higher education.

37 We recommend to the Government that funding should continue to be available after April 1998, when the present provision from the Higher Education Regional Development Fund is due to cease, to support human capital projects which enable higher education to be responsive to the needs of local industry and commerce.

38 We recommend to higher education institutions and their representative bodies that they examine, with representatives of industry, ways of giving firms, especially small and medium sized enterprises, easy and co-ordinated access to information about higher education services in their area.

39 We recommend:

  • to the Government that it considers establishing a modest fund to provide equity funding to institutions to support members of staff or students in taking forward business ideas developed in the institution, and to support the creation of incubator units;
  • to higher education institutions that they establish more technology incubator units within or close to the institution, within which start-up companies can be fostered for a limited period until they are able to stand alone.

40 We recommend to higher education institutions that they consider the scope for encouraging entrepreneurship through innovative approaches to programme design and through specialist postgraduate programmes.

Chapter 13
41 We recommend that all higher education institutions in the UK should have in place overarching communications and information strategies by 1999/2000.

42 We recommend that all higher education institutions should develop managers who combine a deep understanding of Communications and Information Technology with senior management experience.

43 We recommend to the Government that it should review existing copyright legislation and consider how it might be amended to facilitate greater ease of use of copyright materials in digital form by teachers and researchers.

44 We recommend to the Government and the Funding Bodies that, to harness and maximise the benefits of Communications and Information Technology, they should secure appropriate network connectivity to all sites of higher education delivery and further education colleges by 1999/2000, and to other relevant bodies over the medium term.

45 We recommend that institutions of higher education, collectively or individually as appropriate, should negotiate reduced tariffs from telecommunications providers on behalf of students as soon as possible.

46 We recommend that by 2000/01 higher education institutions should ensure that all students have open access to a Networked Desktop Computer, and expect that by 2005/06 all students will be required to have access to their own portable computer.

Chapter 14
47 We recommend that, over the next year, all institutions should:

  • review and update their staff development policies to ensure they address the changing roles of staff;
  • publish their policies and make them readily available for all staff;
  • consider whether to seek the Investors in People award.

48 We recommend to institutions that, over the medium term, it should become the normal requirement that all new full-time academic staff with teaching responsibilities are required to achieve at least associate membership of the Institute for Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, for the successful completion of probation.

49 We recommend that all institutions should, as part of their human resources policy, maintain equal opportunities policies, and, over the medium term, should identify and remove barriers which inhibit recruitment and progression for particular groups and monitor and publish their progress towards greater equality of opportunity for all groups.

50 We recommend to the higher education employers that they appoint, after consultation with staff representatives, an independent review committee to report by April 1998 on the framework for determining pay and conditions of service. The Chairman should be appointed on the nomination of the Government.

51 We recommend to the Government, institutions, and the representative bodies of higher education, that, over the long term, the superannuation arrangements for academic staff should be harmonised by directing all new entrants to the Universities Superannuation Scheme.

Chapter 15
52 We recommend to institutions that, over the medium term, they develop and implement arrangements which allow staff and external bodies to have access to and understand the true costs of research.

53 We recommend that the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, in collaboration with other institutional representative bodies, reviews the functions of the Universities and Colleges Information Systems Association to ensure that it can promote the implementation of Communications and Information Technology in management information systems.

54 We recommend that the Government, together with representative bodies, should, within three years, establish whether the identity of the governing body in each institution is clear and undisputed. Where it is not, the Government should take action to clarify the position, ensuring that the Council is the ultimate decision-making body, and that the Court has a wider representative role, to inform decision-making but not to take decisions.

55 We recommend to the Government that it takes action so that:

  • individuals may not serve as members of a governing body for more than two terms, unless they also hold office;
  • it is a requirement for the governing body at each institution to include student and staff membership and a majority of lay members;
  • an individual may not chair a governing body for more than two terms of office.

56 We recommend that the Government takes the lead, with the Privy Council, in discussions with institutional representatives to introduce, within three years, revised procedures capable of responding more quickly to an institution requesting a change in the size of its governing body. The intention should be to ensure a response within one year.

57 We recommend that each governing body should systematically review, at least once every five years, with appropriate external assistance and benchmarks:

  • its own effectiveness and, where there is in excess of 25 members, show good reason why a larger body is needed for its effectiveness;
  • the arrangements for discharging its obligations to the institution’s external constituencies;
  • all major aspects of the institution’s performance, including the participation strategy.

The outcomes of the review should be published in an institution’s annual report. The Funding Bodies should make such a review a condition of public funding.

58 We recommend that, over the medium term, to assist governing bodies in carrying out their systematic reviews Funding Bodies and representative bodies develop appropriate performance indicators and benchmarks for families of institutions with similar characteristics and aspirations.

59 We recommend to the Funding Bodies that they require institutions, as a condition of public funding, to publish annual reports which describe the outcomes of the governing body’s review and report on other aspects of compliance with the code of practice on governance.

60 We recommend to institutions that, over the next two years, they review and, if necessary, amend their arrangements for handling complaints from students, to ensure that: they reflect the principles of natural justice; they are transparent and timely; they include procedures for reconciliation and arbitration; they include an independent, external element; and they are managed by a senior member of staff.

Chapter 16
61 We recommend to the Government and the Funding Bodies that diversity of institutional mission, consistent with high quality delivery and the responsible exercise of institutional autonomy, should continue to be an important element of the United Kingdom’s higher education system; and that this should be reflected in the funding arrangements for institutions.

62 We recommend to the Government that it takes action as soon as possible to end the scope for a confusion between the title and the name used by institutions, either through clarifying the legal position or by ensuring that conditions can be placed on the flow of public funds so that these go only to those institutions which agree to restrict their use of a name and title to that to which they are legally entitled.

63 We recommend to the Government that, in the medium term, there is no change to the current criteria for university status; but that, for the future, there should be a period of relative stability in the number of universities with the weight accorded to the numerical criteria reduced and greater emphasis placed on a distinctive role and characteristics in awarding this status; and that the Government should give notice of this.

64 We recommend to the Government that it takes action, either by amending the powers of the Privy Council or by ensuring that conditions can be placed on the flow of public funds, to enable the removal of degree-awarding powers where the Quality Assurance Agency demonstrates that the power to award degrees has been seriously abused.

65 We recommend to the Government that it takes action, either by clarifying the legal position or by ensuring that conditions can be placed on the flow of public funds, to restrict the use of the title ‘University College’ to those institutions which are in every sense a college which is part of a university under the control of the university’s governing body; and to those higher education institutions which have been granted taught degree awarding powers.

66 We recommend to the Government and the Funding Bodies that there is greater clarity about where responsibility lies for decisions about the establishment of new universities; and that criteria are developed for deciding such cases and allocating public funding.

67 We recommend to the Government and the Funding Bodies that, in the medium term, priority in growth in sub-degree provision should be accorded to further education colleges; and that, wherever possible:

  • more sub-degree provision should take place in further education colleges;
  • higher education provision in further education colleges should be funded directly;
  • there should be no growth in degree level qualifications offered by further education colleges.

68 We recommend to the Funding Bodies and the Research Councils that they review their mainstream teaching and research funding arrangements to ensure they do not discourage collaboration between institutions; and that, where appropriate, they encourage collaboration. We recommend to the Funding Bodies that they be prepared to use their funds on a revolving basis, bringing forward and offsetting annual allocations in support of collaboration which has a strong educational and financial rationale.

69 We recommend to the Quality Assurance Agency that, as it develops its arrangements, it ensures that these arrangements do not discourage collaboration between institutions.

Chapter 17
70 We recommend to the Government that it reviews annually the total level of support for student living costs taking into account the movement of both prices and earnings.

Chapter 18
71 We recommend to the Government that, over the long term, public spending on higher education should increase with the growth in Gross Domestic Product.

Chapter 19
72 We recommend to the Government that it shifts the balance of funding, in a planned way, away from block grant towards a system in which funding follows the student, assessing the impact of each successive shift on institutional behaviour and the control of public expenditure, with a target of distributing at least 60 per cent of total public funding to institutions according to student choice by 2003.

73 We recommend to the Government that the public funding for higher education institutions should be determined on a rolling three year basis.

74 We recommend to the Government that variations in the level of public funding for teaching, outside modest margins, should occur only where:

  • there is an approved difference in the provision;
  • society, through the Secretary of State or his or her agent, concludes, after examining an exceptionally high level of funding, that in relation to other funding needs in higher education, it represents a good use of resources.

75 We recommend to the Funding Bodies that they should explore the possibility of setting aside some of their total grant, as soon as possible, to establish revolving loan schemes to fund:

  • projects to refurbish buildings (to improve fitness for purpose) or to undertake large scale long term maintenance projects;
  • expensive equipment purchases (for teaching or research);
  • collaborative projects which will facilitate access for staff and students in a region to teaching or research facilities which could not otherwise be provided on a viable basis.

Chapter 20
76 We recommend to the Government that:

  • from 1998/99 it should enable institutions to waive tuition fees for part-time students in receipt of Jobseeker’s Allowance or certain family benefits;
  • as part of its forthcoming review of the social security system, it should review the interaction between entitlement to benefits and part-time study, with a view to ensuring that there are no financial disincentives to part-time study by the unemployed or those on low incomes;
  • it should extend eligibility for Access Fund payments to part-time students from 1998/99, and additional funding should be made available for this purpose.

77 We recommend to the Government that, once the interim bursary scheme expires, it establishes permanent arrangements for the equitable support of students of dance, drama and stage management at institutions which are not in receipt of public funds.

78 We recommend to the Government that it introduces, by 1998/99, income contingent terms for the payment of any contribution towards living costs or tuition costs sought from graduates in work.

79 On a balance of considerations, we recommend to the Government that it introduces arrangements for graduates in work to make a flat rate contribution of around 25 per cent of the average cost of higher education tuition, through an income contingent mechanism, and that it ensures that the proportion of tuition costs to be met by the contribution cannot be increased without an independent review and an affirmative resolution of both Houses of Parliament. The contributions made by graduates in work in this way should be reserved for meeting the needs of higher education.

80 We recommend to the Government that it looks urgently at alternative and internationally accepted approaches to national accounting which do not treat the repayable part of loans in the same way as grants to students.

81 We recommend to the Government that Scottish students who have had only one year’s education after statutory schooling, many of whom under current arrangements would choose to take a four year honours degree, should not make a tuition contribution for one of their years in higher education. Beyond that, this would be a matter for consideration by the Secretary of State for Scotland.

Chapter 21
82 We recommend to the Government that the Inland Revenue should be used as the principal route for the collection of income contingent contributions from graduates in work, on behalf of the Student Loans Company.

83 We recommend to the Government that it establishes, as soon as possible, a unified Student Support Agency with responsibility for:

  • assessing the eligibility of individuals for various kinds of public support;
  • administering graduate contributions on an income contingent basis;
  • means testing and paying grants for students’ living costs;
  • making per capita tuition payments to institutions according to the number of students they enrol.

Chapter 22
84 We recommend to the Government that the tradition of institutional separation from national and sub-national levels of government is firmly maintained; and that this principle is extended to Northern Ireland.

85 We recommend to the Government that, with immediate effect, it brings together the representative bodies of students, schools, colleges, higher education institutions and the organisations offering careers services to identify what better information is needed by students about higher education opportunities, their costs and benefits; and to work together to improve timely dissemination of the information.

86 We recommend to the Government that the division of responsibility between the further and higher education Funding Bodies in England and Wales should be such that the higher education Funding Bodies are responsible for funding all provision defined as higher education.

87 We recommend to the Government that the Teacher Training Agency continue its remit in respect of teacher training in England but that the respective responsibilities of the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Teacher Training Agency are reviewed in drawing up proposals for the role of a General Teaching Council.

88 We recommend to the Government that, in five years’ time and subsequently every ten years, it constitutes a UK-wide independent advisory committee with the task of assessing the state of higher education; advising the Government on its financing and on ways in which, in future years, it can best respond to national needs; on any action that may be needed to safeguard the character and autonomy of institutions; and, in particular, on any changes required in the level of student support and contributions from graduates in employment.

Chapter 23
None

Chapter 24
None

Appendix 1
89 We recommend that higher education institutions in Northern Ireland, in close collaboration with all the relevant external players, steadily enhance their regional role, taking full advantage of the special potential for the development of strong regional networks.

90 We recommend to the Government that options be examined for substantially increasing the number of higher education places in Northern Ireland in a cost-effective way which involves no compromise in quality and standards.

91 We recommend to the Government and institutions that consideration be given to adopting the Dearing 16–19 year olds option as one of the bases for entrance to universities in Northern Ireland.

92 We recommend to the Government that the scale and nature of funding for research in Northern Ireland universities should be assessed afresh in the context of the Province’s strategy for economic development and of the recommendations in Chapter 11.

93 We recommend to the Government that there be constituted in Northern Ireland a Tertiary Education Forum, a Higher Education Funding Council and a Further Education Funding Council.