Students and Universities - Innovation, Universities, Science and Skills Committee Contents


Memorandum 47

Submission from Loughborough University

  The following submission is from Loughborough University. We are conscious that the committee will receive submissions from groups such as UUK and the 1994 Group and have therefore limited our submission to additional points for the sake of brevity.

SUMMARY

    — Concern is expressed at the potential for compacts and similar arrangements to become exclusive so limiting, rather than widening, participation;— The importance of maintaining sufficient funding to enable teaching enhancement activities is stressed;

    — The importance of the link of research and scholarship to teaching is emphasised, as is the benefit of close involvement with external "users";

    — Continuing to ensure that MEng and similar programmes are properly recognised within Bologna is highlighted;

    — The role of schools in helping reduce plagiarism is noted;

    — The priority of adequate funding for both higher education provision and individual student support is reiterated.

ADMISSIONS

  1.  An overriding concern for the University remains fairness and equality in the admissions system. In respect of initiatives such as compact agreements it needs to be demonstrated that the existence of such networks does not disadvantage students who may apply from schools that are not part of the compact or other network. In some cases such unintended "exclusion" may arise from schools feeling left out from an inner circle. Our experience at Loughborough has been to engage in a wide range of informal, practical and working arrangements with schools from many areas and backgrounds and that this approach ensures that students and schools are empowered to consider Loughborough at all times.

THE BALANCE BETWEEN TEACHING AND RESEARCH

  2.  Funding for teaching development and enhancement is changing at the moment with the move to TESS funding. It is too early to be precise about the inclusion of former TQEF funding into the baseline. We would however, confirm that there has been significant value derived from the provision of specific funding for TQEF and CETL initiatives in the past. Whilst it is not clear that ring fenced funding continues to be required, in line with the general move to a single funding stream, the level of funding needs to be sufficient to provide for teaching enhancement activities.

3.  In respect of the "balance" between teaching and research our experience, which has led to some of the highest student satisfaction scores in the country, is that this is less an issue of balance and more about the benefits of closely integrating research and scholarship with high quality teaching. At Loughborough our experience is that:

    — The research-informed teaching that we deliver offers a distinctive and outstanding student experience, because teaching is carried out by researchers at the forefront of their field;

    — The close involvement of collaborators (in effect the users of our work in both teaching and research, drawn from industry, business, the public sector and the professions) is also very significant in delivering high quality teaching;

    — Resources allowing Staff to Student Ratios to be kept at reasonable levels remains a crucial issue.

DEGREE CLASSIFICATIONS

  4.  We note the issue of portability as mentioned in the enquiry. A key priority for Loughborough is to equip students with the knowledge and skills to flourish in a competitive global employment and educational environment. In this respect we are pleased that the integrated Master's four academic year degree has been recognised as meeting the requirements for second cycle qualifications identified by the Bologna process within the Framework for Qualifications of the European Higher Education Area. It is important that the UK government continues to give clear statements in support of this recognition.

5.  In respect of plagiarism the increased use of electronic submission has substantially improved detection rates. However, in our view schools also have a critical part to play in order that we develop an education system that is free of plagiarism at all levels.

STUDENT SUPPORT AND ENGAGEMENT

  6.  The crucial issue for a world class educational experience is that the unit of resource is maintained and that there is stability in funding arrangements. Funding levels and stability are essential not just to our own research-informed teaching activities, but to all strands of HE provision. We note there has been discussion of a national bursary scheme; the priority remains that whatever the distribution scheme, sufficient funds need to be available for both student support and for the continued development of world-leading higher education in the UK.

December 2008






 
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