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

Annex B


  A foundation course is an additional year at the beginning of a degree which prepares students without the standard required qualifications for their chosen course. Foundation courses are designed to help these students "catch-up" with the students who have entered a course through a conventional route. These rigorous programmes ensure that they will have the necessary skills, experience and knowledge to succeed in their degree. They are specifically designed to provide additional support and tuition to students in their transition to higher education.

University of Birmingham

Birmingham offers foundation years in various science & engineering disciplines. Successful completion of the course guarantees students a place on their chosen degree programme. Foundation year courses are suitable for those whose qualifications are not recognised for direct entry to a degree programme, including mature students.

Cardiff University

Engineering, Medicine & Dentistry Preliminary Years are designed to give students the necessary basic knowledge to enable them to cope on an engineering or dentistry degree at the University. Students who successfully complete the year will then be able to move on to the degree programmes.

University of Edinburgh and University of Glasgow

SWAP (Scottish Wider Access Partnership) is a partnership of further and higher education institutions, which creates opportunities for mature students with no qualifications to access university. The SWAP programme prepares students for entry into higher education and guarantees them a place at a college or university if they complete the programme successfully.

King's College London

Extended Medical Degree Programme (EMDP) is a six year degree programme launched in 2001 to encourage students from disadvantaged backgrounds to become doctors. Places on the programme are offered to talented pupils from targeted inner London boroughs that have the potential to succeed in medicine but not the predicted A-Level grades required for the standard medical programme. These places are additional to those previously allocated to King's for entry by conventional routes.

University of Leeds

Interdisciplinary Science Foundation Year (for science, engineering and math courses) enables students without standard entry qualifications to progress on to a wide range of science, computing, engineering and healthcare degrees at the University. The foundation year provides students with a solid academic base in science and mathematics.

University of Liverpool

Liverpool runs various 1+3 and 2+2 foundation courses with local FE colleges as progression opportunities into university degrees. These include degree programmes in medicine and dentistry, science and engineering, computer science and information systems, earth sciences, geography, mathematics and physical sciences.

University of Manchester

Manchester's runs three foundation year programmes in life sciences, sciences and engineering, which consist of a one year programme designed to improve students' scientific knowledge and understanding to a level that is suitable for a degree in those fields. This programme is geared towards students with non-traditional qualification and those who have slightly underachieved in their science A levels.

University of Newcastle

Foundation Year provides an introductory year to a number of engineering, science and mathematics degree courses, designed for those who have shown that they have the ability to succeed but lack the necessary qualifications to enter the degree directly.

University of Nottingham

Science & Engineering Foundation Years are designed for students whose school qualifications do not meet the current admissions' requirements for entry to undergraduate programmes. The programme provides grounding in the fundamentals of science and mathematics. In addition to classroom and laboratory activities, all foundation students are allocated a personal tutor to provide advice and guidance.

Queen's University Belfast

The Highway to Science and Engineering Programme is a one year programme designed to provide those from disadvantaged backgrounds who have just failed to meet their required grades a supported route into Science or Engineering degree courses. Available for students from Discovering Queen's schools, successful completion of this foundation programme leads to the awarding of a Foundation Certificate and entry to certain Science & Engineering courses.

University of Sheffield

Engineering and science foundation years are designed for those who have not studied the courses in school that would prepare them to move directly into the degree programme. They are aimed at students who, for whatever reason, need additional preparation or additional science subjects before going on to an engineering or science degree.

University of Southampton

Foundation year is the first year of a four or five-year programme leading to a degree in engineering, computer science, physics or geophysics disciplines. Successful completion of the year guarantees progression to degree programmes.

BM6 (Bachelor of Medicine in 6 Years) is a programme developed to widen access into the medical profession from those from disadvantaged backgrounds. It involves studying for an extra year on a specially designed foundation course before joining the students on the conventional "BM5" programme.

University College London

Foundation Year in Engineering is part of a four-year degree programme in engineering, specifically designed for applicants who have not studied suitable subjects prior to entry but have attained the required academic level. The first year is an introduction to mathematics, physics and engineering principles.

University of Warwick

The 2+2 Degree Programme provides a path for students to gain a degree through two years of study at a local college and a further two years at the University. This programme is specifically designed for adults who lack formal qualifications and who wish to return to education.

Annex C


  All Russell Group universities are clear that their aims are to deliver excellence in both research and teaching. [308]

Research excellence

    — Russell Group universities' strengths in research are clear from the results of the 2001 RAE, in which 78% of academic staff in Grade 5* departments and 57% of staff in Grade 5 departments were based in Russell Group universities. This shows that much of the UK's highest-quality research is carried out by academics employed in Russell Group universities, meaning that students at a Russell Group university will have the opportunity to be taught by and learn from academics performing internationally-recognised research at the leading edge of their fields. — The research excellence in Russell Group universities helps to drive the UK's position as an international leader in research. [309] Evidence shows that the UK is number one in the G8 of advanced industrial nations for research productivity:[310] UK researchers produce 16 research papers per $1 million of research funding—compared to 9.9 in the US and 3.6 in Japan. [311] The UK's high level of productivity is a particularly good return given that the UK is ranked seventh in the G8 for public funding for research. [312] Furthermore, the UK is second only to the US in research excellence—with 1% of the world's population we produce 9% of publications and account for 12% of citations. On average, UK scientists receive about 10% of internationally recognised science prizes. Most of these are conferred on academic staff at Russell Group universities. — Russell Group universities are among the UK's leading research-intensive institutions and produce a significant proportion of the UK's high quality research, demonstrated through their share of research income—both in terms of QR funding from the Funding Councils, and competitively awarded grant income from the Research Councils:

    — in 2007-08 Russell Group universities were allocated 65.6 per cent of QR funding from HEFCE;[313]

    — in terms of income from Research Council grants, Russell Group universities accounted for 68.5 per cent of research income from the Research Councils in 2006-07 (increasing from 67.6 per cent in 2005-06) ;[314]

    — additionally, Russell Group universities gained 66% of total grant income[315] in 2006-07. [316]

Teaching excellence

    — The teaching excellence at Russell Group universities is reflected in the Quality Assurance Agency's (QAA) institutional audits (which include a consideration of the management of academic standards). Of the nineteen Russell Group universities that have received QAA institutional review reports to assess teaching quality, all have been awarded "broad confidence" (the highest level). Russell Group university staff have also been individually recognised through the Higher Education Academy's National Teaching Fellowship—as of 2008, fifty-five academics at Russell Group universities have been awarded Fellowships. [317] Additionally, sixteen of the seventy-four HEFCE-funded Centres for Excellence in Teaching and Learning are based in Russell Group universities,[318] a number of which specifically focus on research and enquiry-based learning, and fourteen of the twenty-four HEA Subject Centres, showing that much of the subject-specific support to improve learning experiences is based at Russell Group universities.[319]— National Student Survey (NSS) results show that student satisfaction of teaching quality across The Russell Group is very high at 86% above the sector average (83%)—according to the 2008 survey. Some of our universities rate as highly as 92%.[320]

    — Student experience and students' satisfaction with teaching and learning at Russell Group universities can also be found from recent studies of international student experience. The i-graduate's International Student Barometer (ISB) [321] is the largest study of the international student experience, the latest results based on feedback from nearly 25,000 students at Russell Group universities. These results from Russell Group international students found that:

    — In selecting a university, 97% of students noted teaching quality and 90% noted research quality as important determining factors in choosing a Russell Group university.

    — 95% of students believe their lectures are experts in their subject area

    — 82% of students noted that research at the university was an important learning element of their course

    — International students had a higher rate of overall satisfaction at Russell Group universities than the average overall benchmark.

The added value of research and teaching excellence

    — It is clear from the evidence above that students benefit from receiving excellent teaching at Russell Group universities. It is also clear that an environment of research excellence offers students first hand exposure to leading edge research, scholarship and innovation. — Furthermore, research shows that Russell Group universities' commitment to research excellence helps them to attract the very best minds and the best teachers. In recognition of the advantages of an environment of research excellence, which helps to attract and retain high calibre staff HEFCE has noted: "the opportunity to engage in research remains one of the most important factors in motivating individuals to enter and remain in the academic profession. This is one of the most important ways in which research benefits teaching". [322]

    — Research conducted in the UK exploring students' attitudes has found that students felt that they benefited from staff engagement in research because staff were more up to date and learning was more scholarly. [323] Additionally, a number of studies surveying the views of academic staff in universities have found that a majority of staff believed there was a beneficial link between teaching and research. [324]

    — These benefits, however, are just one part of a much wider and richer picture of what it means to be learning in a research-intensive environment.

Annex D


  1.  On balance, the weight of evidence suggests that research-led learning offers significant benefits to students' academic, personal and professional development. (Three broad advantages arising from learning through research can be ascertained):

    — the motivation and development of students as a consequence of exposure to expert subject matter; — promoting the value of enquiry and "deep" approaches to learning;

    — helping to develop transferable skills through engagement in research processes. [325]

  The Russell Group believes that research-led learning encourages students to develop independence of thought, entrepreneurial skills and ability to handle uncertainty and new problems—personal and professional skills that are integral to the graduate-level jobs that are so important to our knowledge economy.

  2.  A substantial and growing body of evidence points to the benefits of fostering a research-led learning environment in higher education institutions, and the value of learning through research. These include:

    — access to high quality research-informed teaching—recognising the potential for students to be enthused and motivated by leading experts in their field, many Russell Group universities are taking steps to ensure that all students have access to eminent academics early in their university careers;[326]

    — developing entrepreneurialism and independent learning skills through enquiry-based learning—students are able to develop an analytical, critical thinking and problem solving skills, including approaching new challenges from different perspectives and in new and innovative ways, all of which are key skills in a rapidly evolving workplace;[327]

    — access to a wide range of career options, including leading professions;[328]

    — promotion of a research ethos and access to research opportunities;[329]

    — positive impacts on students, including improved confidence and motivation. [330]

Added-value: the Russell Group student learning experience

    — The Russell Group believes that the academic experience in Russell Group universities offers significant advantages to students, not least in terms of the emphasis on the culture of research and enquiry-based learning which encourages the development of independence of thought, critical thinking and analytical skills. — While no causal relationship can be established, a clear cumulative added-value factor can be identified for students and graduates of Russell Group universities:

    — The high competition for places (an average of around eight applications per place across Russell Group universities, and up to 20 applications per place for some courses),

    — student satisfaction (85% across Russell Group universities, compared to 81% for the sector),

    — completion rates (non-completion is 4.3% on average across Russell Group universities, compared to 7.7% for the sector as a whole),

    — employer satisfaction (as discussed above),

    — external rating of teaching (shown by positive QAA institutional reviews)

    — high satisfaction ratings for teaching quality in the National Student Survey and, previously, high TQA scores,

    — attainment rates and

    — progression to further study (Russell Group universities have some of the highest percentages of undergraduates proceeding to postgraduate study)

    — Wage premiums—a clear indicator of value in the graduate labour market—demonstrate that Russell Group graduates are highly esteemed by employers because they benefit from some of the highest returns on their degrees. Studying at a Russell Group university confers a wage premium of approximately 10% compared to modern universities, after accounting for A level scores, parental background, school attended and other factors affecting wages. [331] It is likely that the education provided by Russell Group universities, with its emphasis on enquiry-based learning and engaging students as independent, critically-minded learners, is a significant factor in producing graduates that are highly valued by employers.

    — This is further evidenced by the world-class rating given to Russell Group graduates in international employer recruitment surveys: five Russell Group institutions featured in the top ten in the THES World University Rankings 2007 Employer Review,[332] and 70% of Russell Group universities were in the top 50, with an average employer review score for Russell Group universities of 94.6 (compared to an average of 74.7 for the 13 non-Russell Group UK universities in the top 200 universities). Additionally, Russell Group universities' average career prospects score in the Guardian university league table for 2009 was 74%, compared to an average of 60% for the rest of the sector. [333]

308   This is highlighted on websites and in strategic plans. Back

309   For example, all of the UK universities in the top 100 of the 2008 Shanghai Jiao Tong Academic Rankings of World Universities are Russell Group universities. Back

310   International comparative performance of the UK research base, Evidence Ltd/Department for Innovation, Universities and Skills, July 2008. Back

311   Universities UK, Spending Review 2007: Securing the Future. Back

312   The UK spent 1.82% of GDP on R&D compared to an average of 2.24% according to a study of 21 comparator nations (PSA target metrics for the UK research base, Evidence Ltd/Office of Science and Innovation, 2007). Back

313   HEFCE, "Recurrent Grants for 2007-08: final allocations" (October 2007/32). Back

314   HESA data for 2006-07. Back

315   This includes income from Research Councils, Funding Councils, charities and industry. Back

316   HESA data for 2006-07. Back

317   This is out of a total of 235 awards since the scheme's inception in 2000-staff at Russell Group universities have received a disproportionate number of awards (18 per cent of the total) compared to Russell Group universities' share of the UK higher education sector (11 per cent) Back

318   This number (22 per cent of all CETLs) is disproportionate to Russell Group universities' share of the English higher education sector (13 per cent). Back

319   Again, Russell Group universities account for a disproportionate number of Subject Centres (58 per cent) compared to their share of the sector (11 per cent ). Back

320   Overall satisfaction rates with the student experience across The Russell Group are also high at 86% on average-this is also above the sector average and a further increase from 2007. Some institutions have rates as high as 93%. Source: unistats. Back

321 Back

322   Higher Education Funding Council for England, Fundamental Review of Research Policy and Funding: Final Report of the sub-group to consider the interaction between teaching, research and other activities of HEIs, 2000, p.6. Back

323   Jenkins, A. et al, "Teaching and research: student perspectives and policy implications" Studies in Higher Education, Volume 23, No.2 (1998) 127-141. The authors note, however, that students sometimes felt that staff focused on their research to the detriment of teaching; this suggests the importance of ensuring that teaching has parity with research. Back

324   Halsey, A.H. Decline of donnish dominion: The British academic profession in the twentieth century, Clarendon Press, 1992; Kremer, J., "Identifying faculty types using peer ratings of teaching, research and service" Research In Higher Education, Volume 32 (1990) 351-361; Neumann, R, "Perceptions of the teaching research nexus: a framework for analysis", Higher Education, Vol. 23 No.2, (1992) 159-71; Neumann, "The teaching-research nexus: applying a framework to university students' learning experiences, European Journal of Education, Volume 29, No. 3 (1994) 323-339. Back

325   Blackmore, P. and Fraser, M., "Research and teaching: making the link" in Richard Blackwell and Paul Blackmore (eds.) Towards Strategic Staff Development in Higher Education, Open University Press, 2003. Back

326   The various benefits of being taught by research-active academics are summarized in Coate, K., Barnett, R., and Williams, G., "Relationships Between Teaching and Research in Higher Education in England" in Higher Education Quarterly, Volume 55, No.2, 158-74, 2001. Back

327   A recent CIHE report looked at the importance of an approach to learning that has problem-solving at its core and the benefits that were identified by employers: CIHE, Influence through collaboration: Employer Demand for Higher Learning and Engagement with Higher Education, 2008; Back

328   Research by the Sutton Trust into the legal and journalism professions has shown that the majority of barristers, judges and partners in the City's five "magic circle" law firms attended a leading university, as did the majority of leading journalists. In addition, nearly half of MPs and over half of peers attended a leading university. (Source: Sutton Trust Briefing Note: The Educational Backgrounds of the UK's Top Solicitors, Barristers and Judges, 2005; The Sutton Trust, The Educational Backgrounds of Members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, 2005; The Sutton Trust, The Educational Backgrounds of Leading Journalists, 2006.) Back

329   Studies in the US exploring the benefits of undergraduate research experiences have found that undergraduates across all disciplines benefited significantly from these opportunities cognitively, professionally and personally. See Lopatto, D., "What Research on Learning Can Tell Us about Undergraduate Research", presented at the 10th National Conference of the Council on Undergraduate Research, La Crosses, WI, 2004; Seymour, E., et al "Establishing the benefits of research experiences for undergraduates in the sciences: first findings from a three-year study" in Science Education, Volume 88, 493-534, 2004; Russell, S., Evaluation of National Science Foundation Support for Undergraduate Research Opportunities, 2006. Back

330   Russell (2006) found that research-led learning both attracts students with the highest degree expectations and helps to encourage high academic and professional expectations among students. Back

331   Chevalier, A. and Conlon, C., "Does it pay to attend a prestigious university?" Centre for the Economics of Education, LSE (table 5 for the 1995 cohort, page 29). Further Centre for Economic Performance (CEP) research shows that if a student attends an institution in the highest quartile-as determined by a number of different quality measures (RAE scores, retention rates, and tariff scores)-this leads to a higher wage of between 10 and 16 per cent (depending on the measure) compared to an individual who attends an institution in the lowest quartile. Although the report does not identify individual institutions, Russell Group universities achieve high RAE scores, retention rates and tariff scores so it is very likely they are in the top quartile of institutions in the UK. "University Quality and Graduate Wages in the UK" Hussain, McNally and Telhaj, Centre for Economic Performance, London School of Economics, 2008. Back

332 This features 19 Russell Group universities in the top 200 universities world-wide (17 in the top 100). Back

333   This represents the percentage of recent graduates in graduate-level employment. Back

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