Policy Update – June 2022

Sharon Witherspoon MBE FAcSS, Head of Policy, Academy of Social Sciences 

New Campaign for Social Science project on social science and STEM working together

Our new Campaign for Social Science project sponsored by SAGE Publishing will be on social science and STEM sciences working together.  We will be looking at a number of themes — climate change and sustainability, health and life-course development, natural disaster research, data and artificial intelligence and others– where interdisciplinary work with social scientists is making an important contribution to key research questions and to improving lives in the UK and in developing countries.  Please contact policy@acss.org.uk to nominate examples that you think we should know about!

AcSS response to DfE consultation on higher education reform and further developments

We have now published our response to the Department for Education’s consultation on higher education reform.   It focusses on the issue of Student Number Controls (SNCs), which we oppose.  We cite social science evidence about the wider economic impacts of reducing the number of graduates, and the consequences for individual students and less-well off areas of the country. We also question the grounds for subject-based SNCs, again linking to evidence.

In the Queen’s Speech background notes, government says it will include provision in a new Higher Education Bill for powers to control student numbers at specific HEIs in England. It is unclear whether this means via direct DfE Student Number Controls or via Office for Student regulation.  See also our response to the Office for Students (OfS) policy proposals for addressing quality and value for university courses,  and given various talks about what they would mean.  Our response focussed on the employment outcome measures.

Whether or not SNCs arise from DfE general caps or from OfS regulation, employment metrics will continue to grow in importance, and students care about them too (though that is not the only thing they seek from higher education).  So university social science leaders will want to engage with the continuation, completion and employability evidence about each social science course within their own HEI.

Contact us 

Write to policy@acss.org.uk and let us know if you have suggestions or ideas about our message, or to suggest future topics we should explore.