During the past academic year, one of NPC's key roles amongst a handful of other important tasks it has been involved in is that of the Higher Education Research Forum set up by the Department for Education and Skills under the chairmanship of Sir Graeme Davies, Vice Chancellor of the University of London. Amongst a group of selected Vice Chancellors, Principals, heads of higher education bodies, lecturers unions and other important individuals in the sector, the NPC General Secretary was given the privilege to communicate the interests of postgraduates who will be strongly impacted by changes to research funding. A wealth of information about the forum can be found on the website link where a summary was produced of recommendations on research and teaching as well as recommendations on collaborative activity.
Another key item on the website is a letter of response written by Dr Kim Howells, Minister for Further, Higher Education and Lifelong Learning. It is most encouraging to see from the letter on matters concerning research and teaching: "The argument you have made is convincing, and I have asked the officials to further investigate the resource implications and consider, with HEFCE, how to best take the scheme forward."
Although no firm policies have been set in place as yet, this does begin to indicate the government is beginning to look in a new direction with regards to funding of research. The recommendations give strong support for the links between research and teaching, where there are helpful practical examples such as: "....one of the strongest links between R and T is through the way in which R-based resources can be accessed in a way that they can be accessed to provide information that is incorporated into the delivery of teaching such that the teaching is at the cutting edge.". A number of statements are given as to what higher education should enable a graduate to be able to do, further to which they should be "researcher oriented" to operate within an "advanced 'knowledge economy'".
NPC sees this as another successful piece of work to have been involved in and it has played a vital role in its campaigning to not over-concentrate research that will hinder access to postgraduate education. More news will appear as NPC continues its campaign through the developments of new plans for research and teaching.