NPC/06/01/B HEFCE Strategic Plan 2006 - 11 Consultation

The Hefce Strategic plan sets out Hefce's broad vision for the development of higher education in England and their strategy for moving towards it with our partners and stakeholders.

The Hefce plan is based around six strategic aims, covering:

  • learning and teaching
  • widening participation and fair access
  • research
  • the contribution of HE to the economy and society
  • sustaining a high quality HE sector and
  • how we perform as an organisation.

The National Postgraduate Committee of the United Kingdom welcomes the opportunity to respond to the HEFCE Strategic Plan 2006-11: Consultation. The National Postgraduate Committee of the United Kingdom is the principal representative body of postgraduate students in the UK. As a registered charity (no. SC033368), our aim is to promote, in the public interest, postgraduate education in the UK. We share best practice through publications and meetings, respond to consultations, address conferences and take on casework. In the furtherance of our aims, we co-operate with other like-minded democratic student bodies, professional associations and trades unions.

The NPC agrees with the theme of the paper of encouraging wider participation, the contribution of higher education to the economy and society and of a sustainable high quality sector. We also agree with the emphasis on maintaining a dynamic world class research sector which will underpin the economy and society.

On specific sections we would like to make comments.

Section 65, page 19, Flexible and lifelong learning.
The National Postgraduate Committee welcome HEFCE continuing to support initiatives to strengthen the quality of supervision and of research and wider skills training for these students. The NPC would like to see a strengthening of the QAA Code of Practice on Postgraduate research programmes precept 11 by encouraging HEFCE to strengthen the need for supervisors to receive training.

Section 66, p.19, Employer engagement.
The NPC welcomes the initiatives to strengthen the links between employers and HE. We would encourage HEFCE to further increase the link in skills development between research students and industry and the evaluation of skills to develop further training.

Widening Participation and fair access, Key strategic risks, p. 21.
The NPC would suggest that there could be a further strategic risk to increasing representation from under-represented groups. The increase of student debt could affect postgraduate numbers, particularly for self-financing students, and act as disincentive to further study. The NPC believes that the continuation of widening participation and fair access principles into the postgraduate arena and the concurrent development of realistic objectives for widening participation at this level of study is important to provide a balanced approach.