Nomination for REF 2021 Engineering Panel

The Engineering Professors’ Council is a nominating body for the Research Excellence Framework and, as such, we have been invited to nominate members of the engineering panel.

If you would like to be nominated by the EPC or would like to propose someone to be nominated, you should find all the details you need below. For anything, please contact the EPC Chief Executive Johnny Rich.

Please note that although the Funding Council’s deadline for the EPC to submit our nominations is 20th December 2017, the EPC has its own procedures to follow and so, any proposals must reach us by midnight on 4th December 2017.


What are the nominations for?

The EPC has already submitted its nomination(s) for the Engineering REF Panel Chair. The EPC is now seeking to nominate individuals to be:
  • additional main panel members (with expertise in leading, commissioning or making use of interdisciplinary research, leading research internationally, or senior level experience in the commissioning, use or wider benefits of research)
  • sub-panel members and assessors (including practising researchers, individuals with expertise in commissioning, applying or making use of research, and interdisciplinary advisers).

How to propose someone for nomination by the EPC (including proposing yourself)

Please complete the form at this link (www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/EPCREFNominations/) no later than midnight on 4th December 2017. If you are proposing someone else, please ensure that know that you are proposing them, that they understand the level of work involved and that they are willing to undertake that commitment.  (Please read the section below on ‘What does it involve to be on a REF expert panel?’ and the linked documents.)


How the EPC will decide whom to nominate

The Research, Innovation & Knowledge Transfer Committee (RIKT) will determine the procedure for nominating and will decide whom to nominate. This will include how many individuals the EPC should nominate, but it is likely to be more than one.

The exact process will be made available before the deadline for proposals, but in the meantime, we are happy to provide the criteria that will be used by RIKT:

To be nominated by the EPC, any individual:

  • Must be research active with publications in the current REF period;
  • Should be known to Engineering Professors’ Council Board – ie. they should be able to demonstrate active engagement in EPC activities and be a member of staff at a university that is a member of the EPC;
  • Should have some of the following attributes:
    • Already served on an RAE/REF Panel;
    • Extensive experience of assessing research quality (e.g. chair of University Research Committee, internal University Research Assessor);
    • Evidence of awareness of REF requirements;
  • Should show evidence of unbiased support for the Engineering Higher Education Research Community (for example, having served on Education/accreditation committees of PEIs, Editors/Associate Editors of International Engineering Research Journals, etc);
  • Should have acted as an assessor for EPSRC or other major research funders.

Just because an individual meets these criteria, it does not mean they will necessarily receive the EPC’s nomination.

We have been urged to nominate individuals to cover the full breadth of engineering research interests and from a diverse range of backgrounds, institution types and geographical region. We would be particularly keen to nominate individuals from groups previously under-represented on assessment panels, including women, people from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, and people with disabilities.

The Funding Councils have also told us “We would like to receive nominations of individuals who have served previously on REF or Research Assessment Exercise panels, as well as those for whom this would be a new experience. Heads of HEIs may not be nominated as panel members.”


What is the background to the selection of the REF Engineering Panel?

The REF is the system for assessing the quality and impact of research in UK higher education institutions (HEIs). It was first conducted in 2014, and replaced the Research Assessment Exercise (RAE). The REF will be undertaken by the four UK higher education funding bodies: the Higher Education Funding Council for England, the Scottish Funding Council, the Higher Education Funding Council for Wales, and the Department for the Economy, Northern Ireland.

The REF exercise will be completed in 2021 and the results will be used by the four funding bodies to drive their allocations of research funding to HEIs. It will also provide useful benchmarking information and reputational yardsticks, and provide accountability for public investment in research and demonstrate its benefits.


What does it involve to be on a REF expert panel? 

The REF will be undertaken through a process of expert review. HEIs will be invited to make submissions which will be assessed by 34 subject-based expert sub-panels, working under the guidance of four main panels. Further information on the panel structure, the roles, responsibilities and workload of panel members and the Funding Councils’ criteria for appointment can be found in the publication ‘Roles and recruitment of expert panels’ (REF 2017/03).

High-calibre panel chairs and members who command the confidence of the academic community and wider stakeholders will be essential to the success of the REF. The four main panel chairs have been appointed (their details are available at www.ref.ac.uk) and the Funding Councils are currently in the process of appointing the sub-panel chairs.

Individuals who are nominated will need to confirm that they are willing and able to serve as a panel member, before their names and contact details are put forward.

A guide for research users taking part in the REF is available here.


Confidentiality

We will treat any information supplied to us as confidential as far as possible and proposals for nominations will not be made public, however, the EPC reserves the right to make public the names of individuals that we do choose to nominate. That decision will be taken by RIKT.

Please also be aware that proposals for nominations will be circulated among the members of RIKT who are currently as follows: Nathan Gomes, University of Kent; Stephanie Haywood, University of Hull (EPC Vice-President); Simon Hodgson, Teesside University; Barry Lennox, University of Manchester; Long-yuan Li, Plymouth University; Linda Newnes, University of Bath; Eann Patterson, University of Liverpool; Johnny Rich (EPC Chief Executive); Alan Smith, Sheffield Hallam University (Chair); Sarah Spurgeon (EPC President); Tony Unsworth, University of Durham; Tanya Vladimirova, University of Leeds. On behalf of the EPC executive, Vicky Elston and Stella Fowler act as observers to the committee.


Further information

Further information about the REF can be found on the REF website at www.ref.ac.uk.
To promote someone for nomination now, please complete the form
before midnight, 4th December 2017

 

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Party Conferences 2017

From Johnny Rich, EPC Chief Executive…

The Party Conference season is an opportunity to bend the ears of politicians, policymakers and thought leaders at a time when they’re relaxed and open to a lively discussion of ideas.

For that reason, we like to try to get to the main parties’ conferences, but not to the big set-piece speeches that make it on to the news. The real opportunities to influence the discussion take place in the fringe – the cavalcade of presentations, round tables, panels, receptions and other formal and informal events that take place in and around the conference venue over the course of the few days that the political parties descend on their host cities.

This year, we’re attending both Conservative and Labour Party Conferences and I’m delighted to report the highlights…

Labour Party Conference, Brighton

The most interesting event at the Labour Conference in Brighton was an invited round-table discussion hosted by the Higher Education Policy Institute and the UPP Foundation. UPP had published research on the ‘brain drain’ that operates away from regional universities as graduates move to larger cities – particularly London – in search of work.  How then can we better support the aims of the Government’s Industrial Strategy by ensuring universities contribute to their locality economically and culturally?

The main recommendation from UPP’s report was the need for graduate accommodation, but the discussion ranged more widely: the need for R&D spending in the area; business spin-outs; spin-ins (companies setting up partnerships with university departments); industrial links with students through placements and work-related learning; innovation centres; supply chain; etc, etc, etc. I couldn’t help feeling – and so I said to the meeting – that what we’re talking about more than anything is the impact of engineering departments as key drivers of higher education’s regional (and national) impact.

Another important fringe event was a UCU-sponsored panel with Gorden Marsden MP (Labour’s shadow universities minister), Shakira Martin (NUS President) and Sally Hunt (UCU’s general secretary). This was a debate on the funding of HE and tuition fees in particular. The political climate feels ready for change. At the last election, Labour’s policy to axe fess was a vote winner and the Government is looking for an approach that’s politically acceptable to their ranks and which defuses the issue.

Before the Labour Conference, chancellor Phillip Hammond had already floated the possibility of reducing the fee cap to £7,125 and lowering the interest on repayments and, during Conference, shadow chancellor John McDonnell said they were willing to support the  Government with good proposals. McDonnell may just be being canny rather than kind. He is staking a claim on any movement by the Conservatives as a victory. The political bomb of fees will still be primed as the Conservatives are cornered into either a total climbdown or allowing Labour to say they’re on the run, but aren’t going nearly far enough.

At the Fringe event, Marsden was keen to point out that the issue is not just about fees, but about repayments and, importantly, maintenance. The question is, however, will any political movement in this area put further financial pressure on the funding available for high costs disciplines like engineering?

Conservative Party Conference, Manchester

The Conservative Conference kicked off with a slew of policy announcements about student finance in England (which some commentators were rushed out so they’d be something for the PM to say on the Andrew Marr Show on the first day of Conference). There were three main points: the freezing of the fees cap at £9,125; the raising of the repayment threshold for student loans to £25k; and a major review of HE funding.

The first two of these are going to cost the taxpayer around £2Bn a year and there is fear the Treasury will try to claw some of this back through cuts elsewhere to the higher education budget. Furthermore, while fees of £9,125 may seem steep to students, they are still lower than the cost of running most engineering degree programmes. There is talk of finding ways to reduce the fees for cheaper courses; that would put pressure on the ability of universities to cross-subsidise engineering.

I was at the Conference for the Monday only. By then, the “major” HE funding review had shifted from an announcement to a description of business-as-usual. At an LSE-backed fringe event on the sector after Brexit, Jo Johnson, the Universities & Science Minister, looked distinctly irritated to be asked about the review. Would it a be a full independent commission (like the Browne Review) or an internal DfE review? “We always keep the system under review”, he insisted. And then he repeated that line. Twice. And then at other fringe events too.

But by Theresa May’s now notorious speech-cum-Frank-Spencer-impression on Wednesday, the review was clearly intended as an initiative with a specific start and end: “We will undertake a major review of university funding and student financing. We will scrap the increase in fees that was due next year, and freeze the maximum rate while the review takes place.” There are many possible explanations for the inconsistent messages: Jo Johnson is being kept out of discussions relating to his brief; the policy is being made up on the spot; or, more charitably, flags are being raised while expectations dampened in order to flush out the appetite for a review.

Ultimately, promises that the PM makes at the lectern will probably trump the Minister’s softly-softly remarks on the fringe, but that depends how long she keeps her job and in the meantime, since the Conference, there has been radio silence from Government on when the review might take place or what form it might take. 

At another LSE-backed Brexit-related fringe event – this time on skills gaps – the Immigration Minister, Brandon Lewis made a fleeting visit to justify the continued inclusion of international students in net migration figures by repeating the Government’s line that they have to include them because of UN definitions. While this may be technically true, it doesn’t explain why they need to be included in net migration targets which the Government still insists it will reduce to “tens of thousands”. (The latest figures were over 300,000.)

While justifying the definition of international students as immigrants who the Government is seeking to limit, Lewis also said that there is “no cap” on them. He extolled the benefits of international students and indeed expounded the necessity of attracting them to fill skills gaps, particularly in engineering.

Meanwhile, there was an enlightening juxtaposition of comments from two other speakers. In a display worthy of ‘Just a Minute’, Economist Vicky Pryce explained in the clearest terms I have ever heard the economic case for immigration, including, among other benefits, that since the 2008 crash, it had enabled high levels of employment and resilient growth without expected levels of inflation, because this hadn’t been accompanied by wage increases. Meanwhile, Conservative MEP Syeed Kamall described how people in his constituency feel that wages and opportunities have stagnated. Therein lies the rub behind Brexit: immigration does benefit the nation – indeed, it’s essential to plug our skills gaps – but long-term benefits for all are felt as short-term deprivation by some.

Elsewhere at the Conference fringe – at events on access, excellence, skills gaps, etc – the mood was distinctly less triumphalist than the Labour Conference – anyone would think the Tories hadn’t just been returned to power at election in May. Comments directed at speakers tended to be combative rather than rousing. Perhaps the die-hards were staying inside the ‘secure zone’ (where only the party faithful and those with big lobbying budgets are allowed to venture), rather than braving the challenges of the policy wonks beyond.

Even so, if the Labour Party’s trip to the seaside felt like a band of cockroaches who’d just been told a nuclear winter was coming, the Tory Conference felt more like penguins huddling on a shrinking ice floe.

 

EPC Recruitment and Admissions Forum 2017

This year’s Engineering Professors’ Council Recruitment and Admissions Forum will be held on 15th November at Manchester Metropolitan University. We are delighted to announce not one, but two not-to-be-missed keynote speakers this year.

Mary Curnock Cook OBE stood down from her post as CEO of UCAS earlier this year and has immediately adopted a raft of other high-profile roles including Chair of The Access Project, Chelsea and Kensington College and  Swindon Academy, a Trustee of both the Open University and the National Star Foundation, and Strategic Adviser to Buckingham University. Her views on opportunity and entry qualifications are highly sought after and always challenging. Unshackled from her UCAS role, she has promised to be provocative. Prof Les Ebdon CBE is the Director of the Office of Fair Access in HE, the watchdog for equity in admissions. A tireless champion of wider participation, Les has campaigned hard for evidence-based access strategies and has transformed the opportunities for under-represented groups to access higher education. As former Vice-Chancellor of Bedfordshire University and a chemist by training, he is uniquely qualified to provide an insight into STEM recruitment and access.

 

Book your place now.

 

Other highlights include:

  • Findings from the Engineering Enrolments Survey – first glimpse data for 2017 entries into engineering HE across the country
  • Workshop on entry requirements
  • Workshop on under-represented groups in engineering 
  • Degree apprenticeships for success: policy and practice for universities, employers, government and other stakeholders. 

The cost for the day is £99 per ticket for EPC members, and £125 for non members. An invoice with payment methods will be issued once your booking is confirmed.

Who should attend?

  • Heads of Department
  • Admissions Tutors (both postgraduate and undergraduate)
  • Staff working in university recruitment offices
  • Staff working in university outreach functions

You can have a look on the RA Forum programme 2017 and book your place at the RA Forum here.

“Engineering in Society”: survey on engineering public engagement

Are you an engineer who feels passionately about engineering outreach? Or perhaps you hate the thought of having to engage the public with your work? 

The Science Communication Unit at the University of the West of England, Bristol, is launching a new survey to find out more about who takes part in. Your responses will help to inform training for future public engagement opportunities for engineers. The survey only takes 10 minutes to complete and can be found here: https://uwe.onlinesurveys.ac.uk/engineeringinsociety

 

Photograph: Tumisu / Pixabay
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Engineering in Society – new module for engineering citizenship

Undergraduate student engineers at UWE Bristol will get the chance to learn about engineering citizenship from September.

A new module is being launched to highlight the importance of professional development, lifelong learning, and the competencies and social responsibilities required to be a professional engineer.

It follows a successful public engagement project funded by the Engineering Professors’ Council in 2014, called Children as Engineers (link to http://eprints.uwe.ac.uk/29111/). The new module is being funded by HEFCE (link here http://info.uwe.ac.uk/news/UWENews/news.aspx?id=3524) to advance innovation in higher education curricula.

The 65 students, who are in the third year of their BEng or MEng degrees, will learn about the engineering recruitment shortfall and the need to widen the appeal of the profession to girls and boys. They will then develop their communication and public engagement skills in order to become STEM Ambassadors for the future.

The module is unique in that it pairs the student engineers with pre-service teachers taking BEd degrees on to be peer mentors to each other. The paired students will work together to deliver an engineering outreach activity in primary schools, as well as respectively mentoring each other in communication skills and STEM knowledge.

The children involved in the project will present their engineering designs back to the student engineers at a conference at UWE in 2018. Previous research shows that it positively changes children’s views about what engineering is and who can be an engineer.

Teacher Asima Qureshi of Meadowbrook Primary school in Bradley Stoke says, “The Children as Engineers Project was a very successful project in our school. The highlight was the opportunity to showcase their designs at the university and be able to explain the science behind it. It has hopefully inspired children to become future engineers.”

The pilot project was also successful at improving teachers’ STEM subject knowledge confidence and self-efficacy to teach it. This is vitally important, as only 5% of primary school teachers have a higher qualification in STEM, and yet attitudes to science and engineering are formed before age 11.

Professional engineers in the Bristol region are invited to learn from the project and mentor the students as part of the new Curiosity Connections Bristol network (https://curiositybristol.net/). Delegates are welcome to the inaugural conference on November 23rd 2017 (link to https://curiositybristol.net/2017/06/29/conference2017/) to share learning with other STEM Ambassadors and professional teachers in the region.

Laura Fogg-Rogers

Senior Research Fellow and Faculty Business Associate in Science Communication

University of the West of England (UWE) Bristol UK

DLHE 2015/16 – Destinations of Leavers from Higher Education

We’ve updated our engineering DLHE datasets. Check out our Member’s portal on the website.

If you haven’t received the updated password to access the portal, please get in touch with us.

Degree Apprenticeships Forum – Presentations

The Degree Apprenticeships Forum was held jointly with the RAEng on 7th July, and involved a discussion of the considerations for academia in the development of DAs in engineering. Peter Lauener, Chief Executive of the Institute for Apprenticeships was the keynote for the event.

The EPC’s task group on Degree Apprenticeships, lead by Prof. Mike Sutcliffe (Kingston University) prepared a discussion document “Designing apprenticeships for success” on Engineering Degree Apprenticeships.

You can see the programme and speakers’ slides below.

SessionSpeakerSlides
Welcome sessionPhilip Greenish  
Chief Executive, Royal Academy of Engineering
Keynote sessionPeter Lauener
Chief Executive, Institute for Apprenticeships
Session 1
Apprentices' experience and outcomes
Miles Pixley
General Manager, Technical & Professional Development at JCB
Kathryn Roberts
Apprentice Programme Lead, KPMG
Shannon Lynch
Degree Apprentice, Jaguar Land Rover
Shannon Lynch
Session 2
Collaboration between HEI's and Employers
Sam Moorwood
Head of Employer Partnerships, Directorate of Education and Employer Partnerships, Sheffield-Hallam University
Sam Moorwood
Mukesh Limbachiya
Head of Natural and Built Environment, Faculty of Science, Engineering and Computing, Kingston University London
Charlotte Fisher-Morecroft
UK Foundation, IBM Early Professional Programmes
Session 3
Accreditation and assessment
Catherine Elliott
Education and Skills Manage, Engineering Council
Catherine Elliott
John Beattie
Technician Training Advisor, IET
Session 4
Funding
Greg Wade
Programme Manager, Universities UK
John Rose-Adams
Business Development, HEA
John Rose Adams
Session 5
Parity of esteem
Robin Mellors-Bourne
Director, Research & Intelligence, CRAC
Robin Mellors-Bourne
Paula Quinn
Learning and Development Manager, Nuvia
Jamie Meininger
Degree Apprentice, IBM

Invitation to host the EPC Annual Congress 2018

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSIONS:
1st September 2017

Proposals are invited from higher education Engineering departments to host the 2018 Engineering Professors’ Council Annual Congress.

The Annual Congress is the flagship event in the EPC calendar, an opportunity for engineering academics from across the UK to come together to explore policy and practice and to network.

In 2016, the Congress was held at the University of Hull as a prestigious addition to its preparations as European City of Culture. In 2017, the Congress will be held in Coventry attracting a host of high-profile speakers and delegates.

The Congress usually takes place in the second week of September and lasts two days with a reception on the evening before the Congress formally starts.

The host institution nominates a Congress Convenor who will become a member of the EPC Board for up to three years (2017, 2018, 2019) and who, with guidance from the EPC executive team, will lead the organisation of the Congress, including determining the themes and scope for the Congress, and the speakers and events.

 

What is expected from the host

The host institution (host) would be expected to provide:

  • an academic of suitable standing to act as Convenor and other staff resource as necessary to assist planning the Congress;
  • suitable function rooms such as a lecture theatre and smaller break-out rooms, as well as space for networking;
  • catering for the Congress;
  • possibly accommodation, particularly, for early career staff delegates to the Congress who may be provided free accommodation in student residences;
  • management of the Congress during the event;
  • financial accountability in accordance with the financial arrangements (see below).

There will be some support from the EPC executive, but it is advisable to ensure that the host can provide conference support staff as the smooth running of the Congress will primarily be the Convenor’s responsibility.

The Congress usually attracts up to 100 delegates, but the numbers have grown in recent years and the host should be able to provide for 150.

 

Selection process

The process for selection as host involves submission of your proposal to the EPC Board, which will conduct a vote. The basis for its decision is entirely at its discretion, but they will take into account issues such as the nominated Convenor, the suitability of the facilities, the arrangements for costs, the geographical suitability (although the EPC is keen not always to be restricted to big centres of population), the suggested activities such as Congress Dinner venue and other attractions, and other arrangements to ensure the smooth running of the Congress.

The host institution must be a member of the EPC. We would particularly welcome joint proposals from separate institutions to host jointly, such as two engineering departments at separate universities in the same city.

 

Financial arrangements

The suggestion for the financial arrangement between the EPC and the host forms part of the proposal. The EPC will seek to minimise its risk and, if possible, would like to generate a surplus from the event to contribute to its own in-house costs in running the Congress. However, the quality of the event and its appeal to members will be of greater weight in selecting the host institution.

That said, it may be helpful to provide as guidance the following arrangement that has been used in the past. The EPC would hope that the host would aim to meet at least this arrangement:

Costs may be divided into three categories as follows:

  • ‘External costs’: ie. costs that will genuinely have to be met, such as catering, external venue hire, student ambassadors, etc. The EPC would guarantee all these external costs and, if necessary, would pay them up-front. In any case, the EPC would be liable for these costs.
  • ‘Internal costs’: such as staff who are already employed by the host. The host would guarantee these costs and, in the event that registration income was insufficient to meet them, the host would be liable for them.
  • ‘Internal fees’: where the only cost to the host is a notional price that it sets internally – room hire, for instance. Once the two types of costs above have been met from revenue, 75% of any remainder may be used to defray the host’s internal fees and the other 25% will be due to the EPC to defray our internal costs and fees. After the host’s internal fees have been met, any surplus would be split equally.

The proposal should make it clear whether the host proposes to manages the bookings process receive the registration fees or would prefer this to be handled by the EPC. If the host manages receives the fees, after the Congress it will be expected to provide a full account of income and expenditure (outlining the categories of expense as above, if that model is used). If the EPC receives the fees, the host may invoice the EPC for costs in accordance with the agreement. In either case, the host will be expected to agree with the EPC a full budget for the Congress at the earliest opportunity (and before substantial Congress planning) and would not be entitled to incur costs on behalf of the EPC outside the agreed budget without separate agreement.

While the host will be responsible for setting the registration fees and packages for delegates, these must be agreed in advance with the EPC. These should not include a more than 10% increase on equivalent packages for the previous year. A significant number of places for early careers staff (not more than 5 years in an academic post) should be made available at the lowest possible rate (including, ideally, some complimentary places).

 

Download the application form here.

 

Image: Pixabay
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“Designing apprenticeships for success”

The EPC’s task group on Degree Apprenticeships, lead by Prof. Mike Sutcliffe (Kingston University) prepared a discussion document “Designing apprenticeships for success” on Engineering Degree Apprenticeships to be presented and discussed at the Degree Apprenticeships Forum, held jointly with the RAEng on 7th July.

We would like to invite you to comment on the questions addressed in the document using padlet (link below)

https://padlet.com/idireito/DegreeApprenticeshipsForum  (password: EngineeringDA)

 

 

The Engineering for People Design Challenge – Grand Finals 2017

19 June at The Crystal, 1 Siemens Brothers Way, E16 1GB 

Organised by Engineers Without Borders UK, the Grand Finals will bring together the top 36 teams from universities across the UK and Ireland to come and showcase their design solutions.

 

You will have the opportunity to view the exhibition showcasing each team selected for the finals as well as presentations from the top 6 teams selected by a panel of expert judges. There will also be a series of speakers from across the engineering community.

To attend the event, please register here.