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The higher education sector is accountable for £21.5 billion or 1.2% of the UK’s national output, according to a ministerial speech made by Sam Gyimah in July 2018. This is more than the automotive industry, the defence industry or the advertising industry. Despite this, and despite the UK’s leading role in research, the UK is significantly under-performing in commercialising this research.
In order to combat this, in 2017 the development of a knowledge exchange framework (KEF) was announced to be implemented across the higher education sector, as the third of the ‘excellence’ frameworks announced by the government. The aim of the KEF is to measure and rank universities based on their level of knowledge exchange. It is anticipated that outcomes of the KEF will be linked to the allocations of HEIF funding – which the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy recently announced would be increased by £40 million, bringing it to a total of £200 million in the 2018-19 academic year.
Furthermore, the first four projects were announced in October 2017 which would secure a total of £20m from the HEFCE Connecting Capability Programme. This is in addition to the £25 million Research and Knowledge Exchange Fund announced by Research England, which would support innovative projects in HEIs.
Simultaneously, Times Higher Education (THE) will be developing an ‘Impact Ranking’ which will measure and rank universities based on their impact on society. This will be measured by considering how HEIs are working towards the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals.
In November 2018, Research England published three documents to help HEIs to prepare for KEF. This included a summary of the responses to the December 2017 call for evidence, information regarding the data that will be used to develop KEF and a report by Tomas Coates from the University of Cambridge, which outlines the diversity of the HE sector and proposes that initial clusters of HEIs be trialled. These clusters would group together HEIs with ‘similar sets of knowledge and physical assets’ and assess universities based on knowledge base, knowledge generation and physical assets.
With the Research Excellence Framework and the Teaching Excellence Framework already shown to be having a significant impact on league tables and the Higher Education Sector as a whole, it is imperative that HEIs are prepared for the introduction of the KEF and are able to demonstrate successful knowledge exchange strategies. This will require developing innovative models of knowledge exchange, building successful and mutually beneficial relationships with enterprise and developing an organisational research culture that cultivates research commercialisation and works in tandem with the Knowledge Exchange Framework.
This one day forum provides participants with the opportunity to hear an update on the development of the Knowledge Exchange Framework (KEF). Participants will discuss with leading policy experts how the KEF is being shaped, the process for its implementation and how this will affect the ranking of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs). In addition to this, best practice case studies will share innovative methods of knowledge exchange and demonstrate how to build successful and mutually beneficial partnerships with enterprise.
Key speakers confirmed:
• Paul Drabwell, Deputy Director – Science, Research and Innovation, Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
• Professor Trevor McMillan, Chair, Knowledge Exchange Framework Steering Group and Vice Chancellor, Keele University
• Dr Emma Burke, Innovation Lead in Open Programmes, Innovate UK
• Tamsin Mann, Head of Policy, PraxisAuril.
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