HESPA consultation on the methodology used to calculate SSRsMon 5th Dec 2022
The Chartered ABS has responded to the Higher Education Strategic Planners Association’s (HESPA) recent consultation on the methodology used to calculate student : staff ratios (SSRs). The consultation sought to collect thoughts on whether there should be a reduction in the Full Time Equivalent (FTE) calculation of staff with responsibilities for research and students on professional courses involving substantial time in workplace settings. Our response was informed by input from a wide range of our members who expressed a wide range of views on the matter.
Regarding a reduction in the FTE calculation of staff with responsibilities for research, we suggested there be no reduction. We contended that any blanket reduction could not possibly cover the diversity of practices in the sector, and that any such change would not be fair to all institutions. We also brought to HESPA’s attention the possible adverse effects that any of the proposed changes might have on the quality of both research and teaching in the sector. Regarding research, reductions in FTE calculations could incentivise institutions to move away from research-related contracts, compromising the competitiveness of the UK research sector.
Regarding a reduction in the FTE calculation of students on professional courses involving substantial time in workplace settings, many of our members argued that there remains a significant and varied burden imposed by workplace learning not only in the form of administration but also academic support and end-point assessments. Because of this, students on professional courses involving substantial time in workplace settings require a similar level of attention as students who do not fit this description. Also, as above, a blanket reduction would not cover the diversity of practices in the sector.
We concluded by urging HESPA to consider the effect that any changes will have for UK institutions on international league tables, which are enormously competitive and very important to an institution’s reputation.
We would like to extend our thanks to all of our members who provided their valuable input on the consultation questions.