NCUB research year kicked the year off with the bang of the National Survey of Academics, the largest survey of this kind, reaching over 130,000 academics across the UK and drawing over 18,000 responses.

In the survey, academics tell us for what purposes and how they engage with non-academics, and for what purposes, from writing articles with industry to organising placements, but also giving advice to government, and working with their local communities and schools outreach, all as part of their normal academic jobs. They actually do a lot of engagement! The survey is so rich that we had to publish it across three reports one summary by the CEO, David Docherty, and one explanatory briefing paper by Inga Sileryte. We are confident more will come as it is slowly getting to be known better through mentions in media and in official enquiries.

Immediately after this, we expanded our portfolio of priority topics with Degree Apprenticeships, announced in March 2016, with potential to transform collaboration in talent development between universities and business radically. We gathered early intelligence on the main characteristics of the scheme in a briefing paper by Joan Wilson, co-branded with the UVAC, and subsequently organised a roundtable in July so members could share their views and practices. We continue working with HEFCE on the potential knock on effects of Degree Apprenticeships on other talent management practices.

This year’s State of the Relationship report, the third in the series, uncovered new key activities and themes in the collaboration sector, illustrated in technicolor through 46 case studies, policy reports from public funders, and myth-busting articles, as well as robust analysis of progress in the Collaboration Progress Monitor. We are excited to see some of the showcased collaborations maturing into large impactful projects, such as Blaze’s Laserlights fitted at Santander Cycles across London.

Our continued efforts to improve the understanding and the take up of work experience across the HE-business sector were acknowledged in the Shadbolt and Wakeham reviews of employability, with a specific recommendation for the National Centre to seek cross-sector consensus on what work experience is, and what it means for employers and students. This charge is an optimal way to follow findings from our Work Experience Survey that found disparities in the shape of work experience practice, but agreement that it is positive for students, and a valued method for employers to compete in the talent race.

We continue improving the shape and reach of our metrics-based tool for monitoring collaboration performance over time. Following increasing interest in post-graduate achievements we started tracking post-graduate as well as undergraduate employment after publishing the dedicated monitors for the UK constituent nations in the summer. We also developed a more nuanced visual to trace collaboration performance over many years with a double-wheel monitor that shows progress before and after a given year. We are testing this version for the triennium 2013-15, one year before and after 2014, and welcome views before launching it in the State of the Relationship 2017.

We continue bridging communities of practice between analysis and policy by launching, jointly with HEFCE and HESA, a user group of the higher education-business and community interaction survey (HE-BCI). And in credit to our strengthening reputation as myth-busters we appeared before the House of Commons Science and Technology Select Committee to give evidence on managing Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer.

We look forward to continuing this successful trend in 2017!

By Dr Rosa Fernandez, National Centre Director of Research
And Inga Sileryte, National Centre Research Officer.