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Strategically important subjects advisory group

The strategic subjects advisory group was set up in January 2005 to identify strategically important subjects and the principles on which to base intervention. The group reconvened in 2008 to review the policy framework that guides our approach to strategically important subjects.

Report of the 2008 advisory group

The 2008 advisory group reported that principles of the overall programme are still sound. Adapting the 2005 advice to today's environment, the group advise that:

  • the dynamism of the HE sector is a great strength that should be paramount in any policy
  • the availability of teaching programmes in vulnerable disciplines is more important than the existence of a named department
  • a strong supply of skilled labour, particularly in science, technology, engineering and mathematics is vitally important.

The report of the advisory group (HEFCE 2008/38) is available.

A brief guide outlining our support for and approach towards SIVS is available.

Sustaining science and other key vulnerable subjects in higher education

[ Adobe PDF 711K | Zipped Adobe PDF 672K ]

Looking forward, the advisory group will be reconvened with an extended remit to consider graduate supply and demand. Peter Saraga OBE - former HEFCE Board member and formerly Managing Director, Philips Research Labs UK - will chair the new group.

Evidence Ltd conducted an interim evaluation of the programme to inform the advisory group's report, and the work of the programme going forward.

2005 advisory group

The group was chaired originally by the late Professor Sir Gareth Roberts. It first reported in June 2005.

The group advised, in this initial report, that the dynamism of the English higher education sector is a great strength, and interventions to support subjects should, as a rule, be kept to a minimum. However, the group suggested that there are certain subjects that are both strategically important and vulnerable. Vulnerability may be measured by either a mismatch between supply and demand, or by a concentration of the subject in institutions which may be particularly vulnerable to change.

The report of the advisory group (HEFCE 2005/24) is available.

Following consideration of the report, a letter providing the Board's response to the Secretary of State was issued in June 2005. (An associated press release is available.)

Last updated 21 October 2008