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Date Name

Party at The Athenaeum?

Who was partying at The Athenaeum with BIS in May? Recently released government credit card records show that someone probably had a good time.

A critical moment for the quality debate

With debates about the future of quality in UK higher education hotting up behind the scenes, Mark Leach looks at the forthcoming HEFCE consultation and the potential huge implications that it has for the sector and how it is regulated, as well as for the future quality assurance itself.

Sajid Javid’s NUS wars

Sajid Javid didn’t like students’ unions a great deal in the 1990s – Mark Leach takes a quick look at an interesting history of the new Secretary of State’s involvement in student politics.

BIS failed to heed warnings about HE privatisation

A report released today by the powerful Public Accounts Committee (PAC) strongly criticises the government for disregarding warnings about the dangers of vast sums of public money being given to for-profit higher education colleges.

Grant letter: HEFCE’s regulatory powers beefed up

Today came the HEFCE grant letter from BIS which outlines funding for higher education in England for 2015-16. Overall the allocations remain much the same as indicated in last years letter, but as ever, there are some interesting bits around the margins that the wonks will want to note.

£6bn package for science and innovation

Today the Government’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) unveiled their Science and Innovation strategy. This sets out the Government’s priorities for investment and support up to to 2021. A total of £5.9billion capital is committed to support science and innovation from 2016-21.

Enjoy your REF, while you can

This week the results of the latest cycle of research audit in UK universities will be published. This will trigger a frenzy of analysis as the bones of REF 2014 are picked over with a view to identifying winners and losers, risers and fallers, and what if anything it might mean for the future. Martin McQuillan looks at how research funding has been treated by this Government and what future for the process is there in a time of increasing austerity.

The legacy of David Willetts

As longstanding higher education and science minister David Willetts steps down from his government post, and from politics in general, Andy Westwood looks back at his time with the brief – from 2005 when in opposition to today. What will be his legacy? Is it too soon to judge? With mixed feelings in the sector, the ultimate legacy of David Willetts may take quite some time to fully understand. In the mean time, there’s much to learn from the last nine years with David Willetts.

The future of Higher National Diplomas

Anyone interested in higher education funding and regulation should take some time out in the next few weeks to think about Higher National Diplomas. The plan recently announced by BIS to transfer HNDs and HNCs out of the higher education funding system represents an important moment in policy for both HE and FE. Julian Gravatt looks at the long history of higher nationals and the implications of BIS’ latest proposals for funding and regulation.

The narcissism of minor differences

They finally arrived yesterday. BIS published both the HEFCE grant letter and the SFA’s Skills Funding Statement. One was 6 pages and the other 60 but they both delivered roughly the same amount of cash to the FE and HE sectors. They also delivered more or less what had been set out in the Autumn Statement – i.e. some quite significant cuts to both sectors but not too much more on top of what George Osborne delivered in December. Andy Westwood gives some early thoughts on the letters and the scramble over funding that will come.

Making the cut

At the start of the week that we expect the HEFCE grant letter, Alistair Jarvis looks at the scale of the hole in BIS’ budget and assesses the options that the Government now faces as it decides where to cut and how far to go – decisions that could have drastic long-term consequences.

Developing the UK’s international education strategy

But the report strikes a few wrong notes Back in July 2013 the Department for Business Innovation and Skills published its International education strategy: global growth and prosperity. For some reason it passed me by, despite its ambition: This strategy sets out how the government and the whole education sector will work together to take… read more

Unbelievable excitement as website updated

Big announcements about Unistats As previously noted there is no shortage of information available to prospective university students. Unistats was intended to enable better decision-making by students but, whilst it is not without merit, it is no substitute for effective advice and guidance. Unfortunately this shiny website seems to be pretty much all that’s on… read more

Go West. Or East. Plans for more student mobility

Government wants more students to travel There is to be a Government initiative to persuade more students to travel. The aim is that more UK students will be encouraged to broaden their horizons by travelling overseas for part of their degree courses. The new UK Outward Student Mobility Strategy aims to boost the number of… read more

Change at the top

In the short lull between the buzz of graduation ceremonies in July and the (likely to be manic) clearing week in mid-August, speculation on university campuses has focussed on the runners and riders for arguably the two most influential jobs in UK Higher Education. Alistair Jarvis assesses the prospect of a new dynamic at the top of the sector as David Willetts faces the axe, and Madeline Atkins arrives at the helm of HEFCE.

Regulation without legislation

Not a campaign slogan but the next steps in HE regulatory change from HEFCE Something of a surprise announcement from HEFCE on new changes to HE regulation. The changes follow a written Ministerial statement from David Willetts. The changes cover a lot of ground: The success of higher education in England is underpinned by the… read more

Yet more support to help UK HE internationalise?

More international support for Higher Education A year ago HEGlobal, the new portal for helping universities develop transnational education capability, was launched: There is a consensus across government that engaging in and promoting international education and skills is strategically important to the UK for three main reasons: firstly it presents potentially significant commercial opportunities; secondly,… read more

Where are the statues of great academics?

There really aren’t a lot of them about Perhaps it’s because so many are involved in committees and are therefore disqualified by G K Chesterton’s comment: “I’ve searched all the parks in all the cities and found no statues of committees”. But really there aren’t huge numbers – I can recall statues of Newton and… read more

The Imperfect University: How not to defend higher education

Simple: ignore administrators (or worse) The recent launch of the “Council for the Defence of British Universities” (or CDBU) offered some fascinating insights into a particular corner of British society. Like a strongly worded round robin letter to the Times made flesh it attracted some big names  from Sir David Attenborough to Baroness Deech. A… read more

Go compare – Which advice to take?

Which? University adds to the university information mix Last week saw the launch of the new Which? university comparison website. Trailed in the White Paper n June 2011 it offers yet more information to prospective students in what is already a very crowded landscape. The Which? University website enables comparisons of courses by students by… read more