New opportunities for private providers The Chronicle of Higher Education has a good piece on the interest for-profit providers are taking in the UK market. Robert Lytle of the Parthenon Group, management consultants with an interest in education, seems a bit sceptical: “It’s a very expensive market to operate in, and the profitability is not… read more
Moaners not Maoists According to the Guardian, David Willetts has said that old-fashioned universities are letting students down: Universities are badly failing students with unfit teaching and old-fashioned methods and will have to radically modernise lectures and facilities if they want to raise fees, according to the Conservatives’ spokesman on higher education. David Willetts told… read more
As fees take the stage one final time as the General Election campaign draws to a close, Mark Leach argues that it is time to bring the whole issue back to reality and proposes a bold move to ensure that HE fees and finance take their rightful place at the heart of our political and economic debate.
A report released today by the National Audit Office reveals that students at alternative higher education providers have claimed taxpayer-backed financial support that they were not entitled to.
It is no great surprise to see Liverpool John Moores University formally announce today that their fees will be £9,000 across the board. What makes them notable for writers of copy everywhere is that they are the first ‘post-1992’ institution to formally declare that they will be charging the full whack. But others are expected to follow them, and they will in the coming days and weeks.
But a lot has changed on the higher education landscape since 1992. The binary divide between older universities and those that grew out of the polytechnics has become increasingly blurred and irrelevant to the modern discourse on HE. Indeed it has been dying a slow death, and this week’s events should be the final word on this obsolete view of the sector.
The Government’s friendless higher education policies may have another enemy that has been previously lying low; the Tory right. Yesterday the Government announced their Social Mobility Strategy which has been broadly welcomed by most. But right-wing Tory, and one-time leadership hopeful David Davis, used the opportunity to further his libertarian argument that would see the retreat of the state in almost every aspect of life, including laws designed to rebalance unfair socio-economic realities. Included in his complaint are measures to ensure that universities take state school applicants through what many view as the discredited and largely toothless OFFA regime which in any case allows institutions to set their own benchmarks for success, rather than complying with a Whitehall edict.
Both Oxford and Cambridge have let it be known this week that they intend to charge the maximum £9000 fee. Absolutely no one is surprised by this news.
However the details about the new access requirements that will come with fees will be announced later this week and Oxbridge have taken a gamble that their measures (such as Cambridge’s ‘discount’ for the poorest students) will more than meet the new regulatory requirements.
Following Labour’s announcement that they would lower fees from 9k to 6k, Alistiar Jarvis looks at why the policy isn’t nearly as bad as some in the sector had feared – but warns of challenges on the road ahead.
This morning’s story in The Times about a leaked NUS memo advising students’ unions to “not fight against fees” was depressingly predictable. Wonkhe has seen the secret memo which is not at all hard to get hold of and it doesn’t advise anything of the sort. It discusses fees and what institutions might take into account when setting pricing levels and it suggest that SUs if not already, should demand to be part of the decision making process as the legitimate representatives of the student body. It suggests questions that might be worth asking as part of holistic campaign to ensure a fair deal for students. It doesn’t take an expert in campaigning to realise that a students’ union president will get more leverage through a well-informed debate at University Council than standing outside the registry with a placard saying “NO TO FEES!”
Are agents too powerful? A recent Times Higher Education story on the use of agents by UK universities in international student recruitment noted: UK universities recruited more than 50,000 international students through commission payments to overseas agents last year, spending close to £60 million on the practice in 2010-11. Using data obtained under the Freedom… read more
Yesterday saw BPP University College announced their 2012 fees are set at £5,000. This could be a game changer. It is the first announcement from the David Willetts-endorsed ‘new wave’ of private providers, putting BPP under a considerable amount of scrutiny.
The debate about the TEF’s impending link to fees has caused widespread debate in the sector, but what if this measure was interpreted differently – as a measure of inflation ? Gordon McKenzie wonders about the funding choices universities will have to take if the Green Paper proposals are implemented.
As the BIS Select Committee adds its weight to the growing consensus about the (un)sustainability of the Coalition’s higher education funding policies, Sam Jones looks at the difficult political and economic climate both before and after next year’s General Election. With the policy case now hard to refute, he calls for another Browne-style review to create political consensus and lasting change.
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.
It’s perhaps fitting that it was the week of Dr Who’s 50th anniversary when a ‘black hole’ reportedly emerged in the BIS higher education budget. Over recruitment of HNDs and HNCs at private colleges has been reported by the Guardian as the cause of this serious financial problem.
Already there are reports of immediate pressures to BIS, SLC and HEFCE and possibly even to Research Council budgets as a result. According to the Guardian, BIS must find £900m of savings by 2015/16 – the first £600m of that in 2014-15, the final year of this Parliament and Spending Review period. Andy Westwood takes us on a tour of the negotiations that will now be taking place inside government and explores what might be cut in light of these latest revelations.
After the heat and noise around Labour’s announced £6,000 fee policy, Martin McQuillan continues his monthly series on higher education politics and policy by turning his attention to the Conservative Party – their policies and what life might be like for universities if the Conservatives are returned to power in May.
Another shock story from the Education Guardian on fees: A study published today Pure Potential, an independent campaign group which aims to increase access to university, shows that 75% of bright Year 12 state school students feel they do not understand university tuition fees. This is 12% more than last year. The survey shows that… read more