23 results
Date Name

Here to stay: the politics behind TEF wonkery

The scuffles over TEF’s methodological merits have a fundamentally political angle. David Morris picks through the recent debates concerning NSS, benchmarking, and medals.

An article of blame or an article of faith?

Responding to Sonia Sodha’s article in The Observer which strongly criticised universities, Andy Westwood asks if the sector has got the balance right in the debate about value and diversity in the system.

The case for a Scottish (Blue) Bell

The Bell Review was disappointingly light on consideration of the devolved nations. Alastair Robertson argues that it is time for a similar rationalisation of Scotland’s distinctive sector agencies.

Precarious work is no longer atypical in academia

Jonathan White gets behind the numbers on casual and precarious employment in universities, and explains why trade unions and employers are struggling to see eye-to-eye on the issue.

A quiet plea for pluralism in regulation

Following speculation that HEFCE could bring quality assurance in house, Jess Bridgman calls for regulatory powers to be shared amongst different actors.

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.

The art of the implausible

A week after vice chancellors intervened in the General Election campaign with an attack on Labour’s tentative proposal to lower tuition fees – citing its ‘implausibility’ – Martin McQuillan argues that the intervention was a mistake that may now backfire.

Politics isn’t fair, is it?

As the sector goes to war with politicians over higher education fees, Jim Dickinson calls for an alternative approach: one supported by the public and based on a respect for democracy and the politics (and politicians) that drive it.

Julia Goodfellow – next President of UUK

Professor Dame Julia Goodfellow, Vice Chancellor of the University of Kent, is to be the next President of Universities UK. She won an election contested by Colin Riodan (Cardiff) and Simon Gaskell (Queen Mary University of London). The first woman President of UUK, Dame Julia faces a high-stakes period of office.

What are universities for?

Today the Guardian asks the question, what are universities for?

In the course of the article we see the usual dichotomy emerge between the traditional view of ‘learning for learning’s sake’ in which universities are positioned as guardians of knowledge and ‘institutions committed to deepening human understanding’ and the ‘marketised’ view of universities as contributing to public economic growth and preparing students for employment. Cambridge don Professor Stefan Collini is quoted in defence of the first view, with Carl Lygo, chief executive of BPP espousing the second. Lygo suggests that the fact that more students from his kind of background (he was the first in his family to attend university, and was eligible for free school meals) means that universities have become more utilitarian in their understanding of their purpose.

The emergence of mission groups; from corporatism to pluralism?

A couple of weeks ago Mario Creatura and Martin Hughes delved into the issue of university representative groups. Mario and Martin (not yet a boyband) both mentioned the difficulties UUK has of representing a sector that boasts of a diverse range of missions and interests.

They were both right. Since the expansion of the sector it has been impossible for UUK to solely represent the interests of universities. But why? Three famous studies from the world of political science may start to offer us an answer.

The challenge of representation

How do you represent the collective interests of the HE sector? Universities UK, the representative organisation for the UK’s universities, aims to be the voice for all institutions. They attempt to “promote a successful and diverse higher education sector” [Source]. This is a difficult task. A big reason is because of the word ‘diverse’. While… read more