25 results
Date Name

How to read: Michael Barber’s UUK speech

Sir Michael Barber

How do we interpret Sir Michael Barber’s first major speech in his new role as Chair of the Office for Students? David Kernohan has been quietly following Barber’s career, and he has a few thoughts.

What determines university choice, and what is its monetary value?

How do different characteristics of universities influence choice? The team at London Economics has taken a look at how rankings, employability, and student support influence the perceived net monetary value of a degree, and found some intriguing results.

The challengers (and challenges) in higher education market reform

The government’s new White Paper on higher education heralds a shakeup to the HE market with new ‘challenger institutions’ set to proliferate. Andrew McGettigan reviews the paper, it’s new measures for reform and all the problems with its approach.

New providers, new analogy

With the Green Paper indicating that the Government is seeking to further break down barriers to entry for private providers, Mike Ratcliffe tries to compare apples and oranges. Or Byron and McDonalds. Or chalk and cheese. Pick your own analogy, wonks.

Report: Are we ready for the end of student number controls?

Based on new research, Wonkhe has published a report with Capita that assess the sector’s preparedness for the removal of student number controls and the coming changes to universities and the market that are expected to follow.

The Budget: what it means for the longer-term

A few days on from the 2015 Budget, Julian Gravatt maps out the longer-term economic landscape for universities, science and the rest of the BIS budget which now faces further pressure and challenges.

TTIP and higher education policy

Udi Datta examines the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership Agreement (TTIP) and considers what it’s implications may be for universities and the higher education market.

The downfall of foundation degrees?

What ever happened to foundation degrees? Ben Verinder dusts down the current policy and communications context for the oft-forgotten qualification.

Closing the complaints gap in higher education

Following the second report from Which? on students’ experiences of higher education, Louisa Darian, Policy Adviser at Which? talks about students as consumers alongside the complaints at higher education institutions and explores the ways in which the system could improve.

A degree of value?

Jim Dickinson reviews a new report published by Which? – the consumer rights organisation which offers a fresh insight in to students’ views of their experience of higher education and their relationship with universities, further moving the debate around consumerism and the market.

The strange death of student number controls

In December 2013 in his Annual Autumn Statement the UK Chancellor George Osbourne announced the end of the Student Number Control (SNC) regime for English higher education institutions, thereby removing the cap on places that had been in place since 2009. But how and why did we get here? Was this the Government’s plan all along? Colin McCaig builds on his recent research to take us on a journey of paradoxical adventures in higher education market making.

The high cost of higher education

Reviewing the recent HEPI/HEA Student Experience Survey, Carl Lygo looks at what students want from their university experience contrasted with the high price that the sector and politicians assume that universities need. Carl questions why fellow vice chancellors have allowed their salaries to rise faster than their staff and questions why a university education really needs to cost so much.

Planning for an uncapped future

In December 2013 the Chancellor of the Exchequer blindsided sector pundits with the announcement that the cap on student numbers would be lifted from 2015. Aside from the flurry of press releases and formal responses, analysis of the implications of his announcement for the future shape and size of the sector has only begun to take shape. In this piece, Debbie McVitty maps out the possible scenarios that may emerge as institutions respond to the new policy and plan for their uncapped future.

Why ‘students as customers’ is bad for policymaking

Are students becoming more like customers? Do they consider themselves consumers? In the abstract, it is a philosophical question, except that it is so emotive in the higher education context that it is rarely approached with philosophical objectivity. To answer the question we would need to have a clear and distinct idea of what we mean by ‘consumer’, for starters. Buried in the concept of the ‘consumer’ of higher education are implicit ideas about passivity, greed, unreasonable demands and lack of intellectual rigour (‘the customer is always right’ – but students need to learn how often they are wrong). But where did these ideas come from and are they appropriate to this context?

Not for profit

Should the embryonic for-profit sector of British Higher Education be given the same access to public funds as other universities, and what would happen if they were?

There is plenty of competition between publicly funded universities, and a very wide range of student choice by programme of study, type of institution, geographical location and reputation. Whatever one thinks of the White Paper and the new system of student funding, it is very evidently introducing student choice by price of qualification as well; from 2012, students will be able to choose programmes of study that will range in price from below £6,000 to £9,000 per year. There is no inherent need for a large for-profit sector to provide future students with a “genuine alternative”.

Between Public and Private

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.

Interesting questions raised by OU’s 5k fees

Yesterday, The Open University announced plans to charge £5000 fees. A THE story claims that it puts OU in ‘pole position’ to snap up the 20,000 places that are being made contestably available for institutions charging less than £7,500. But these 20,000 places are for full time undergraduate students – currently all of OU’s students are counted as part-time, even if they are studying at a rate of 1FTE.

Where things get complicated are with OU-validated degrees in further education colleges. By putting these 20,000 places aside for low-cost courses, it is the intention of BIS to expand provision in FECs – either validated through a body like OU, or even funded directly. What no one knows for sure is the true extent of the demand for these courses. It must be remembered that these 20,000 places are just theoretical lines on a spreadsheet – they will not necessarily become students unless there is sufficient demand for the low-cost courses in the mix.

The AAB Opportunity: Anti-competitive?

I’m way of my depth here, but I was wondering how “average qualification on entry” data relates to some of the other aspects that the amazing UniStats data let me look at. You’ll remember earlier this week I examined the numbers of entrants with 340 points across various subjects, institutions and groupings. This time, I’m going to try to work in similar ways as prospective students might in choosing the “best” place to study (and this excuses my #statsfail I guess too…)

Just to give us a pool we can get our heads round, I decided to look at Social Sciences subjects only (Groups L and P in the JACS coding, so stuff like Economics, Politics, Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work, Anthropology, Social Geography, Media Studies, Publishing, Journalism). Social Sciences are interesting because they are mostly difficult to link to a specific job, but together constitute our understanding of the underpinning structures of western civilisation, and offer us ideas of what to do when it breaks.

Public Accounts Committee calls for more regulation

Today the Public Accounts Committee has released their report ‘Regulating Financial Sustainability in Higher Education’. It calls for greater regulation of HE after the new funding regime begins and raps BIS on the knuckles for getting their sums wrong over fees. It could make for uncomfortable, but probably not devastating reading in some parts of Government. And it adds weight to those who’ve been arguing for a long time that the Coalition’s fees policy doesn’t add up. This post has a look at some of the headlines from the report.

The winning move is not to play: Game Theory and the Willetts funding model

During a speech at the Universities UK Spring Conference, David Willetts (UK Secretary of State for Universities) reiterated his warnings about the high potential cost to the taxpayer of universities electing to charge fees reflecting the full range of that which is permitted to them. It is now an open secret that the new funding model for universities is certain to cost the taxpayer more within this parliament, and is very likely never to cost any less than the current model. Bearing this in mind, Willetts has warned senior university staff that money may be taken from other university income streams (for instance the research budget) in order to be able to fund the additional loans that would be required to meet these fees.