This area of JohnnyRich.com is devoted to issues raised in the process of his work as a specialist in higher and further education, sixth-form options and graduate careers. Everything here is written by Johnny Rich and is his personal view and not those of any organisation he works for or which he might represent from time to time.


May 2013: How solving a small problem like clearing could help solve a big one like youth unemployment

Here is an article I wrote some time ago for a publication which never used it because, while it was waiting to be published, UCAS announced the results of its consultation on its proposals for a post-qualification application process. That consultation – quite rightly – dismissed those proposals as effectively not removing the clearing process, but putting everyone into it. PQA was off the table and my modest proposal below never saw the light of day. Read it here.


April 2013: Widening participation: Who gains?

Over the past few months, I've been involved in setting up a group to explore ways that employers and the private sector can become better engaged with widening participation into university.

    I've been working closely with Graeme Atherton of NEON and AccessHE, Jenny Shaw of the Unite Foundation and some others, including recently Louis Coiffait of the Pearson Think Tank. They're all very wonderful, able and committed people who want to see fairer access and opportunity.

    Last month we held our first public event, a round table discussion attended by an impressive array of individuals including Professor Malcolm Gillies of London Metropolitan Uni – who chaired most ably – Professor Les Ebdon of OFFA and a good number of other senior HE representatives, employers and third sector organisations..

    I gave a presentation outlining, as I see it, the case for employers to get involved. Read it here.


April 2013: What are universities for and how do we achieve it?

Last year, I was fortunate enough to be invited to participate in The 1994 Group's annual Policy Forum discussing some of the most pressing issues in higher education. At the end, they invited me to write a blog outlining the conclusions I had reached from the discussions.
    Read it on The 1994 Group's blog or reposted here.


February 2013: The future of computers in careers work

I gave a keynote presentation at the 'ICT in CEIAG' last week … more


November 2011: UniQs and Enhancing the Student Experience

I will be speaking at the Enhancing the Student Experience Conference on 15th November 2011 (see #HExperience on Twitter), talking about UniQs, a new project I've been working on with The 1994 Group. UniQs was born out of some research commissioned by JISC showing that while there's plenty of good quality information and advice online for prospective students, they're not using it much and can't tell what's good and what's not. Even if they can, it's hard to understand what it all means to them.

    I recommended that we develop a widget that can sit on anyone's site and answer people's questions about higher education. Well, not answer them actually, but direct users to the trustworthy stuff out there by giving them the links to whatever they're looking for. Meanwhile, before sending them off to those links, the widget would equip them with a bit of context so they can really get to grip with the whatever they dig up.

    So we designed and built UniQs and it's due for launch soon.   


February 2011: A new consortium for online HE info providers

On Monday a new group met to form a consortium of provides of online information and advice about higher education. The idea is to recognise excellence in the field, explore and pursue the benefits of collaboration and communicate the support to students that we offer. The group is the brainchild of Tessa Stone of Brightside with whom I have worked closely to get the right people round the table.  

    It was heartening to be sitting with other people who share my belief that one of the greatest obstacles to aspiration is the lack of access to engaging information about the opportunities that exist.


February 2011: ‘The Crisis in the University’, Cumberland Lodge Conference

I will be speaking at a one-day Cumberland Lodge conference on 21st February 2011 on ‘The Crisis in the University’. I’ll be on a panel with NUS President Aaron Porter addressing the changing student experience.

    Cumberland Lodge Conferences are among the country’s highest profile open and independent forums for the exploration of social issues, such as education, justice and culture.

  1. Click here or more information and bookings


January 2011: Higher Education Academy

I have been appointed to the Board of Directors of the Higher Education Academy. The HEA helps build on the excellence of the UK’s higher education sector. In particular the Academy supports evidence-based better practice in teaching and activities which promote the student learning experience. This involves commissioning research, disseminating it and providing events, training and resources.

    In other words, the HEA is there to make sure students can learn effectively because they’re well taught in a suitable environment.


December 2010: Fairer funding

The Government’s response to the Browne Report into the funding of Higher Education and student finance has fundamentally changed the nature of the UK university system. But is there any benefit whatsoever? It will cost students much more. It may well not bring a penny more into the coffers of most universities. And unless the most optimistic projections comes true, it won’t save taxpayers anything either. On the whole, it seems to have very little to recommend it.   

    Instead, I’ve come up with a proposed system for university funding that would promote social mobility, eliminate most student debt and guarantee universities a good income for providing an economically relevant education. What’s more, it wouldn’t cost the taxpayer a penny more than the current proposals.

    To good to be true? You decide.

  1. Fairer funding: What’s the idea?

  2. What makes it such a good idea?

  3. What are the objections? And why they’re wrong.

  4. Leave your comments and feedback.



December 2010: What to do about university league tables

This month, I was in a meeting with David Willetts, universities minister… more