In my last blog post, I mentioned that I’d got into a correspondence with teacher and author Matt Pinkett about whether young people – especially those from disadvantaged backgrounds – should aspire to university. Matt suggested that perhaps young people should set their sights on the career they want and, if they can’t make serious progress towards it as they leave school, then they should consider university as a back-up – a ‘failsafe’, as he called it.  After our previous discussions, he asked what I thought about this. This was my response (with a few edits to make it a blog more than a emailRead More →

Back in August, a teacher drew my attention to the following tweet and asked if I might be able to answer it: Can anybody point me to research regarding outcomes in later life for disadvantaged students who go to university vs. disadvantaged students who don’t? https://t.co/BiYatOdKMh — Mr Pink (@Positivteacha) August 1, 2019 The tweet was from Matt Pinkett (@PositivTeacha), teacher, blogger and author of Boys don’t try? Rethinking masculinity in schools. My thread of tweets in response sparked a correspondence between us and, in the end, Matt was kind enough to say I had challenged his whole perspective. He suggested others might be interestedRead More →

Last month, I was invited to participate in one of the debates that the Higher Education Policy Institute was organising at the Festival of Higher Education at the University of Buckingham. The motion was: “This House believes 18-year olds are still children and not adults.” Alongside journalist and author Jo Williams, I was opposing the motion against Nick Hillman (HEPI Director) and Chris Ramsay (Headmaster of Whitgift School).  The context was that there is an increasing concern about the welfare of university students and the role that universities should play in ensuring their safety. This is (allowing for extemporising) what I said: Let’s remind ourselves ofRead More →

Which is the best university? It’s a seductive question to ask, but that doesn’t mean there’s a sensible answer. League tables, aka rankings, is the nonsensical answer you’re likely to get.Read More →

On Wednesday evening, the Prime Minister rather lost it. She railed against MPs for not bowing down before the maw-like vortex that is her Brexit strategy. Theresa May’s statement betrayed a catalogue of cognitive biases. It’s like every entry in the text book was replaced with the same case study. Here’s a list: Illicit transference/Fallacy of division: May attributed the (dishonourable) problems of the whole of Parliament to individual MPs, when in fact the problems are an emergent effect of individuals acting, as they each believe, honourably (for the most part). By blaming them individually for the collective problems, she can only possibly alienate themRead More →

The media coverage of my paper for HEPI Fairer Funding: the case for a graduate levy has been widespread and the reactions surprisingly favourable. While there haven’t been many people getting out the bunting and ticker tape, many people seem to agree that it is an interesting proposal and it is right and timely to address the question of employer contributions to the cost of higher education.  The most common complaint, however, appears to be to deny that market forces have any place in higher education. One tweet read: You’ve made the fundamental mistake of assuming that market forces can be made to operate efficientlyRead More →

Read Fairer funding: the case for a graduate levy (HEPI Policy Note) and, exclusively on this site, Fairer funding: the case for a graduate levy (full proposal). What I’d like for Christmas: We should abolish tuition fees. We should fund English universities well enough that they can continue to be among the best in the world. We should match graduates and jobs so that they have the right skills to get jobs they want and succeed in them. We should ensure that the nation’s skills gaps are plugged.  We shouldn’t ask the taxpayer to pay for more than the public benefit of higher education.  IsRead More →

Today, The Guardian reported the publication of a report out today from the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) with the headline ‘“Less than half’ of tuition fees spent on teaching at English universities‘.  The headline here is more than a little misleading as the article goes on to report how HEPI’s paper shows how almost all of the tuition fees charged to students at English universities are spent on student-facing costs. However, to understand this issue, we also need to remember some other stuff about fees. When fees were tripled to £9k, the intention was that 1/3 of the income over £6k would be spentRead More →