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 →

A funny thing happened recently. Sam Gyimah, the UK Universities minister tweeted a picture of himself on the train “adding the finishing touches” to a speech he was giving to university leaders later that day. A Twitter user joked that he might want help: “Can I pay someone to write my essay for me?” Mr Gyimah’s timeline was immediately flooded with responses – mostly from Twitter bots – offering to help with his assignment in return for a fee, guaranteeing a top grade and that the ‘essay’ would be free from plagiarism.   The original tweet was a witty reference to research published earlier in theRead More →

BBC Radio 4 reported this morning a leak from the current Augar Review of Post-18 Education Funding (listen at 36:40). They claimed that a ‘source’ had supported a report in The Times last week that the review would propose that tuition fees should be capped at £6,500 and the “shortfall would be made up by capping student numbers”.  For starters, the way this is worded makes no sense as capping numbers would only make funding shortfall worse, not better because of loss of economies of scale. I put this down to the BBC’s over-simplified description. More worryingly, this would be a disaster for any course costingRead More →

Over the past couple of years, I been doing some consultancy work for IP Inclusive, an initiative to support diversity in the intellectual property (IP) profession. I’ve been impressed by what lovely and dedicated people they are. I’ve also been delighted to be working in collaboration with the knowledgeable and utterly driven Duncan Grant and highly recommended web development team Visix.  The original job was to create some materials to promote IP careers in schools. I argued that IP Inclusive was a poor brand for this campaign: it looks at the issue from the employers’ perspective, not the students’. I came up with the name ‘CareersRead More →

I lead a busy life and, having not updated my website for far too long, I discovered that the platform on which I had built it was not longer supported. The result is that my website has now been rebuilt. Hopefully it will be easy to use, will tell you what you want to know about me and will intrigue you in provocative ways.  Most of the old completely redundant content has been removed, but I’ve left a few old blogs if only for historical value. Apologies if not everything is in place yet. Do feel free to point out mistakes and malfunctions or contact meRead More →

If you want to cut fees to win back the youth vote, you start with the courses that give the lowest financial returns, right? At first glance, this looks like a good idea to a new Secretary of State. So we can forgive Damian Hinds for flying the policy kite of differential fees for STEM and arts degrees amid the announcement of the HE and Post-18 Review. However, after even a moment’s thought, the idea collapses. It is a policy that is misisng a clearly defined intended consequence and yet would undam a flood of unintended ones.  The problem is that all too often kite-flyingRead More →

How solving a small problem like clearing could help solve a big one like youth unemployment: This 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. Outside of old people’s homes and Daily Mail editorial meetings, it’s not that fashionableRead More →