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 →

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 →

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 →

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 →

Over several months in 2012, 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. This was orginally published on the 1994 Group website. The right tools for the job Last year, Stefan Collini, the great Cambridge academic, published a much-publicised book titled What are universities for? On the first page – the first paragraph even – he abdicated from answering the question. Without setting out to do so, the 1994Read More →