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 →

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 →

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 →