BBC Radio 4 reported this morning a leak from the current Augar Review of Post-18 Education Funding. 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 costing more to run.Read 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 →