Robert Jenrick was the cabinet member given the unenviable task of doing the media rounds today on the morning after the UK passed the grim milestone of 100,000 Covid-related deaths. His exculpatory approach was to blame a lot on ‘the Kent variant’ as if the UK had simply been very unlucky. It’s worth considering the extent to which the UK made its own luck. Let’s contrast our bad luck – being the crucible of a highly transmissible and possibly more deadly strain – with the good luck of, say, winning the lottery. If no one buys a ticket (ie. no one has the virus), noRead More →

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? — 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 →

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 →