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TRACked and FECked: How audits undermine the arts, humanities and social sciences
The 'Haldane Principle' has been at the heart of the funding of UK higher education since 1918. It endorses the public funding of research but stipulates that government should have no direct influence over the research it funds. The principle is enshrined in the dual funding of research through Research Councils and the quality related (QR) block grant administered by the Higher Education Funding Councils through the Research Assessment Exercise. However, the emphasis now given to the ‘impact’ agenda means that the principle is now becoming seriously attenuated. The impact agenda is associated with the rise of the ‘co-production’ of research between universities, government agencies and commercial enterprises, and the increasing interest in knowledge transfer.An initial concern was to identify the ‘private’ beneficiaries of research in order that they should pay rather than be funded by public money. This goes...
Posted Mar 2, 2011 at
Code of practice needed to prevent degree-course mis-selling
The National Student Survey does not provide the valid, reliable data needed to compare higher education institutions. Such differences as it reveals are statistically and practically insignificant. Yet the media use the data to compile league tables of best-performing higher education institutions, and the tables in turn are being misused by institutions that should know better, says John Holmwood. The Browne Review recommended a withdrawal of public funding and its replacement by differential fees paid by student ‘consumers’. The overall direction of higher education would be determined by their choices in a market for higher education. A modified version of this approach has been adopted by the Government in their proposed reforms, albeit with a cap on the fees that can be charged—a cap that some universities are already anticipating will be removed in the future. As the Browne Review...
Posted Feb 7, 2011 at
Funding teaching or funding research? Implications of the new fee regime
Universities unable to charge above £6,000 will, as a consequence of the reduction in public spending (through HEFCE block grant), experience a significant cut in the money previously available to support teaching, while their students will pay more for less. It is this that leads the Higher Education Policy Institute to think that most universities will seek to charge the higher fees and that it is in the interest of students that they should do so. According to HEPI, under the proposed loan arrangements the extra cost of the higher fee for ‘low earners’ is less than £300. For this they would benefit from significantly greater investment in their courses. The National Union of Students, however, is committed to campaign for the lower fee to be standard. But, what will ‘premium fees’ buy and will the extra fee income be...
Posted Jan 25, 2011 at
What future for postgraduate education?
"Taught postgraduate degrees may soon be preserve of the rich," is the headline of a story by Simon Cowan in today’s Times Higher Education. It is not difficult to see why. As with the Dearing Review in 1997 that first recommended the introduction of undergraduate student fees, so with the Browne Review, postgraduate taught education and its funding receives little comment. The Browne Review is sanguine, not least because the report by Professor Adrian Smith—recently appointed Director General, Knowledge and Innovation at the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills—suggested that there seemed to be no issues of ‘access’, or widening participation, in postgraduate education beyond those that already characterise undergraduate recruitment. However, that report was written in the context of a generally flat rate of postgraduate fees—except for some premium courses, such as MBAs, etc, and some institutions such as...
Posted Jan 13, 2011 at
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