Click here to skip to content

Welfare Reform on the Web (July 2011): Education - UK - higher

Academics quit fund body over plan to embrace 'big society'

S. Malik

The Guardian, June 20th 2011, p. 4

Academics are co-ordinating a mass resignation from one of Britain's biggest university funding councils in protest over plans to fund research into David Cameron's 'big society'. Organisers of the protest have told the Guardian that more than 30 professors will resign from their posts as peer reviewers for the Arts and Humanities Research Council in the next fortnight because the AHRC's chief executive has refused to back down over plans to promote the Big Society as a topic for humanities research.

Cut in overseas students will cost 2.4bn, admit officials

A. Travis

The Guardian, June 14th 2011, p. 12

The government's drive to cut the number of overseas students coming to Britain will cost the country 2.4bn more than it saves, according to Home Office figures. The official impact assessment for the reform of the student visa system shows the policy will cost more than 3.2bn over the next four years in reduced economic output and a further 330m in lost tuition fees and immigration visa fees.

Higher education: students at the heart of the system

Department for Business, Innovation and Skills

London: TSO, 2011 (Cm 8122)

The aim of this White Paper is to create a market-based system of higher education and promote competition between institutions. To this end it proposes that universities should for the first time be forced to publish detailed figures setting out how many students leave with well paid jobs as well as average graduate starting salaries. Other data to be published covers areas such as teaching hours, lecture sizes, accommodation costs and standards of student facilities. The information will be fed into new price comparison style websites that will allow students to apply to the best institutions. The document also: 1) extends the powers of the Office of Fair Access in a move that could see universities fined for not admitting enough students from poor backgrounds; 2) gives students more powers to trigger an inspection by the Quality Assurance Agency if teaching is not good enough; 3) forces universities to reveal what A-Levels are needed to secure places on different courses; 4) removes barriers to private universities offering degree courses by ensuring that more students can take out government loans to study at them; and 5) creates a new kitemark system under which top companies can accredit courses producing the most skilled graduates. The White Paper also proposes relaxing the strict quotas controlling the number of students each university can recruit. Up to one in ten undergraduate places would be placed into an 'auction', allowing universities to bid for extra students. Universities would also be allowed to compete to recruit the 55,000 students leaving school with top A-Level grades. They will be allowed to admit as many of these students as they can.


It's biology with Dawkins and history with Ferguson. But who can afford the fees?

R. Booth

The Guardian, June 6th 2011, p. 3

University lecturers and students reacted with dismay yesterday after a group of leading academics took a step towards the establishment of an elite US-style university system in the UK by launching a new private college offering 18,000-a-year undergraduate degree courses.

(See also The Guardian, June 10th 2011, p. 18)

Money guru enlisted to sell tuition fees as costing two pints and a bag of crisps

J. Sugden

The Times, June 1st 2011, p. 8

Ministers have drafted in Martin Lewis, the founder of to help explain the new tuition fees system and stop poorer families from being deterred from sending their children to university. The Government wants families to think of student debt as weekly repayments of 7.50 - the cost of two pints of beer and a packet of crisps or a bottle of wine.

Oxbridge urged to scrap interviews and make entrance process fairer

G. Hurst

The Times, June 23rd 2011, p. 6-7

The Government's higher education adviser Simon Hughes has said that Oxford and Cambridge academics should not interview applicants but leave the process to professionally qualified admissions officers. The master of Magdalen College Oxford stated that 'We are against political interference in academic admissions'.

Private firms in talks to run 10 universities for profit

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, June 22nd 2011, p. 1

A private, for-profit university has launched an aggressive expansion plan to jointly run at least 10 of its publicly funded counterparts, the Guardian can reveal. BPP, which offers undergraduate and postgraduate business and law degrees at 14 UK study centres, said it was in talks about managing the business side of the universities' campuses. Talks with three are at a 'serious stage', but commercial negotiations are yet to begin. Under the model, universities would control all academic decisions, while BPP would be responsible for managing the campus estate, IT support, the buying of goods and services and other 'back office' roles. BPP would not hold equity in the universities.

Private university to take on Oxbridge

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, June 6th 2011, p. 1

Students will be charged 18,000 a year to attend a new university established by some of Britain's top academics to rival Oxford and Cambridge. Gifted students will be able to apply to the New College of the Humanities in central London to take degrees in a range of subjects such as law, economics and philosophy. The new private university aims to admit 375 students a year. The university's fees are twice as high as the maximum that can be charged by state-funded institutions because it is exempt from Government regulations.

Regulating financial sustainability in higher education

Committee of Public Accounts

London: TSO, 2011 (House of Commons papers, session 2010/12; HC 914)

Over the last five years student numbers and universities' incomes have grown annually by 2% and 6% respectively. As the sector has begun the transition to a new system of funding in which Funding Council grants to institutions will be replaced by higher tuition fees, the Higher Education Funding Council for England's role in the allocation of funds and influence will diminish. The Department for Education will need to provide new powers for the Funding Council to regulate higher education institutions in order for it to monitor risks as they emerge and respond quickly. All the indications suggest that more institutions will charge significantly higher fees than was anticipated by the Department. The Office for Fair Access has yet to agree the measures universities will adopt to widen participation where the proposed fees are above the 6,000 level. However, it is likely that a significant funding gap of hundreds of millions of pounds will occur which will have to be plugged by the taxpayer until graduates start repayments. Ministers underestimated how many universities would charge the maximum fee and now face an annual bill to fund the interest-free student loans that is 'several hundred million pounds' higher than anticipated.

Student complaints rise sharply

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, June 14th 2011, p. 4

Student complaints about universities have risen by a third in the last year and will rocket next year when tuition fees rise to up to 9,000, a watchdog has warned. The Office of the Independent Adjudicator (OIA), which handles complaints from students at universities in England and Wales, said the near-trebling of fees would mean students will increasingly view themselves as consumers and be keener to insist on value for money.

Student learning from community engagement

J. Millican and T. Bourner

Education + Training, vol. 53, 2011, p. 89-248

This special issue of Education + Training considers key themes in the area of student-community engagement (SCE). The selection of papers represents the range of programmes that have been developed over the past five or so years and indicate what they have, and have not been able to achieve. However, the recent context indicates an acceleration of the expectations placed on higher education to develop socially responsible citizens and to create graduates who will be able to solve the complex problems of an increasingly complex world.

Universities braced for abrupt fall in applicants as higher fees deter thousands

J. Sugden, M. Kotzmann, and A. Breeden

The Times, June 6th 2011, p.11

Some universities are privately preparing for a 'worse case scenario' of a 50 per cent drop in candidates as tens of thousands of young people are expected to abandon plans to go to university, put off by tuition fees of 9,000 a year.

Universities will be made to cut fees, says Hughes

G. Hurst

The Times, June 24th 2011, p.21

Simon Hughes, deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats has recommended that the Office for Fair Access (Offa) should have the power to withdraw the right of a university to charge 9,000 if its student satisfaction rate, measured in final year undergraduate surveys, does not rise each year.

University fees 'is a policy car crash'

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, June 21st 2011, p. 4

Sir Peter Scott, former vice-chancellor of Kingston University, said the Government's overhaul of higher education was probably the 'worse example of public policy making' he had ever seen. He said ministers had failed to create a true market in fees by imposing a 9,000 cap - encouraging almost every university to charge at the top level. Sir Peter also attacked the proposed expansion of further education colleges as cheap alternative providers of degree courses, saying the idea was 'sheer fantasy'.

Search Welfare Reform on the Web