By Peter Mandler
While much time and attention has been devoted recently to scrutinizing the government’s proposals on fees and teaching funding, important changes have already been implemented to the way in which our research funding is spent – and although some science blogs and spokespeople have raised the alarm, humanities scholars have almost totally overlooked this issue.
In an article in the Evening Standard yesterday, Stefan Collini focuses on the crux of the problem with the government’s proposals — that ‘education cannot function as a true market because the “consumers” are not in a position to know in advance what they are supposed to want.’ Continue reading
Balliol College, Oxford, is planning to introduce a £500 a year levy to all new students next academic year. Is this a loophole that will allow universities to exceed the new £9000 p.a. fee cap without opting out of the public system entirely? Continue reading
Professor Nicola Miller, chair of the Humanities and Social Science Matter campaign, argues in a letter in the Guardian today that it is ‘farcical’ of David Willetts to claim that cutting all direct government support for the humanities and social science will improve the student experience. The full text of the letter is below the fold: Continue reading
Howard Davies, Director of the London School of Economics (LSE) and one of the UK’s best known financial service experts has released correspondence from the LSE to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) rejecting the Browne Review’s policy conclusions which the coalition government has adopted.
By Professor Nicola Miller
How depressing to hear Peter Wilby argue that universities just “perpetuate privilege down the generations” (in discussion with Stefan Collini, The Today Programme, BBC Radio 4, Saturday 11 December 2010). This is to ignore all the efforts made in most universities over the past 15 years or so to widen participation. It is true that these efforts have not been as successful as anyone would have wished, but that does not mean that they should just be abandoned in resigned acceptance of the status quo. In any case, it is only in reference to the most prestigious institutions (Oxford, Cambridge, London and a few others) that the evidence supports the claim that attempts to widen participation have not worked very well. Across the sector, there are many universities that have been far more successful in attracting people who are the first in their family to go to university. The evidence about widening participation is mixed: what is clear is that more work needs to be done in schools as well as in universities. But no-one who believes in social justice should give up on the idea that universities can, and in the right circumstances do, offer opportunities for developing talent from all sectors of society.
While the government urges the public sector to ‘do more for less’, more public voices have been pointing out that the slashing of the teaching grant means that students will be paying more for less.
Channel 4 News last night interviewed Professor Nicola Miller at length on the implications of the Government’s Higher Education funding proposals. Professor Miller argued that the Coalition Government’s plans to twin tuition fee changes with the cut to the humanities and social science Block Teaching Grant would profoundly destabilise the UK’s Higher Education system; reduce university departments’ ability to plan for the long-term; and undermine the world-class basis of British university teaching, student experience and research.
Debating with Conservative MP Damian Hinds, (and on the Education Select Committee), the MP said he “didn’t really understand” the points Professor Miller was making.
You can watch the interview for the next seven days here.
Professor Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy, has criticised the ever “wilder”, “creative destruction” of the UK’s Higher Education system and calls for serious debate and serious reflection in the run-up to the White Paper on Higher Education expected early in 2011.
Read the British Academy statement ‘The Continuing Challenges Facing Higher Education Funding“.