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  • A Vision for the Future of Higher Education

    A Vision for the Future of Higher Education

    By Liam Byrne – It was Ronald Reagan who said: ‘it’s true that hard work didn’t kill anyone but I figure why take the chance’. The President was of course being charming. But the truth is that the lack of good jobs today, means that it is harder than ever to make a living simply by working hard. Working people in the UK are on average £1,600 worse off a year since the 2010 general election; a family today has […]

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  • Seizing the international student opportunity

    Seizing the international student opportunity

    By Maryanna Abdo and Ashwin Assomull – Whether private or public, for-profit or non-profit, universities around the world are under pressure to manage costs and increase revenues. In the face of cuts to public funding and increased competition, most universities are reviewing their approaches to research budgets, scholarships, and faculty appointments. However, too often, universities focus purely on cost savings – typically by investing in major overhauls such as streamlining back-office systems, re-negotiating contracts, or upgrading technology. However, what many […]

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  • Achieving value for money from higher education

    Achieving value for money from higher education

    By Sonia Sodha – An assumption in the UK Government’s higher education reforms is that students will behave as savvy consumers, making informed choices that will drive up quality and value for money in the market. However our research shows that, as is the case across other markets, students are not the rational decision-makers that economic theory suggests. Two years into the higher fee regime and we are already seeing signs of a problem, with a third of students saying […]

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  • Two-year accelerated degrees: blue sky or in the red?

    Two-year accelerated degrees: blue sky or in the red?

    By Roxanne Stockwell – Over the past decade the UK government has repeatedly tried to encourage universities to offer two year honours degrees for undergraduates (Smith, 2006; Curtis, 2009; Haldenby, 2009; BBC, 2011). The reason given has been to save costs, and as cost-saving now seems to be the top agenda item in UK higher education policy, the prospect of saving a third in undergraduate delivery deserves to be looked at seriously. Indeed, if it really is possible to provide undergraduate […]

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  • (R)evolution in higher education

    By Louis Coiffait – Are universities currently experiencing an unprecedented volume, velocity and variety of change? And if so how are they reacting now and how should they react in the future? What are the key transformations taking place and are they revolutionary or evolutionary? This editorial reflects on these broad questions through the lessons learned from the articles in this edition, as well as from others across the wider Blue Skies collection and beyond. In the first fifteen months of the project so far […]

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  • The philanthropic turn

    By Robert Lethbridge – The furious debate engendered by the introduction of the £9,000 tuition fee for students starting their university courses in England this October has had both immediate and far-reaching consequences. Whether or not prompted by the headlines predicting an overall decline in applications, overlaid by a genuine fear that prospective debt would discourage wider access, a number of older universities have been offered increased funding for bursaries and other purposes by many alumni who had themselves received […]

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  • Putting students first

    By David Willetts –  Across the world, more people aspire to higher education. It is a growth sector in mature economies and developing countries. The evidence on the benefits of higher  education is overwhelming: it is good for individuals, good for the economy and good for society. That list helps answer the question of how to pay for it. It has to be a mixed model in which the direct beneficiaries contribute but others do too. Here in the UK the Dearing report and […]

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  • Education: from a public value to a positional good

    By John Holmwood –  British higher education is entering into a period of severe disruption brought about by the government’s recent policies for higher education. These are designed to increase private investment in the sector and make it more attractive to for-profit activities, including degree provision and cooperation between existing education institutions and for-profit partners. In fact, a significant increase in private investment will come from the increased student fees that are designed to replace direct public funding via the block teaching grant from the funding […]

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  • Onwards and upwards: the benefits of part-time study

    Onwards and upwards: the benefits of part-time study

    By Claire Callender and David Wilkinson –  In 2008, 31% of the UK workforce had a Level 4 qualification or above, placing the UK in 12th position in international rankings (UKCES, 2010). To improve the UK’s competitiveness and its economic strength, this proportion needs to increase and the workforces’ skill levels raised. Part-time higher education (HE) study has a particularly significant role to play now and in the future in raising, updating, and improving the skill levels of people already in employment, ensuring they possess […]

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