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  • Mature policies for higher education access

    Mature policies for higher education access

    By Nick Pearce –     Over the last two decades, higher education has been a growth sector in almost all advanced and developing economies. On average across Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries, graduation rates from university-level education have increased by a huge 21 percentage points in the past 13 years. The rate of change has been such that the UK – despite large increases in higher education enrolments – has slipped to mid-table in the OECD […]

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  • Putting students at the heart of higher education

    Putting students at the heart of higher education

    By David Willetts – The UK Coalition Government immediately accepted the main thrust of Lord Browne’s independent review of higher education, when it was published last year, because it put students at the heart of a more dynamic system. In all the controversy surrounding the parliamentary votes, the student demonstrations and the raw politics, this has been forgotten too often. The review team had a clear overarching objective: “we are relying on student choice to drive up quality. Students will […]

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  • Education, business and government: a new partnership for the 21st Century

    Education, business and government: a new partnership for the 21st Century

    By Julie Mercer –     Education in the UK is undergoing a seismic shift.  From changes in policy on SureStart through to higher education, the Coalition Government is reshaping the relationship between individuals and education. Within the context of economic recovery and the work to eliminate the UK’s fiscal deficit, the Government is rethinking its core obligations to citizens across a range of public services, including education. A fundamental, challenge is to agree when it is appropriate to pay […]

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  • HE in FE: renaissance or reformation?

    HE in FE: renaissance or reformation?

    ByNick Davy- In the UK, higher education (HE) courses delivered by further education (FE) providers such as colleges, are presently under the spotlight as the Coalition Government grapple with the complexities of creating a more market-orientated higher education system. Speculation about the likely contents of the delayed HE White Paper is the bread and butter conversation of many a conference lunch break. However, perhaps much of this frenzied focus and speculation about the costs and structure of undergraduate general education is […]

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  • British universities past, present and future: convergence and divergence

    British universities past, present and future: convergence and divergence

    By Robert Anderson – Among the twenty universities in the research-intensive Russell Group, only one (Warwick) is less than 100 years old (http://www.russellgroup.ac.uk). Clearly history still matters. British universities were of diverse origins and types, formed by layers of historical development, but converged over time towards a single model.[1] Uniformity was at its height in the ‘Robbins era’ from the 1960s to the 1980s, but since then tensions have grown within an ostensibly unified system. Should this fragmentation be deplored, […]

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  • A worried parent writes

    A worried parent writes

    By Stefan Stern – “Plumbing college.” This was my wife’s not entirely satirical answer to the question about where she hoped our children might end up studying. Plumbing college clearly has a lot to recommend it. You learn useful and relevant skills there. You become eminently employable. And you probably don’t find yourself having £30,000 of tuition fees to pay back when you finally complete the course. But all this talk of fees and employability takes us down an avenue […]

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  • Striving for excellence in a new world

    Striving for excellence in a new world

    By Sir Alan Langlands – I welcome this invitation to do some ‘blue skies’ thinking about higher education, for two reasons.  First, if we are to believe some commentators, the dominant weather pattern for higher education in England is decidedly overcast and unsettled, with thunderclouds looming as we head towards the new funding system in 2012-13. Without underestimating the considerable challenges that lie ahead, my own forecast is for a sunnier outlook; universities change lives and they will remain a […]

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  • UK higher education as a strategic national asset

    UK higher education as a strategic national asset

    By Paul Clark – The UK is currently experiencing the most severe retrenchment in public spending since the Second World War. While the higher education sector is not immune to the effects of this fiscal pressure, it has escaped relatively lightly compared to other areas of public service in terms of headline public investment figures. Government investment in science and research will remain constant in cash terms up to 2015, at £4.6 billion a year (still a 9 per cent […]

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  • The challenges facing the UK’s world-class universities and the importance of diversity

    The challenges facing the UK’s world-class universities and the importance of diversity

    By Wendy Piatt – The UK’s leading research-intensive universities are playing a critical role as the UK works and thinks its way back to sustainable economic growth. Our economic competitiveness is underpinned by a higher education system which is recognised internationally for the excellence of its research and educational provision. The UK’s research performance, and the attractiveness of the UK to overseas researchers, students, and inward investment, is in no small part because the UK is home to a significant […]

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