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  • The idea of a tertiary education system

    By Liam Burns – In his recent book, What Are Universities For? Professor Stefan Collini writes, with obvious sarcasm, ‘it’s hardly surprising that no deathless prose has yet been written about the idea of a tertiary education system’. But perhaps that’s something we should change. We could find great radicalism in a new vision for tertiary education. What might we mean by this? Tertiary education literally means ‘third education’ – that which comes after primary and secondary education. But in […]

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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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  • Academics and standards: avoiding market failure

    By Andrew McGettigan – Can academic standards be ensured without a central role for academics? Not according to the current regulations governing Degree Awarding Powers.1 Proposals to amend these rules so as to allow for more diversity amongst providers put quality at risk. The government’s reforms of the higher education (HE) sector in England, if allowed to proceed in their current ‘direction of travel’, will exacerbate the disparities already seen between institutions. Resources will increasingly gravitate towards the small group of universities […]

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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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  • A different horizon: higher education in South Africa

    A different horizon: higher education in South Africa

    By Fathima Dada – The latest available statistics from Higher Education South Africa (HESA) demonstrate that currently around 500,000 students are enrolled on a full-time basis at academic institutions across South Africa.  This includes full universities, comprehensive universities and universities of technology. Statistics from 2001 and 2009 respectively show a cumulative increase in enrolment, across these institutions, of around 140,000 (35 per cent), from a figure of 401,000 in 2001 to 541,000 in 2009. This figure does not include the […]

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  • First class: how assessment can enhance student learning

    First class: how assessment can enhance student learning

    By Sally Brown – Too many universities pay insufficient attention to assessment: usually the mechanics are adequately managed, but the purposes and practices are less well thought-through, relying on ‘tried and tested’ approaches, which in reality are neither. ‘Nothing we do to, or for our students is more important than our assessment of their work and the feedback we give them on it. The results of our assessment influence students for the rest of their lives and careers’.[1]   Assessment […]

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  • How to drive quality teaching

    How to drive quality teaching

    By Craig Mahoney – The perennial discussion about what constitutes quality in higher education often resides in a debate about teaching. This has been the case recently across the UK and particularly in England, resulting from proposals on future fees and student finance in England. Teaching is not the be-all and end-all of higher education but it does make the single biggest contribution to the student learning experience and student success. In 2010, the Higher Education Academy (HEA) published a […]

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  • Meeting the challenge of heightened expectations: how universities can enhance the student experience

    Meeting the challenge of heightened expectations: how universities can enhance the student experience

    By Paul Marshall – The passage of new tuition fee legislation in December 2010 will be marked for future generations as a turning point in the history of the UK HE sector.  The merits of the withdrawal of the state from the blanket subsidy of undergraduate degree programs and the transfer of the costs to the student has been much discussed, debated, argued and indeed, rioted upon. These debates, however, have created a foggy cloud under which the wider debate […]

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  • Securing the future of postgraduate education

    Securing the future of postgraduate education

    By Geoff Whitty – The UK Government was slow to recognise a threat to the future health of postgraduate provision in English universities. Initially, it seemed to accept the 2010 Browne report’s assumption that, not only was there no need to extend the proposed undergraduate student support package to postgraduates, existing state funding to institutions for most taught Master’s courses could cease on the same basis as for undergraduate courses.[1] Ministers claimed that withdrawal of funding for courses would be […]

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