The Society for Research into Higher Education

Policy and Funding in England (October 2018)

By Rob Cuthbert, Editor, SRHE News

The blunders of our governments?

Chris Stokel-Walker in The Guardian reported on 27 September 2018 on how the government and civil servants spent £40,000 and two years trying in vain to conceal the fact that the northern powerhouse minister James Wharton had rarely set foot outside London during his first six months in post. Patrick Diamond (Queen Mary) argued that “the traditional Whitehall model is being replaced by a system centred on politicised campaigning and run by partisan appointees” in his piece on 6 October 2018 for The Impact Blog, following publication of his book, The End of Whitehall.

Beyond fiscal illusions: understanding student loans in the national deficit

Andrew McGettigan was on his usual sparkling form in explaining what the options are to account for student loans, for WonkHE on 18 July 2018. Richard Adams reported for The Guardian on 20 July that the National Audit Office had been highly critical of last year’s sale of a tranche of student loans, saying: “While HM Treasury uses one method to support its decision to sell student loans, the [DfE] uses another method to calculate the cost of student loans when they are added to the government’s balance sheet. This reduces transparency and risks government not knowing the ultimate value and cost to the taxpayer of student loans when they are issued, and of selling assets too cheaply.”

Who owns land?

Oxbridge, mostly; the two universities have 80% of all the land owned by universities in England and Wales, according to a report by Emanuela Barbiroglio for Property Week on 5 July .

Higher Education Commission’s 12-point plan on international students

On 13 September 2018 the Higher Education Commission published Staying Ahead: Are International Students Going Down Under?, a 12-point plan which said: “We want the Government to achieve its ambition of boosting the value of international higher education to £30billion by 2020, but this will not be easy given the continued ambiguity around the welcome given to international students and migration targets.” UUK’s annual publication International Facts and Figures 2018 “shows that UK universities continue to become more international, year on year.” The disappointing Migration Advisory Committee report on international students was much criticised, nowhere more stridently than by HEPI’s Nick Hillman, who concluded his commentary with this coruscating analysis – Ten ways NOT to run an independent consultation.

Let’s hear it for Levels 4 and 5

In a HEPI report on 23 August 2018 Dave Phoenix (VC, London South Bank University) said universities in England should champion Level 4 and 5 qualifications, including HNCs, HNDs and Foundation Degrees and Government should change the current student funding rules to promote this level of education.

Small world

Diana Beech, director of policy and advocacy at the Higher Education Policy Institute, has become policy adviser for higher education to Sam Gyimah, the minister of state for universities and science. Beech began in August after 18 months at HEPI; before then she was programme manager at the Department for Education with responsibility for establishing the Office for Students.

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