Higher Education Commission,
Report: Too Good To Fail – The Financial Sustainability of Higher Education in England

Recent changes to higher education funding in England were doomed to fail for two reasons: 1) potential students are poorly equipped to evaluate the educational and financial consequences of their choices, and 2) market reforms distract university managers from the core tasks of generating and diffusing knowledge and skills.

Future reforms should work to ensure that irrespective of the institution they choose, students are guaranteed a quality education and university managers guarantee their institutions’ viability by developing the research and teaching environment.

It is pleasing to see that the Higher Education Commission’s report includes key recommendations that address these core issues:

Recommendation 3: The Government should monitor its plans to lift student number controls and be ready to reverse them if further research and experience shows they have had a damaging impact on students, universities or government finances.

Recommendation 10: The Government should not place too much reliance on market mechanisms given the absence of an informed consumer market.

Recommendation 14: The Government should acknowledge the importance of the regulatory framework to the financial sustainability of English HE and implement the recommendations from the Higher Education Commission’s report ‘Regulating Higher Education’.

Other recommendations deal with the need to create a richer higher education sector. This diversity is important because, while it is clear that the minimum education required to be an empowered participant in 21st century economy and society is likely to be more than A-level, the three year degree is not the only way to provide students with relevant knowledge and skills. 

 

The Government should not place too much reliance on market mechanisms given the absence of an informed consumer market. 

Read the full article on Higher Education Commission website.

The Sutton Trust,
What makes great teaching?

Robert Coe, Cesare Aloisi, Steve Higgins and Lee Elliot Major have produced a very useful meta-study for The Sutton Trust on the empirical basis for common teaching practices.

While the study is focused on school education, the lessons for higher education should be broadly applicable. Inter alia, the study highlights research debunking the “teach to students’ learning styles” myth.

The marketisation and consequent consumerisation of higher education in England is unlikely to be reversed. Pressure from senior administration to manage student satisfaction too often involves acquiescence to students’ preferences rather than the harder task of explaining why the discomfort associated with developing the intellect is an essential element of university study.

For higher education practitioners, such research is essential in seeking to counter these pressures in an informed, evidence driven manner. Systematic engagement with research on pedagogy should be seen as the bulwark of intellectual integrity in university learning. 

Read the full article on The Sutton Trust website.

See also:Sutton Trust (PDF of full report), The Conversation (summary by study authors), The Guardian (coverage of report)
See also:Sutton Trust (PDF of full report), The Conversation (summary by study authors), The Guardian (coverage of report)
Times Higher Education,
For-profit buy-out bonanza forecast

Leakage from public education provides profits for both operators and speculators.

“Baird [an investment bank] says it expects to see a new wave of big-money buy-outs of education companies as investors eye opportunities for substantial growth.”

The growth in revenues and profits substantially provided by taxpayer subsidies in the form of student loans.

Read the full article on Times Higher Education website.

See also:Baird (press release)
See also:Baird (press release)