The Conversation,
Is the new student loan system more progressive than its predecessor?

Analysis by Claire Crawford and Wenchao Jin:

“Under the new system, however, [the middle earning graduate] will still owe around £38,000 in today’s prices at this age [42]. This means that they will have to pay back around £1,500 a year (in today’s prices) throughout their forties and early fifties. They will still not have cleared their debt by the end of the 30 year repayment period, at which point they would have around £31,000 written off.”

For half the students, the loan system is in practice a tax, just more costly for the state to administer.

Read the full article on The Conversation website.

See also:The Telegraph, The Guardian, The Times (paywall), Financial Times (paywall), Sutton Trust (PR, Sponsor of Research), Institute for Fiscal Studies (full report)
The Telegraph,
Universities ‘refuse to reveal top salaries’ – Telegraph

The issue of VCs’ and Principals’ remuneration simmers on:

“The University and College Union (UCU) said that just 27 out of 139 institutions responded to a request to see minutes of meetings of remuneration committees, which set pay rates, while half of those that did reply redacted some information.”

There are three inequities at play. First, VCs and principals received pay rises while ordinary academic staff salaries have been subject to significant depreciation in real terms. Second, the salaries of regular academics can be guessed with some accuracy because the salary bands are public and subject to national negotiations. Third, the public is the most significant single contributor to universities’ income. In times austerity especially, how that public money is spent ought to be subject to public scrutiny.

Read the full article on The Telegraph website.

Financial Times,
Closing the doors to foreign students

Financial Times editorial:

“Cutting back student visas as a quick fix to an arbitrary migration target hurts the economy and will ultimately increase costs for domestic undergraduates. This is an act of national self-harm that Britain can ill-afford.”

Are there any supporters of the current visa policies?

Read the full article on Financial Times website.

The Telegraph,
Six in 10 students will have their debts written off

Liam Byrne’s parliamentary questions are now receiving coverage outside The Guardian and specialist higher education media:

“Liam Byrne, the shadow universities minister, said the new figures exposed ‘the damage this Government has done to higher education funding’.

“‘They’ve tripled tuition fees, saddling our children and grandchildren with a mountain of debt and yet their system is haemorrhaging taxpayers’ money,’ he said.

“‘Their funding model fails universities, fails our students and fails those whose hard-earned wages continue to prop it up.’”

Care must be taken in interpreting the provision for non-repayment of the student loans.

Before 2012, students received smaller loans to pay lower fees and the state contributed to the cost of higher education out of recurrent expenditure. The approximately £2 billion fall in HEFCE funding since 2011-12 has be replaced by a similar rise in government loans. The state contribution of recurrent grants and loans is—at least in the scheme of the numbers being discussed—more or less the same. Any loan repayments lower the state’s net contribution to higher education.

The problem is not the amount of money flowing to UK higher education institutions. Rather, the loan book is a point of fixation that makes higher education appear more expensive than it appeared in the past, distracting attention from the psychological consequences of the debt, poor pay for academics and other higher education staff and the potentially very malign consequences of for-profit providers.  

Read the full article on The Telegraph website.

See also:HEFCE (see Table 1)
The Guardian,
Drop in foreign student numbers: are UK universities too complacent?

Dr Camille Kandiko Howson:

“It is an increasingly competitive global market for international students. Over half of internationally mobile students are from Asia, but new recruiters such as Spain, Russia and Korea are entering the student market. Malaysia, a developing international hub for education, is now a net importer of international students. Japan hosts over four times as many students as it sends abroad, and in South Africa 12 students enter the country for every one that goes overseas. Given the competition, UK universities may be falling into patterns of complacency and one-way exchanges.”

Attending big international recruitment fairs in the UK’s traditional international markets opens eyes to the scale of the competition. In addition, India and China are working hard to develop their domestic provision, both by strengthening their domestic institutions and by permitting international institutions to establish themselves. Locally established international institutions have a significant advantage placing their students into employment.

It could be that the combination of these competitive factors, plus UK’s demographics, creaking infrastructure and visa laws provide the conditions for a perfect storm. It would be sad to see the UK move from exporting education to exporting educators.    

Read the full article on The Guardian website.

See also:The Times (paywall, Visas), The Independent (fees), The Telegraph, UCU, HEFCE Report