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March 02, 2011

TRACked and FECked: How audits undermine the arts, humanities and social sciences

by John Holmwood

The 'Haldane Principle' has been at the heart of the funding of UK higher education since 1918. It endorses the public funding of research but stipulates that government should have no direct influence over the research it funds. The principle is enshrined in the dual funding of research through Research Councils and the quality related (QR) block grant administered by the Higher Education Funding Councils through the Research Assessment Exercise. However, the emphasis now given to the ‘impact’ agenda means that the principle is now becoming seriously attenuated. 

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February 07, 2011

Code of practice needed to prevent degree-course mis-selling

by John Holmwood

The National Student Survey does not provide the valid, reliable data needed to compare higher education institutions. Such differences as it reveals are statistically and practically insignificant. Yet the media use the data to compile league tables of best-performing higher education institutions, and the tables in turn are being misused by institutions that should know better, says John Holmwood.

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January 25, 2011

Funding teaching or funding research? Implications of the new fee regime

by John Holmwood

Universities unable to charge above £6,000 will, as a consequence of the reduction in public spending (through HEFCE block grant), experience a significant cut in the money previously available to support teaching, while their students will pay more for less. It is this that leads the Higher Education Policy Institute to think that most universities will seek to charge the higher fees and that it is in the interest of students that they should do so. According to HEPI, under the proposed loan arrangements the extra cost of the higher fee for ‘low earners’ is less than £300.  For this they would benefit from significantly greater investment in their courses. The National Union of Students, however, is committed to campaign for the lower fee to be standard.

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January 13, 2011

What future for postgraduate education?

by John Holmwood

"Taught postgraduate degrees may soon be preserve of the rich," is the headline of a story by Simon Cowan in today’s Times Higher Education.

It is not difficult to see why. As with the Dearing Review in 1997 that first recommended the introduction of undergraduate student fees, so with the Browne Review, postgraduate taught education and its funding receives little comment.

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John Holmwood

John Holmwood

John Holmwood is Professor of Sociology at the University of Nottingham. He is currently Chair of the UK Council of Heads and Professors of Sociology. He was the co-Chair of the Steering Group for the ESRC International Benchmarking of Research in Sociology (2010) and is a member of the ESRC Training and Skills Committee.