A third of 18 year olds now get ‘unconditional offers’ – what’s the problem?

What should we make of the recent UCAS  release that a third of 18 year olds now receive unconditional offers for university places? School and college representatives  are right to argue that this is a reflection of an  ‘out of control’ market based higher education system where universities  have to  chase students or face financial … Continue reading A third of 18 year olds now get ‘unconditional offers’ – what’s the problem?

Higher Education: a degree of difference

With few alternatives available after A-levels, young people will head off to university in huge numbers this month. From 2015, government lifted the cap on the number of students each institution can admit, with the knock-on effect being that many Russell universities are now accepting students  previously aiming for ‘middle’ institutions – if necessary, by … Continue reading Higher Education: a degree of difference

Cutting, or ending tuition fees?

In the context of a ‘review’ and a pending government announcement on HE funding, City investment broker Hargreaves Lansdown has put its financial and accounting expertise to more benevolent purposes. https://www.hl.co.uk/about-us/press/press-releases/cutting-tuition-fees-and-loan-interest-rates-is-no-help-for-the-average-student Remarkably it finds that neither a reduction of tuition fees to £6000 from the current £9000 plus per annum or a cut in interest … Continue reading Cutting, or ending tuition fees?

As Matthew Taylor publishes his report, its automation that’s the elephant in the room

Election discussion about the economy, employment, and skills, largely avoided any reference to the debate about automation and its consequences for work. Even if it’s accepted that technological progress will eliminate jobs (though there are major differences of opinion about how many) it’s also generally argued  that low-paid unskilled work will be replaced by new, … Continue reading As Matthew Taylor publishes his report, its automation that’s the elephant in the room

David Willetts last desperate proposals

Patrick Ainley David Willetts jumped before he was pushed by resigning from the Cabinet along with Michael Gove who was dismissed in Cameron’s cosmetic reshuffle. They won’t be back – Willetts hopes for a job in Europe while Gove may be editing the Daily Mail after May. Together Willetts and Gove attempted a Great Reversal … Continue reading David Willetts last desperate proposals

Labour’s new Technical degrees

Many of Labour’s education policy announcements are either clouded by vagueness or appear poorly thought through.  No more so than with the recent proposals for Technical Degrees. (http://press.labour.org.uk/post/91140989789/ed-miliband-speech-to-the-sutton-trust)  For example, David Miliband is accused by Professor Alison Wolf of both undermining the importance of Higher Level Apprenticeships and creating confusion over the status of the … Continue reading Labour’s new Technical degrees

‘Robbins Remembered and Dismembered’

Patrick Ainley 'Robbins Remembered and Dismembered, Contextualizing the anniversary' in Higher Education Quarterly Vol 68, Issue 2, pp.225-240 published online 28 Mar 2014. Download  onlineLibraryTPS 'With students everywhere complaining they are paying too much for too little, why do they keep applying? Prof Patrick Ainley decided to find out...' (p.9) Latitude Lookout February 2014 Latitude … Continue reading ‘Robbins Remembered and Dismembered’

Robbins Remembered and Dismembered

'Young people who succeed in education today find ascent difficult because most mobility is downwards' http://blogs.lse.ac.uk/politicsandpolicy/archives/34278 Patrick Ainley   argues that  widening participation  has not led to fair and equal access to higher education or outcomes in the labour market as systemic inequalities have deepened between institutions and subjects.  System-wide reform is therefore necessary as well as … Continue reading Robbins Remembered and Dismembered


Paper to Student Experience Network  Sheffield Hallam 17/05/13 Patrick Ainley This paper begins by asking what is ‘higher’ about the education we claim to be giving our students and goes on to briefly examine alternatives to the traditional academic answer to this question, drawing upon the polytechnic tradition to suggest combining higher with further education and … Continue reading COMPASS TO A HIGHER EDUCATION CURRICULUM

As applications rise, university chiefs call for quicker loan repayments

The latest UCAS  figures show a 3.5% increase in the number applying for 2013 full-time undergraduate entry to UK universities - though the figure is still down on 2011, the year before the £9000 tuition fee kicked in. Applications from 18 year olds are also up 2% and for 19 year olds 10.5%. (www.ucas.ac.uk/about_us/media_enquiries/media_releases/2013/20130130c) As … Continue reading As applications rise, university chiefs call for quicker loan repayments