BLOG INDEX


Academic Freedom

English higher education in pursuit of income: the consequences

Guest post by Prof G.R.Evans In the last few years there have been radical changes in the way English higher education is funded and regulated.  That has had negative consequences not only for students  but also at the receiving end of funding, where higher education...

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Is Britain closing its doors to overseas academics?

Report in the Guardian today regarding how increasing visa restrictions are compromising UK HE.  "When organisers of a workshop held earlier this month at All Souls College, Oxford, invited an eminent Algerian academic to be a keynote speaker, they assumed his visa...

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Intellectual freedom in academic scientific research

guest post by Prof Sir John Meurig Thomas (Materials Science, Cambridge) CDBU welcomes a diversity of views. Please contact us if you would like to be part of the conversation. This article is a slightly modified form of one that appears in Angewandt Chemie 2013 the...

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Why universities matter

Tamson Pietsch spoke recently at the Guardian’s Future of Higher Education Summit about the importance of universities, and it's now gone up on their website. You can watch the talk here, or read the text below. "As a panel we were asked to speak about what the sector...

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Casual Staff

Staff satisfaction is as important as student satisfaction

Opinion piece by Dorothy Bishop, 13 November 2014 Universities have become obsessed with competition: it is no longer enough to do well; you have to demonstrate you are better than the rest. And to do that, you need some kind of metric. Organisations have grown up to...

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CDBU Updates

News round-up: demand for higher education is set to grow

Demand for university places is going to grow by 300,000, but the rise in tuition fees means fewer people are choosing to study part-time   More than 40,000 fewer part-time students go to university due to tuition fees hike, study suggests The Independent online,...

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Yes, tuition fees in England are among the highest in the world

It turns out the CDBU were right about tuition fees Prime minister Theresa May has admitted that tuition fees in England are among the highest in the world. It’s good to see an acknowledgement from government of something that we first drew attention to three years...

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Events

The CDBU is launched at the British Academy

What is to be done? This was the leading question aired at the inaugural meeting of the Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU) at the British Academy on the evening of Tuesday, 13 November. Such was the consensus amongst Founding Members of the need...

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Roundup of Coverage for CDBU Ahead of Tuesday’s Launch

We’re delighted to see that the new Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU) has been receiving plenty of press coverage from outlets around the world, ahead of our official launch at the British Academy on Tuesday 13th. Here are some of the highlights:...

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Free Speech

We must stand up for universities’ right to teach the truth

Attempts to promote 'alternative facts' should be resisted, argues Professor James Ladyman It should surprise nobody that when Chris Heaton-Harris MP wrote to universities asking for details of academic staff discussing European affairs, he was immediately supported...

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Consequences for institutional autonomy and academic freedom

No 4 in a series of Guest posts by G. R. Evans The problem-areas flagged up here are technical but they are also of fundamental importance to academics because they affect academic freedom and the institutional autonomy of providers of higher education. These are...

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Banning extremists and ‘radical reform’

Opinion piece by Howard Hotson The new counter-terrorism bill emerging from the Home Office late in 2014 includes a significant piece of ad hoc university legislation: the requirement that universities ban ‘extremists’ from speaking on campus. This proposed...

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The man who sighed too much

Opinion piece by Howard Hotson, October 29th 2014 Professor Thomas Docherty ‘Professor suspended from top university for giving off “negative vibes”.’ Thus read the headline in The Telegraph on Friday 24 October.  ‘Professor at top university was suspended for nine...

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Government

Book review: A university education by David Willetts

Professor GR Evans finds much that is self-justifying and sometimes misleading in a new book by former universities and science minister David Willetts David Willetts defends himself more than once about the purpose of this book. He dismisses the possibility that it...

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Jo Johnson: an end of term report

Professor DVM Bishop bids a not-so-fond farewell to universities minister Jo Johnson. So Jo Johnson is gone, brought down by poor judgement demonstrated by, first, the appointment of Toby Young to the Board of the Office for Students, and...

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Grade Inflation

News round-up: Ditch predicted grades for university admissions

A think tank attacks grade inflation, while a new study calls for an end to the UK admissions system based on predicted A-level grades   Too many firsts risk universities’ credibility, says think tank BBC, 21/06/2018 Universities risk losing their credibility due to...

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Who needs external examiners? We do

UCU has asked external examiners to resign in support of the strike over pensions. But what exactly does an external examiner do? Professor GR Evans reflects on the value of an undersung role On 15 March the University and College Union (UCU) asked external examiners...

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Higher Education And Research Act

Roll up, roll up for the HERB 2.0 show

The themes playing out in the higher education debates in the houses of parliament seem strangely familiar, writes Professor David Midgley HERB 2.0 (the Higher Education Research Bill) has been playing in both houses of parliament recently. Like HERB 1.0, which...

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Update on Amendments to the Higher Education and Research Bill

David Midgley has kindly provided this useful summary of recent developments: The text of the Bill as amended by the Lords in report stage is now available at https://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/bills/lbill/2016-2017/0112/17112.pdf. The most significant changes...

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Humanities


Marketisation

English higher education in pursuit of income: the consequences

Guest post by Prof G.R.Evans In the last few years there have been radical changes in the way English higher education is funded and regulated.  That has had negative consequences not only for students  but also at the receiving end of funding, where higher education...

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‘Poor value’ doesn’t mean poor quality

Media coverage of a recent student survey suggested higher education was poor value for money. But, asks Professor David Midgley, what does ‘value for money’ actually mean to students? The announcement of the 2018 Student Academic Experience Survey (SAES) by the...

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News Round-Up

News round-up: Ditch predicted grades for university admissions

A think tank attacks grade inflation, while a new study calls for an end to the UK admissions system based on predicted A-level grades   Too many firsts risk universities’ credibility, says think tank BBC, 21/06/2018 Universities risk losing their credibility due to...

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Office-For-Students

English higher education in pursuit of income: the consequences

Guest post by Prof G.R.Evans In the last few years there have been radical changes in the way English higher education is funded and regulated.  That has had negative consequences not only for students  but also at the receiving end of funding, where higher education...

read more

News round-up: Ditch predicted grades for university admissions

A think tank attacks grade inflation, while a new study calls for an end to the UK admissions system based on predicted A-level grades   Too many firsts risk universities’ credibility, says think tank BBC, 21/06/2018 Universities risk losing their credibility due to...

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Opinion

What is teaching intensity – and how do you measure it?

The government believes that university courses can be rated according to the level of teaching intensity they provide. Professor GR Evans detects a lack of joined-up thinking “Prospective students deserve to know which courses deliver great teaching and great...

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Who needs external examiners? We do

UCU has asked external examiners to resign in support of the strike over pensions. But what exactly does an external examiner do? Professor GR Evans reflects on the value of an undersung role On 15 March the University and College Union (UCU) asked external examiners...

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Subject level TEF: are the metrics statistically adequate?

Opinion piece by D. V. M. Bishop The Teaching Excellence and Outcomes Framework (TEF) was introduced at an institutional level in 2016. It uses metrics from the National Student Survey, together with information on drop-out rates, and on student outcomes. These are...

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Part-Time Students

Part-time students in decline

Opinion piece by Dorothy Bishop My mother came to England after the war, having met my father when working as a translator for the British Forces in allied-occupied Germany. She’d come from an academic family in Gottingen, and it’s hard to imagine her state of mind in...

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Pensions

Resolving the pensions dispute: who has the power to agree?

It seemed that the pensions dispute had been resolved – and then union members voted to reject it. So who decides when an agreement has been reached, asks Professor GR Evans The press was quick off the mark to announce a resolution to the pensions dispute when talks...

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News round-up: academics go on strike over pensions

The universities minister says that students should be compensated for missed teaching time as a result of the pensions strike, and a report says that there should have been greater scrutiny in the appointment of Toby Young to the board of the Office for Students   EU...

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Publications

Educating for unemployment

by Prof. Patrick Ainley (University of Greenwich) Ken Roberts (pictured), Professor of Sociology at Liverpool University, described ‘The real trend in social mobility from upward to downward’ at the latest seminar in a series on precarious labour hosted by the...

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German media coverage of the CDBU

Continuing our coverage of overseas reactions to the foundation of the Council for the Defence of British Universities, Germany’s leading newspaper and radio news outlets have also picked up the story. Germany’s most celebrated daily newspaper, the Frankfurter...

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Ross McKibbin Advises Opposing Marketeers on Their Own Ground

One of the leading historians of twentieth-century Britain, Dr Ross McKibbin of St John's College Oxford, has greeted the foundation of the CDBU  with an insightful piece 'In Defence of British Universities' in the London Review of Books. Those who would defend...

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Salford VC Martin Hall joins CDBU

Professor Martin Hall, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Salford and historical archaeologist, has written a piece in support of CDBU on his personal blog, which has also been reproduced on the higher education blog Wonkhe. Here are a few excerpts: The CDBU is...

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REF

The new REF: biased, unaccountable and unchallengeable

Changes to the 2021 Research Evaluation Framework will increase the stress on academics and strengthen the hand of the managerial elite, argues Josh Robinson, lecturer in English literature at Cardiff University  Two of the changes implemented for the 2021 Research...

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News round-up: Ditch predicted grades for university admissions

A think tank attacks grade inflation, while a new study calls for an end to the UK admissions system based on predicted A-level grades   Too many firsts risk universities’ credibility, says think tank BBC, 21/06/2018 Universities risk losing their credibility due to...

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Value for money – are students right to complain?

Stories about vice-chancellors’ large salaries have led people to ask whether universities provide value for money. We should begin by tackling the question of how we meet infrastructure costs, argues Gill Evans, emeritus professor of medieval theology and...

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Scotland

The Bill on the Governance of Scottish Universities

The Bill before the Scottish Parliament on the governance of Scottish Universities has implications not only for Scotland but anybody interested in the relationship of governments to the universities in their territories. Here are some weblinks to this debate:...

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TEF

Will Unistats sink the TEF? We live in hope

Now that all the data used to inform TEF ratings is publicly available, argues Professor D V M Bishop, TEF itself becomes redundant   I have been vocal in my criticism of the Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF): its rationale is disingenuous, it is based on measures...

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TEF: so what is a ‘subject’?

Opinion piece by Professor G. R. Evans The subject-based Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF) promises to give prospective university students clear, easy-to-understand information so that they can see at a glance where ‘excellent teaching and...

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Tuition fees

English higher education in pursuit of income: the consequences

Guest post by Prof G.R.Evans In the last few years there have been radical changes in the way English higher education is funded and regulated.  That has had negative consequences not only for students  but also at the receiving end of funding, where higher education...

read more


UKRI

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Universities UK

Universities UK – who does it represent and what does it do?

Professor GR Evans looks at the history of an organisation that has rarely been out of the news in recent weeks – and asks what powers it really has   Universities UK has been in the news recently during the upset caused by the proposals to make major changes to the...

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University funding

The new REF: biased, unaccountable and unchallengeable

Changes to the 2021 Research Evaluation Framework will increase the stress on academics and strengthen the hand of the managerial elite, argues Josh Robinson, lecturer in English literature at Cardiff University  Two of the changes implemented for the 2021 Research...

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Who shall regulate the regulators?

The appointment process for the new Office for Students has been heavily criticised in a new report, writes Professor David Midgley – and it hasn’t even launched yet When the membership of the Board of the Office for Students (Ofs) was announced on 1 January 2018, a...

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Widening access

News round-up: Ditch predicted grades for university admissions

A think tank attacks grade inflation, while a new study calls for an end to the UK admissions system based on predicted A-level grades   Too many firsts risk universities’ credibility, says think tank BBC, 21/06/2018 Universities risk losing their credibility due to...

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