BLOG INDEX


Academic Freedom

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

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CDBU Updates

News round-up: universities face an uncertain financial future

Vice-chancellors have been sharing their concerns that some universities may face insolvency, while Robert Halfon MP says too many students are studying academic degrees   Opportunity and risk: universities prepare for an uncertain future The Guardian, 07/02/2018,...

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CDBU Annual Lecture 2017 now available

We are pleased to report that Martin Wolf's lecture: Uses and Abuses of Economics in the Debate on Universities is now available for download here: Wolf_CDBU_lecture_26Jan2017. For a synopsis, see previous...

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CDBU Response to REF Review

In December, Jo Johnson, the Universities and Science Minister, launched a review of university research funding. The goals of the review appear well-aligned with those of CDBU: ‘to cut red tape so that universities can focus more on delivering the world-leading...

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CDBU’s Response to the Green Paper

The Council for the Defence of British Universities (CDBU) today submitted its response to the Green Paper "Fulfilling our Potential: Teaching Excellence, Social Mobility and Student Choice". We undertook this exercise in good faith and with good will since the focus...

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Events

CDBU Launch Meeting at the British Academy

BY Gordon Campbell (University of leicester) CDBU will be formally launched at an Inaugural Meeting at the British Academy next Tuesday, 13 November. Drawing up the list of those invited to attend this initial meeting has not been easy: the space available to us is...

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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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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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Government’s letter to the Lords re TEF: A reply

Opinion piece by Dorothy Bishop The Higher Education and Research Bill (HERB) has had a rocky passage through parliament. As explained here, a Bill goes through several stages before it becomes law, with debate in both the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as...

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Grade Inflation

News round-up: Tuition fees don’t all go on tuition – shock

A new study finds that the larger part of tuition fees is spent on support, admin and buildings rather than tuition – and the two-year degree makes one of its periodic reappearances   Scrap REF and allocate QR funding by headcount, says professor Times Higher...

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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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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

The mysterious letters in the library

Opinion Piece by G. R. Evans The Higher Education and Research Bill has now had seven sessions before the Lords in Committee, ending on 30 January. As Lord Willetts acknowledged, it has become ‘famous’ for the sheer number of ‘letters’ promised to various Peers at the...

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Uses and Abuses of Economics in the Debate on Universities

Report on CDBU Annual Lecture 2017 by Dorothy Bishop Last night, Martin Wolf, chief economics commentator at the Financial Times, delivered a splendid lecture with the title “Uses and Abuses of Economics in the Debate on Universities”. It is not possible to do this...

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Humanities

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Marketisation

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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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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News Round-Up


Office-For-Students

UKRI and OfS: happy marriage or uneasy alliance?

The roles of the previous higher education regulator, Hefce, have been split between two new bodies: UKRI and OfS. The two organisations were meant to collaborate – but how’s it working out in practice? Professor GR Evans investigates   Higher Education and Research...

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A robust analysis of the crisis in universities

Professor David Midgley reviews English Universities in Crisis: Markets without Competition, by Jefferson Frank, Norman Gowar and Michael Naef   The policy objectives against which this book measures the effectiveness of the current system for funding and regulating...

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Opinion

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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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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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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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

CDBU in the International Herald Tribune

The CDBU was recently featured in an article in the International Herald Tribune. The piece was subsequently reprinted in the New York Times. Here’s an excerpt: “Universities are among the U.K.’s most successful institutions,” Howard Hotson, chair of the council’s...

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Melvyn Bragg writes about CDBU’s launch in the Telegraph

Writer, broadcaster and CDBU Founding Member Melvyn Bragg (pictured here on the right) recently wrote a short piece in the Telegraph about the CDBU’s launch last week. Here’s an excerpt: The meeting – which lasted precisely one and a half hours, as it was billed to do...

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REF

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

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TEF

The problem with TEF – a look at the technical failings

Professor DV Bishop outlines the multiple flaws in the TEF methodology   In a previous post I questioned the rationale and validity of the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF). Here I document the technical and statistical problems with TEF.   How...

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TEF: an ill-conceived solution to a wrongly-posed problem

The Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework represents a lamentable failure to engage in critical thinking, argues Professor DV Bishop   If you criticise the Teaching Excellence and Student Outcomes Framework (TEF), you run the risk of being dismissed as an...

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Tuition fees

How should we fund universities?

Discussions about student funding don't have to revolve around tuition fees, argue Josie McLellan, Richard Pettigrew and Tom Sperlinger. Instead we should start by asking fundamental questions about the purpose of a university education   Debates about higher...

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UKRI

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Universities UK

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University funding

A robust analysis of the crisis in universities

Professor David Midgley reviews English Universities in Crisis: Markets without Competition, by Jefferson Frank, Norman Gowar and Michael Naef   The policy objectives against which this book measures the effectiveness of the current system for funding and regulating...

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Universities are not like banks: why Sir Michael Barber is wrong

Sir Michael Barber, head of the Office for Students, has said that the regulator will not come to the aid of failing universities. It’s a policy that could have disastrous consequences for students, argues Professor DVM Bishop   In a much-publicised speech on November...

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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

A robust analysis of the crisis in universities

Professor David Midgley reviews English Universities in Crisis: Markets without Competition, by Jefferson Frank, Norman Gowar and Michael Naef   The policy objectives against which this book measures the effectiveness of the current system for funding and regulating...

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