Life after Augar: the post-18 funding review

Last week, the government published the long-awaited independent panel report for the review of post-18 education and training funding. The panel, chaired by the former banker Philip Augar, was initially established by Theresa May in early 2018.  Its remit was to look at the long-term funding of universities and the balance between university-based higher education…

Driving Future Economies

I’ve written about my dad in this blog before. He sadly died last year, a few months after his ninetieth birthday. He had left school in 1941 when he was fourteen. He worked first for a small engineering company and then, after national service, for most of his working life in a textile factory. I…

Lessons from the spaghetti trees

I’m well aware of the date on which this blog post will be published. There’s a long tradition of memorable April Fools’ Day spoofs. One of the most-often quoted was a 1977 Guardian supplement lauding investment opportunities in the (sadly fictional) island state of San Seriffe, which apparently tricked a good number of people, but…

Leaving Europe

I was in Germany when Theresa May’s ‘meaningful vote’ on Brexit took place last week: I had been asked by the German government to evaluate the University of Cologne as part of the country’s ‘universities of excellence’ programme. I was a member of a multi-national review team, which meant that late into the evenings of…

Room at the top?

There were other stories in the news last week but you had to look hard to find them under the hailstorm of Brexit-related developments.  Several of them related to universities and the role they play in society. On Friday, the Sutton Trust released a report on ‘elite’ private schools and access to Oxford and Cambridge.  The…

Politics and the nation

There’s an old, and no doubt apocryphal, story about a newly-elected MP, who arrives in the House of Commons.  The newcomer sits beside an old hand and, looking at the benches opposite, says ‘I can’t wait to take the argument to the enemy’.  The long-serving MP looks appalled, and replies ‘That’s not the enemy.  That’s…

The post-18 funding review: what Hallam said

Responses to the government’s consultation on the post-18 funding review have now been sent in. At Sheffield Hallam, we took the opportunity to draw together a comprehensive statement on our views of higher education funding. I’ve written about this issue several times, and the need to solve an obvious, but awkward problem: higher education costs…

No fanfares, but a moment of opportunity: devolution arrives

Last Thursday, a new political entity came into being.  There wasn’t much fanfare, and the election of the mayor for South Yorkshire elicited a low turnout typical of local elections, following a fairly low-key campaign which, I’d guess, many people in the region may not have noticed happening.  Nonetheless, the new South Yorkshire mayor now…

What happens next?

Perhaps all photographs are – or were, when there were fewer of them – poignant.  Photographs taken just before the First World War are especially touching: people captured, in grainy monochrome going about their daily lives, enjoying themselves, on the way to somewhere, all of them with not a clue about what was to come. …

The old, old question: how to pay

Even thirty years on, Yes, Minister captures something both funny and profound about government. If the stereotypical civil servant Sir Humphrey Appleby really wanted to warn his hapless minister Jim Hacker off a course of action, he would simply tell him ‘that’s very brave, minister’. Sometime over the weekend during which I write this, or…