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…

Looking for good new year news

As the decorations were being put away for another year, one of my daughters sent me this link, with a note saying ‘you can use this for your next blog’. Since we are just coming out of the season for giving and receiving, I’m happy to take up her suggestion. But the BBC story on the…

Universities and the industrial strategy

Graduation is over for another year:  we have just completed two weeks of graduation ceremonies with all the aplomb that goes with them.  The gowns, like Christmas decorations after Twelfth Night, are put away for another year.  The graduation teams are able to take a breather – although a fair number were in evidence at…

In the news: sorting out student finances

There’s a remarkable finding in one of the early reports from the Millennium Cohort Study – the vast research programme following the lives of 19,000 children born in the year 2000. The mothers were asked what they wanted for their children as they grew up.  More than nine out of ten said they wanted their children to go…

Who pays?: why student finance is an explosive issue

Evelyn Waugh told the story in a letter home to his wife in May 1942. A British commando unit was billeted for training on the Earl of Glasgow’s estate. The Earl wanted rid of an old tree stump and the commandoes offered to blow it up for him. He was keen on the idea but worried about damage to…

The TEF… and the University

The Teaching Excellence Framework (TEF) results were published last week.  For me, as Chair of the TEF panel, last week was hectic: two hundred and ninety-five institutions submitted for TEF assessment, including large multi-faculty universities and specialist institutions, research-intensive and teaching-intensive universities, further education colleges offering higher education and alternative providers. That meant that the…