Mark Leach

Big update

by Mark Leach on April 11, 2014

A few months ago we embarked on an ambitious project to substantially grow this site and its activities and I am pleased to report that things are progressing very well indeed. We want to be the sector’s daily destination for all commentary, debate and analysis about higher education and be an important platform for the new and previously unheard voices in the sector. Our big ambitions are backed up by a big strategy that we are now in the first phase of delivering and I wanted to report back today about our progress and announce the first of many partnerships, as well as a new Editorial Group.

Review of wonkhe’s 3rd year

by Mark Leach January 31, 2014

Wonkhe went live three years ago today, and as we celebrate our 3rd birthday, founder and Editor in Chief Mark Leach looks back at the last 12 months. With lots of exciting plans for the site and its surrounding organisation, today is also a good moment to preview some of the interesting developments that we have planned. Thank you for reading and supporting us for another year.

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Debating the future of research

by Mark Leach November 25, 2013

The REF submission deadline has finally arrived. But it’s only the beginning for researchers, departments and universities that have gambled big and need a good result. The results will make or break many universities’ ambitions and long-term strategic plans. The REF’s importance to the sector, or the impact on it cannot be overstated. But it’s not just the REF looming large on policymaker’s minds. With severe pressure on the whole of the BIS budget and many outstanding issues to resolve, will the next Parliament afford the opportunity for a far-reaching debate to help shape the next long term settlement for research and science in the UK?

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Review of Wonkhe year 2

by Mark Leach February 4, 2013

This time last year on Wonkhe’s first birthday, we had a brief look back at the first year in operation. Another year has passed and so as we celebrate our 2nd birthday, it feels like the right time to have another review of the year gone by. This post will give a list of the top 10 locations for reading the site, as well as the most popular content. And as usual, we will have a little look towards the future. Thanks for reading.

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Bursting bubbles in higher education

by Mark Leach September 11, 2012

In higher education, policy bubbles are commonplace. They float around the sector drawing disproportionate levels of interest and as they grow, they become less rooted in evidence, research or coherent thought. It is important to understand these bubbles if we are to improve policy-making in higher education, a project that has never been more important.

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Comprehensive spending

by Mark Leach July 16, 2012

As Oxford announces a £75 million donation to help its poorest students, Mark Leach tries to put the money in context and dreams about what else could be achieved with a chunk of change that size in higher education. Also, the news that the 2013 Comprehensive Spending Review may be delayed until late 2014 tells us some interesting things about the state of the Coaltion.

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Understanding higher education in further education

by Mark Leach July 11, 2012

There are few things that excite wonks more than excellent and well-timed policy research. Last week, BIS published its report Understanding Higher Education in Further Education Colleges, written by a dream team of policy researchers – Gareth Parry from Sheffield and Claire Callender, Peter Scott and Paul Temple from IoE. HE in FE is one of the least-understood parts of UK tertiary education, and despite pockets of work in other quarters; no one else has attempted such an exhaustive study of this issue. Although it will surely have its critics, this new report is without a doubt the seminal work about HE in FE right now and absolutely essential reading no matter which side of the HE/FE divide you fall.

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The rise and rise of Michael Gove

by Mark Leach June 25, 2012

Last week’s furore over Michael Gove’s ‘leaked’ plans to abolish GSCEs and bring back the O Level was an interesting moment for the education policy community who largely thought they had plumbed the depths of their disdain for the Education Secretary. But higher education should be worried, because Gove has only increased his political capital over the last week and could be preparing to bring his policy horror show to a university near you.

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The path of least resistance

by Mark Leach June 12, 2012

Yesterday the Government published its long awaited response to the HE White Paper and technical consultations. Smashing straight through the three-month deadline that Departments have to publish these, there were many who thought the long wait indicated that they were cooking up something big. It’s the classic policy wonk trap – you see big schemes, plots and grand strategies wherever you look because that’s how you think. But in politics – particularly in the Coalition, the truth is always much simpler. The Government’s response this week did a pretty good job of kicking issues into the long-grass and not committing to much at all. But it’s hardly a surprise when you consider the state of the White Paper itself when it was published last June – an equally thin document – and the political difficulties that HE has caused the Coalition to date.

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Wonks away plus site update

by Mark Leach May 14, 2012

I am going on holiday. Nothing remarkable about that, except it’s my first true substantial holiday away from everything related to my hobbies (higher education policy), side projects (higher education policy) and day job (higher education policy) in a very long time. As a result, there will be no new posts on the site until June when I return and the wonkery can recommence.

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Are we heading for a breakdown?

by Mark Leach March 12, 2012

The Coalition Government is in terminal decline. Its sense of purpose has dissipated and internal politics threaten to derail the whole enterprise. The higher education policy circus that came to town in 2010 reflects more than ever the tensions within the Coalition and the bizarre, inconsistent and occasionally bad policy-making that stems from this faltering political arrangement. The Coalition’s expiry date is May 2015, and despite the entire Government machine fixing its sights on that date, things may fall apart before then.

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