David Kernohan

Review: IPPR’s Critical Path

by David Kernohan June 10, 2013

Sometimes in reading a report you spot what is missing before you see what is there. In reading through the new IPPR report ‘A Critical Path: Securing the Future of Higher Education in England’, one is struck by the lack of references to another (comparatively recent) report, “Securing a Sustainable Future for Higher Education“. Such has been the slump in fortunes of the Browne review that a report just three years later covering almost identical ground does not see fit to offer it a single mention. David Kernohan takes a look at the similarities between the two and the successes and failures of IPPR’s HE Commission’s new far-reaching report in to higher education.

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We’re under fifteen feet of pure white snow

by David Kernohan March 12, 2013

An avalanche is coming. An avalanche of nonsense. David Kernohan reviews the new publication ‘An Avalanche is Coming’ by Pearson’s Michael Barber and finds serious problems with the disease he outlines and even worse problems with his ideas for a cure.

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Powder and the mirror: policy, fiction and storytelling

by David Kernohan December 12, 2012

A policy-maker is a writer of fiction. And as writers of fiction we use the same narrative techniques and tropes as novelists, poets and film makers. Because what else can we do? The fiction industry – the multi-billion dollar superstructure that exists to entertain and divert us – sets the bar so high.

The mess, the chaos and the arbitrariness of reality will never measure up to the best that the industry can offer. Therefore – we edit; we prune and we cultivate. We collect the shards of experience that suit our purpose, we downplay those that do not.

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Let’s MOOC the midnight bell

by David Kernohan September 18, 2012

Quietly, imperceptibly, educational technology has become big money. A perception, fed by rising tuition fees and concerns about student satisfaction, that HE is not fit for purpose has transformed into a business opportunity so massive that even Rupert Murdoch is getting on board. When, in February of this year, Global Industry Analysts Inc suggested that e-learning would be a $107bn global market in 2015 (a little under half of the current UK national deficit), they were examining a sector that seems far from the “cottage industry” derided by Sir John Daniel (Commonwealth of Learning) in 2010.

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Highly provisional provision

by David Kernohan March 29, 2012

Reading the HEFCE grant tables for 2012/2013 is like reading the racing form guide at the back of the Daily Mail. You know that most of what you are seeing is based on extrapolation and guesswork, and you feel fairly dirty and ashamed whilst doing so.

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MarginCore – the binary divide

by David Kernohan March 7, 2012

Margin places have been allocated to institutions based on on “criteria of quality, demand and cost – only those institutions with average tuition fees in 2012-13 of £7,500 or less (net of fee waivers) were eligible to bid. HEFCE received bids from 203 institutions for 36,000 places. Final allocations were made on a pro rata basis” (the “pro-rata” being that everyone’s allocation was reduced to meet the total fit below the 20,000 places HEFCE could allocate.)

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The AAB Opportunity: Anti-competitive?

by David Kernohan July 15, 2011

I’m way of my depth here, but I was wondering how “average qualification on entry” data relates to some of the other aspects that the amazing UniStats data let me look at. You’ll remember earlier this week I examined the numbers of entrants with 340 points across various subjects, institutions and groupings. This time, I’m going to try to work in similar ways as prospective students might in choosing the “best” place to study (and this excuses my #statsfail I guess too…)

Just to give us a pool we can get our heads round, I decided to look at Social Sciences subjects only (Groups L and P in the JACS coding, so stuff like Economics, Politics, Sociology, Social Policy, Social Work, Anthropology, Social Geography, Media Studies, Publishing, Journalism). Social Sciences are interesting because they are mostly difficult to link to a specific job, but together constitute our understanding of the underpinning structures of western civilisation, and offer us ideas of what to do when it breaks.

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The University of Castlebeck? Risk management in the new model – HE White Paper

by David Kernohan June 28, 2011

You know what would be a superb model to follow for the regulation of university teaching quality? The regulation of care homes. A model of low intervention, arms length review and risk management has seen the care sector transform from a statist behemoth to an efficient, effective and competitive…

OK, you guessed I’m bluffing on that one. I’m not sure for the very obvious evidence-based reason alluded to above that lowering regulatory engagement at the same time as raising costs to students (or consumers *shudder*) and specifically encouraging new entrants to the sector is such a great idea. But, it’s what on offer.

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AAB or AARGH? A schoolboy funding error in the HE White Paper

by David Kernohan June 28, 2011

Okay, so much in the White Paper to process, probably the focus of many posts to come, but here’s the glaring issue for me. Paragraph 4.19: “We propose to allow unrestrained recruitment of high achieving students, scoring the equivalent of AAB or above at A-Level. Core allocations [I assume this means allocated student numbers] for all […]

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