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As longstanding higher education and science minister David Willetts steps down from his government post, and from politics in general, Andy Westwood looks back at his time with the brief – from 2005 when in opposition to today. What will be his legacy? Is it too soon to judge? With mixed feelings in the sector, the ultimate legacy of David Willetts may take quite some time to fully understand. In the mean time, there’s much to learn from the last nine years with David Willetts.

World-class universities or systems?

by Jamil Salmi July 9, 2014

With governments around the world looking to rankings to measure success, and perusing prestige in its various forms, is this now becoming an unhealthy distraction from creating sustainable systems that include institutions with distinctive missions able to meet the needs of the societies and economies that they serve? Jamil Salmi, the a global tertiary education expert, writes about this growing tension.

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Balancing power in the market

by Jim Dickinson July 7, 2014

With the arrival of the Competition and Markets Authority to the higher education sector, debates about consumerism, regulation and the role of students and their institutions have intensified. In this piece, Jim Dickinson looks at power and the balance set between students, academics and institutions. Jim asks if this question of power is being left out of the debate and offers a different way to look at the work of the CMA and the debates around their intervention.

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The future of Higher National Diplomas

by Julian Gravatt July 3, 2014

Anyone interested in higher education funding and regulation should take some time out in the next few weeks to think about Higher National Diplomas. The plan recently announced by BIS to transfer HNDs and HNCs out of the higher education funding system represents an important moment in policy for both HE and FE. Julian Gravatt looks at the long history of higher nationals and the implications of BIS’ latest proposals for funding and regulation.

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Quality enhancement at a crossroads

by Robin Middlehurst July 1, 2014

The Higher Education Academy’s Annual Conference this week signals its tenth year as the UK’s quality enhancement agency for teaching and learning. The focus of the conference is ‘Preparing for learning futures’ over the next decade. Given significant cuts to the Academy’s budget over the next two years, the conference focus will likely be as much about the HEA’s future as about the learning futures in the title. In this piece, Robin Middlehurst looks at the important challenges now faced by the Academy, sector and Government and presents the key choices that now need to made.

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The 1994 Education Act and students’ unions

by Alex Bols June 26, 2014

It is now twenty years since the 1994 Education Act, an important moment for students’ unions and the higher education sector at large. Much has changed since, both inside the student movement and outside where perceptions of students and representation has been constantly evolving. Alex Bols takes a look at the last 20 years of evolution and how it might inform the next 20 years of students’ unions.

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Thatcher’s enduring legacy to British HE

by Tom Bailey June 23, 2014

What did Margaret Thatcher ever do to British universities? The last few days have seen much analysis of Thatcher’s legacy for universities, research and science – which gives us an appropriate moment to assess the history. Tom Bailey takes a look at Thatcher and her critics – when in power and today – and how their response to her policies shaped today’s landscape.

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Welsh Bill may point to England’s HE future

by Greg Walker June 20, 2014

Following the Welsh Government’s publication of a Higher Education Bill, Greg Walker looks at the implications of its policies and the reactions to them in the Welsh HE sector. Greg also shows how some of the controversial measures designed by Labour in Wales might be replicated in English HE, should Labour come to power after the General Election next year.

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Delivering enhanced social mobility

by Michael Brown June 10, 2014

Michael Brown, the former Vice Chancellor of Liverpool John Moores University reflects on his new report: ‘Higher Education as a tool of social mobility: Reforming the delivery of HE and measuring professional graduate output success’. Michael looks at the problem with purely focusing on ‘input’ measures rather than ‘output’ and suggests new ways to measure the positive social mobility outcomes in the sector. As well as looking ahead to the future, Michael reflects on the sector’s reaction to these ideas and the debate surrounding the report.

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