Browne: Two and an half cheers

First reactions to the Browne review

VERY GOOD

  • Freeing up universities to charge the tuition fees they want
  • Deferred loans extended to part-time students
  • Proper interest rate on the graduate contribution, linked to inflation

GOOD

  • Making early repayment of graduate contribution possible
  • Rejecting a graduate tax
  • Injecting some competition into the system
  • Increasing the number of student places
  • Approving a professional standards framework (developed by Mike Prosser and colleagues when I was chief executive of the HE Academy) as the means of setting teaching standards in universities

NOT SO GOOD

  • No deferred loans for postgraduate students
  • No opportunity for students to pay graduate contribution fee upfront, at a discount

ODD/WEIRD/STATIST*

  • Creating a regulatory agency that takes over the functions of the funding council and QAA
  • Half-baked (and contradictory) noises about teaching quality
  • Spinning increased government control as a boost for university autonomy
  • Confusing teaching qualifications with better teaching
  • Making the marginal tax rate (aka the levy) on student contributions received by universities as high as 75% (there’s a wonderfully deceptive table about this on page 37)
  • Repeating the phony mantra that more information about courses and facilities will drive up quality by improving student choice

(* in all of which can be detected the heavy hand of government)

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