Off-White Paper

It was a hard act to beat, but the recent White Paper succeeds. It’s even duller than the last one. Full of compromise, weasel words and bluster; lacking character, factual accuracy and vision.

Agency apparachiks have rushed into press releases to welcome it. Other commentators have been less enthusiastic. This piece is a good example.

I hope to say more about the student experience parts later – there’s a particularly choice example of cherry picking ‘research’ results to make a political point, using an obscure report.

The flimsiness of the White Paper is epitomised in its inability to get simple things right, such as references to other work. I wrote a policy paper about the student experience at the invitation of one of David Willetts’ recent predecessors (read it here). It presents a personal view: I was asked to write it as an individual and not as the chief exec of the HEA.

A bit of it’s paraphrased with approval in the White Paper (page 33, I think) – some sort of fame, at last.

Alas no – it’s attributed to the Higher Education Academy. How irritating! On second thoughts, though, it’s probably better to remain invisible in a production as poor as the White Paper…


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