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Students at the heart of the system – what’s behind the words?



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  • 1. Students at the heart of the system– what’s behind the words?Bahram BekhradniaDirector, HEPIAUA Conference3rd April 2012
  • 2. Talk in two partso Issues with the “reforms”o What might the implications be for universities?
  • 3. An ideological driven policyo Nothing wrong with that – policy based on principleso The problem is the principles can’t be implemented, and the compromises are damaging
  • 4. What is the rhetoric and ideology?o Markets should rule - Student choice  Including wider range of institutions - Remove control over recruitment - Voucherso Government involvement should reduce
  • 5. Why can the ideology not beimplemented?o Victim of circumstances - Funding cuts (teaching by up to 80%)  So student number controls remain  So on vouchers cannot be extended to privates (or not easily)o The ideology is flawed - Vouchers in HE are a bad idea - Universities are an important part of the nation’s infrastructure - Perverse effects of leaving it entirely to the market
  • 6. Examples of perverse effectsalready encounteredo Level of tuition feeso Undermining recruitment of STEMo Encouraging provision in the arts at STEM’s expenseo Impact on widening participationo Arms race of merit-based scholarships
  • 7. Part 2: So what does the future holdfor universities? – a pseudo marketo The key policies affecting universities – not students - are not fee levels but student number controlso The core and margin and AAB policieso Core and margin means that few universities can afford to hold out against the pressure to reduce fees
  • 8. Maintaining fees at £9,000 loses aninstitution 30% of income in 5 years£950,000£900,000£850,000£800,000£750,000 Institution A Institution B£700,000£650,000£600,000£550,000£500,000
  • 9. Russell & 94 Group universities too
  • 10. Impact on choiceo One purpose of core and margin is to provide public funding to privateso But no suggestion that students would prefer that – it’s supply-side, not market- driveno And AAB doesn’t increase choiceo The combined policies may maintain choice for a minority but reduce it for the majorityo And the more that are included in the “top performing” (ABB etc), the more will have to be withdrawn from the rest
  • 11. So in consequenceo Reduced choice for studentso No reduction in quotaso No reduction in government interventiono Instead of a market determining which universities will grow and contract HEFCE committees will do soo A bipolar system – £7500 universities and £9000 universities, and students will be polarised too
  • 12. Cost and implications of thesecostso White Paper gives three different assessments of cost – 30%, 32% and 37% – a difference of £0.5 bn per yearo The estimates of cost are hopelessly optimistic - One of the original assumptions (average fee levels) has been addressed - But other serious misplaced assumptions remain  EU students’ repayments  The gender balance - The average graduate salary in real terms will be £100,000 per year
  • 13. Changes in real terms graduatesalaries over 35 years
  • 14. Changes in real terms graduatesalaries over 35 years (2)60%50%40%30%20%10% 0%-10%-20%
  • 15. What will the consequence be?o Costs will be far higher than the government’s estimateo We need to be seriously concerned, and there are the first signs that the government recognises thiso So cuts will be needed somewhere - Other parts of the higher education budget – the residual HEFCE grant? - Graduates paying even more (reduce or removing subsidies) - Reduction in participation?
  • 16. For individual universities?o The limited competition that exists – for AAB students - will have insidious effects. Most universities - and not just the obvious ones - will be vulnerable to predators.o Most will have to reduces prices idc. Over £7500 will lose 10% of numbers each year. Game of chickeno There will be a new hierarchy - £9000 universities & the resto Need to satisfy HEFCE cttees. HEFCE can bankrupt a university, not market. HEFCE’s criteria for allocating places to include impact on viability?o What will happen to PG demand?o And PT demand?
  • 17. Conclusiono The income of universities has been preservedo The price is a heavy one - Disruption & uncertainty - Fragmented sector - Increased government controlo But above all the price will be borne by the next generation
  • 18. Students at the heart of the system– what’s behind the words?Bahram BekhradniaDirector, HEPIAUA Conference3rd April 2012