Post-Browne and the new 'market' in student fees — the future of HE in England

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15 Jun 2011 12:35:39.143
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With the Government facing a potential shortfall of hundreds of millions of pounds and universities about to enter a new ‘market’ in student fees, just what does the future hold for higher education in England?

These are among the issues that will be tackled by leading educationalist Professor Sir Peter Scott when he delivers a public lecture at The University of Nottingham on Monday June 20.

In his lecture Sir Peter — Professor of Higher Education Studies at the Institute of Education, Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University from 1998 to 2010 and former editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement — will examine in depth the challenges of the post-Browne report era.
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With almost half of all English higher education institutions — including The University of Nottingham — declaring their intention to charge the maximum £9,000 annual fees, the Government has been taken by surprise.

Last week MPs warned that the Government is facing a shortfall of £95 million a year after underestimating the number of institutions likely to charge top tuition fees, subject to approval by OFFA (the Office for Fair Access).

The Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said the miscalculation could result in further budget cuts or fewer university places.

The Government will pay fees upfront and then recoup costs from students after they leave university — in most cases many years after they graduate — and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills has admitted that it won’t know the true cost until next year when students have enrolled and received their loans.

Further controversy has been sparked by the private New College of the Humanities, founded by philosopher AC Grayling, which recently expressed its intention to charge £18,000 per year in tuition fees.

As we move into this period of economic uncertainty for universities, Sir Peter’s lecture will look at whether the proposals in the recent Browne report, which recommended the introduction of higher tuition fees, really does amount to a ‘paradigm shift’ in higher education.

In particular he will discuss concerns that the proposals would represent a radical departure from the post-war pattern of a largely publicly funded higher education system and whether universities are robust enough to withstand the challenges posed by a new ‘market’ in student fees.

The lecture will be particularly interesting to prospective students, their parents and teachers who may be keen to understand what impact all these changes may have on the future of higher education.

The lecture, The Political Economy of Mass Higher Education: Shrinking the ‘Public’ and Elevating the ‘Market’ will take place on Monday June 20 at 5pm at the University’s School of Education in the Dearing Building on Jubilee Campus.

Admission is free, but people interested in attending should register for a place by emailing

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Notes to editors:
Professor Sir Peter Scott
is Professor of Higher Education Studies at the Institute of Education, University of London. He was Vice-Chancellor of Kingston University 1998-2010 and was a member of the board of the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) 2000-2006. Previously, he was Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Professor of Education at the University of Leeds and was Director of the Centre for Policy Studies in Education. From 1976 to 1992, he was the editor of The Times Higher Education Supplement.

The University of Nottingham, described by The Sunday Times University Guide 2011 as ‘the embodiment of the modern international university’, has award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and the QS World University Rankings. It was named ‘Europe’s greenest university’ in the UI GreenMetric World University Ranking, a league table of the world’s most environmentally-friendly higher education institutions, which ranked Nottingham second in the world overall.

The University is committed to providing a truly international education for its 40,000 students, producing world-leading research and benefiting the communities around its campuses in the UK and Asia.

More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranked the University 7th in the UK by research power. The University’s vision is to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health.

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