The new higher education package in the UK

It appears that major changes are about to be introduced to the English higher education system. The UK’s Secretary of States for Business and Skills, Vince Cable, has set out a number of policy options in a major speech. These include replacing tuition fees with a graduate tax (and thereby restoring the state’s role as the sole funder at the point of entry), the possible growth of private universities and the development of two-year degree programmes. Whether these are attractive options is another matter, but his comments should at any rate stimulate a major debate around higher education.

What is needed in this debate – in Ireland as in Britain – is a coherent concept of what kind of higher education we now want. It is not enough to highlight certain changes or reforms, particularly if these are primarily based on budgetary considerations; it is necessary to explain how the overall system can thrive, be excellent, be competitive and attract both students and faculty globally. That kind of coherent analysis is so far lacking, here as across the Irish Sea.

Explore posts in the same categories: higher education, politics


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4 Comments on “The new higher education package in the UK”

  1. Vincent Says:

    There is something of the kindly scorpion about all this. For going on past experience anything that the Tories have their claws on which at first telling seemed reasonable tend over time to develop a very poisonous sting.

  2. Colm Harmon Says: is an interesting set of videos from the Lord Browne review underway in the UK

  3. Colm Harmon Says:

    have a look in particular at the discussion led by my colleagues at the Institute for Fiscal Studies at

  4. iainmacl Says:

    It is also interesting to look in detail at Vince Cable’s speech and see the inconsistencies, contextual background etc. An interesting commentary on it is provided here:

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