Calling it – Weeknote #273 – 24th May 2024

On Thursday the prime minister announced that there will be a general election on the 4th July.  We can expect lots of policy ideas and manifesto commitments being pushed out over the next six weeks. Will the higher education sector be top of the list, somehow I doubt it.

I planned out some blog posts I want to write in relation to the areas I am working on. Now I just need to write them…

I spent some time preparing for a briefing I was giving at the end of the week. This was on the optimisation work I have been doing this year.

Concerns about the financial viability of higher education continues with some ex-ministers warning UK universities will go bust without higher fees or funding

Vice-chancellors and former ministers are warning that the cash crisis facing universities is so serious that the next government will have to urgently raise tuition fees or increase funding to avoid bankruptcies within two years.

Even with a general election coming soon, it is unlikely that we will see increased funding for universities.

Wonkhe reported that despite the recommendations of the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) report the government is still looking to reduce the number of international students coming to the UK.

The sector’s eyes are on the Prime Minister this week as, following the conclusion of the independent Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) that the Graduate route for international students should remain intact, there’s no indication the government plans to take the advice it asked for. All the latest signals from Number 10 suggest that Rishi Sunak is looking for ways to restrict international students further, potentially using a “best and brightest” formula to do so, despite the prospective damage to the economy and to universities, and the fundamental incoherence of the concept.

I am pretty sure that none of the international students coming to the UK arrive in small boats. Another situation where the political rhetoric doesn’t match reality.

Polly Toynbee in the Guardian notes that

But living within the incomes they can attract, universities may reconsider how they are organised: some will question why degrees need three years with such short terms, why vice-chancellors’ salaries, some higher than £500,000, are much higher than their European neighbours, why university teaching careers are so hard on beginners and why sixth-formers get so much more teaching time than university students at far lower cost.

Another perspective on why universities should be looking at their operating model, changing or optimising what they do, and becoming more efficient.

I started thinking about my objectives for next year. I say next year, our planning year runs from 1st August to 31st July, so there is a couple of months left to think about this.a

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