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The Browne Review report
chap
nmg

Too depressing for words. If I can muster the energy, I'll write a longer commentary later this week. For the time being, let me echo the words of Sally Hunt: "Lord Browne's recommendations, if enacted, represent the final nail in the coffin for affordable higher education."


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Do universities accept sponsorship money? Do they have different tiers of 'strategic partners' for modules/courses/departments?

Have there been any talks on mergers between the various Uni's of the South Coast? Swop you a biology department for Chemistry? Axe Humanities and go Tech/Science only?

How many departments would survive on their own cost structure as it stands?

The commercial model is ruthless in this regard. You keep on cutting until you know you've gone too far. You cut staff numbers by 10,20% and people will work more to fill in the gaps. It's only when everyone complains and there is an obvious bottleneck that you know you have gone too far. Until then you keep on cutting.

It's like the insurance investigations in Fight Club, there's acceptable levels of losses. When your focus is on cutting costs, customer service comes second and staff satisfaction a distant third. In a world obsessed with cutting costs every role has to raise income or cut costs. If it doesn't then it's a luxury and likely to get chopped in the next round of cuts. It's a world where length of service, retained knowledge and general effectiveness mean little. Burn it all down and then let it regrow.

Have there been any talks on mergers between the various Uni's of the South Coast? Swop you a biology department for Chemistry? Axe Humanities and go Tech/Science only?

This has already been happening. When Exeter closed its chemistry department in 2005, many of their staff moved to Bath.

Chemistry in particular has had problems (the lab facilities essential for teaching are expensive, and research income doesn't adequately make up the difference), with around thirty departments (almost half the total number) closing in the UK between 1995 and 2005. This has included some very high profile departments, such as those at Kings College London and QMUL.

How many departments would survive on their own cost structure as it stands?

Not all, clearly. There is a view (to which I'm largely sympathetic, I must admit) that a well-rounded university should entail a degree of cross-subsidisation between richer and poorer departments. Sadly, as the richer departments are feeling the pinch, this is something that many universities can no longer support.

Sad indeed. I hope that before, after and during this period of retrenchment people will hold firm to the ideals on which these universities were built. A university system run on the American educational market is a not the future we should be aiming for. That too is unstable and unsustainable.

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