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The Browne Review report

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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The trouble is that setting SPENDING targets, rather than goals about getting results is largely how we got into this mess to begin with.

School spending just kept on rising year on year. There was the goal that state school pupils would be funded at the same level that private school pupils were -- and we very nearly got there. Actually what happened was that private school fees took off way way above inflation towards the end.

But by and large we got quite close to the point where private schools would have got to without the funny kink in their fees. Did we start giving state pupils the same quality of education? Oh quick look over there, never mind the quality, feel the width.

It's really, really easy to spend money. It's a lot harder to make sure you get something at the end of it.


We're already getting a good deal from UKHE (and yes, I know that "I would say that").

In terms of research output, the Research Assessment Exercises (and now the Research Excellence Framework) have directed funding to where it has the greatest effect (with the arguable consequence of narrowing diversity within the sector, though that's for a different discussion). Success rates for grant applications from research councils are less than 20%, though not because 80% of the applications are not worth funding; I've seen proposals with excellent reviews and clear paths to impact rejected because there's insufficient money to fund all of the outstanding research, let alone the merely 'good'.

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