Friday, 16 March 2018

Questioning the Cartel

Hotel Russell: Post-1892 (image: Tony Hisgett CC BY 2.0)
Anyone whose children are applying to go to secondary school will have been handed glossy prospectuses, with staged photos and talk of inspiring teaching and excellent facilities. Ignore all that and head for the back, where there are data on the destination of the leavers, showing how many have gone on to tertiary education and, of those, how many went to Russell Group universities.

The term is casually used as a shorthand for excellence, a sort of kitemark. There is an unspoken understanding that, while all those going on to universities are to be celebrated, only those going to RG universities matter. And I think that’s dangerous for UK higher education as a whole.

Friday, 2 March 2018

Broken Ranks

The only rank that counts (Image: Brett Jordan, CC BY 2.0)
A couple of years ago I wrote in the Funding Insight magazine about the modern obsession with league tables and how, while relatively harmless when used to bulk out a Sunday newspaper, they could be dangerously corrosive when attempting to compare universities globally.

I was heartened, then, to read a report published before Christmas by the Higher Education Policy Institute. This arrived with little fanfare, possibly because the world in general was torn between seeing the election of Donald Trump as the End of Days, and obsessively comparing and buying scented candles for their loved ones.