SRHE News Issue 29-July 2017 - Society for Research into Higher Education

 
SRHE News Issue 29-July 2017 - Society for Research into Higher Education
SRHE News
Issue 29–July 2017
SRHE News Issue 29-July 2017 - Society for Research into Higher Education
SRHE News 29: July 2017

Editorial: What’s wrong with politicians in HE?
The June general election disrupted normal business at Westminster in almost every sense: the
summer silly season may be suspended altogether, despite the annual three-month holiday for
Parliament. The unexpected election result had something to do with the mobilisation of the student
and young persons’ vote by the Labour Party, probably connected to their promise to abolish tuition
fees and even cancel all student debt. The storm brewing since the election was sparked into life by
the intervention of Lord Adonis, self-styled architect of the fees policy and director of the No 10 Policy
Unit under Tony Blair. It captured all the worst features of politicians in HE in one episode: selective
attention to issues; pursuing personal interests in the guise of caring about the issue; selective
memory; rewriting history; not taking advice from people who actually know how a policy might work;
and - worst of all to academics - contempt for evidence.

Andrew Adonis, returning to comment on HE after some years away, wrote a scathing but completely
misguided piece about fees for The Times on 28 June 2017. ‘Goodbye tuition fees. They were a sensible
idea wrecked by David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s decision to treble them overnight, and by the greed
and complacency of vice-chancellors who thought they were a licence to print money’. His motive was
apparently to protect his ‘legacy’ as ‘the moving force behind Tony Blair’s decision in 2004 to introduce
… top-up fees … The intention was that fees would vary between £1000 and £3000 depending on the
cost and benefit of each course. But the VCs formed a cartel and almost universally charged £3000.’

Adonis and most other politicians in the Westminster bubble have conveniently forgotten that it was
always obvious, well before the vote on £3000 fees back in 2004, that virtually all universities would
be charging the maximum £3000, as a Guardian report from 13 January 2004 makes clear: ‘Today's
survey of 53 of the 89 university vice-chancellors in England, carried out by EducationGuardian.co.uk,
reveals that, in practice, variability will be minimal while the fee ceiling remains at £3,000, though elite
universities are already lobbying for that cap to be swiftly lifted.’ But Adonis is clearly a man who
harbours grudges over the long term, predicting that fees would soon be abolished and ‘VCs need to
start planning for real austerity. The flow of money from £9000 fees will soon dry up. They could set
an example and halve their salaries.’

Adonis had stamped his foot and ‘thcreamed and thcreamed until he made himthelf thick’, in the style
of Violet-Elizabeth Bott. Despite knowledgeable HE commentators pointing out how wrong he was
about almost everything, his ideas ‘gained traction’, as they say in the Westminster bubble. Pretty
soon Damian Green, the Deputy Prime Minister, was having to backtrack from an ill-advised response
in a wide-ranging interview when he suggested that the whole fees policy needed review.

Conservative commentator George Trefgarne on 26 June 2017 blogged for Reaction, asking ‘Why is
nobody in the Conservative Party talking about the broken student loan system?’ Then on 5 July the
Institute for Fiscal Studies put out their Briefing Note (BN211), Higher Education funding in England:
past, present and options for the future, seized on by the media with front page headlines blaring that
three-quarters of graduates will never repay their debt. Steve Jones (Manchester) blogged for
WonkHE on 6 July 2017 ‘Are headline writers getting it wrong on fees?’. The answer was mostly yes,
but his argument was much too sensible to ‘gain traction’ when Westminster was already in full-blown
panic mode.

Mark Leach of WonkHE had offered a primer on 22 May 2017: ‘The Pros and Cons of Abolishing Tuition
fees’ after Andrew McGettigan gave his own version on 12 May 2017, in the run-up to the general
election, ‘The cost of abolishing tuition fees’. McGettigan got back on the case with his Critical
Education blog on 5 July 2017, ‘IFS on tuition fees’, pointing out that the IFS arguments were sound,

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but inconvenient for Minister Jo Johnson, who had spent most of the previous few days arguing that
the HE finance system was not broke and therefore he shouldn’t fix it. SRHE Vice-President Peter Scott
wrote in The Guardian on 4 July 2017: ‘why are we not taking seriously a key message that came out
of the campaign? Labour’s manifesto promise to abolish tuition fees in England, initially seen as off-
the-wall, gained enormous traction. This is hardly surprising given the prospects faced by graduates –
escalating debt, doubtful job prospects in a declining post-Brexit economy and decent homes out of
reach.’ His piece was titled ‘The end of tuition fees is on the horizon – universities must get ready’.

Adonis wasn’t finished – indeed, he was hardly getting started. He wrote in The Guardian on 7 July
2017 under the headline ‘I put up tuition fees. It’s now clear they have to be scrapped’, saying ‘Debts
of £50,000 are far more than I envisaged, and make the system unworkable’. Martin Harris (former
director of the Office for Fair Access) weighed in, writing to The Guardian on 9 July 2017:

‘Andrew Adonis is right that the current fee regime cannot survive, but he understates the success of
the £3k fee which he devised and which Charles Clarke introduced after the 2003 election … Adonis is
unfair in attributing to vice-chancellors the decision to raise fees to £9k. This was a political diktat …
Ministers were clearly told how universities would behave when presented with a fee regime which
would in effect label their courses first, second or third class by price. … Since then, a series of decisions
by Conservative ministers have made matters worse, especially the abandonment of the categorical
promise that tuition fee debt would never increase in real terms. The current regime certainly has to
go. But we need to revisit something like the Adonis/Clarke scheme rather than totally abolishing fees.
Abolition will inevitably lead to a cap on student numbers and thus to fewer poorer students entering
universities.’

Nick Hillman of HEPI added his three penn’orth in a blog on 13 July 2017: ‘Lord Adonis now says the
whole system of funding teaching in universities via tuition fees is wrong and should be junked
altogether. More than that, he has taken to lashing out at Vice-Chancellors, called for an investigation
of tuition fees by the Competition and Markets Authority and is now battling away with academics
on how they spend the summer on Twitter.’ Hillman said Adonis was ‘intellectually incoherent …
intellectually weak. … [and making] false linkages: ‘it is silly to draw a direct line between higher tuition
fees and the current levels of remuneration.’ However Jo Johnson was ready to endorse part of the
Adonis rant, saying, “There are legitimate concerns about the rate at which vice chancellor pay has
been growing. I think it is hard for students at a time when they have concerns over value for money
and want to see real evidence of value for money from their tuition fees”.

Undaunted, Adonis made multiple media appearances, no doubt delighted to be once again in the
political spotlight and feeling that his political bandwagon was gathering speed. As John Elledge of
CityMetric wrote for the New Statesman on 4 July 2017: ‘Maybe scrapping tuition fees would be
regressive. Perhaps we should do it anyway’, arguing that ‘Supporters of fees may be right on the
policy – but they're way off on the politics.’ Adonis even attacked the Times Higher Education for
allegedly not exposing the issue of VCs’ salaries, a ludicrous comment revealing his ignorance of years
of evidence in THE to the contrary.

The evidence-based debate on the pros and cons of tuition fees continued, but in a different universe.
The 11 May blog for WonkHE by Gavan Conlon of London Economics, a longstanding expert
commentator in this territory, argued that abolishing fees is fundamentally regressive. Christopher
Newfield (University of California at Santa Barbara) blogged for WonkHE on 15 May 2017 about why
abolishing tuition fees is a good idea. It was a scholarly values-based argument which built on his
recent book The Great Mistake: How We Wrecked Public Universities and How We Can Fix Them
(Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, October 2016). The common argument in the US is that if
public funding goes down, tuition fees go up, but Jason Delisle of the American Enterprise Institute
argued for the ‘Bennett hypothesis’ - former US Secretary for Education Bill Bennett said that tuition
fees increase until they exhaust the availability of public funds for student support. The long-term

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trend in the US shows a strong correlation of declining public support with rising tuition, but Delisle
argued, in a report released on 1 June 2017, that colleges’ natural explanation should not be taken for
granted. Becky Supiano interviewed Delisle for the Chronicle of Higher Education on 1 June 2017.

WonkHE’s weekly briefing on 5 June noted ‘New research from Claire Callender and Geoff Mason …
at the UCL Institute of Education … The paper argues that tuition fees debt deters poorer and ethnic
minority students from applying to university … The findings challenge the argument that the recent
(post-fee increase) growth in full-time HE participation by 18-year-olds from all social classes proves
that fees are not a deterrent. UUK chief executive Nicola Dandridge has responded to the paper with
a blog criticising the methodology of the report. Dandridge argues that the study’s conclusions do not
follow from its survey results and that the survey implies “that student loans are just like other
domestic forms of debt such as credit card loans. This is far from the truth”.’

This was conveniently close to the arguments that Minister Jo Johnson had been making, since
Dandridge was then unveiled by Johnson as the first chief executive of the Office for Students. It was
however somewhat removed from the view of a significant number of her own current employers:
later surveys would reveal a third of VCs wished to see substantial change to the fees regime. Andrew
Adonis described Dandridge’s appointment as ‘producer capture’, which exercised OfS Chair Michael
Barber enough to write to The Guardian on 10 July 2017 saying ‘Don’t dismiss the Office for Students’
- a clash between two former heads of Tony Blair’s No 10 Policy Unit. At least Barber, the author of
‘deliverology’, is showing early signs of realising the limitations of target-setting in his approach as OfS
Chair. Adonis, on the other hand, is showing much of what seems to be wrong with politicians in HE.
His memory of events and version of history is selective, his evidence is flawed, his arguments are
intellectually weak and incoherent, he seems to be too concerned to ‘protect his legacy’, and he has
struck an almost Trumpian note in attacking rather than listening to anyone who disagrees with him.

The fee abolitionists are an unlikely combination of more-means-worse elitism and leftist utopian
economics, and as Jo Johnson continues to promote market solutions he remains onside with the for-
profit providers scenting new opportunities. Abolishing loan-backed fees would be devastating for
those private sector providers, and that alone makes abolition unlikely for the present government,
even before we get to the economic cost. If Adonis gets his wish for reform, the messy politics might
lead to closures of public sector institutions, with less diversity, fewer opportunities for disadvantaged
students, new lowest-common-denominator for-profit providers offering courses with less gainful
employment for graduates, continuing student debt, and growing dissatisfaction among
disenfranchised would-be students. But you can be sure that when the next crisis arrives, the
politicians will be blaming HE, the opposition, the media, or anyone - except themselves.

Contact us
                          SRHE News Editor: Professor Rob Cuthbert
                          rob.cuthbert@uwe.ac.uk (00 44) 1275 392919

                          Rob Cuthbert is Emeritus Professor of Higher Education Management,
                          University of the West of England and Joint Managing Partner, Practical
                          Academics rob.cuthbert@btinternet.com.

Editorial policy
SRHE News aims to comment on recent events, publications, and activities in a journalistic but
scholarly way, allowing more human interest and unsupported speculation than any self-respecting
journal, but never forgetting its academic audience and their concern for the professional niceties. If

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you would like to suggest topics for inclusion in future issues, to contribute an item, or to volunteer a
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Future editions of SRHE News
Copy deadline for SRHE News Issue 30: 30 September 2017

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Contents
Editorial: What’s wrong with politicians in HE? ................................................................. 1
Government and Higher Education Policy ......................................................................... 6
   Policy and funding in England ............................................................................................................. 6
   Policy and funding in the US ............................................................................................................... 8
   Private and for-profit colleges ............................................................................................................ 9
Strategy, Leadership, Governance and Management ........................................................ 9
   Staff ................................................................................................................................................... 12
Teaching, Learning and Assessment ................................................................................ 13
   The Teaching Excellence Framework ................................................................................................ 14
   Access and widening participation ................................................................................................... 16
   Students ............................................................................................................................................ 16
Quality, Standards, Performance, Evaluation .................................................................. 18
   Quality and standards ....................................................................................................................... 18
   Rankings and league tables............................................................................................................... 18
Research ........................................................................................................................ 20
    Mind the Knowledge Gap by Paul Temple........................................................................... 20
   Research into higher education ........................................................................................................ 22
     Exploring a ‘Sense of Belonging’ and Why It Matters in Higher Education by Gill Mills and
     Caroline Jones ........................................................................................................................ 23
Publishing ...................................................................................................................... 24
Ethics and Academic Freedom ........................................................................................ 25
   Ethics and Integrity ........................................................................................................................... 25
Global Perspectives ........................................................................................................ 26
   Asia .................................................................................................................................................... 26
     India .............................................................................................................................................. 26
     Malaysia ........................................................................................................................................ 27
   Australasia......................................................................................................................................... 27
   Europe ............................................................................................................................................... 27
     Austria ........................................................................................................................................... 27
     France............................................................................................................................................ 27
     Hungary ......................................................................................................................................... 27
Society News .................................................................................................................. 28
   SRHE Annual Research Conference: 6-8 December 2017 .............................................................. 28
   SRHE Newer Researchers Conference: 5 December 2017 ............................................................. 28
   SRHE Newer Research Awards Winners 2017 ................................................................................. 28
   SRHE Research Awards 2017 (Member and Scoping Awards)........................................................ 29
   Forthcoming Events for 2017-18...................................................................................................... 29
   Appointment of new Team Coordinator for SRHE .......................................................................... 30
   New position at SRHE: Development Officer .................................................................................. 30
Small ads ........................................................................................................................ 31
Mind your language........................................................................................................ 32
   What’s in a name? ............................................................................................................................ 32
And finally ...................................................................................................................... 33
Ian McNay has been working abroad …........................................................................... 33

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Government and Higher Education Policy

Policy and funding in England
A few things happened since the last issue of SRHE News in April. The snap general election had
everyone speculating about whether the HE and Research Bill would get through before the end of
the Parliament. David Morris of WonkHE reviewed the possibilities on 18 April 2017. Diana Beech of
HEPI asked the same question on 19 April 2017. They both agreed: it might or it might not. Catherine
Haddon, a Fellow at the Institute for Government, explained on 19 April 2017 how many of the 15
major Bills before Parliament might have to be put on hold until a new government is formed. Some
Bills fell, but the HE and Research Bill became an Act. Everything you want to know about the Act is
here, comprising all of WonkHE’s blog posts. Oh, and Jo Johnson stays on as HE Minister. So now you’re
up to speed.

Michael Barber’s speech to UUK
The speech by Sir Michael Barber to Universities UK on 23 June 2017 was his first as chair of the Office
for Students; the full text was given on the UUK website. It was brilliantly annotated by WonkHE’s
David Kernohan in his blog post, ‘How to read: Michael Barber’s speech to UUK’ on 23 June 2017.

WonkHE’s Monday morning briefing on 10 July 2017 pointed out some common ground between
Barber and his new chief executive Nicola Dandridge: ‘Her boss, Michael Barber, chair of the OfS,
shares with Dandridge an unlikely background in trade union equality campaigns. Barber was the
National Union of Teachers’ lead on policy and equality in the early 1990s, while Dandridge’s first
career was as a lawyer, most notably for Thompsons Solicitors working on equality law. In this capacity
she literally wrote the book on the subject (the 2005 Equality Law for Trade Unions) … Dandridge went
on to become the first chief executive of the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) in 2006 and is widely
credited for making equality issues more mainstream in the higher education sector. … Dandridge
joins an OfS which is required by law to charge a subscription to universities, and is no stranger to the
often highly political question of university subscriptions which looks set to run and run under the new
landscape.’

Priorities for the Office for Students
Sarah Stevens, Head of Policy for the Russell Group, blogged for WonkHE on 16 May 2017 to suggest
priorities for the OfS. It was a classic in self-interest, which is, after all, what the Russell Group pay her
for. Among other things she suggested [with translation provided]:

‘a risk-based and proportionate approach to regulation through the OfS … shouldn’t mean ignoring
the strong governance procedures and track-record of quality which many institutions have worked
hard over the years to achieve.’ [no free passes for new providers, they have no chance of being proper
elite universities like the Russell Group]

‘It will be crucial that students are protected from poor provision by maintaining a robust baseline of
quality. It will also be important not to define the student interest too narrowly. This is not just about
protection from provider failure. It is also in the student interest that teaching is properly funded and
that students have access to rich and diverse learning environments.’ [only the Russell Group is rich
enough, take no notice of TEF. ‘Diverse’ means lots of different kinds of research, not lots of women,
ethnic minorities or socioeconomically disadvantaged people among the staff and students]

‘Maintaining the world-leading status of the UK higher education system should be a key priority
for the new regulator.’ [protect the Russell Group at all costs]

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‘Finally, the OfS will have an important role in ensuring the whole system functions well for the benefit
of the UK. This will mean having an awareness of the broader regulatory requirements placed on
universities by other bodies including UKRI, PSRBs, and charity law (amongst others).’ [we thought for
a moment she meant the whole higher education system, but no, just the Russell Group]

On 11 May Eric Macfarlane, an experienced university academic who has also worked in secondary
schools, argued in Times Higher Education that ‘The Russell Group’s power over English education
must be wielded more wisely … Overemphasis of traditional academic silos is not preparing young
people to address the environmental, political and biomedical abyss opening up before us.’ His
critique addressed the (undue) influence which the Russell Group has over the school curriculum.

UK HE is an export industry
At a conference on 26 April 2017 Lord Willetts, former universities minister, criticised Prime Minister
Theresa May’s rhetoric, which emphasised recruiting the ‘brightest and the best’ of overseas students,
on the grounds that it failed to recognise the importance of selling an HE service to as many as
possible. He also criticised the implication that overseas students should only attend the ‘best’
universities, arguing that it failed to recognise the diversity of the UK system. John Morgan had the
story for Times Higher Education on 27 April 2017.

Is HE transformational or socially reproductive?
Co-editor of the SRHE books series Jenni Case has published Working Paper 23 for the Centre for
Global HE. Higher education and social justice: engaging the normative with the analytical argues that
HE in South Africa has a lot to do to to engage fully with issues of social justice: ‘recent student protests
raise questions over the role of universities in building a just society’.

Whither teacher education and training?
John Cater (Edge Hill) wrote a well-informed report for HEPI (HEPI Report 95) tracing the history of
teacher education and training over the last 50 years. John Cater has been a player in the saga for
many of those years, as VC since 1993 of a major provider of teacher education, and is uniquely placed
to give an authoritative account. In his typically understated way he catalogued the failures of
successive governments to learn from past mistakes in falling short of their targets for teacher training.
The bewildering succession of ‘reforms’, multiplying potential routes into teaching, coupled with the
persistent distrust of universities by governments of almost every stripe, has comprehensively failed
to deliver enough teachers in many shortage subjects. Cater’s polite but devastating critique simply
let the facts speak for themselves, with only the Blair government exempt from the record of failure
over five decades. Even so, Cater remained positive about possible futures, and suggested ten action
points which offer hope for future improvement. Unfortunately his account of repeated government
failure to learn from past mistakes in teacher training and supply does not inspire optimism; more
likely we can add another chapter to The Blunders of Our Governments.

Part-time student numbers fall by more than half
The latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency show that part-time student numbers
in England have fallen 56% since 2010. Numbers have been declining for a decade, but fell from
243,355 in 2010-11 to just 107,325 in 2015-16.

Aggregating courses is JACSed in
Just beneath the surface of most policy discussion, but influencing everything that anyone says, lies
the system for collecting data about subjects and student numbers. Marian Hilditch (Teesside)
explained all in a blog for WonkHE on 27 April 2017, and Andy Youell of HESA also blogged for WonkHE
on 27 April 2017 about how the Joint Academic Classification System (JACS) would now be replaced
by a new Higher Education Classification of Subjects. Alan Paull, an independent consultant heavily
involved in developing the new Common Aggregation Hierarchy, on 30 June added his explanation of
how and why aggregating subject data will be much better under the new system.

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HEFCE grants for 2017-2018
On 9 June 2017 HEFCE announced its overall grant for 2017-2018, totalling £3,536million, assuming
that the indicative allocation from Government is confirmed: £1,595 million for recurrent research
grant; £1,320 million for recurrent teaching grant; £160 million for knowledge exchange; £93 million
for national facilities and initiatives; £353 million for capital funding; £14 million for other non-
recurrent initiatives (Degree Apprenticeships Development Fund and the Institute of Coding).

National Audit Office study of the HE market
The NAO has scheduled a study for Autumn 2017 of ‘the higher education market’: ‘This study
examines how the HE market is operating, with a particular focus on the extent to which students are
currently empowered to act as effective consumers. It will also consider the potential impacts of
ongoing reforms. The study will ask in particular:
•        Is the Department for Education maximising students’ ability to make informed and effective
choices, both before and during their courses?
•         Does the Department understand the financial or other incentives on higher education
providers and how these support public policy objectives?
•        Do existing complaints and redress arrangements offer adequate protection for students?
•        Is the Department ensuring there are effective continuity arrangements in place to protect
students when providers fail or exit the sector?’

LEO and star subjects
The Department for Education in England published the Longitudinal Educational Outcomes (LEO) data
by subject on 13 June 2017. David Morris of WonkHE did some instant analysis to identify winners
and losers on 13 June 2017, and HEPI posted a balanced and sensible blog commentary from Diana
Beech on 15 June 2017. Andrew McGettigan had a thoughtful and analytical piece about their
implications for WonkHE, on 18 June 2017. In particular he argued that there seemed to be precious
little justification for the investment and subsidy for creative arts graduates on the current scale.

Policy and funding in the US
Betsy DeVos wants to scrap HE law and start again
Donald Trump’s Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos has been speaking for some time about the need
to repeal existing HE legislation and start afresh, and she said it again to a land-grant universities
conference on 21 June 2017, as Adam Harris reported for The Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

Tuition discounting in the US continues to rise
The annual survey by the National Association of College and University Business Officers (NACUBO)
for 2016 revealed that tuition fee discounting had reached a new record level, with almost half of all
tuition fee revenue now being diverted to financial aid for first year undergraduates: the figure for all
undergraduates is up to 44.2%. Rick Seltzer reported for Insidehighered.com on 15 May 2017.

Free tuition in New York
New York Senator Hillary Clinton never got the opportunity to put her HE policy into practice as
President, but New York has decided to make tuition free anyway, for all families with annual incomes
up to $125,000, as Scott Jaschik reported for insidehighered.com on 10 April 2017.

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Private and for-profit colleges
Trump administration starts to roll back Obama’s curbs on for-profit colleges
As widely expected, the US Department of Education under Secretary Betsy DeVos has suspended two
of the Obama administration’s primary means of curbing the excesses of for-profit HE. Rules on
borrower defence and gainful employment were scheduled to come into force on 1 July 2017 but
implementation has now been suspended, as Andrew Kreighbaum explained for Insidehighered.com
on 15 June 2017.

A monstrous muddle of no-profit and for-profit HE
That’s what Liz Reisberg (independent) and Philip G Altbach (Boston College) called the purchase by
public Purdue University of for-profit Kaplan University. In an article for University World News on 12
May 2017 they said: ‘We believe that this is an immense mistake – the two institutions do not
complement one another in any useful way. Importantly, a respected research university will
inevitably be changed by absorbing and managing a for-profit with different goals, different
structures, different practices, different cultures, different values.’

New Phoenix president
The University of Phoenix announced in April 2017 that it has hired Peter Cohen as the university's
president. Cohen arrives from McGraw-Hill Education, where he most recently has been the
company's executive vice president. He previously was president of Pearson Education's school
division.

New CEO for Coursera
Coursera, the online platform which was first known for its MOOC programmes, has named Jeff
Maggioncalda as its new CEO in a public statement on 13 June 2017. He joins Coursera after a brief
sabbatical following an 18-year tenure as founding CEO and President of Financial Engines. Rick Levin,
a former President of Yale, will remain at Coursera as a Senior Advisor.

Strategy, Leadership, Governance and Management

University governance
First published on 18 June 2017 in Higher Education Quarterly as part of a special issue on governance,
Åse Gornitzka, Peter Maassen (both Oslo) and Harry de Boer (Twente) developed ‘an analytical
framework on the basis of which we conduct a comparative analysis of the university governance
structures along four different dimensions: (a) the internal democratic nature of the governance
structure, (b) the external involvement in university governance, (c) the level of centralisation of
decision-making authority in the university and (d) the concentration of authority in an individual
leadership position versus authority in a collective body or spread over various collective bodies.’

Valentina Goglio (Turin) and Marino Regini (Milan) made a bold prediction in their HEQ article, ‘The
evolution of university governance in Europe’ (first published 2 July 2017), reviewing the development
of HE in Europe over the last 50 years: ‘… these processes have gone through two main stages and in
two different directions … we expect a third stage of differentiation … In the first stage (1960–1970s)
the main objective was to create a vocational track, without having to profoundly modify traditional
academic institutions. In the second stage (mid-1990s) the main objective was to differentiate
between the more and the less competitive universities as regards the amount of financial and
symbolic resources provided to them. However, large comprehensive universities are containers of
smaller units whose performance may vary widely. Moreover, research is just one of the several

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functions that modern universities perform … empirical evidence from United Kingdom universities
… [supports] the hypothesis of a third stage of differentiation.’

Michael Shattock (UCL Institute of Education) went back twice as far, also for HEQ, to write ‘University
governance in flux. The impact of external and internal pressures on the distribution of authority
within British universities: A synoptic view’ (first published 2 July 2017): ‘The article shows that there
were distinct phases in the internal balances within governance structures ... the internal balances
were always to a considerable extent contingent on external conditions … The changes in how
authority is distributed were therefore decided by the institutions themselves albeit in response to
external pressures. But … institutions’ responses were variable and … where a strong research culture
existed the accumulation of social capital was such that radical changes in the distribution of authority
were resisted. One consequence is … much greater diversity in institutional governance structures
with some pre-1992 universities leaning much more towards HEC models, some HECs edging towards
more traditional models and some institutions preserving significant elements of authority which
others would regard as utopian. In Britain, reputation, research success and brand image are closely
associated with the latter.’

Marketisation narrows mission diversity
Simon Marginson’s seminar for the Centre for Global HE on 6 July 2017, following a review of HE
participation in eight countries, argued that: ‘… an enhanced role for markets is associated with an
increase in imitating behaviour and the narrowing of mission differences, rather than diversity. In
relation to growth, it is difficult to separate the effects of expanding participation from contextual
factors, but the overall tendencies appear to be (1) an increase in vertical stratification, (2) growth in
the importance of large multi-disciplinary multi-purpose institutions, (3) a decline in horizontal
diversity overall, and (4) an increase in internal diversity within larger institutions.’

Anyone can run a university
That’s what the Wisconsin legislature seems to think, since they want their HE budget to outlaw the
Madison-Wisconsin policy that requires campus leaders to have a tenured academic post, as the
excellent Colleen Flaherty reported for insidehighered.com on 3 July 2017.

‘Boards have the best presidents in the world until they don’t. It’s a cliff.’
When it comes to institutional leaders, the choice for governors is to back them or sack them,
according to Frank Casagrande, president of Casagrande Consulting, quoted in a story about the new
season of presidential departures in insidehighered.com by Rick Seltzer on 7 June 2017.

Subra Suresh announced on 1 June 2017 that he is stepping down as president of Carnegie Mellon
University with effect from 30 June. Suresh has been president for four years, and his predecessors
have usually served longer terms. Drew Faust has decided to step down after a ten-year term as
President of Harvard. Jack Stripling reported for the Chronicle of Higher Education on 14 June 2017
that in a widely-circulated letter announcing her intentions ‘Ms. Faust quoted lyrics from "Fair
Harvard" … acknowledging that she had led the university "through change and through storm."’ Drew
Faust was the first woman to be President of Harvard.

Linda A Livingstone, dean and professor of management at the George Washington University School
of Business, has been appointed president of Baylor University from 1 June 2017. Baylor in Texas, the
world’s largest Baptist university, has been coping with the fall-out from a 2016 investigation which
showed that the university had not taken complaints about sexual assault seriously. The university
demoted its president Kenneth W Starr, dismissed its football coach, Art Briles, and penalised its
athletic director, Ian McCaw. Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz reported the latest developments for The
Chronicle of Higher Education on 18 April 2017.

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Florida A&M University’s deans of pharmacy, journalism, and education were fired on 1 May 2017, as
Byron Dobson reported that day for the Tallahassee Democrat. Interim provost Rodner Wright said
that Ann Kimbrough, of the School of Journalism and Graphic Communication, Michael Thompson, of
the College of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences, and Traki L Taylor, of the College of Education,
had been removed from their posts with immediate effect. The dismissals came less than a year after
the university’s president, Elmira Mangum, was removed six months before her contract was set to
expire. The university has 14 Deans; those dismissed are expected to return to faculty positions in the
university.

Professor Shearer West has been appointed as next President and Vice-Chancellor of the University
of Nottingham. She will take up office in October 2017 following the retirement of the incumbent Vice-
Chancellor Professor Sir David Greenaway. She will be the seventh Vice-Chancellor in the University’s
history and the first woman in the role. Professor West is Professor of Art History and currently Provost
and Deputy Vice-Chancellor at the University of Sheffield. She was previously Head of the Humanities
Division at the University of Oxford, Director of Research at the Arts and Humanities Research Council
(AHRC), Head of the School of Historical Studies at the University of Birmingham and before that was
at Leicester University.

Conceptual artist Professor Bashir Makhoul has been appointed Vice-Chancellor of the University for
the Creative Arts (UCA). Professor Makhoul will join UCA from Birmingham City University, where he
was Deputy Vice-Chancellor, leading on academic development, student recruitment, marketing and
internationalisation. Previously, he was at Southampton University as the Head of the Winchester
School of Art. His appointment marks the first time a Palestinian academic has been appointed to the
top position at a British University and it is believed to be only the second time an academic from a
non-Western background has been made Vice-Chancellor in the UK.

The University of St Mark and St John has budget problems, with deficits projected until 2019. Cuts
can mean ‘delayering’, usually a layer of middle managers, but MarJon is starting near the top, by
announcing that the Deputy VC and two Pro VCs will be leaving as part of this process. Deputy Vice
Chancellor Dr Karen Cook, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Professor Brendon Noble and Dr Liz Smith, Pro Vice-
Chancellor responsible for learning, teaching and the student experience will all leave. Vice Chancellor
Rob Warner, quoted in Devon newspaper The Herald on 16 May 2017, said: "We are very sorry to see
some excellent staff leaving this summer, but in common with every higher education institution we
need to ensure that our staffing profile is aligned very carefully to the future growth of the university".
Rob Warner only took up his post on 1 March 2017.

Vice-chancellors’ pay
Everyone who warmed to our April 2017 editorial ‘What’s wrong with management in higher
education?’ (that seemed to be everyone, except vice-chancellors) will probably have seen Simon
Baker’s detailed report on THE’s annual survey of VCs’ pay. He looked, mostly in vain, for any
correlation between VCs’ pay and institutional performance and noted that: ‘In 2011, the economist
Will Hutton, now principal of Hertford College, Oxford, was commissioned by the government to look
into fair pay in publicly funded organisations. The final report of the Hutton Review of Fair Pay in the
Public Sector identified universities as having the highest differential between their leaders and their
lowest-paid employees. … Almost a dozen universities gave their vice-chancellors a pay rise that was
above the UK average despite their seeing a significant fall in student numbers … The latest annual
survey of UK vice-chancellors’ pay, compiled by the accounting firm Grant Thornton for THE, shows
that in 2015-16, university heads received an average package of £280,877, including pension
contributions, a rise of 2.2 per cent on 2014-15.’

Bolton University merger with Bury College is put on hold
Bolton University Governors met on 24 April 2017 and decided to halt plans to merge with Bury
College part of the university, blaming ‘a number of issues and complexities’. If those issues can be

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resolved then the merger may be back on. The planned merger of Bolton College with the university
will still go ahead and is unaffected by the latest development. The Bury Times had the story on 25
April 2017.

Rider faculty union votes no confidence in university president
The faculty union at Rider University, a small and financially troubled institution in New Jersey, passed
a vote of no confidence in the university president Gregory G Dell’Omo in April 2017. Alex Arriaga
reported for The Chronicle of Higher Education on 19 April 2017 that the president had proposed to
sell the university’s Westminster campus in Princeton to tackle the financial problems. Rider merged
with the Westminster Choir College in 1992; the college would be closed as part of the restructuring
proposals.

The best academics make the best heads of department
Agnes Bäker (Zurich) and Amanda Goodall (City) wrote about their research for Times Higher
Education on 4 May 2017: ‘Controlling for age, gender, tenure, discipline, position and even overall
life satisfaction, we have found that academics report considerably higher levels of job satisfaction
and morale when their head of department is either a “distinguished researcher” or a “highly
distinguished researcher”. We have also found that having a distinguished head of department makes
the academics less likely to move on. The reason is that heads of departments who are themselves
active researchers are more likely to create the right work environment for their faculty colleagues,
protecting them against an encroaching managerial culture.’

Staff
How academics respond to university strategic initiatives
SRHE luminaries Angela Brew (MacQuarie), David Boud (Deakin, University of Technology, Sydney and
Middlesex), Lisa Lucas (Bristol) and Karin Crawford (Lincoln) had an article ‘Responding to university
policies and initiatives: the role of reflexivity in the mid-career academic’ in the Journal of Higher
Education Policy and Management 39(4) (online 18 May 2017): ‘How do academics make sense of
university policies and strategic initiatives and act on them? Interviews were conducted with 27 mid-
career academics in different disciplines, different research-intensive university environments and
two countries (England and Australia). Data were analysed iteratively utilising a critical realist
perspective, specifically, Archer’s modes of reflexivity. The paper argues that individuals’ responses to
university policies and initiatives, to changes in policy and policy conflicts, can at least partially be
understood through interrogating the modes of reflexivity they employ.’

Agency theory and performance appraisal: How bad theory damages learning and contributes to
bad management practice
Samantha Evans (Kent), Dennis Tourish (Royal Holloway, University of London) had an article in
Management Learning (first published 26 October 2016): ‘Performance appraisal interviews … are …
often castigated as ineffective, or even harmful, to both individuals and organisations. Exploring this
paradox, we highlight the influence of agency theory on the (mal)practice of performance appraisal.
The performative nature of human resource management increasingly reflects an economic approach
within which its practices are aligned with agency theory. Such theory assumes that actors are
motivated mainly or only by economic self-interest. Close surveillance is required to eliminate the risk
of shirking and other deviant behaviours. It is a pessimistic mind-set about people that undermines
the supportive, co-operative and developmental rhetoric with which appraisal interviews are usually
accompanied. Consequently, managers often practice appraisal interviews while holding onto two
contradictory mind-sets, a state of Orwellian Doublethink that damages individual learning and
organisational performance. We encourage researchers to adopt a more radical critique of appraisal
practices that foregrounds issues of power, control and conflicted interests between actors beyond
the analyses offered to date.’

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Salaries in British universities
The Times Higher Education has gathered all the data for 2015-2016 together here. And the American
Association of University Professors has done the same for academic staff in the US here.

Teesside University tells all its professors to reapply for their jobs
Jack Grove reported for Times Higher Education on 7 July 2017 that Teesside University had on 4 July
told all its professors to apply for a redefined post of Professor (Research), or face redundancy. All
professorial staff will face interviews over the summer, before the end of August, as part of moves to
strengthen research in the university and rationalise the use of professorial titles.

Manchester to cut 171 posts ‘to allow strategic investment in priority areas’
The University of Manchester announced on 10 May 2017 that it would cut 171 posts as part of its
‘ambition to be a world leading institution’. Hardest hit would be the Faculty of Biology, Medicine and
Health, which would lose 65 academic posts - presumably not a priority area?

Cutting Crewe
Academic staff at the Crewe campus of Manchester Metropolitan University staged a two-day protest
on 24 and 25 May against the closure of the campus in 2019, which was announced in February 2017.

Teaching, Learning and Assessment
What works? Student Retention and Success
The excellent What Works? series of investigations and reports, sponsored by the Paul Hamlyn
Foundation, Action on Access and the Higher Education Academy, reached its conclusion with a report
which offers ‘a series of evidence-based principles to guide institutions across the sector’ in promoting
student success. The final summary report was put together by the impressively knowledgeable
combination of Liz Thomas (Edge Hill), Michael Hill (Kingston), Joan O’Mahony (HE Academy) and
Mantz Yorke (Lancaster). Chair of the Advisory Group Patricia Broadfoot (now back at Bristol, formerly
VC Gloucestershire) said in her foreword: ‘Maximising student success is not simply a ‘nice thing to
do’. It is a key element of institutional competitiveness in a higher education world that is increasingly
characterised by business principles, in which teaching quality, student satisfaction and the
achievement of graduates are core to institutional success. If helping students to ‘be the best they can
be’ has always been a moral imperative for every university, being the best it can be is now also a
concern that sits at the very heart of the institution as a whole.’

The attractiveness of programmes in higher education: an empirical approach
Ferdi Widiputera, Kristof De Witte, Wim Groot and Henriëtte Maassen van den Brink (all Maastricht)
had an article in the European Journal of Higher Education (online 29 January 2017) reporting their
research: ‘Using a Dutch panel data set of 1300 programmes in 50 institutions, this study investigates
what explains the attractiveness of study programmes. We hypothesize that the distance of study
programmes plays a major role in student decisions to attend. Based on an instrumental variables
identification strategy, we demonstrate that the closest distance between similar programmes offered
and competition between programmes have significant effects on the enrolment of students in higher
education. The results indicate that a one-kilometer increase in the closest distance between similar
programmes decreases the number of students to enrol in a programme by – seven students after
controlling for programme type and other characteristics.’

New Duke University curriculum is shelved after years of work
Duke University tried to innovate with a proposed new undergraduate curriculum, emphasising how
as well as what students should study. But after three years’ work the plan has been suspended until
Duke’s Trinity College of Arts and Sciences faculty can reach a greater degree of consensus, as Colleen

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Flaherty reported for insidehighered.com on 26 April 2017. The university's stated ambition in 2014
was to clarify and simplify the logic of the curriculum, create more opportunities for exploration and
creativity, and "rethink our vision for disciplinarity." Duke’s Curriculum 2000 had supposedly reached
its sell-by date; the proposed new curriculum emphasised areas of knowledge, methods of learning
and classroom innovation but sought to streamline requirements, promote student decision making
and create something distinctive to Duke.

Getting across the threshold
This looks like a useful review: ‘Threshold concepts in higher education: a synthesis of the literature
relating to measurement of threshold crossing’, from Kelli Nicola-Richmond, Geneviève Pépin, Helen
Larkin (all Deakin) and Charlotte Taylor (Sydney) in Higher Education Research and Development, first
published online on 14 June 2017.

How policy influences education developers
SRHE member Karen Smith had an article in Higher Education Research and Development (online 22
June 2017) ‘Using multidimensional methods to understand the development, interpretation and
enactment of quality assurance policy within the educational development community’: ‘The findings
paint a picture of a text that presents a version of higher education that is portrayed linguistically as
universally accepted. Yet, the methodological approach enables the uncovering of the complexities of
the policy process that go beyond the text’s words by highlighting the debates that shaped its
development and the interpretations of its textual form that subsequently shape its enactment.’

Advancing practice in academic development
The book edited by David Baume and Celia Popovic (Routledge, January 2016) is now appearing in
instalments on the SEDA blog and the EdGazette website. Chapter 14, ‘Leading an academic
development unit’, by Julie Hall and David A Green, was posted in June.

The history of efforts to improve university teaching
The WonkHE team put together a blog about the last 70 or more years of policy initiatives aimed at
improving university teaching, on 8 June 2017.

The Teaching Excellence Framework
What should a new universities minister do first?
Nick Hillman blogged for HEPI with some wise words about priorities for a new Minister after the
general election. He pointed out that the obvious question for John Humphries on BBC’s Today
programme, or any other journalist, would be: ‘Why is your first job as the Minister for Universities to
tell the rest of the world you don’t think some of our most well-respected universities are good
enough?’. Hillman, previously special adviser to David Willetts, a previous Minister, said: ‘despite
supporting the basic principles of the TEF, personally I cannot help thinking the answer to the question
‘What should be the first decision of a new Universities Minister?’ is to pause the TEF until they
understand it properly. Both the Minister and the TEF itself would be tarnished if it they end up at the
heart of a political row in the early days of the new Parliament.’

Jo Johnson wasn’t listening, and the somewhat delayed TEF rankings were published a week after the
election. SRHE member Andrew Gunn blogged for The Conversation on 22 June 2017: ‘TEF: everything
you need to know about the new university rankings’, and WonkHE tracked the various ways in which
universities chose to celebrate and advertise their ‘gold’ ratings in the TEF.

Jim Dickinson (UEA Students’ Union) noted for WonkHE on 5 June 2017 the frantic cacophony of
privileged voices getting their retaliation in ahead of the publication of TEF results. He said it was a
rare opportunity to celebrate the unusual exposure of the structural privilege embedded in the UK HE

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system. London Higher managed to combine two of the common themes of complaint about TEF in
one blog post by CEO Jane Glanville on 14 June 2017, before the results were published. London HEIs
have tended to do less well in the National Student Survey, and TEF attracted many comments about
its blindness to diversity, as Glanville pointed out.

When the results did finally emerge, David Kernohan, the new Associate Editor at WonkHE, looked on
22 June 2017 at how many institutions had moved from the ‘initial hypothesis’ based on metrics to a
final rating:

‘How did the panel exercise their judgements?
 Three institutions had their final assessments downgraded from their initial hypothesis: BPP
University, Bucks New University, and the British School of Osteopathy.
 Thirty-three institutions had their final assessments upgraded from their initial hypothesis,
including eight in the Russell Group, and twelve in London.
 Seventeen institutions were upgraded from a Bronze to Silver, including University College London,
King’s College London, and the University of Bristol.
 Fifteen institutions were upgraded from a Silver to a Gold, including Imperial College London, the
University of Nottingham, and the University of Birmingham.
 The Royal Veterinary College was upgraded from a Bronze to a Gold!’

Chris Husbands (Sheffield), chair of the TEF Panel, had his own commentary, defending the exercise -
for all its shortcomings – in his own WonkHE post on 23 June 2017. Jane Forster (Bournemouth)
concluded that ‘On balance, the good in TEF outweighs the bad’ for WonkHE on 26 June 2017. But
Dorothy Bishop argued it was a bad idea all along in a blog post for the Campaign for the Defence of
British Universities website: ‘TEF and the reputation of UK Higher Education’.

It was almost worth suffering the TEF just to hear the squeals and see the squirming by the Russell
Group members who were unaccountably ‘demoted’ to mere silver or even bronze, with Liverpool,
York, Durham and Southampton being among the first to announce they would appeal. The Russell
Group machine cranked into action with ‘TEF: 3 things you need to know’, aiming to ‘contextualise’ -
that is, get potential applicants to take no notice of - the whole exercise in 300 words on their website
on 22 June 2017.

The LSE had the quality press to argue the case for them. The Sunday Times produced perhaps the
most breathtaking comment in its editorial ‘The inexact science of ranking universities’ on 25 June:

‘the London School of Economics – the LSE … is a jewel in Britain’s economic crown … Now the LSE is
trying to understand its lowly ranking in teaching excellence framework (TEF) results, released by the
universities minister, Jo Johnson … the LSE, with a bronze award, rubs shoulders … with the `British
School of Osteopathy, Plymouth College of Art, and Cumbria and Suffolk universities. Recipients of
gold awards included Coventry, Derby and Lincoln Universities.’

Savour the contempt and sarcasm dripping from every phrase, the incredulity that anyone could link
such lowly institutions with the kind of university that journalists themselves attend. (Journalists are,
notoriously, even less diverse than high court judges in their socioeconomic status). But this is not
pure snobbery, oh no. This is because the Sunday Times definitively knows better:

‘If all this looks odd, that is because it is. The most authoritative ranking of Britain’s universities is
provided by the Good University Guide, compiled and published by this newspaper and The Times. It
examines a range of measures, including student experience … In the current guide, topped by
Cambridge, with Oxford second, the LSE came eighth, which is closer to what you would expect from
a world-renowned university … Giving top universities eye-catching but absurdly low rankings, as the
TEF has done, does little to help anybody.’

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