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Great University Gamble – a plug

November 8, 2015

I published the Great University Gamble: money, markets and the future of Higher Education in April 2013 with Pluto Press.

The book was originally conceived as a primer to the Higher Education Bill planned for 2012. That primary legislation never materialised owing to Coalition politics, but Friday’s Green Paper has returned to those original ideas, with the addition of the much-discussed Teaching Excellence Framework.

I am making the Preface and Introduction of Great University Gamble available below as pdfs. I believe my overarching framework for interpreting the legislative moves planned is still valid.

I think it’s important to ask two questiosn.

  • Who has most to benefit from any reputational gain through TEF?
  • Is the TEF a permanent policy idea or a transitional mechanism designed to disrupt what is perceived monopoly provision dominated by ‘producer interests’?

The Introduction below sets out a framework for understanding the various and complex processes grouped under ‘privatisation’:

1. Marketisation or external privatisation, whereby new operations with different corporate forms are allowed to enter the state system to increase competition. This might be seen as dissolving the distinction between separate public and private sectors.
2. Commodification – the presentation of higher education as solely a private benefit to the individual consumer; even as a financial asset where the return on investment is seen in higher earnings upon graduation.
3. Independence from regulation – private providers accessing the student loan book are not bound by numbers controls and do not have to comply with reporting or monitoring requirements nor widen participation initiatives.
4. Internal privatisation – the changes to revenue streams within institutions so that for example, direct public funding is replaced by private tuition fee income.
We could add to this list:
5. The outsourcing of jobs and activities to the private sector and management consultants, which has become widespread in England.
6. Changes to the corporate form and governance structures of universities.
7. The entry of private capital and investment into the sector through buyout and joint ventures with established institutions.

I believe the real significance of the Green Paper may turn out to lie in numbers 6 and 7. We don’t even have a term as yet for the transformation of a charity into a for-profit entity.


Preface Great University Gamble

McGettigan_great university gamble Introduction

Buy book here

A short overview of the book written in 2014 is available on the LSE Impact blog. In particular, that updates the estimates on how the government values projected student loan repayments.

More detail on that and how this affects the revelant departmental budgets is available in my recent pamphlet for HEPI.

  1. John Selby permalink

    I decided to re-read the book a fortnight ago and found it, once again, very clear, thoughtful, and thought-provoking. For those who haven’t read it, I can only add to Andrew’s plug – it remains highly relevant when the Green Paper, inelegantly and incoherently, pushes the agenda much further.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. HE Green Paper and related stuff | Richard Hall's Space
  2. HE Convention 6 February, developing a collective critique of the HE Green Paper | Second Convention for Higher Education

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