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Conservative Manifesto

May 18, 2017

I’ve only had a chance for a quick look at today’s manifesto. While people will most likely be concerned about the announcements about keeping students in the net migration figures and the commitments both to drive that figure down below 100 000 pa and to make visa conditions (study and post-study) tougher, I think it’s worth flagging up the unexpected.

The Conservatives are committing to a review of tertiary education funding. From pages 52-53 of the document:

con manifesto

con manifesto 1

Institutes of Technology were announced in January’s Green Paper on Industrial Strategy – but with a relatively limited startup capital budget of £170million. That led to expectations that what was planned was the rebadging of existing institutions. £170m is only equivalent to the annual operating budget of the average university, so that’s going to get stretched if we’re going to have one ‘in every major city’.

The Green Paper also indicated that Institutes would concentrate on sub-degree provision (only up to level 5) – so this announcement is a departure from what was previously planned. There weren’t any references before to ‘links with leading universities’ nor to chartered status (a privilege only accorded to a minority of current English universities).

If you’re prone to reading the runes – then the stress should lie on links with leading universities and I would suggest we have here the outlines of a significant attempt at supply-side reform – one pitched at challenging post-92 universities where provision is mainly ‘classroom’ subjects in the arts, humanities and social sciences.

As for the review of funding, this should not hearten anyone – it’s likely to use Longitudinal Earnings Outcomes data to review whether certain courses provide value for students and public money. That is, should the maximum tuition fee for a course if its graduates see such little benefit (in the form of higher earnings)? This is the policy move I have outlined in recent talks in recent talks.

Otherwise, today’s manifesto appears consistent with what I outlined in three posts from October in relation to Theresa May’s likely approach to English HE.




  1. I think you mean
    “As for the review of funding, this should NOT hearten anyone

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. The TEF and Technical Education | Pedagogy & the Inhumanities
  2. The idea of the university in the Conservative Party manifesto | A HEAD OF DEPARTMENT’S BLOG

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