Wednesday 11 May 2011

Futures Forum

Today I'm at the Higher Education Futures Forum in London. Lots of good sessions, including some friends and colleagues on the stage! Will try and blog most sessions, so next few posts will probably be in note form.

Opening introduction by Mike Baker of BBC fame, who's chairing the event. Lots of people watching via the web, but given it's a futures forum, there's a distinct lack of anything digital in the room. Every table covered in paper! My iPad feeling very lonely. Mike sets the scene for the day. White paper now delayed well into next month. Fees set, and £9k not the exception, but the norm. Lots of big questions on the horizon. Will the white paper give a push to PQA, what will happen about social mobility and fair access, what will impact of UKBA changes be, will private sector step in to provide some courses?

Then on to Nicola Dandridge, Chief Executive of Universities UK for a look at what the sector can expect over the coming year.
so much change, difficult to know where to start, but 5 main issues chosen.

1 Business as usual

Despite the changes, we have to continue to provide high quality teaching and research. Will there be a peak in demand this August, or not? Prospect of industrial action. Growing international competition.

2 Incremental development of new fee regime over next few months.

In July OFFA will approve new fee level.
August, will see demand for 2011/12 places
End of 2011 first indication of student choice for 2012/13. Will see if students have been put off. Do students understand reality of the fee package, ie no fees paid upfront.
What will take up of student loans be. Will families pay, or will students work, or will they take up full loan. Wll only become clear during 2012/13. Critical, because only at that stage will BIS know consequences to CSR budget for HE.
So, HE will not be out of the news for some time.

3 White paper

Expected end of June. Will cover number of issues, including relationship between HEFCE, OFFA and SLC. Will it have core and margin model relating to student number allocations. Model may be that HEIs are allocated a core, and a separate margin then bid for. May have off quota - events of yesterday fascinating. Willets announcement of being able to pay for additional places. Serious issues about social mobility, but also politics! Need thoughtful and analytical development of policy.
More private providers?
White paper will be extensive, but we don't know how much detail, but will be 3 month consultation period.

4 Changes to external environment eg NHS, teacher training structures

Change coming at us from all quarters. HEIs with health related courses NHS changes will have enormous effect. But some much unknown, and lack of uncertainty makes planning difficult

5 Internationalisation

Must have an eye on our international competitors. Their investment continuing apace. Whilst we've frozen investment in research, ( and we're pleased it's frozen and not cut!), India is doubling its investment in R and D. China increasing by 10%. US investing huge amounts in R and D. Very difficult for us to compete and maintain our position. UKBA changes causing huge damage to our recruitment of international students.

Next few months, will be difficult, but hopefully worst is over as we know what changes are, now we have to make them work.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPad

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