A radical plan for British higher education

The UK Browne report on higher education was released last week, and unsurprisingly it has been controversial.

The main features:

* As in Australia from 2012, Browne proposes that universities compete for students rather than having student places allocated to them. However there is an important difference. In the UK, the government would still control the number of places by setting minimum entry standards for a supported place. In Australia, places will effectively be allocated by universities. I have argued for the Australian approach on the grounds that I do not believe the central planner can make good judgments at the margins as to which applicants are worth selecting. But given the cost blowouts in Australia I can understand why the Brits may want to take another approach.

* Like in Australia, there would be only limited capacity for new providers to enter the system. It seems the only way in is by offering ‘priority’ courses. This is a mistake if they want (as they say) to encourage competition. Continue reading “A radical plan for British higher education”