Features

With university set to become a near-universal expectation for high-school graduates, the separate silos in which K12 and higher education have traditionally operated are increasingly being seen as barriers to equity. But what, realistically, can universities do to bridge the great divide? Paul Basken reports 

4 August

As precarity affects ever more academics for ever longer, many have come to see a permanent position as the gateway to professional happiness. But does it always work out that way? Or do the responsibilities and trade-offs of seniority outweigh the joys of security and salary? Seven academics have their say

21 July

As undergraduate numbers soar and student needs become increasingly complex, questions are being asked about whether a support model that relies on the conscientiousness of individual academics is fit for purpose. Here, three scholars explain why, despite its faults, the pastoral role remains crucial

Even before Covid led to so many job losses among casual and fixed-term academic staff, mass insecurity was increasingly being recognised as a blight on the sector. But is there any realistic prospect of permanent contracts all round? Ben Upton examines the cases of Germany and the Netherlands

7 July

Once lauded as engines of social mobility, American universities are increasingly perceived as widening social and economic injustices. Matthew Reisz speaks to two academics whose new book lays bare the extent of the problem and the potential solutions

The UK’s National Union of Students is 100 years old. But as students around the world focus on single-issue campaigns and relations with governments crumble amid mutual disdain, questions abound about what comes next for organisations that ‘you would have to invent if they didn’t already exist’

23 June

As Australia’s general election looms, many in university circles may be hoping that Scott Morrison’s coalition is voted out. But is it true that conservative governments and universities are natural antagonists? And how much better would the sector fare under a Labor administration? John Ross reports

11 May

Universities’ intellectual property is seen as key to successful knowledge economies. But what is the best way to turn ideas into marketable products? Is it realistic to expect major commercial success? And how much of a stake should universities take in the process – and the proceeds? Jack Grove reports

26 April

Despite incremental reforms throughout Emmanuel Macron’s first term as president, France still has one of the most centralised higher education systems in Europe. As the election looms, Ben Upton examines attitudes towards institutional autonomy and asks whether its supposed effects on equality and academic freedom are limiting appetite for more

31 March

Three decades after the abolition of the binary divide between universities and polytechnics, some commentators still lament the supposed loss of locally focused vocational education. But even as the political winds buffet them, do post-92s offer the solution to the UK’s skills problem? John Morgan reports

17 March

All academics have had that anxiety dream about standing up to give a lecture, only to realise they have forgotten to prepare anything – or to put on any clothes. But real teaching failures are rarely so disastrous – and many are teachable moments. Seven academics tell us their hard-earned lessons

3 March

The grip of Silicon Valley on commerce and culture is huge and ever-growing. But as concerns mount about tech firms’ ethics, is there anything that universities – with vastly lower research and salary budgets – can do to put them on a more responsible trajectory? Four experts give their views

17 February

With both Oxford and Cambridge seeking new vice-chancellors, Rosa Ellis examines the unique pressures of leading these prestigious universities and the qualities that successful candidates will need to do the job

3 February

As the pandemic increases public scrutiny of science, the UK Parliament is holding another inquiry into the long-running issue of reproducibility. Five of its contributors give their views on how sloppy science can be eliminated and trust be more firmly rooted 

20 January

Teaching modules intensively, rather than in parallel, has had positive results at the handful of institutions that have tried it. But would it work for all students and all subjects? And would academics trade autonomy in course design for more research time? Anna McKie reports

6 January

In John Gilbey’s seasonal tale, life imitates on-screen romance when a film crew is duped into choosing the distinctly unphotogenic University of Rural England as the location for its next blockbuster

23 December

As the season of goodwill comes around again, warm words about collegiality and fellowship have been dutifully corralled into all-staff missives from university leaders. But in an era of management, metrics and industrial unrest, does the image of the academy as a commonwealth of scholars still bear scrutiny? Seven academics have their say 

23 December

A push to end the habit of assessing researchers by their publication metrics is gaining momentum. But are journal impact factors really as meaningless as is claimed? And will requiring scientists to describe their various contributions really improve fairness and rigour – or just bureaucracy? Jack Grove reports

9 December