Hepi hits the buffer

November 14, 2013

Should the responsibility for regulation be separated from responsibility for funding, as the Higher Education Policy Institute suggests? (“Only a super-regulator can preserve truth, justice and the academic way”, News, 7 November.) It is true that although the Higher Education Funding Council for England and the Regulatory Partnership Group have done the best that can be done under present legislation, gaps in the protective fencing remain. But would it be wise to make Hepi’s radical change to deal with an essentially interim difficulty?

The role of the “Haldane buffer” between autonomous universities and government interference has been managed pretty well by Hefce (and before it the University Grants Committee). The Hepi proposal would leave higher education without this buffer. State control is state control, whether through government or Parliament.

The proposals for accreditation of “providers” need further thought, too. The great problem of the moment is that the sector now forms a mycelium of networked provision through innumerable collaborative and partnership arrangements that are not always visible above ground. This is probably keeping many institutions financially viable but it leaves the student with the bewildering difficulty in choosing a course of knowing whether he or she is picking a poisonous mushroom.

However, it would certainly be a good thing if it became possible to remove university title, which appears to be granted in perpetuity even through the Companies House route. The Office of Fair Trading may want to look at that in connection with its declared policy of actively “managing out” failing providers.

G. R. Evans
Oxford

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 3 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Most Commented

Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford will host a homeopathy conference next month

Charity says Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford is ‘naive’ to hire out its premises for event

women leapfrog. Vintage

Robert MacIntosh and Kevin O’Gorman offer advice on climbing the career ladder

Woman pulling blind down over an eye
Liz Morrish reflects on why she chose to tackle the failings of the neoliberal academy from the outside
White cliffs of Dover

From Australia to Singapore, David Matthews and John Elmes weigh the pros and cons of likely destinations

Michael Parkin illustration (9 March 2017)

Cramming study into the shortest possible time will impoverish the student experience and drive an even greater wedge between research-enabled permanent staff and the growing underclass of flexible teaching staff, says Tom Cutterham