I was a member of the team that visited Wisconsin with Sir Howard Newby and Roger Brown. Our agreed report was somewhat less euphoric than your article suggests (Analysis, THES , March 16).
While the Wisconsin system's negotiation of progression between universities and the diversity achieved are clear benefits, these have been achieved at a significant cost.
There is a large system administration of some 170 staff, representing 6 per cent of the state's higher education budget. Furthermore, the co-ordination and negotiation of mission statements for each university, together with the need to submit for approval all new teaching programmes (shades of Her Majesty's Inspectorate and the polytechnics), places a significant burden and loss of autonomy on individual universities.
In my view, the system was overmanaged to the point that it hampered teaching and research innovation. There are better ways of promoting collaboration.
Formerly at the Department for Education and Employment