Agreeing on the unequivocal

September 17, 2015

The Higher Education Policy Institute’s reports are meant to encourage debate, so it is good to see Howard Hotson’s response to our latest publication, Keeping up with the Germans, which I wrote (“Small is beautiful: the UK has lessons to learn from Germany”, Opinion, 10 September). But his should not be the final word.

Whether the non-Scottish parts of the UK choose to copy Germany’s abolition of tuition fees is, ultimately, a political decision. Yet the best political decisions respond to all the available evidence, not just one side on its own. So it is disingenuous to claim that Germany has lit a path for others to follow while simultaneously ignoring the insistent voices of those in that country who question whether their funding system is sustainable. The German debate is less one-sided, more complicated and much more interesting than is sometimes implied.

Aside from funding, there is probably not a cigarette paper between Hotson and Hepi’s report. For example, the pamphlet argues that there is much to learn from the German approach to internationalisation. They are rolling out a red carpet for international students while we are rolling one up. It also notes the success of the Germans’ comparatively generous approach to research funding. As the spending review looms, perhaps we should coalesce around those areas where the lessons from Germany are unequivocal?

Nick Hillman
Director
Higher Education Policy Institute


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