October 12, 2010

The implications of the Browne review

Writing about web page http://www.bis.gov.uk/assets/biscore/corporate/docs/s/10-1208-securing-sustainable-higher-education-browne-report.pdf

News coverage of the Browne report published today focuses on the implications for students and fee levels. But the report also contains important suggestions on aspects of teaching quality:

Browne's proposals include:

  • Four existing higher education bodies (Higher Education Funding Council for England, Quality Assurance Agency, Office for Fair Access, and the Office of the Independent Adjudicator) would be abolished and replaced by a single Higher Education Council. Itis not clear if the current auditing system undertaken by the QAA will continue in the same format. The new Council will enforce baseline standards of quality and more information will be given to students.
  • The new body would be responsible for investing in priority courses, setting and enforcing quality levels, improving access and attainment for students from disadvantaged backgrounds, ensuring students benefit from increased competition in the sector, and resolving disputes between students and institutions
  • All new academics with teaching responsibilities should undertake a teaching qualification accredited by the Higher Education Academy. All those (including postgraduates) with responsibility for teaching should be given the option to attain a teaching qualification.
  • An Access and Success fund should be set up to help universities recruit and retain students from disadvantaged backgrounds and universities charging more than £7,000 a year would be subject to increased scrutiny over student access
  • Public funding should be focused on priority areas. In the Arts and Humanities this would mean 'strategically important language courses'. Thus it is possible that History would not be publicly funded.

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