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Conceptions of what is excellent in higher education are starting to change

Professor Edward Peck, Vice-Chancellor of Nottingham Trent University, outlines strategies adopted by NTU that are boosting social mobility and which helped it win the inaugural Guardian University of the Year award, a gong he believes shows how notions of excellence in HE are changing.

A house divided? Growing divisions and inequalities in HE

Mike Boxall, who has thirty years' experience as a consultant and commentator on strategic developments in higher and further education, finds evidence in recent news of growing and worrying divisions within UK higher education.

UK HE must put its house in order to maintain global excellence

News on higher education over the past week highlights an urgent need for the sector to get to grips with ethical issues that have a bearing on the way it is managed and governed, argues Sandra Booth, Director of Policy and External Relations at Council for Higher Education in Art and Design (CHEAD).

Rising staff costs putting universities under greater pressure, warns Moody's

UK universities will face greater financial pressure over the next three years due to rising staff costs as they accommodate more students, retain talent and negotiate pay rises,  Moody's has warned.

121 professors call for an end to micro-management of university staff

An open letter calling for an end to the “managerial micro-management” of higher education forcing academics to function as a “small business” has been signed by 121 university professors.

The letter, published by the Guardian, says forces of “marketisation” are leading institutions to turn to “out-dated” models of competitiveness and efficiency that subjects academics to “continuous pressures to standardise, conform, obey and duplicate in order to be ‘transparent’ to measurement”.

It says “highly paid” university managers and even more highly paid management consultants are driving the process, “with little regard for, or understanding of, the teaching and research process in higher education”.

Unprecedented levels of anxiety and stress among both academics and academic-related staff and students abound, it warns, with “obedient” students demanding “hoop-jumping, box ticking and bean counting” and managerial surveys measuring consumer satisfaction.

“Such are the low ambitions of today’s universities, locked into a conservative status quo mentality; for what is there left to learn, when you already know it in order to demand it?” it adds.

The letter, signed by some leading figures across a wide spectrum of institutions, calls upon parliament’s newly election education committee to conduct an urgent investigation into “these grave matters”.

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