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HEPI director questions UK higher education policy “muddle”

The UK’s global reputation for quality in higher education is based largely on research in its most prestigious universities, and much of this is due to the achievements of scholars from other countries, according to Bahram Bekhradnia, the outgoing Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute.

Giving HEPI’s annual lecture, Mr Bekhradnia raised questions over standards in teaching and quality assurance of degrees, suggesting that there are wide variations in university courses across Britain.

HEPI research has found that students at UK universities study for only 75 per cent of the time assumed by the Quality Assurance Agency, he pointed out.

“I fear an unspoken conspiracy between staff and students.  Staff saying to the students ‘we won’t make a large demands on you, if you leave us to get on with our research’. There are, after all, only so many hours in the day and our research output is remarkable.  Something has to give,” he said.

Mr Bekhradnia also argued that the UK government’s market-based approach to higher education was muddled and “philosophically, economically and socially untenable”, and that little progress was being made on widening access to HE.

Get the full picture from HEi-know: Briefing Report 112