CERS’ Higher Education Bulletin, 20th September 2021

New Leadership

It  been a busy week in higher education. The long awaited Westminster Cabinet has seen a new Secretary of State for Education –  Nadhim Zahawi – with Minister for Universities Michelle Donelan staying but adding apprenticeships and skills to her beefed-up ministerial brief, as well as Cabinet duties.

Freedom of Speech

There has been continued debate and voting on amendments to the  Higher Education (Freedom of Speech) Bill with various levels of value in the contributions from academics, lobbyists and regulator.  Perhaps we should note that it is a particular version of freedom of speech that is on offer in the Bill, one that is arguably focussed on protecting the rights of people who, in exercising their freedom, may have harassed others, but others argue have merely caused offence.  Jim Dickenson, an Associate Editor, summarizes thus: “the universities’ regulator asserting there’s a problem when it has previously said there isn’t one and with no evidence to back up the assertion…”  

Spending Review

Two potential damaging events might be of concern when Higher Education allocations are made in the Spending Review.  The first (and linked with the second) is the dispute for UK university pensions which looks set to result in industrial action on the grounds that it could hinder universities’ ability to fight off damaging funding reforms at Westminster. Read more.

Second is the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) has published its annual Education at a glance report. Students in England pay some of the highest tuition fees in the world, with the report authors warning that a shift to online learning may make these levels unsustainable. Read more.


The costs and benefits of international higher education students to the UK economy, published by UUKi and HEPI with research from London Economics, showed the net economic benefit to the UK of the 2018/19 intake of international students was £25.9 billion. Read more.

UPP report on the Truly Civic: Strengthening the  connection between universities  and their places https://upp-foundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Civic-University-Commission-Final-Report.pdf

Interesting papers and events

CHEF Talk (webinar) Whiteness of Futurity and Globalization of Higher Education, which will be held on 16 Sept. 2021, recoding available on website https://dpu.au.dk/forskning/omraader/chef/

Whitchurch, C., Locke, W. & Marini, G. Challenging career models in higher education: the influence of internal career scripts and the rise of the “concertina” career. High Education  82,635–650 (2021)

Howard E. Gardner & Wendy Fischman (2021) Does truth have a future in higher education?, Studies in Higher Education, 46:10, 2099-2105,

Problem solving pedagogy. Read more.