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Review review reviewed

Wrangles in Manchester over whether to take action on student finance, new figures on the experiences of people from ethnic minorities in Britain, and how robots can help students interpret Shakespeare

Will there be a review of higher-education funding—or no review? That is the question repeatedly put to universities minister Jo Johnson at the Conservative Party conference yesterday. While Sunday’s morning papers reported briefings that an external commission would undertake a review of student finance, the government was backtracking as early as Sunday afternoon when it was denied by education minister Justine Greening. Johnson ducked the issue by telling a fringe meeting, hosted by the London School of Economics and Political Science, that the system was “always under review” but  HE has now learned that some kind of  new review under the auspices of the Department for Education may yet go ahead.

There seems to be a split here between the big beasts of the cabinet—defence secretary Michael Fallon repeated that there would be a review in an interview with Daily Politics—and those in charge of the education brief. The beasts seem keen on a review because the Tories are in such political trouble over student finance, but Johnson is downplaying the idea, suggesting the system does not require wholesale revision.

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