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This unexpected new world of a Conservative majority will be the same but different for higher education, writes Martin McQuillan.

As British pollsters take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror, the nation presented with what only a few months ago seemed to be the least likely outcome of this general election, a majority Conservative government. Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage have all resigned as party leaders and the Scottish National Party has swept the board north of the border. In the hours after the polls closed, the phrase “political earthquake” was frequently used to describe this new reality. However what will actually change as a result of Thursday’s election result?

On the face of it the Conservative majority looks, by historic standards, to be relatively thin at just 12 seats. However when you remove the elected speakers on both sides and Sinn Fein MPs who will not take up their seats, the true Conservative majority is 16. The fixed-term parliament act also offers generous terms to the longevity of incumbent administrations, which lends robustness to that majority. If David Cameron does not have to look for support elsewhere in the Commons, what will his majority government set out to do and how will it affect universities?

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