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Party time

There may be plenty to discuss, but will the conference season offer any real clues about where higher-education policy is heading in the coming year?

Party conference season is policy at its rawest. The conferences bring together members, activists, MPs and peers to discuss policy and politics—and welcome lobbyists, businesses and the media to observe, contribute and help pay for it all—in a unique combination of interests, plots and agendas, and without civil servants.

Every year an intrepid collection of vice-chancellors, sector bodies, wonks and journalists turn up in the hope that they will understand more about plans for higher education. For many the experience is likely to be costly, exhausting and baffling in equal measures. Some sponsor fringe events or dinners, but often the bill for just for a pass and a couple of wildly overpriced nights in a local motel is big enough. Most will be hoping for some insight into where higher-education policy might develop in the coming year.

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