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Why universities need to worry

Concerns over this government’s higher education policies are understandable. But it’s what might happen under the next government that should really spark alarm.

For almost 15 years, education policy enjoyed a period of remarkable consensus. While it is the job of government and opposition to insult each other’s plans and to magnify disagreement, the basic direction of travel was the same for Labour in the 2000s as for the Conservatives (and, to their cost, the Liberal Democrats) from 2010.

Three principles underpinned that consensus. First, that autonomous institutions tended to perform better than state-controlled ones, which is why the school system introduced academies and there was a cross-party commitment to (at least relative) university autonomy.

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