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The key point about that meeting between Cameron and England’s universities on Friday…

…is not just that they had a meeting. It is that the meeting comes at a time when the Number 10 Policy Unit is reviewing the potential contents of the coming white paper on higher education.

In other words, the key decisions about the white paper are now being shaped at 10 Downing Street by a new bunch of policy wonks who, unlike the folk at the Department for Business Innovation and Skills, have only a sketchy knowledge of the universities.

The policy unit has been beefed up this year and will no doubt be crawling over the same issues of finance and marketisation considered in ‘New providers’ – The creation of a market in higher education by the philosopher Andrew McGettigan. Whatever you think of McGettigans campaigning zeal, you wont find a better guide to the way the issues have developed.

Andrew Cooper Meanwhile, Andrew Cooper, Camerons new director of political strategy, has no investment in any dud policies dreamt up before he was appointed in February. The founder of the Populus polling will also be aware of the several strands of polling indicating that fees of £9,000 are just too high for public consumption.


PS In other weekend news in Northern Ireland, Stephen Farry, an education minister, said the planned tuition fees hike lacks political support and will probably fail. That will leave a £40m a year black hole in the budget – and he says may prompt cuts in FE.