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The Ayatollah Buggeri

Thousands Of University Job Losses

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In post 37 of this thread, Pedro for the Fed suggests:

be nice to have a Uni thread liekt he airline thread of CB's where one could reference the decline and ressurection of this obscure but importnat part of the economy.

Your wish is my command!

I'll start with three (possibly four) examples for which I can cite published evidence:

In the 27 May (no. 1,949) issue of Times Higher Education, p. 10, is a report stating that the University of Cumbria is £30m in the red and required 'advance funding' (i.e. an emergency loan) from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to pay the staff wage bill last month. The V-C has resigned in a huff claiming that he was 'mis-sold' the job, i.e. he had been led to believe that the deficit was only £2-3m, a claim that the University does not deny. The University of Cumbria was basically a bodging together of about 5-6 FE, art and teacher training colleges: its biggest campus is in Carlisle and AFAIK it doesn't face significant local competition. If it's in serious financial trouble then I shudder to think how many of the newer universities are in a similar boat.

In the summer of 2007, Thames Valley University and two other unnamed universities were reported to be considered by HEFCE to be in serious financial difficulty. The Ayatollah has it on good authority that the other two were Leeds Metropolitan and Southampton Solent, and that all three remain basically insolvent.

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Thanks for the links.

Shame about the reference to 'teen chavs' in the thread title though. Nasty nasty nasty. :(

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Thanks for the links.

Shame about the reference to 'teen chavs' in the thread title though. Nasty nasty nasty. :(

Lil bit earnest there, Karma. Are the ex-polys borrowing from themselves to fund this waste of young people's time?

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also,pensions,how are they funded?have they got a separate pot?or are they funded from annual revenue of the institutions?if they go under,who'll be on the hook for the shortfall?

The admin staff will be in the local government pension schemes (technically these are funded schemes, but they're mostly underfunded). The academics are in unfunded schemes where "the government" i.e. you, pick up the tab.

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Also,overseas students.Nottingham Uni is expanding heavily in terms of academic buildings,I hear that it has become very popular with overseas students,who,I presume pay a lot more for their education.How much more do they pay?Are they more heavily focussed in the better ie Russel group uni's or are they spread equally.Is there real competition for these?

Yes well I think a major part of that uni is all about essentially exporting their degrees... they have a chinese and maylay campus too i think

these guys were paying maybe 20K per course for a typical 3 year classrooom course... if you have Lab based courses they cost a bit more i beleive...

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In post 37 of this thread, Pedro for the Fed suggests:

Your wish is my command!

I'll start with three (possibly four) examples for which I can cite published evidence:

In the 27 May (no. 1,949) issue of Times Higher Education, p. 10, is a report stating that the University of Cumbria is £30m in the red and required 'advance funding' (i.e. an emergency loan) from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) to pay the staff wage bill last month. The V-C has resigned in a huff claiming that he was 'mis-sold' the job, i.e. he had been led to believe that the deficit was only £2-3m, a claim that the University does not deny. The University of Cumbria was basically a bodging together of about 5-6 FE, art and teacher training colleges: its biggest campus is in Carlisle and AFAIK it doesn't face significant local competition. If it's in serious financial trouble then I shudder to think how many of the newer universities are in a similar boat.

In the summer of 2007, Thames Valley University and two other unnamed universities were reported to be considered by HEFCE to be in serious financial difficulty. The Ayatollah has it on good authority that the other two were Leeds Metropolitan and Southampton Solent, and that all three remain basically insolvent.

Many of these institutions are ex polys and really should never have become universities. At least if we allow these third rate bodies go bankrupt we can stop kids who are not bright enough for real universities focus on a more realistic career aim.

This is not meant to be snobbish but these worthless unis have stopped many of our low achievers taking jobs n cleaning and agriculture where they could have developed a career just not an office based one.

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Many of these institutions are ex polys and really should never have become universities. At least if we allow these third rate bodies go bankrupt we can stop kids who are not bright enough for real universities focus on a more realistic career aim.

This is not meant to be snobbish but these worthless unis have stopped many of our low achievers taking jobs n cleaning and agriculture where they could have developed a career just not an office based one.

Well said, here here - as a product of a "proper" red brick uni myself I can smugly agree that many of these ex-poly graduates might have been better off doing apprenticeships as in the olden days (eg pumbing, etc) - maybe then we might not have suffered the massive shortage of British tradespersons that led to the vacuum which sucked in hordes of eastern european tradespersons in the boom years.

Meanwhile, AB will be hearing from my virtual lawyers for intellectual copywright theft re his blatant plagiarism of my aviation thread title!!!

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Well said, here here - as a product of a "proper" red brick uni myself I can smugly agree that many of these ex-poly graduates might have been better off doing apprenticeships as in the olden days (eg pumbing, etc) - maybe then we might not have suffered the massive shortage of British tradespersons that led to the vacuum which sucked in hordes of eastern european tradespersons in the boom years.

Meanwhile, AB will be hearing from my virtual lawyers for intellectual copywright theft re his blatant plagiarism of my aviation thread title!!!

"Hear, hear is an expression used as a short repeated form of hear him, hear him. It represents a listener's agreement with the point being made by a speaker."

Perhaps we should close that " 'proper' red brick uni" you went to as well. :rolleyes:

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As the proud alumni of an inglorious ex-poly myself I can safely say that despite studying a degree of almost zero vocational or academic value and now dragging a significant millstone or debt it was still worth going to university.

Now my social group may have been self selecting by similar type but anecdotaly nearly every one of the 30 or so good friends I made at university had the same story. That they did well at gcse but for various reasons fecked their A-levels. The more forgiving entry requirements of our university gave brightish people who made "poor" adolescent choices, aged 17-18 (eg girls over revision) another crack at getting a door opening qualification which by that time employers were demanding for even entry level jobs.

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The admin staff will be in the local government pension schemes (technically these are funded schemes, but they're mostly underfunded). The academics are in unfunded schemes where "the government" i.e. you, pick up the tab.

I've looked into this a bit more, and post 92 (ex-polys) are as above, with admin staff in funded (but mostly underfunded) local goverment schemes. Academic staff are in the unfunded Teachers Pension Sceme (TPS). The second paragraph of this document explians how it works http://www.teacherspensions.co.uk/resources/pdf/TPS%20-%20financial%20note%20July%202007.pdf

here's the text:

Although teachers and lecturers are employed by various bodies, their retirement and other pension benefits, including annual increases payable under the Pensions (Increase) Acts are, as provided for in the Superannuation Act 1972, paid out of monies provided by Parliament. Under the unfunded TPS, teachers' contributions on a 'pay-as-you-go' basis, and employers' contributions, are credited to the Exchequer under arrangements governed by the above Act.

Most of the pre 92's are in the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) which is another underfunded funded scheme http://www.uss.co.uk/UssInvestments/Publications/Pages/ActuarialValuation.aspx

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Guest The Relaxation Suite

As the proud alumni of an inglorious ex-poly myself I can safely say that despite studying a degree of almost zero vocational or academic value and now dragging a significant millstone or debt it was still worth going to university.

Now my social group may have been self selecting by similar type but anecdotaly nearly every one of the 30 or so good friends I made at university had the same story. That they did well at gcse but for various reasons fecked their A-levels. The more forgiving entry requirements of our university gave brightish people who made "poor" adolescent choices, aged 17-18 (eg girls over revision) another crack at getting a door opening qualification which by that time employers were demanding for even entry level jobs.

Yes quite. I wouldn't allow the prejudiced thread title to get to you. I went to a polytechnic and I have lectured in polytechnics and universities. Anyone who knows anything about academia knows that it is the department we must judge and not the institution. There are some dreadful departments in red-bricks and some excellent ones in polytechnics. I have made this point before, but it doesn't get through.

The place where the cuts must fall are in the support staff area. These are overstaffed and overpaid and have to be cut.

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Don't the Tories have this covered the ex Poly's go tits up only to be taken over by Oxford and Cambridge and then every Chav can have a top class education and become a toff.

I wonder how many Uni's are going to fail over the coming years. If they where talking about real money then they'd get bailed out by the govt.

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why are the admin staff in local govt schemes?Can't believe the council taxpayer is liable for those.

Because the Polys were originally under Local Authority control like schools & FE colleges. LAs will fight tooth & nail to keep their local Uni going - it's often the biggest employer in the borough apart from the LA itself.

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Have never used their services......but have done distant learning courses, college evening classes, and my employer gave and paid for free training that we both benefited from....there is always books and the internet to fall back on...also the open university looks interesting, will have to find out more. ;)

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what proportion of a university's income is derived from what areas eg I presume oxbridge have huge endowments and thus are unusual.do some of the other (is it Russell group?)top uni's have some sort of legacy income.it also follows that places like Leeds Met won't have this.what proportion is from central govt,from the students themselves via fees,or from research grants.(are they allowed to use reseach grants to subsidise otehr courses,indeed would they?how much do they derive from otehr income eg renting rooms?

It varies from institution to institution. Universities' income derives form, in varying proportions:

Teaching

  • For home (i.e. UK and EU) undergraduates, the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), and its equivalents run by the Scottish, Welsh and NI administrations pays universities a certain amount per institution per student enrolled. The amount depends on the number of places it's willing to fund and the nature of the course (i.e. an institution will be paid more for teaching a student medicine than English literature).
  • Home students' fees, to make up the shortfall between HEFCE's whack and the actual cost of teaching the student. A typical teaching cost profile might look like this: actual cost of a year's teaching in English literature = £4k ish. Student pays £3k, HEFCE pays £2k, ergo university makes a profit. Medicine - cost of a year's teaching = £50k (and over five years rather than three). Student pays the same £3k, HEFCE pays £40k, university eats a loss of £7k. This figures are approximate but indicative.
  • Full international fees, paid by students who are not UK or EU citizens, and by an increasing minority of rich UK/EU parents whose offspring did not manage to get a HEFCE-subsidised place (of which there are a finite number). Many of the better universities are trying to grow this market aggressively. It accounts for around 40% of the total income of the school/department in which I work. As a general rule, the Russell Group and other older universities are better able to tap this market than newer, no-name institutions. As you point out, a few universities, most notably Nottingham, have actually taken this one stage further and opened satellite campuses overseas.

Research

  • Income from taxpayer-funded research councils (e.g. Arts and Humanities Research Council, Economic and Social Research Council), which academics bid for competitively to cover the cost of research. The host institution will 'top slice' some of the total to absorb into its core running costs (in reality, sometimes as much as half), hence the pressure on academics to apply for as much as possible. Again, the older universities are in a stronger position.
  • Income from private sector research sponsorship; concentrated mainly in the applied sciences.

Other

  • Enterprise and Knowledge Transfer (EKT). This sort of thing includes taking a cut from academics' consultancy fees in exchange for marketing their services (my employer made around £5-6k out of me last year), exploiting the patents and copyright of university property (everything from development work on inventions to selling facsimile editions of rare manuscripts in the library), running university presses and so on and so forth.
  • Commercial exploitation of university infrastructure - renting out halls of residence as holiday homes during the summer, marketing departmental facilities as conference centres and that sort of stuff. This is one of the few areas in which the newer universities aren't necessarily at a disadvantage.

In terms of employment.Any idea how many people work directly for Uni's/degree granting institutions?How many would be lecturers/paid PHD students as compared to back room secretarial staff?

I would guess at a total workforce of between 5 and 20k per institution, typically. At the University of Leeds, it's around 18k FTEs. Academic staff are said to be around 20% of the total here.

If a big Uni like Leeds Met goes,where would the staff get a job,what chances in industry?How many have transferable skils.

It's not just a case of how many have transferable skills, but also how many jobs the local economy can absorb and what proportion of the displaced workforce are willing to relocate. Universities employ everyone from electricians to experts on illuminated manuscripts in sixth century Scandinavia. The former's job prospects are going to be rather different from the latter's. As a sidebar, I know many academic colleagues who are either commuting stupidly long distances (including one who lives in Langholm, Scotland, and commutes to Leeds daily) because they can't get a job closer to home and their partner can't get a job closer to Leeds; and others who have remained at a relatively junior level because they have been unable or unwilling to make the long-distance relocation that taking a job that carried a promotion would necessitate.

Will the weak pound help us keep these jobs?

For universities that recruit a high proportion of non-EU students, the weak pound will be a help. But that carries a negative aspect, too. For example, our library budget is taking a major hit next year, partly because around half its outgoings are for books and journal subscriptions paid for in euros and dollars. In research intensive institutions, academics do go abroad on field trips and conferences quite a bit, and recruiting overseas students involves expenditure in foreign currencies.

Are students becoming sceptical about the usefulness of a degree?

Not yet, in my institution. But it is one of the top twenty and tends to recruit students from wealthier backgrounds (a third to a half of mine come from private schools).

Yes quite. I wouldn't allow the prejudiced thread title to get to you. I went to a polytechnic and I have lectured in polytechnics and universities. Anyone who knows anything about academia knows that it is the department we must judge and not the institution. There are some dreadful departments in red-bricks and some excellent ones in polytechnics. I have made this point before, but it doesn't get through.

As someone who has also taught in a post-92 and two pre-92s, I think the issue here is exceptions that prove rules. In the post-92 I taught, one department (history) scored a 5 in the 2001 RAE. That was largely thanks to the work of two academics, both of whom retired before the 2007 one, in which the department went down to 2 in one fell swoop. As a general rule, the post-92s are teaching intensive, attract a much lower proportion of research council money, take UGs with lower entry qualifications and have much less TPG and RPG activity. The expectation that the abolition of the CNAA would enable them to remodel themselves along the lines of traditional institutions was not realised, apart from in the odd department that did so under very unusual and atypical circumstances.

The place where the cuts must fall are in the support staff area. These are overstaffed and overpaid and have to be cut.

There I agree with you totally and utterly. In yesterday's jobs.ac.uk emails, there were 7 entries in the Humanities category (only two of which were permanent posts), compared to 94 in Administrative, Professional and Managerial, the overwhelming majority of which were permanent, FT posts.

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri

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The admin staff will be in the local government pension schemes (technically these are funded schemes, but they're mostly underfunded). The academics are in unfunded schemes where "the government" i.e. you, pick up the tab.

I don't think the latter us true. They are in the USS which is a private scheme not run by goverment - if it does not have enough money the goverment would not be under any obligation to fund it (unlike teachers, police pensions etc).

See item 14 here:

http://www.bath.ac.uk/news/2010/01/18/uss-qanda/

Edited by Saver

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I don't think the latter us true. They are in the USS which is a private scheme not run by goverment - if it does not have enough money the goverment would not be under any obligation to fund it (unlike teachers, police pensions etc).

Lecturers in former polytechnics are in the Teachers' Pension Scheme. I moved from the TPS to the USS when I changed jobs from an old to a new university in 2006. Members' contributions to the USS are in fact a bit higher. When I transferred in I lost about three months' continuity (i.e. USS calculated my length of service at the ex-poly as being around three months shorter than it actually was) to take account of the difference. The UCEA (representative body representing universities as employers) are trying to change the USS from a final salary to a career average scheme: something which, unlike the overwhelming majority of academics, I completely support. There are two many profs who are past it bed-blocking senior management positions (and causing an awful lot of damage while they're at it) for the last few years of their career because moving down would make their final salary pension would take a big hit. Only last month I suggested some major and long-overdue changes to our Director of Learning and Teaching to iron out big discrepancies in assessment weightings across a number of modules (which, if any students pick up on them, would enable them to win an appeal against a borderline degree classification just on the wrong side with no argument whatsoever). His reply translated as: 'Oh pipe down Ayatollah, we're not going to be doing any of this tinkering and make extra work for ourselves. I have no intention of rocking any boats in my last year and a half before retirement.' This man did a lot of good work in his 40s and 50s, but is now past it and a waste of space (he's actually in the office one day a week, if that). But of course for him to give up the position and return to the rank and file would mean that his pension would take a big hit, and so he won't, and his head of department won't ask him to, mindful of the fact that she'll be in the same position before long. A pension scheme that recognises the 20 years or so that he operated at the top of his game without him having to hang grimly on to a senior role for the last two or three of his career is long overdue, IMO.

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri

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Yes quite. I wouldn't allow the prejudiced thread title to get to you. I went to a polytechnic and I have lectured in polytechnics and universities. Anyone who knows anything about academia knows that it is the department we must judge and not the institution. There are some dreadful departments in red-bricks and some excellent ones in polytechnics. I have made this point before, but it doesn't get through.

The place where the cuts must fall are in the support staff area. These are overstaffed and overpaid and have to be cut.

Very well said. Yet there's 'freking your A-Levels and then there's going through clearing with one E and three N's.

This was still enough to get my cousin on a 1996 poly course, which imo devalues everyone else who may have actually worked hard for their place. She should of been told to try again the following year.

There has to be a line drawn somewhere.

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Lil bit earnest there, Karma. Are the ex-polys borrowing from themselves to fund this waste of young people's time?

How so?

When I followed the links to Leeds Met University they were mostly to do with alleged profligate waste by the board.

Why does that translate into a nasty attack on anyone studying there as a 'teen chav'?

Don't get it, sorry.

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Aaaah! makes sense now.

agreed on the latter point,6 biggest employers in leicester are De Montfort Uni,Leicester Uni,three hospitals and the council.that's an awful lot of pension liability riding on a shrinking base.

separate issue Carti,do you let to students?if so,have you noticed any drop in demand on last year yet.

I let in Bournemouth, which is probably one of the stronger ones - partly because the nearest alternatives are Southampton, Winchester & Bristol / Bath and partly because it is relentlessly vocational and has a high graduate employment rate. Nice area; lots of Middle class students whose parents would have liked them to go to Exeter but they didn't get the grades.

Two of the houses were fully let by an agent for next September by this February; the third is not yet advertised but we've never had any trouble in previous years letting by the room in Sept /Oct to students (normally lads!) who have left it till the last minute.

We looked at Nottingham 6 years ago when my daughter went to Uni there, but even then there seemed to be a major excess of supply.

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How so?

When I followed the links to Leeds Met University they were mostly to do with alleged profligate waste by the board.

Why does that translate into a nasty attack on anyone studying there as a 'teen chav'?

Don't get it, sorry.

It was an ironic reference to the mention of chavs in the airline thread to which Pedro referred.

The mismanagement at Leeds Met only served to underline the inherent unsustainability of the perpetual expansion of HE under Labour. Putting up two new skyscrapers and buying a professional rugby team would have worked if student numbers only ever rose, and Labour told them to work on the assumption that student numbers, like house prices, will only ever rise. The more intelligent V-Cs were able to work out for themselves that this isn't going to happen. The management of Leeds Met, it seems, wasn't.

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Lecturers in former polytechnics are in the Teachers' Pension Scheme. I moved from the TPS to the USS when I changed jobs from an old to a new university in 2006. Members' contributions to the USS are in fact a bit higher. When I transferred in I lost about three months' continuity (i.e. USS calculated my length of service at the ex-poly as being around three months shorter than it actually was) to take account of the difference. The UCEA (representative body representing universities as employers) are trying to change the USS from a final salary to a career average scheme: something which, unlike the overwhelming majority of academics, I completely support. There are two many profs who are past it bed-blocking senior management positions (and causing an awful lot of damage while they're at it) for the last few years of their career because moving down would make their final salary pension would take a big hit. Only last month I suggested some major and long-overdue changes to our Director of Learning and Teaching to iron out big discrepancies in assessment weightings across a number of modules (which, if any students pick up on them, would enable them to win an appeal against a borderline degree classification just on the wrong side with no argument whatsoever). His reply translated as: 'Oh pipe down Ayatollah, we're not going to be doing any of this tinkering and make extra work for ourselves. I have no intention of rocking any boats in my last year and a half before retirement.' This man did a lot of good work in his 40s and 50s, but is now past it and a waste of space (he's actually in the office one day a week, if that). But of course for him to give up the position and return to the rank and file would mean that his pension would take a big hit, and so he won't, and his head of department won't ask him to, mindful of the fact that she'll be in the same position before long. A pension scheme that recognises the 20 years or so that he operated at the top of his game without him having to hang grimly on to a senior role for the last two or three of his career is long overdue, IMO.

Oh right didnt realise the polys had a different pension scheme for academics.

Not sure using the pension scheme is the right tool to use to get rid of unproductive people, as this is not fair on people who are productive. Surely if someone does not do their job then a bit of strong management is needed and they can be dismissed/moved aside for not doing their job? Anyway changing the pension scheme is not going to solve the promotion problem - in the last few years I have seen a lot of younger people appointed academics at the red bricks. These people will now be in place for 40 years or so. The next generation coming through therefore has little chance to get a permanent lecturing job compared to the last 4 or 5 years.

An alternative solution would be an improved career structure for such people - if we need them to do the research give them more permanent jobs on the lower salary scales. Many people in postdocs say they are happy with the salary, don't want much of the teaching work of being a lecturer but would like a more secure job - many of them just end up dissappearing into industry (from the sciences anyway) after they get fed up with the situation, which seems a waste of money given how much training they have been given and how much it has cost.

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RAE?TPG?RPG?

Sorry.

RAE = Research Assessment Exercise, an auditing process that takes place every few years, the result of which is a significant determinant of departments' income. The incoming coalition government proposes to abandon this (specifically its slightly tweaked successor, the Research Excellence Framework).

TPG = Taught Postgraduate, e.g. a student on a master's degree, teacher training or librarianship certificate or diploma.

RPG = Research Postgraduate, in most cases a PhD student.

UG = Undergraduate, i.e. a student taking their first degree.

HEI = Higher Education Institution, i.e. an individual university or college.

HEFCE = Higher Education Funding Council for England, the government quango that distributes core funding to universities. It is rumoured that the new government might abolish it and absorb this function directly into the Department of Education.

UCEA = University and College Employers' Association, the trade body that negotiates with the trade unions that represent workers in higher education over pay and conditions.

USS = Universities Superannuation Scheme, the pension scheme for academics in universities created before 1992.

TPS = Teachers' Pension Scheme, the pension scheme for academics working in post-92s.

Post-92 = In 1992 a 'two tier' system of higher education, consisting of universities and large technical colleges known as polytechnics, was abolished, along with the central body through which polytechnics awarded their degrees, the Centre for National Academic Awards (CNAA). The polytechnics renamed themselves universities and were given the power to award their own degrees (this being essentially what the word 'university' means). Several institutions have been created since the 1992 universities, almost all of them since Labour came to power. Examples include the universities of Bolton and Cumbria.

Russell Group - a representative body of 20 universities (so called because its first meeting took place in the Russell Hotel in London), which markets itself as being the 'top' 20 in the UK in terms of research quality and quantity. There are no post-92s among them.

QAA = Quality Assurance Agency, the quango that (allegedly) ensures teaching standards in higher education, analogous to Ofsted in schools.

Those are all the higher education acronyms and jargon I can think of at present!

Edited by The Ayatollah Buggeri

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  • 150 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

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