Education

I studied for an undergraduate degree in England and for a masters in the US. In America, I learnt of the debt some of my fellow students had taken on. The English system I had studied under from 2003 to 2006, and which ended in 2012, seemed relatively generous. But after reading Thursday’s report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies into what the new system of student funding means for future graduates from English universities, I suspect that the idea that the average American graduate is more indebted may soon no longer hold. Graduates of English universities could shortly become the most indebted in the world. Read more

Statistics released on Wednesday by the Higher Education Funding Council for England show that the number of overseas students studying at English universities has declined for the first time in 30 years. The data should raise concerns about the openness of the UK to the rest of the world. It is hard to win a “global race” if fewer people want to start on your track.

The chart below shows the number of overseas full-time undergraduate students entering an English university each year since 2005-6. Students from the rest of the EU are represented by the red bars and non-EU (“international”) students by the blue bars. The figures between the bars show annual percentage growth. Read more

This chart shows why affordable childcare matters:

On Tuesday, the government announced tweaks to the childcare policies it introduced at last year’s Budget. It says that these changes will help parents with childcare costs and therefore support those wishing to return to work. Will they? Read more

This chart provides some context for the removal of Sally Morgan, the former chair of Ofsted, by Michael Gove, education secretary.  Read more

The little known fifth series of Blackadder takes place in the department for education. Blackadder is the secretary of state. In this scene, he is joined by his two special advisers – Baldrick and George. Read more

In Britain we are used to talking about class and identity. Perhaps we also thought we’d put generational conflict behind us in the 1950s and 1960s. Yet while the cultural divide between generations has narrowed the economic divide has grown wider, as Mr Willetts and others have shown. As Robert Putnam has shown in the US context, this can have a detrimental affect on social trust. And as Finkelstein reminds us, it is the attitudes of today’s young people that will one day form the core beliefs of those on power. Read more

The South Norfolk Conservative Association’s annual dinner sounds like an event made for Alan Partridge but it is that other 1990s’ star, Sir John Major, who on Friday used it to capture the headlines. “In every single sphere of British influence, the upper echelons of power in 2013 are held overwhelmingly by the privately educated or the affluent middle class. To me from my background, I find that truly shocking”, the former prime minister said. Read more

Social mobility is public policy’s equivalent of unified field theory: an abstract, controversial idea that seeks to unite different explanations about the state of the world. Its slipperiness has also helped it be an aim of governments of every hue. Read more

There might be better ways to spend the money. The policy is also subject to political considerations. (Obviously.) But to see universal free school meals as only a political ploy is to ignore evidence suggesting otherwise.  Read more