Wednesday, 11 July 2012

Cash is fungible

Dewi Knight has an interesting post on WonkHE about the developing Welsh approach to HE. As Dewi highlights, part of the mood music which Welsh politicians use to accompany their policy proposals is the decisive rejection of market (and English) models. The Welsh Government even plans to take powers so that it can fund specific universities directly.

One of my occasional themes on this blog is that developments in different parts of the UK are not as different as they appear, and this is a good example. English Ministers emphasise the language of competition and markets, whilst Welsh Ministers use different language, but both are engaged in projects to reshape their respective HE sectors to the needs (as perceived by Ministers) of students and employers. Both are seeking to enhance their regulatory control over their respective sectors.

It is inconceivable that English Ministers could seek powers to fund institutions directly (even if they dared to bring forward an HE Bill at all...), but the pound a Welsh Minister grants to a Welsh institution will have exactly the same purchasing power as the pound an English student pays in state-subsidised fees when the English funding council decides to increase an institution's Student Number Control. Cash is fungible.

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