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9 - Devolution and Higher Education Policy: Negotiating UK and International Boundaries

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2016

Sheila Riddell
Affiliation:
Director of the Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID) at the University of Edinburgh
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Summary

INTRODUCTION

In preceding chapters, we examined the impact of devolution on various aspects of Scottish and UK higher education systems, including institutional governance, approaches to tuition fees and student support, cross-border student flows, widening access, internationalisation and research policy. Evidence from policy documents and administrative data is interspersed with the voices of central actors within the higher education system, including university managers, prospective students in Scotland and the north of England, and international students. This mixed-methods approach has helped us understand the social significance and impact of government policies, as well as the trends revealed by official statistics. Throughout the book, higher education is used as a lens through which to interrogate critically the Scottish Government's claim that devolution is leading to the growing marketisation of the public policy arena in England, whilst Scotland remains a bastion of collectivism and social democracy (Scottish Government, 2013). In the sections below, we begin by summarising the central findings, before discussing cross-cutting themes emerging from the analysis.

The first over-arching theme concerns the implicit and explicit understandings of social justice informing higher education policy in Scotland and England, and the extent to which either jurisdiction appears to be delivering fairer outcomes. This involves a critique of the policy of free tuition in Scotland and the extent to which universal social services inevitably deliver more equal outcomes. Secondly, we consider the nature and extent of marketisation within higher education in Scotland and the rest of the UK. We argue that, prior to the changes of 2012, there were already strong elements of competition across the UK, particularly in areas such as international student recruitment and research funding. Whilst acknowledging the major changes introduced by the Browne reforms, we agree with Marginson (2013) that they have promoted a pre-existing quasi-market in higher education rather than establishing a full-blown economic market. Furthermore, their impact has not just been restricted to England, but has been felt across the UK. Finally, in relation to higher education, we consider the vision of further devolution as set out in the Command Paper entitled Scotland in the United Kingdom: An Enduring Settlement (Her Majesty's Government, 2015).

Type
Chapter
Information
Higher Education in Scotland and the UK
Diverging or Converging Systems?
, pp. 141 - 153
Publisher: Edinburgh University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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