Freedom of speech, censorship and bias – interesting times in HE

Freedom of speech in HE is in the press – a lot – at the moment.  The debate is very polarised and polarising.  For that reason, I should clarify before I start that the views below are my own (and not an official position for BU or the Lighthouse Group).

It started last week, when the massive set of consultations on the Office for Students (OfS) and the new regulatory framework were launched with a flurry about freedom of speech. The Times published an interview with Jo Johnson discussing the proposal that measures to protect freedom of speech should be a condition of OfS registration. The Guardian notes proposed powers for the OfS to fine or suspend the registration of universities that fail to protect the freedom of speech on campus, including student unions that ‘no platform’ controversial speakers. Read the full post “Freedom of speech, censorship and bias – interesting times in HE”

Sister Group for the Lighthouse Policy Group

Picture of Spinnaker TowerAs our members gather next week for our latest Lighthouse Policy Group meeting at the University of Portsmouth, I have been reflecting on how valuable the group has been. So valuable in fact that I am investigating the possibility of a sister group with colleagues who lead on student experience in institutions across the sector.

Read the full post “Sister Group for the Lighthouse Policy Group”

Ready for the Lords debates on the HE and Research Bill?

The committee stage in the House of Lords starts on Monday 9th January 2016.  The list of proposed amendments stands at 85 pages.  Progress can be tracked on the new House of Lords pages here.  The bill itself (if you need it for reference) is here.

So if you’re catching up after the holidays or looking for reference materials, here is a round up ahead of some of the key topics ahead the debates next week.

Read the full post “Ready for the Lords debates on the HE and Research Bill?”

Moving the Whitehall deckchairs – Back to the Future?

london_big_ben_tubeOne of the benefits of having worked in public affairs in and around the higher education sector is seeing the variety of change that has gone on over the past decade. After Thursday’s ‘morning of the long knives’ ministerial reshuffle by the new Prime Minister, Theresa May it now seems there is to be a wholesale restructure of Whitehall.

An early announcement was the reconstitution of the Department for Education, under new Secretary of State, Rt. Hon. Justine Greening MP. The new DfE appears to be taking on pre-2007 responsibilities for Higher Education, Further Education and Skills. Pragmatically much of this will be done to free up physical space in Whitehall as well as their only being (by law) a maximum of 23 seats at the Cabinet table. With two new Departments – a Department for International Trade and a Department for Brexit this was always going to make things tricky.

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What keeps a Policy Advisor awake at night?

At the Lighthouse Policy Group meetings we normally have a session with the Vice-Chancellor of the institution who is hosting our meeting, during which one of the questions we like to ask is: ‘What keeps you awake at night?’.

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Talking the talk, walking the walk

To follow up on my previous blog post, Policy Wonks Ahoy, about the rise of ‘policy wonks’, one of the founder members of the Lighthouse Policy Group, Caroline Chipperfield, has been in touch with some other pieces published about Policy Advisors:

Read the full post “Talking the talk, walking the walk”