OECD attacks English HE funding model

Andreas Schleicher. You may remember his name from Andy Westwood’s superb wonkhe post about the ongoing use of an “OECD endorsement” as to the sustainability of the current English HE funding system.

Despite Andy’s solid debunking of this canard (basically he initially referred to the previous regime, then wrote a personal blog post claiming that we had one of the best systems that includes student fee loans), drawing on the actual words of Dr Schleicher himself, Johnson Minor’s first speech also refers to:

a transformed financial situation; as the OECD says, we are one of the only countries in the world to have found a way of sustainably funding higher education.

Of course Schleicher is not the OECD, and is not making a pronouncement on behalf of the OECD – he is stating his personal opinion, just as I am doing here. I can understand why BIS researchers speechwriters make the elision (it’s common among people who don’t really understand social media) but it is not correct.

That’s the story so far.

During the summer I’ve been enjoying Pearson’s Tumblr entitled “If I were secretary of state for education…“. No, really, I have. The schick is that they ask a bunch of edu-policy luminaries (including David Blunkett, a former SoS) what they would do if they were minister for education. And publish it on Tumblr, because publishing things is hard.

I’ll be honest, Michael “Dr Target” Barber opining that he would “not tinker with structures or get in the way of successful schools” doing what they want to do” was my favourite initially, with AC Grayling‘s call to end the “closed shop of higher education” a close second.

But then I read Andreas Scheicher’s contribution. Sure, there’s the expected madness about increasing class sizes and claiming that “google knows everything”. But just look at his final point:

Leaders in high performing school systems seem to have convinced their citizens to make choices that value education more than other things. Chinese parents invest their last money into the education of their children, their future. Britain has started to borrow the money of its children to finance its current consumption. I would work hard with my fellow Secretaries to change that.

“Britain has started to borrow the money of its children to finance its current (educational) consumption” – this sounds suspiciously like a reference to HE funding – where the future income of our children is used to pay for their current educational consumption. And Schleicher would work hard to change that.

Sure – it’s tenuous. But no more so than BIS’s claims to OECD blessing on our expensive and ill-conceived funding method.


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