Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Inside Knowledge: Nick Hillman on Coalition Policymaking

Magazine article The Times Higher Education Supplement : THE

Inside Knowledge: Nick Hillman on Coalition Policymaking

Article excerpt

Nick Hillman, director of the Higher Education Policy Institute, reflects on some of the big policy questions during his time as special adviser to universities and science minister David Willetts

On the government not realising that Pounds 9,000 fees would become the norm

"We realised it very quickly, but it was after Willetts and (Vince) Cable had said 'these things will be exceptional'. The reason we thought there wasn't a straight comparison with 2006 (when virtually all universities charged the Pounds 3,000 maximum) was that there were going to be things like annual Offa (Office for Fair Access) reviews, whereas they were only once every five years under the old regime. Plus, we thought there was going to be a new legal framework, which if necessary could beef up Offa's powers. But of course there hasn't been any legislation."

On government claims that the higher education bill was shelved for lack of parliamentary time

"It was always the weakest argument I felt people let you get away with as a special adviser: 'The reason there's been no HE legislation is because there's no room in the legislative calendar. …

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