Skills, Knowledge and Organisational Performance

UK Higher Education in Recession

Mass higher education (HE) in the UK is a relatively new phenomenon. Between 1960 and 1990, UK participation rates in HE increased gradually from around 5% to 20%, before a rapid expansion between 1990 and 1995 saw a jump to 32%. Since then initial participation has increased further reaching 45.5% in 2008/9 (DBIS 2010). In the prevailing policy narrative, the increase in student places is necessary for the UK’s long-run economic success. However, there are a number of unresolved debates relating to the efficient size of the HE sector and the optimal use of resources. In this Issues Paper, two aspects of this debate are highlighted in the light of the current recession and period of recovery: the production process within HE and the use of graduates in the labour market.


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