British academy

BRITISH ACADEMY PRESIDENT WARNS OF "HUGE RISKS" TO THE UK'S "SUCCESSFUL AND THRIVING" HIGHER EDUCATION SECTOR

22 Jul 2011

There are huge risks to Higher Education – one of the UK’s most successful and thriving sectors – from the scale and pace of change currently taking place, warned Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy in his annual address to the Academy’s Annual General Meeting today (Thursday 21 July).

 

Referring to the publication of last month’s Higher Education White Paper, Sir Adam said:

“It is not surprising that it has had a very mixed reception. One disappointment is that the White Paper does not set out a clear and ambitious vision for Higher Education, nor look ahead to the longer-term. Its focus is on pressing issues around funding structures and attempts to increase competition in tuition fees for undergraduate courses. 

 

He said there remained many areas that were uncertain:

“Will the new system keep UK Higher Education at the international leading edge? What will be the impact on student demand? Will there be increased demand for some courses at the expense of others? Will ‘student choice’ improve quality? Will it undermine academic authority - for example, leading to grade inflation as students and institutions seek to ensure everyone gets the maximum outcome for their investment? Will access to the humanities and social science disciplines be narrowed? There are many questions to which we do not know the answers, and it is natural for many to have concerns.”

 

However, Sir Adam refused to be overly pessimistic:

“It is tempting – but in my view too many have succumbed too easily – to see disaster in the simple fact that humanities and social sciences are to lose their direct teaching funding from next year. But these changes apply to all disciplines. Every subject is losing its core subsidy, with direct funding only remaining for courses with high costs (e.g. laboratory or clinical).

 

“The majority of humanities and social science courses - which previously were receiving per student some £6,000-£7,000 in annual funding and tuition fees - will now be able to charge up to £9,000 a year. Provided student demand keeps up (and there were 200,000 unsuccessful applicants last year), humanities and social science courses will be  increasingly desirable to universities as offerings.”

 

Sir Adam concluded with a plea for more attention to be paid to postgraduate provision:

“We must take care to maintain the supply of postgraduates and address their need for support.  We must ensure that the new system does not unintentionally act as a deterrent to postgraduate study.  Graduating with a larger amount of debt from undergraduate study may put off the next generation of postgraduates, especially the less well-off.  Far too little attention has been paid by government to this potential threat.

 

“Many students graduating with combined tuition and maintenance debts of as much as £40,000 after three years – roughly twice current levels – are going to pause before embarking on even one, let alone three or four further years of study.  If this issue is not satisfactorily addressed, the future renewal of the academic profession could be seriously put at risk.”

The Annual General Meeting elected 38 leading academics at 17 universities around the UK as new Fellows of the British Academy.  In addition, 15 Corresponding Fellows were elected – Fellows not resident in the UK – and Professor Sir Richard Brook, Director of The Leverhulme Trust, and Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, were awarded Honorary Fellowships.

-ENDS-

Download Sir Adam Roberts’ speech (PDF file - 133 KB) For biographies of the new Fellows or further information, please contact: Jayne Phenton, Press and PR Manager:  0207 969 5263 / j.phenton@britac.ac.uk

 

EDITOR’S NOTES

·        Sir Adam Roberts, President of the British Academy, is Emeritus Professor of International Relations and Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Studies at the University of Oxford and an Emeritus Fellow of Balliol College. He was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1990, and President in 2009. In 2002 he was appointed Knight Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George for services to the study and practice of international relations. 

·        Each year, the British Academy elects to its Fellowship 38 outstanding scholars who have achieved distinction in the humanities and social sciences. 15 scholars based overseas are also elected as Corresponding Fellows, and the Academy can also elect up to two Honorary Fellows.  Details of all new Fellows are listed below.

·        The British Academy, established by Royal Charter in 1902, is the national body that champions and supports the humanities and social sciences. It aims to inspire, recognise and support excellence and high achievement across the UK and internationally.   For more information, please visit  www.britac.ac.uk

 

NEW BRITISH ACADEMY FELLOWS 2011

The following 38 Fellows were elected to the British Academy.  For a list of Corresponding Fellows and further biographical information, please visit www.britac.ac.uk/fellowship/elections/2011.cfm (from 00:01 hrs, Friday 22 July 2010)

 

PROFESSOR DIONISIUS AGIUS

Al Qasimi Professor of Arabic Studies and Islamic Material Culture, University of Exeter

PROFESSOR ROBIN ALEXANDER

Professor of Education Emeritus, University of Warwick, and Emeritus Fellow of Wolfson College, Cambridge

PROFESSOR JOHN BAINES

Professor of Egyptology, University of Oxford

PROFESSOR TIMOTHY BARNES

Honorary Professorial Fellow School of Divinity and School of History, Classics and Archaeology, University of Edinburgh

PROFESSOR GORDON CAMPBELL

Professor of Renaissance Studies, University of Leicester

PROFESSOR JANET CARSTEN

Professor of Social and Cultural Anthropology, University of Edinburgh

PROFESSOR JENNY CHESHIRE                     

Professor of Linguistics, Queen Mary, University of London

PROFESSOR ROBERT CRAWFORD

Professor of Modern Scottish Literature in the School of English, University of St Andrews

PROFESSOR MARTIN CRIPPS

Professor of Economics, University College London

PROFESSOR NICHOLAS DE LANGE DD

Professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies, University of Cambridge

PROFESSOR FELIX DRIVER   

Professor of Human Geography, Royal Holloway, University of London

PROFESSOR CECILE FABRE

Professor of Political Philosophy, University of Oxford

PROFESSOR SIMON FRITH

Tovey Professor of Music, University of Edinburgh

PROFESSOR RAYMOND GEUSS

Professor of Philosophy, University of Cambridge

PROFESSOR ROBERT GORDON

Regius Professor of Hebrew, University of Cambridge

DR RUTH HARRIS

Lecturer (CUF) in Modern History and Fellow and Tutor at New College, Oxford

PROFESSOR JOHN HEALEY

Professor of Semitic Studies, University of Manchester

PROFESSOR SIMON HIX

Professor of European and Comparative Politics, London School of Economics & Political Science

PROFESSOR SYLVIA HUOT

Professor of Medieval French Literature, University of Cambridge

PROFESSOR ANDREW HURRELL

Montague Burton Professor of International Relations, University of Oxford

PROFESSOR MARK JOHNSON

Director, Centre for Brain and Cognitive Development, Birkbeck, University of London

DR NEIL KENNY

Reader in Early Modern French Literature and Thought, University of Cambridge

PROFESSOR JEREMY LAWRANCE

Professor of Spanish Golden Age and Renaissance Studies, University of Nottingham

PROFESSOR MARTIN LOUGHLIN

Professor of Public Law, London School of Economics & Political Science

PROFESSOR NEIL MACRAE

Professor of Psychology, University of Aberdeen

PROFESSOR ANTONY MANSTEAD

Professor of Psychology, Cardiff University

PROFESSOR LAURA MARCUS

Goldsmiths’ Professor of English Literature, University of Oxford

PROFESSOR ALAN NORRIE

Professor of Law, University of Warwick

PROFESSOR SUSAN OWENS

Professor of Environment and Policy, University of Cambridge

PROFESSOR ANDREA PRAT

Professor of Economics, London School of Economics & Political Science

PROFESSOR HÉLÈNE REY

Professor of Economics, London Business School

PROFESSOR LYNDAL ROPER

Professor of Early Modern History, University of Oxford

PROFESSOR WILLIAM ROWE

Anniversary Professor of Poetics, Birkbeck, University of London

PROFESSOR CAROLYN STEEDMAN

Professor of History, University of Warwick

PROFESSOR JEREMY WALDRON

Chichele Professor of Social and Political Theory, University of Oxford

PROFESSOR ALAN WALKER

Professor of Social Policy and Social Gerontology, University of Sheffield

PROFESSOR ARNE WESTAD

Professor of International History, London School of Economics & Political Science

PROFESSOR PER-OLOF WIKSTRÖM

Professor of Ecological and Developmental Criminology, University of Cambridge

 

Honorary Fellows

SIR TIM BERNERS-LEE OM KBE

3Com Founders Professor of Engineering; Professor, Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, Laboratory for Computer Science and Artificial intelligence (CSAIL), Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT); Head of the Decentralized Information Group (DIG); Professor, Electronics and Computer Science Department, University of Southampton

PROFESSOR SIR RICHARD BROOK OBE

Director of the Leverhulme Trust