Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Written Questions

This written question came up in the work context. The question clearly asks one thing and the answer is to something completely different. The current average cost of a PQ is estimated at £138 (although this calculation comes up with something lower).
The Minister's answer demonstrates the most common myth about higher education funding: that it is per capita funding at a set unit of resource per student.
The figures provided in the answer are the theoretical "standard resource", and not the actual resource. The actual resource is a combination of the assumed fee income, and the block grant. This exists as a university total, so you can't calculate what each student is worth.
Not only that but the "standard resource" differs by institution, so there are London weightings, historic buildings (this is how Oxbridge gets away with teaching so few students), and other odds and ends.
So why care? Well when various university people see summaries of parliamentary activity, they want to know why they aren't getting their slice of the pie. So we end up having to say why the figures are only theoretical, and that we (the university central admin) aren't skimming off the top. Grrr.

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