Neil Kay's website



Extras Blog

The abuse of economic arguments in higher education policy (posted 11th December 2010) See here for one set of reasons why the UK government is now set on a course of action in higher education which will have significantly adverse effects for UK economy and society in decades to come.

Snared by a lobby (posted 3rd May 2009) Today walking my dog I found two lambs up a hillside, snared by their necks with separate wire nooses round their necks, the snares laid there deliberately. It was a weekend and a sheltered part of the hillside only accessible by foot, so who knows how long they had been there or how long it would have taken someone else to find them if we had not come along ... more here.

Something nasty this way comes ... (posted 24th January 2009) Now hold your nose while you read this ...

Scots have brought Britain to its knees ,,, recession is declared official, the pound sinks, the stock market totters, banks wobble and misery abounds, let's salute the Scotsmen who did it …Some of my best friends are Scots … (God) also removed the brains, and any sense of moral responsibility, from almost every Scot who now chooses to enter public life …The sooner the bunch of Scots who govern us are booted into history the better… Never has the case for English independence from the Scots been so overwhelming.

You think this is bad? (I hope you do). Then to make it even worse just replace "Scots" and "Scotsmen" with "Jews" in the above diatrabe. There is no excuse for this under any circumstances but what makes it worse is that it was published in an article in a "quality" newspaper, the Daily Telegraph. Recessions notoriously can stimulate racial and ethnic tensions - on any scale of irresponsibilty by this newspaper (the author, Heffer is beneath contempt and any form of respect) must surely come out at the top on this.

Where the responsibility lies for the perfect economic storm... (posted 12th October 2008) The phrase "perfect storm" has often been used in connection with the chaos and turbulence in the global economy. To know how to cope with the effects of the perfect storm you have to look at how it impacts at individual level. Here is my summary of the perfect storm

Giant dog turd wreaks havoc at Swiss museum... (posted 12th August 2008): the sort of story that copy editors wait a lifetime just for the chance to stick a headline on it. The Guardian does po-face better than most, see here

Terry Wogan says BBC is no longer best in the world ..I loved this from Terry Wogan (posted 12th August 2008) : see more here

Ferries to be Renationalised ... Privatisation a "Painful Lesson" says PM... (posted 3rd July 2008) The Guardian carries today a story about New Zealand (you didn't think it would be here did you?) renationalising their ferry and rail services. It states; "On Tuesday, Clark's government renationalised the country's railways and ferry services, privatised in the early 90s and subsequently run down and asset-stripped by the Australian owners. Launching the new, publicly owned KiwiRail, finance minister Michael Cullen declared that privatisation had "been a painful lesson for New Zealand".

Told You So... (posted 2nd July 2008) Said yesterday (see blog below) that Andy Murray was "a Brit ... until he loses". Well, he's Scottish again .. the London Times today says; "Andy Murray's Wimbledon dream is over for another year ... The Scot simply had no answer". And the Grauniad noted sniffily; "Rafael Nadal's complete dominance against Andy Murray leaves the Scot with a huge task on his hands". Oh well, but then as Frankie Boyle said.. (see blog below) .

Big in Tayside and Even Bigger South of the Border ... (posted 1st July 2008) It was remarkable that Andy Murray came back from two sets down to get into the quarter-finals of Wimbledon yesterday. The English editions of the newspapers here went wild with a Brit (which he is until he loses) doing so well in SW19, front page stories, pictures, the lot. But when I tried to find the story on BBC Scotland today, it was not even on the front page, the sports headlines were about Rangers and Hearts, and I eventually dredged it up from the Tayside and Central regional pages of the website... It reminds me of what Frankie Boyle said on Mock the Week. It's bad enough that they wait for a Brit hero at Wimbledon for years then they discover he's a dour Scot ("dour Scot" keywords, cue Gordon Brown, Alastair Darling, Alex Ferguson...) but to make it worse, up here we couldn't give a damn (I paraphrased that last bit).

Is it just me ... ?(posted 23rd June 2008) Is it just me, or did no-one else see the significance of the fact that the logo for what is probably the biggest worldwide chain of real estate agents is a balloon filled with hot air? You can't say they didn't try to warn us.

The most embarassing opening line ever ... (posted 15th March 2008) The line goes "DESCRIBED as Airdrie's answer to Bill Gates... "

So bad on so many levels. Accuracy. Hubris. Journalistic standards. Personal embarassment. Who descibed him as such without laughing? Is Mr Gates worried? You can find the article here if the Scotsman has not wiped it from the human record out of legitimate embarassment. (it gets worse .... Iit goes on into how "the frustrated rock musician (i.e. Airdries answer to Bill Gates) fell into a career in computers" Cringe. Is Scottish journalism really so bad? Or should Mr Gates really be worried?

It Smells Like Fish ... (posted 7th September 2007) Alan Bennett once wrote a play Forty Years On, a span of life long enough for most of us to switch from looking forward to looking back. Well, at least looking back was what .. more

Heroism? No, Stoicism (posted 26th July 2007) Mike Russell has ventured into dificult territory (as he recognises) with his blog for Wednesday 25th July about Scottish identity more

Decision (posted 26th July 2007) The FOI Decision mentioned in the blog immediately below is published here.See blog below for further discussion.

Waiting Over (posted 21st July 2007) The Scottish Information Commissioner's Decision on my appeal for disclosure of withheld information on the Western Ferries / Scottish Executive Users' Charter meetings has been sent to me . The Commissioner finds against the Executive in the majority of instances where it withheld information from me by citing an exemption under Freedom of Information legislation. The Executive now has 45 days to comply and send me the information as directed by the Commissioner. See comment for fuller reaction from me, and also blogs for 9 September 2006, 28 October 2006 and 31 March 2007 below

The Squeeze, the Curse and the Silence of the Economists (posted 8th June 2007) "Serious intellectual analysis of Scotland as an oil-rich economy has never taken place"(e-mail from retired Professor of Economics) ...more.

Still Waiting (posted 31st March 2007) An anniversary of sorts today. I appealed on the 31st March 2006 for full disclosure of information on the Western Ferries Users Charter Meetings. Much of the information was censored. The Information Commissioner and his office as far as I can tell have been diligent in pursung this. And why am I still waiting? See blog "Freeing the Information" (posted 28th October 2006) below for a good guess. By the time the information is released (if it is released) it will probably be too late to influence matters.

Cowal Ferries and Flying Dutchmen (posted 13th March 2007) I am not sure I have all the facts right as of now, so this is subject to amendment, but this is my best shot as of today, 14th March 2007....more

Wimmin's Day (posted 11th March 2007) Many people will be surprised and disappointed by Miss Scotland calling a black singer a "monkey". Many more people will be surprised and disappointed that such a thing as a Miss Scotland still exists. But it should be no surprise to find an anachronistic, cringeworthy and contemptible institution making anachronistic, cringeworthy and contemptible remarks. Ironically, the only stereotype she really succeeded in reinforcing was that of the cerebrally challenged beauty queen. Best stick to hopes for world peace next time ... if there is a next time

Head lines (posted 27th February 2007) Noted with interest my Economist this week (February 24th - March 2nd) carries an advert on page 104 for a Head, International Potato Center.

I'm sorry, really sorry for this, but I suppose the question left unaswered is whether the person appointed will be known as Mr Potato Head, or Mrs Potato Head.

Still on the Head theme, it reminds me in the Eighties when Papua and New Guinea were still best known for their tradition of head hunting, reading an advert by the University of Papua and New Guinea for a Head Librarian.

Why the Fuss?(posted 20th January) I am puzzled about the fuss over arresting Tony Blair's aide at 6.30 in the morning before she went off to work . Do these indignant Labour poiticians really think it would have been a better idea to wait until she got to work and then arrest her in Number 10 Downing Street?

Is Labour Making a Case for Union with Ireland?(posted 13th January 2007) Gordon Brown produces one of the most confused ever arguments for maintaining the Union when he says he will publish a pamphlet co-authored with Douglas Alexander, the Scottish Secretary, that will make the "21st-century case for the Union". That case will be built on family ties. "When the Act of Union was signed, only 30,000 Scots had English relatives, and now the figure is 2.5 million," Mr Brown said. "It will seem strange to consider breaking a union when 2.5 million Scots have strong ties, family ties, with England." (Scotsman 13th January).

But much the same thing said here about Scots family ties in England could also be said about Irish family ties in England. Does that mean that Irish independence was a mistake and that we should send the Black and Tans back in? "Family ties" was also an old Soviet argument about not giving the Baltic states independence because so many Russian citizens lived there. And even though about 80% of the citizenry of the US were of British origin at the time of the founding of the United States, "family ties" did not stop that country's drive to independence. You can almost hear King George spouting regally about upstart colonists threatening their "family ties" with the mother country...

If "family ties" are going to be Labour's "21st Century case" for the union, then they should first read the history of earlier centuries and Santayana: "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it".

They Think it's All Over.... (posted 12th January 2007) It's impossible to not feel sorry for the England cricket team (no wait, honest, stop, hold on a minute ....). Not only have they had to endure being crushed by the Ashes whitewash, they now have to stomach the misery of being savaged all over again in a series of irrelevant (in historical terms) one-day matches. They must long to escape the misery of a sunny Australian summer for the delights of a wet, cold English winter. It must be like having the Spanish Inquisition torturing you on the rack for week after week, then they chuck you out, you think it's all over, then while they are walking away, one Inquisitor says, "wait a minute - the thumbscrews ... we forgot the thumbscrews ... come on lads, this won't take long...".

Sticking the boot in are those who question giving the England team all MBEs and OBEs for winning the Ashes 2-1 in 2005. But look at it another way. If the MBEs were warranted for England for a 2-1 Ashes victory, what would only the second 5-0 whitewash in the history of the Ashes warrant? Knighthoods for the whole Australian team?. A peerage for Ponting? The idea is only so ridiculous because the Aussies are so sensible. The typical Australian wouldn't give a **** for an MBE, they've got their own (Mercilessly Beating England... Maybe Best Ever...).

They think it's all over? They wish

Education, Choice and Economics (posted 8th January 2007) The furore over a Labour Minister Ruth Kelly being defended as exercising a "parents right to choose" in sending her son to a £15,000 a year private school for his special needs reminded me of when I was invited to speak at an Oxfam Forum in Glasgow many years ago. I was flattered, but when I asked why I was invited, they said the Tory MP (this was Eastwood in the Nineties when there were still Scottish Tory MPs in the plural) was unavailable, so they thought that getting an economist was about the next best thing.

After I sent a torrent of abuse down the telephone, I accepted and the forum was enlightening. I commented on one presentation that there was nothing I could add to it as an economist. Economics was about choice and alternatives, but the people and communities in the desparate situations being described had no choice and no alternatives. It was sub-economics.

Ms Kelly says "we all face difficult choices as parents and I, like any mother, want to do the right thing for my son". But for every rich person who can afford to send their fourth child to a £15,000 a year private school there will be scores if not hundreds who would have no such "difficult choices", indeed no chicnes at all, and no such alternative.

This is not about markets and choice, this is about money and power.

At least Scotland has not gone so far down this road as England - at least for the moment.

Whisky Galore 2006 (posted 16th December 2006) I've recently enjoyed two great family holidays on Barra and hope to do so again. It is a place and situation on the tail end of the Outer Hebrides that that seems to produce strong characters that would feature well in any book or film, like the local councillor Donald Manford or the formidable Jessie MacNeil of Voluntary Action Barra who I worked with during my misguided days as a quangocrat. Barra was also the setting for a classic Scottish film, Whisky Galore. The director was Alexander Mackendrick, the film was from the novel by Compton MacKenzie (who is buried on Barra), and the film's theme of ordinary people out-thinking and out-manouvering smart city folk is one honoured in later Scottish films like Local Hero.

But it is another film of the early post-war period that comes to mind when I think of the events of the past few weeks. That film is Geordie where a Highlander goes south, is treated with disdain and underestimated by the Establishment, then shocks them all and returns home victorious to be treated as, well yes, Local Hero.

Angus MacNeil, a crofter from Barra became an MP at the age of 34 at the 2005 general election, winning the Western Isles constituency from a former Minister in the Scottish Office. That should have been a warning sign that he was not to be underestimated, in the Western Isles they historically vote more for the person, less the party or the position.

What really upset Angus in his first few months in Parliament was the nonchalance and condescension of those in power over the issue of whether or not honours could be bought or sold. This sent him to the Commons library where he found the Honours (Prevention of Abuses) Act 1925 was clear; you cannot buy or sell them, and if you do, you can go to jail.

In March 2006 he submitted a formal complaint to the Metropolitan Police triggering what has since become known as the Cash-for-Honours inquiry. Few in the Establishment had even heard of MacNeil at that time, and his complaint was first treated as joke by many of those connected to the issue. However, they are not laughing now, especially not the Prime Minister with his two-hour chat to police this week.

If life sometimes mirrors art, it is because art can itself echo life and character. A crofter from Barra taking down chunks of the Establishment, including Lord Cashpoint and possibly even the Prime Minister? Even Geordie only got a medal.

A mutual friend tells me that Angus MacNeil has now totally forgotten how to buy a round. Even if he could remember, there is little chance in the Western Isles that he would be allowed to carry it through. Local Hero meets Whisky Galore. All that is mssing is an Alexander Mackendrick or Compton MacKenzie to record the whole drama, and of course there are still some missing chapters.

Both Angus MacNeil and Tony Blair are fated to wake up with hangovers on New Years Day, but Angus's will disappear after a couple of alka seltzers, Blair's is more likely to be one of the more permanent kind. As far as Barra is concerned, it must be something they put in the water, because I know for a fact they don't put anything in the whisky.

Sick Joke? (posted 19th November 2006) The Sunday Herald carries the story of the collapse of Farepack and whether it or the Bank of Scotland is to blame for the tragedy that will rob so many poor families of their Xmas. The story is carried on a four-page spread, pages 8, 9, 10, and 11 of the paper. Then on page 11 there is a full page advert for "instant access savings" with the Bank of Scotland. Is this some kind of sick joke? Or an attempt to counter the four pages of realist and negative coverage the bank got in the previous four pages.

Coincidentally, or not, two weeks ago I switched my current account from the Bank of Scotland after 38 years with them because they kept on failing to send me chquebooks when I needed them, leaving me financially stranded. After numerous apologies from them, I had had enough. It was very easy to change accounts, direct debits and standing orders switches are all taken care of by the bank - and the RBS will give you £100 on top at the moment as an inducement -that is if you need one as a Bank of Scotland customer.

Shinty Calendar Girls Revealed (posted 18th November 2006) The Shinty Calendar Girls are published, and they have an eBay shop here. Thanks to Soph - I mean Miss July for delivering the calendar. EBay says the "shots were taken a few weeks ago by photographer Pete Clark, at a secret location in Cowal and they are tasteful and artistic" - Secret? Last night I was sitting on one of the seats one of the December naturists is posed on!.

Buy your copy now, it's for a good cause .....

Shinty Calendar Girls Reprise (posted 14th November 2006) Bumped into Sophie (see blogs for 16th and 26th September below) and she said she is going to drop off Shinty Calendar Girls this weekend. She said there was talk of eBay listings and the Sun has contacted them. More to come on this...

Sometimes things just connect ... (posted 31st October 2006) A Guardian article today (Oliver slams arrogance and hubris ,,,) has an Antipodean hooker (that's a New Zealand rugby player) saying "the English rugby public and media were arrogant, ignorant and living in the colonial past.." (it's just as well he wasn't around for England playing in the football World Cup this year - oh, these endless black and white pictures of 1966 - and we thought it was all over...)

And its just as well he probably would not be reading the article Oxford is Just the Business at Top in the Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) this week. It says "The UK's high standing in the academic world is confirmed by The Times Higher's analysis of institutions in the social sciences. Peer reviewers in the social sciences around the world think that the UK has three of the world's top five universities in their specialist field".

What it does not mention is that after Oxford, LSE and Cambridge, you have to go down to 30th-equal to find another UK university (Warwick) in the table of the world's top universities in the social sciences. But little old Australia has no less than six unversities above Warwick in the top 30, and all this with just one-third of the UK's population. But the THES article does not even mention Australia's astonishing performance when compared to the UK, indeed it does not even mention Australia at all. Maybe Oz is just too small. As someone might say "It's that kind of blind ignorance and arrogance that really gets up the noses of Australians and New Zealanders .... After we beat them there last year, when you read the papers the next day you'd have thought that they had won the game". Actually, it was the NZ hooker Anton Oliver who said that about English rugby in the Guardian. But we know what he means.

Freeing the Information (posted 28th October 2006) Information Commissioners in Scotland and England are complaining they are being swamped by appeals under Freedom of Information legislation and are asking for more resources. Here's another way to go about freeing the information.

What YouTube was Made For (posted 13th October 2006) ... sorry, I know I really shouldn't, but it was what YouTube was made for - here's the second goal Croatia-England Euro Cup qualifiers.

Robot Fish and Invisible Cloaks (posted 5th October 2006 - see also entry for 10th September below) I opened my weekly Times Higher Education Supplement (THES) today, and not one, but two, 32 page A4 glossy colour brochures for the Shortlisted Candidates for the Times Higher Awards for 2006 fell out. The first award that caught my eye was for "Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development", this seeming strange given that a small rainforest was probably pulped for the promotional literature alone for this bizarre event. But moving on... More

Shinty Calendar Girls - more uncovered (posted 26th September 2006) Some news about the Shinty Calendar Girls (see also blog for 16th September below).

A sortie to my local hostelry confirms that not only did they sponsor the project, it was apparently carried out in a closed session at the pub organised by the owner, and that it features not only the local shinty girls but also the owner Gordon and some male members (of the mens team).

It's all a bit unsettling. I certainly don't want to spend January with a tasteful yet provocative pose of my local publican as Boy David above my desk. Pardon me for being prudish, but the only dimples I want to see on Gordon are on his whisky bottles.

Clearly more remains to be uncovered in the saga of the Shinty Calendar Girls

Why Scotland shone while England dribbled (posted 25th September 2006) (this is an extended first part of the talk I gave at Elgin - the rest of the talk was about stuff you can get on my Schools pages)

The questions about Scottish education (why are we doing so badly? Why did we do so well in the past?) are similar to the questions about Scottish football (why are we doing so badly? Why did we do so well in the past?).

So why did we do so well at football? ... More

Third Party Apologies (posted 19th September 2006) The Pope's apology with regards his lecture in which he quoted a medieval ruler who said Muhammad's innovations were "evil and inhuman" is straight out of the Tony Blair school of apologies (see post for 8th September below). The Pope said "I am deeply sorry for the reactions in some countries to a few passages of my address"

In other words, you do not apologise for your own actions or remarks themselves, you apologise for the actions or remarks of those who have been affected by what you have done. These set a new standard for apologies. What can we expect next? Margaret Thatcher apologising on behalf of the British people (and, while we are at it, the Conservative Party) for getting rid of her? George Bush apologising on behalf of the Iraqi people for the burden the Iraqis have put on the US military budget? Muggers and rapists apologising on behalf of their victims for the costs their victims have imposed on the health and legal services?

As parents tell their children, accepting responsibilty for your own actions is a prequisite before you start blaming others. That also holds whether you are Tony Blair or a Pope

Shinty Calendar Girls (posted 16th September 2006) And so to the Camanachd Cup shinty final, for the first time held in Dunoon, an impressive event and one which reverses the traditional Scottish sports ritual by starting the game with a Throw Up rather than finishing the day with one. More

In Praise of Overpriced Pizzas (posted 14th September 2006) An upset visitor writes to complain to Dunoon's excellent local paper that at Dunoons annual highland games (the Cowal Highland Gathering) they were "ripped off" by pizzas 20% more than they had been the day before the Games and bars charging "city centre" prices ... More

Scottish Executive Should Start Partying (posted 14th September 2006) Many including the Scottish Executive and the Minister Tavish Scott are "bewildered" and "disgruntled" by reports that the EC is about to bring a halt to the subsidies provided for intercontinental direct flights in and out of Scotland. Scotland on Sunday say that "No doubt the finger will point at the French. It always does in these situations". Which reminds me of meeting up with an old friend in Brussels who was now working for the Commission. I asked her how the Irish seemed to have been so more successful working Brussels compared to the British. She thought and said: "when the British want to get things done, they form a committee. When the Irish want to get things done they throw a party and invite everybody". Maybe the Minister should stop being so disgruntled and get out the party hats and whisky.

Black Ties for Academics? (posted 10th September 2006) Curious advert in the Times Higher Education Supplement this week for the "2006 Awards Dinner" (slogan - "Success is Rewarding - Sharing it with your Peers and Colleagues even Better"), black tie, £120 (excluding VAT) tickets, billed as "The Premier Networking Event of 2006". Funny, most academics I know think black ties mean funerals, they can't afford £120 tickets with or without VAT, and as for networking what are the chances of the only other researcher in the UK on the mating habits of the lesser spotted wombat being at the dinner? I mean, what university employees could afford and would want to network at such a - oh, I see ...

SE: Secret Executive? (posted 9th September 2006) One of successes of the new system of governance in Scotland is the Scottish Information Commissioner. But ... More

New Old Labour? (posted 9th September 2006) In the middle of the Labour Party turmoil this week, a New Labour Think Tank person argued on TV that the Labour Party needed to get back to its roots in the Friendly Societies and co-operative movements of the 19th Century. But these institutions were themselves a reflection of, and a response to, major market failure and parallel state failure in dealing with 19th Century problems of gross poverty, and inequality of income and power. If New Labour needs to go to these roots, what does that signal about its stewardship after nearly a decade of governance?

The Tony Blair Apology (posted 8th September 2006) Tony Blair apologised, sort of, yesterday when he said "The first thing I'd like to do is to apologise actually, on behalf of the Labour party...". Funny, many people think it should be the other way round ... actually.

The Tony Blair Legacy (posted 6th September 2006) Puzzled by the speculation about what will be Tony Blair's "legacy" and how he will ensure it... More

Steve Irwin (posted 5th September 2006). The death of Steve Irwin "Crocodile Hunter" upset the whole family... More.

(picture at top is Ally, fifth member of the Kay family.)


for BabyBoomers

What it says on the tin; just click here

Mo's Corner

My brother gets various things sent to him by friends, so blame him for this, not me.

  • Australia Visitors. These are questions from potential visitors to Australia posted on tourism board website, together with officials' responses.
  • Qantas Gripe Sheets. More Aussie answers to comments the commentator wishes they had left unsaid (this one sent to me by Bill Jardine)
  • Patients' Charts. These are comments by medical staff on patients charts, I'm convinced they are real, you could not make them up
  • PeterKayisms. No relation...
  • Evaluations. Its left to you to sympathise with the writer or the writee.
  • The Dear Red States letter (author unknown) is also as funny as it is tragic

Some favourite links

Here are some of my favourite websites. Not so much the obvious ones, Ebay and BBC are bookmarked on too many websites for me to add much value there.

(1) Rotten Tomatoes. Its tomato picker and the incredible database of movie reviews have helped me see some great movies I would not otherwise have seen, and miss out some I could afford to. It confirmed one prejudice of mine; why would anyone remake "The Producers" when the original was so good?

(2) The Pathology Guy: I found this when I was browsing for some background on an article. The Pathology Guy was made for the Internet age. A few years ago he would have been thought of as a bit .. well, different. He still is different, and I am sure the 3 million visitors to his site in 2005 would agree with that. Don't ask what it is about, just be one of the crowd, visit his site and browse.

(3) Tim Berners Lee: his site is like that scene in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade where Jones tries to find the Grail when it is surrounded by superbly decorated and ornate cups, only to find the Grail is just an ordinary carpenters cup. One of the simplest and most functional websites out. One of the genuine heroes of the Twentieth Century, he made the WWW (the World Wide Web) what it is, but if I could ask him one question, why did he not just call it W (the Web) and save us having to type all these extra W's?

(4) KFOG: Listen live to the best radio station on the Internet, check out the Morning Show 6-10am weekdays (California time)

(5) Cowalfest - a (deservedly) highly successful annual walking and arts festival started recently by a group of really well organised and able people, starring the peninsula where I live. Shows what can be done through a combination of local enthusiasm and commitment, and public support.

(6) Scotcat - Allan James is a neighbour who lives and works in Dunoon. It was his website that helped inspire me to do my own - but he sets a standard that really can hardly be approached by mere mortals. You don't have to have an interest in his hobby to marvel at what one person can do when let loose in cyberspace


Freeing the Information

Information Commisioners in Scotland and England are complaining about log jams in dealing with their cases and asking for more resources. Here is an economist's perspective on how to go about freeing the information

Spare Capacity and Public Policy

If you want to know how to close down a ferry service, a school or a public toilet, my note on Spare Capacity and Public Policy tells you how to do it.

Student Loans

In June 1999 I wrote a paper Funding Higher Education in Scotland that was disseminated amongst university administrators in Scotland and reported in THES. I warned that the headline figures of future private gains to students from their university education (based on mid-Nineties figures) cited in work done for the Dearing Report on Higher Education was a gross overestimate because demand for graduates was not expected to keep pace with the expanded supply.. And excess supply tends to push price (and returns) down - basic economics. Ironically, this was recognised in the work down for the Dearing Report, but the implications seemed to get lost in the wash. A Report for DfES October 2005 has confirmed those predictions of declining returns to a degree. And as the BBC reported in November 2005, "Universities prepare for competitive times" some estimates of the lifetime careers dividend of a degree are now down to about one third of the figures the government had been using just a couple of years ago to justify the introduction of higher university tuition fees.

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