Monday, 24 July 2017

Reflections on the UK 'Carnegie Classification'

I posted yesterday on how UK universities and higher education institutions would map onto the US Carnegie classifications. That post simply presented the data; its worth a little reflection on what the data show.

Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the Doctoral classification is the biggest, but there is more differentiation than I expected. When I did a similar exercise 15-20 years ago there weren’t any UK HEI’s in the Masters or Baccalaureate categories - every institutions was R1 or R2 (in the old Carnegie scheme). This reflects the broadening of the pool in the UK (there are more universities now than there were); but also, perhaps, the more selective approach to funding of research studentships. Some of the institutions which are now Master's universities made the Doctoral cut, if I remember correctly, on the old classification.

Also not present in this list are HE and FE Colleges, which between them would occupy the Baccalaureate category, the Baccalaureate/Associate’s category and the Associate’s category. In the UK the equivalent of the Associate's category is Foundation Degrees and foundation years, but the principle remains the same. Its clear that if you want to understand the breadth of UK HE you need to look at HE delivered in FE Colleges. This is a challenge to most of the usual narratives about UK higher education; perhaps it reflects the university-sector 'ownership' of some sector wide bodies such as UCAS, HESA etc. (I'm using 'ownership' loosely here.)

And of course, as the UK did most of its historical oppressing in countries which are now sovereign, there isn’t an equivalent of the Tribal Colleges category.

Is this a useful analytical framework? At the moment the categories used are often driven by mission groups. Whilst membership of these is in part driven by data, it isn't transparent. And as mission groups are clubs not leagues, there isn't often relegation, although promotion does happen. (Remember the expansion of the Russell Group in 2012). Perhaps we need a UK equivalent, to allow for more transparent analysis of the section and how it is developing?

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