The Week

The Week, 22 September 2017

Since Reform hosted Jo Johnson’s speech about the VFM of higher education in July, the issue has risen up the agenda. Last Friday a new Select Committee inquiry was announced on the topic and The Sunday Times front page suggested the Chancellor will introduce a £7,500 tuition fee cap. On Monday, the Chair-designate of the Office for Students encouraged pay restraint from Vice Chancellors, implying the regulator will intervene if they don’t. It would be better to leave pay decisions to employers so that they can attract the best talent and reward good performance. Far greater sums (and potential for improvement) can be found in the core activities of universities. For instance, making use of technology and spending the billion pounds of ‘widening participation’ money better.

Louis Coiffait, Head of Education.

Reformers of the week

Sherwood Forest and County Durham & Darlington NHS Foundation Trusts were both recognised by NHS Digital for being the first to process all appointments online through the NHS e-Referral Service, a target for all trusts by October 2018.

Reactionaries of the week

Those civil servants who don’t think technology can help make sustainable cost savings (66 per cent), or is essential to coping with rising demand (43 per cent).

Good week for…

Protecting vulnerable children

On Monday, London councils using data analytics to identify at-risk children reported 80% accuracy and potential savings of £674,474 a year.

Protecting everyone

On Tuesday, Twitter’s latest transparency report revealed it had used new AI tools to take down 300,000 accounts linked to terrorist activity.

Predicting Alzheimer’s

On Wednesday, Italian scientists unveiled an algorithm that can identify Alzheimer’s disease a decade before symptoms appear, with over 80 per cent accuracy.

Bad week for…

Public sector tech skills

On Tuesday, a survey of civil servants found that 57 per cent cited a lack of knowledge and expertise as the biggest barrier to adopting new technologies, a proportion that increased for the second year in a row.

Devolution in’t Yorkshire

On Tuesday, Doncaster and Barnsley councils pulled out of the £900m Sheffield City Region agreement

Vigilante justice

On Wednesday, Alice Thomson referenced Reform research in a call for the police and internet companies to do more to tackle online crime, rather than relying on vigilantes.


“On this issue of senior staff remuneration, the fact that the OfS won’t formally exist until January next year provides the sector with an opportunity. If its leaders accept that the climate of scepticism is unlikely to change any time soon, it would make sense for them to take action before the OfS is even established. After all, the best kind of regulation is self-regulation.”

Sir Michael Barber, Chair of the Office for Students, writing in Wonkhe on Monday.

“Bobbies On the Net, a report published last month by the think tank Reform, highlighted the lack of cybertrained officers. Of the 13,503 special constables who volunteer in our police forces, just 40 or 0.3 per cent have cyberskills and only 404 officers in England and Wales fill defined cybercrime roles within investigation teams.”

Alice Thomson, Columnist for The Times on Wednesday.

Reform’s Week


On Monday, Maisie Borrows, Researcher at Reform, was mentioned by Perspectives at Glint for her contribution to a panel event on digital identity verification.

The Reformer Blog

On Monday, Robbie Turner, Director of England for the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, described the key role of pharmacists in delivering integrated care.
On Tuesday, Sarah Timmis, Research Assistant at Reform, argued that digital channels can improve access to emergency services.
On Wednesday, Louis Coiffait, Head of Education at Reform, suggested ways to create a clearer career pathway for teachers.
On Thursday, Emilie Sundorph, Researcher at Reform, wrote a blog on the potential power of EdTech to disrupt higher education.


On Wednesday, Reform held its Annual Dinner 2017, with Martin Ivens, Editor of The Sunday Times, as the keynote speaker.