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The pandemic exposed the vulnerability of a highly marketised English higher education system. With little government support, the fears around lost income resulted in yet more competition between institutions, without articulating ‘[the sector’s] underlying value to society’ (Jones, 2022). In this blog post (based on a paper jointly written with Emeritus Professor Monica McLean), I use the crisis of Covid-19 as a magnifying glass to look at the existing dysfunctions (see Trowler & Wareham, 2014) of the research and teaching link in England, exploring both sectoral discrepancies, and staff and student experiences. 

A stratified university system is a crucible for inequities in knowledge production (research) and reproduction (teaching). Key resultant issues include the socially stratified entry into research- or teaching-focused institutions for students, with doctoral education and funding heavily tilted towards more selective institutions (see Smith McGloin & Wynne, 2022), as well as a leaky pipeline of research where the ratio of women (see Advance HE, 2018) and academics of colour (see Marandure, 2022) decreases within the hierarchy. Research assessments and university rankings predominantly reward ‘resource elites’, and funding attracts more funding (Hamann, 2018). 

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