Tuesday, 27 September 2011

Alternative White Paper!

In defence of public Higher Education
 Hundreds of academics have signed an alternative white paper which claims that the government's planned education reforms are fundamentally misguided. They state nine propositions in defence of public Higher Education, and draw a clear definition of what a university is and does.

1.       Higher education serves public benefits as well as private ones. These require financial support if these benefits are to continue to be provided.
2.  Public universities are necessary to build and maintain confidence in public debate.
3.       Public universities have a social mission, contributing to the amelioration of social inequality, which is the corollary of the promotion of social mobility.
4.       Public higher education is part of a generational contract in which an older generation invests in the wellbeing of future generations that will support them in turn.
5.       Public institutions providing similar programmes of study should be funded at a similar level.
6.       Education cannot be treated as a simple consumer good; consumer sovereignty is an inappropriate means of placing students at the heart of the system.
7.       Training in skills is not the same as a university education. While the first is valuable in its own terms, a university education provides more than technical training. This should be clearly recognised in the title of a university.
8.       The university is a community made up of diverse disciplines as well as different activities of teaching, research and external collaboration. These activities are maintained by academics, managers, administrators and a range of support staff, all of whom contribute to what is distinctive about the university as a community.
9.       Universities are not only global institutions. They also serve their local and regional communities and their different traditions and contexts are important

What do you think of the above points?
Is the government confused on the real purpose of Public Higher Education.  What about for profit providers should they be treated the same as public universities would they bring the same benefits?

Friday, 23 September 2011

UUK response to HE white paper: changes needed!

The Higher Education White Paper promises to put students at the heart of the system. Universities always have been and remain unequivocally committed to delivering this. What the white paper doesn't do is think through the process properly and its actions do not match its aims!


White Paper fails to capture the full extent of the contribution  that universities make to society and to the economy. Too much focus is given to the Undergrad recruitment and teaching. This is a large part but by no means the only thing universities do, and should not be isolated from the rest of the universities activities!

"The excellence of the UK  university system, and the value it creates for the economy and for society,
is based not just on the exceptionally high quality of undergraduate  teaching, but on a range of factors, including:
a.  the inter-connection between teaching and research, and the fact  that all teaching in UK universities takes place within a research informed framework
b.  the contribution that universities make to their communities, to  citizenship, and to the wider social and public good
c.  the transformative impact that the university experience has on those who pass through the system"

The UUK has come up with a well thought out and reasonable response to the HE white paper. Lets just hope the Government listens!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

The current impact agenda could consider the impact of inspirational teaching, not just research

"Some academics are unhappy with the focus of the research impact agenda and have questioned the new framework and criteria. John Parkinson writes that it could benefit from looking also at the potential of teaching to connect with and inspire students, rather than focusing solely on the impact of research."

It is strange that in measuring the impact of universities, that teaching is not considered, since it is our primary activity!

Tuesday, 6 September 2011

The social value of universities

How do universities contribute to the wider community?  Well Uclan is one of the biggest employers in Preston, as well as being involved in community engagement projects! 
 Interesting article by Faiza Shaheen in the Impact of Social Sciences blog, 

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Liverpool's free university

With the fee hike and general anger at the government, Plans are currently in motion for the establishment of a Free University of Liverpool (FUL). "This is explicitly framed as a protest against the government's tuition fees rise, but also evidences a longer-standing dissatisfaction with the current structure of higher education."

what do you think? will it work? I am all for free access to education and learning to enrich your life rather than just for work. But you would need to get all sorts of courses running for it to work as a place of learning. If they offer courses part time so you can go around your job then it could work for people who are just interested in learning without the need for formalised qualifications, and I for one would welcome the opportunity. Education should not be for profit, it should be for the betterment of mankind. But with qualifications and training courses which need accreditation it is more understandable to charge for or subsidise these. I would rather my taxes were spent on education and training than war and obscene salaries/perks for government ministers and managers.