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Showing posts from March, 2018

Social Mobility and the Economy: Another debate, plea and a pledge.

Many inside the debate acquired their education prior to Dearing and University fees. Certainly all before the change to inadequate maintenance loans. I trust they have not forgotten this and that they remind others. Remember many cannot afford the bicycle, never mind living in Oxford or Cambridge. The Social Mobility Pledge indicates a willingness to support change. In the midst of the increasing turmoil in our universities, staff strike action and student disruption, there was one important event that attracted little attention. It addressed a major rift that is widening in our society to the point that it may be impossible to repair. The problems are social and economic division and a related low level of social mobility. A comprehensive review by the Sutton Trust in 2017 noted that “ The UK (along with the US) is one of the lowest performing countries for income mobility across the OECD ” (see: ‘The State of Social Mobility in the UK’ produced by Boston Consulting Grou

Now it’s not who you know, but how much you can afford.

Extending the career ladder further and higher to filter out those less able to pay. In a twist of perfectly symmetrical irony, the recent advertisement for a replacement chair of the Social Mobility Commission indicates that it is an unpaid position. It would be hard to make this up. As the pensions dispute between UUK and UCU rumbles on, it looks like a playground game of ‘me first’ has started. UUK unilaterally announced that they were commissioning an ‘independent’ review of the USS pension scheme without talking with UCU first. This is clearly a childish reaction to the situation and it would serve UUK and us all better if they negotiated first. Meanwhile, protests continue against a backdrop of multiple sources of discontent. One such source of deep rooted discontent is the prevalence of unpaid internships for graduates that favours the few with enough money to play. They can pay to stay in the game for longer and win while employers extend the ladder. This resentmen

Higher Education Strikes and Disruption – Spare a thought for vulnerable students

Spare a thought for vulnerable students "for students armed with very few rights in precarious employment, imagine telling an employer that you cannot do a shift because an examination has been rescheduled. Imagine doing this twice or three times. They cannot resign in protest; if they lose their job all could be lost. But they too want radical change" The last week saw the latest round of what is rapidly escalating strike action by university lecturers. This action is now sustained, escalating and unprecedented. The extraordinary scenes outside UCU headquarters on Tuesday were the manifestation of a social media tornado that has not been seen before. But more worryingly is the effect on examinations and support for vulnerable students in the coming weeks. The usual tactic of management making overt threats to staff to diffuse the action has backfired spectacularly. Attempts to divide studen ts and staff have also failed as more and more students join the dispute wit