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Showing posts from April, 2018

Scum of the Earth Maybe – but Educated Scum Nevertheless!

He refused me an overdraft with astonishing relish stating: “I don’t see why we should pay to educate scum like you”. I refused to stoop to begging for the right to continue my education and I walked away. The long awaited report of the National Union of Students (NUS) ‘Poverty Commission’ [1] emerged on Monday and reports across the media of its contents raised some eyebrows. Perhaps for the first time, exposed to the light of day, we see the profound absurdity of government ‘schemes’ that are supposed to improve access to higher and further education. The paradox of expecting students from low income backgrounds to succeed, without enough resources to live on, is set against the fallacy of a ‘middle class’ assumption that families will support their offspring ‘come what may’. This is exposed in a comprehensive and detailed report. A fully detailed coverage of it here would never do it justice; it has to be read by all concerned with the futures of our young people. The ana

The Social Mobility agenda in the UK - Who counts the beans?

When it comes to the merger and governance of the many Higher Education Agencies responsible for promoting and measuring the Social Mobility agenda in the UK. Who counts the beans – the producer or the consumer? If we are to get to grips with the 'Social Mobility' problem, and access and success at universities, we must rely upon, and fully trust, the associated data. The governance of this activity must not only be independent of the institutions, it must be seen to be independent and not reliant upon them in any way. Merger mania. This week sees the further consolidation of agencies tasked with a range of important functions of Higher Education in the UK. To this end, AdvanceHE was formed on 21st March this year [1]. It formalised ongoing plans to merge the Equality Challenge Unit (ECU) [2], the Higher Education Academy (HEA) [3] and the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education (LFHE) [4] under one umbrella. On the face of it, this seems to be a sensib

In the Higher Education market struggle, who points the finger of blame?

Part of 'Man's Struggle'. by Walter Ritchie, Coventry 1959 "There will ultimately be an almighty struggle between Government and Society, with Universities in the middle, as a chaotic marketplace unfolds. A new generation of students will point the finger at those to blame" If there was ever proof needed that we live in a grossly unequal society it was the news earlier this week in ‘The Times’ that students in the USA can pay over $10,000 in fees to a private company to get unpaid internships in the UK [1]. The company concerned is called ‘Global Experiences’ and promises placements all over the world for those who can pay. It boasts: “ We Believe You Deserve a Career You Love: Award winning International Internships and Career Readiness Programs ”. It offers some scholarships but mostly it provides advice about raising funds and about payments; that can be by instalment at 5% interest. If the student can introduce other students to them, then the co

Flying over the UK on a POLAR expedition. The distant cracks in university access are widening.

Focus help on individuals and social mobility will take care of itself. It seems that everyone is circling around the problem and avoiding getting onto the ground and making changes. This week the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) published a ranking of all UK universities according to the distribution of its student intake from different areas of the UK with varying historical rates of participation higher education [1]. It was reported in Times Higher Education as “Elite university intakes ‘as imbalanced as poor nations on income” [2]. On the face of it, this looks like a fair way to inform everyone that there is a wide variation between our universities with regard to social inclusion. However, a closer look reveals an inherent ‘circular logic’ in the methodology. This is tied up with radical changes in how such statistics have been gathered in recent years. The data used to make the rankings comes from those of the Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA) [3]