Relaunch of the Social Mobility Commission.
Just as Theresa May was busy kicking the ‘Brexit can’ down the road on Tuesday, the Social Mobility Commission was quietly relaunched ‘SMC relaunch with 12 new commissioners and bigger research budget’ . This coincided with its new ‘research' output ‘Social Mobility Barometer: Public attitudes to social mobility in the UK’. The report catalogues, yet again, the disparity of opportunity across the whole of the UK. The observation that, “Just 25% of 18-24 year olds think that everyone has a fair chance to go as far as their talent and hard work will take them” sums up the sorry situation. Their equally damning report from this time last year, ‘State of the Nation 2017: Social Mobility in Great Britain’, emerged after all of the commissioners had resigned because of government inaction and poor resources (see TEFS December 3rd 2017 Social Mobility – The New Lie: ‘Dulce et decorum est pro patria pauperibus’). Despite a full complement of commissioners eventually appointed at this time, and a few more resources, the signs are not looking much more optimistic. It seems there is likely to be a ‘wringing of hands’ and more 'studies' before any positive action will be considered or taken. The situation has been well researched and known for a very long time and certainly in the lifetime of the conservative administration since 2010.
The perfect storm.
The dark clouds are gathering and they promise to unleash a perfect storm for our universities to face in the New Year. Only those with deep reserves will feel confident they can survive. The OfS is covering its back by expecting ‘providers’ to have plans in place in case of closure of courses or institutions, but with the promise of no external help. This is an example of surrendering to the crudest market forces at play. Add to this the impact of a botched Brexit, and the Augar Review possibly recommending lower fees in the New Year, and the storm is approaching fast.
Can meaningful advances be made?