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Showing posts from October, 2019

Defusing the social ‘time bomb’: There will be no social mobility without equality

A 'State of the State' survey for Deloitte by Ipsos Mori, carried out in July and August, was released this week. It shows that there has been a rapid and worrying decline in confidence in the notion of equality and prospects of greater social mobility. The pessimism in the report is palpable and should warn us that our society is degrading at an alarming rate. Education is held up as the best way forward. Meanwhile more data from 'Save the Student' reveals that many students, that have tried to do better through higher education, find themselves falling short in their studies and finances. The debt burden they then face is a metaphorical ticking social ‘time bomb’ right at the centre of our unbalanced society. The Social Mobility Commission is there to try to  defuse things. Yet their most recent reports indicate a lack of communication with, and a detachment from, a government who seem indifferent. Education may be the answer but only if it ensures everyone has the …

Alienation and a betrayal of the next generation

This is written just as the UK government has reached a ‘deal’ with the European Union to leave at the end of this month. The government has achieved this ‘feat’ by crossing a red line that was steadfastly avoided by the May administration. Those in Great Britain are about to abandon Northern Ireland and separate it from GB with a customs border. This will be viewed as a  betrayal after longstanding support for the union in terrible times. The alienation of many in Northern Ireland is tangible compared to the abstract and detached indifference of most people in GB to their plight. But worse to come will be the alienation and betrayal of all young people across the UK. Looking back to just before the UK joined the EU in 1973, the idea of alienation was just as important to young people then as it is now. In an electrifying speech to students in 1972 entitled ‘Alienation’ Jimmy Reid saw it as “The feeling of despair and hopelessness that pervades people who feel with justification that…

Tip of the iceberg: Estranged students at UK universities

The small number of estranged students at UK universities, who have lost links with their family and have no support safety net, might be seen as a sign that there is some glimmer of hope in the face of adversity. But those students must feel lonely and lost amongst the overwhelming numbers of their peers with family behind them. The reality is that they are standing at the tip of a very large iceberg of inequality and adversity. Beneath them are greater numbers of young individuals trapped in a system that leaves them hidden from view.
The charity StandAlone released a table this week showing the numbers of estranged students identified at UK Universities in 2017/18 (‘Estranged students data by HEP, academic year 2017/18’). The data is the latest to come from the Student Loans Company (SLC) through a Freedom of Information request. The source of the data explains the somewhat eccentric use of the terms ‘HE Providers’ for universities and ‘customers’ for students. Despite these grating…

From POLAR to TUNDRA and why individuals matter

Recent data gathering, surveys and testimonies from individual students have led to a gathering sense that there is a wide chasm in a two-tier Higher Education (HE) education system in the UK. The Office for Students (OfS) is trialling a new way to measure widening access, with TUNDRA proposed as a possible replacement for the much maligned POLAR methodology. Yet it still masks the experiences of many individuals tempted from poorer backgrounds into HE. This week has also revealed worrying individual observations about the stresses many students endure because of working hours, commuting, student loan miscalculations and accommodation. It seems that many of the problems of the past persist today and, as ever, the rich stay one jump ahead.

TUNDRA replaces the thawing POLAR regions
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The Office for Students is putting a new measure of participation in Higher Education in England on trial. Called TUNDRA (Tracking underrepresentation by area), it follows individual 16 year olds in state scho…