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Open Letter to UK Government Ministers - taskforce on student support urgently needed
TEFS has called for more urgent consideration of the plight of students who rely on part-time jobs in the UK. The loss of jobs will also extend into the summer months with some students having no financial support from any quarter. The outlook is bleak. Government ministers with responsibility for universities in each of the UK jurisdictions have been written to today to ask for urgent action on a 'Taskforce on student support'. Emphasis should now turn to students as well as research. The alternative is a retreat on advances on widening access and social mobility achieve in recent years.
An article in the Guardian this week 'University students who work part-time need support – or they will drop out' reported Freedom of Information responses from eighty universities around the UK about student working hours and help available. It instead highlighted an almost competed lack of knowledge about the number of hours students divert to paid employment in term time. Yet in numerous surveys, the proportion of students who rely on income from part-time jobs has been increasing year on year. A further increase was observed by the Advance HE/ Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI) in its 'Student Academic Experience Survey 2020'. Since March, a catastrophic loss of income has exerted massive pressure on those students affected and will continue into the coming academic year. This will be further exacerbated by fewer jobs available in the summer months. This has been highlighted by Becca Bland of the charity Standalone in the Guardian today with 'Students estranged from their families could end up destitute this summer'. It brings to the fore the terrible situation that students with no family support must endure with no income from job or benefits.
A call for more joined-up action.
Every university has been reacting fast to the need to help students in hardship. But the tide will keep coming in and a more coordinated approach is needed. Every University is affected across the whole of the UK and it is time to coordinate and disseminate best practice from the wider sector.
Below is an open letter that has been sent today to each Government Minister with responsibility for Universities across the various UK jurisdictions. IIn addition to Gavin Williamson, it has also been sent to Michelle Donelan and Amanda Solloway in England, John Swinney in Scotland, Kirsty Williams in Wales and Peter Weir and Diane Dodds in Northern Ireland.
UPDATE 8th August 2020 Things are moving fast today with severe criticism mounting about Ofqual and SQA, and urgent action is needed. TEFS has laid out ten points that should be considered to reverse out of the crumbling mess. Fairness should replace 'maintaining standards' as the primary objective. The government must cease trying to defend a system that acts as a barrier to the less advantaged. Since posting yesterday, things have been moving fast. Today the Guardian put the examinations issue in large print on its front page with ‘Nearly 40% of A-level result predictions to be downgraded in England’ . This conclusion came about after some great detective work by former medical statistician, Huy Duong, who analysed the data available and reconciled this with the Ofqual announcement that there could have been a 12% inflation in higher grades. It seems that Ofqual have been caught red handed and "Duong’s findings were privately confirmed to the Guardian by ex
This week confirmed beyond any doubt that Ofqual is pointing the finger of blame for the public examinations chaos this summer firmly at the government and its ministers. The positions of Schools Minister, Nick Gibb and Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson must be on the line. When Williamson is confronted by the Education Committee next week, like Momus he may find his mask has slipped and cannot lay blame anywhere else. He might be meeting his Nemesis and find he is expelled from his lofty position. Called to account. On Wednesday morning, Education Secretary, Gavin Williamson, Education Permanent Secretary, Susan Acland-Hood, and Director for Qualifications, Michelle Dyson, will be called to account by the Education Committee. With the redoubtable Robert Halfon in the chair, they will face a hard time. This is because Halfon and his colleagues will be armed with more documentary evidence from Ofqual and others that look bad for both ministers. All of the correspo
UPDATE: Augar Speaks out Today, Friday 8th May 2020, Philip Augar broke cover and commented on the financial crisis in our universities in the Financial Times. With ' The time is ripe to reform UK university finance' he acknowledged that "Covid-19-related disruption may now mean that such a fee cut would be too destabilising" . He is looking to a new post-COVID-19 world and he must be listened to. The likelihood of the government's response to his report last year diverging far from its recommendations looms. Augar has offered alternative options for funding Universities in his article for the Financial Times today (8th May 2020). His input is welcome at this time and the government should be bringing him into the fold again. TEFS has argued for a comprehensive review of university finances that goes well beyond simply looking at students and fees with: "Therefore, a working group involving students (such as NUS), staff (such as UCU) universi