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Showing posts from January, 2021

The temperature is rising on student support

The rising  temperature surrounding support for students was elevated dramatically today with the eagerly awaited release of a report by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Students (APPG Students), ‘APPG Students inquiry into tuition and accommodations costs during Covid-19: The Case for Compensation’ . The report was hastily produced after a call for evidence from groups representing students, universities, accommodation providers, regulators, and the Department for Education (DfE) on the 8th January 2021. The responses were from The National Union of Students (NUS), 47 students’ unions and 294 individual students, as well as sector groups and accommodation providers. There was no response reported for the DfE or the Office for Students (OfS). The report is the first indication of a rising concern at the fringes of government that “many students have suffered a loss of income” from part-time jobs and that “Many of their families will also have been hit by the financial impact o

What did Augar, Pearce and the Government ever do for us?

This will be the question posed in undergraduate history examinations in fifty years. The hope is it can be answered positively by all students studying history as a major subject, or possibly science students taking history as a minor subject. The answer will probably involve acknowledging the role of both Augar and Pearce in trying to make sensible suggestions within the constraints of restricted remits. The villain will be the government in pursuing the separate  strategy of providing a labour force for business and profit with little concession to the idea of fairness or equality for individuals, who are relegated to pawns. Whilst planning for the economy is essential, this must be accompanied by fairness for all individuals. The conclusion will be that the pandemic exposed a wide gap in educational equality for individuals in our society. Yet the government missed a clear opportunity to tackle it with bold reforms that put the idea of equality and fairness for individuals at the

Universities finally recognise there is a resource crisis for students

It looks like there might be some light behind the dark clouds for students struggling with their university studies. In a letter to the Education Secretary today, all the UK universities acknowledged that there is a widening gap in access to resources by students. It may have come far too late for those struggling now. Many will have disengaged, or hopefully suspended their studies if they asked for help. Although the letter is focused on access to remote learning in a deteriorating environment, it also lets us know that “the demand for hardship funding has doubled” . This comes as no surprise, but it has not been acknowledged in public before now.  Earlier today, the Guardian reported that all universities had signed a letter to the Education secretary, Gavin Williamson, that said “little has been done to help disadvantaged students access remote learning”. It shines a light into the darkness of what is actually going on in our universities at this time (The Guardian 18th January

A radical overhaul of examinations is needed as soon as possible: UPDATE

UPDATE 23rd March 2021 Since this idea was posted in January, there has been considerable thought across the sector about what would be best for the future. These are very well laid out in a collection of short essays reported last week by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI). The twelve essays, from different authors and different perspectives, in  ‘Where next for university admissions? ’ are edited by Rachel Hewitt  who sets out the many pitfalls surrounding examinations and university admissions. It seems there are those in favour of post qualification admission (PQA) to university as it should help the least advantaged students. However, arguments against this are presented that means caution must be taken. A powerful response to the HEPI report by the  'The Fair Access Coalition: 10 requirements for a fair admissions process' adds further to the debate. The suggestions are sensible but falls short on demanding adequate resources for students throughout their studi

Ofqual vs DfE: It’s just like déjà vu all over again

The title quotation is from the late  baseball player and coach, Lawrence 'Yogi' Berra, who always had an amusing turn of phrase to hand. In the 1960s, he was describing the inevitable as two players repeatedly did the same thing in every game (see note*).  It seems there is a danger that Ofqual and the Department for Education (DfE) are about to repeat the same mistakes in 2021   This time the signs are of more government direction. The problem is that those least able to defend themselves will become the casualties as they trade punches again. The widening gap in educational inequality will continue as long as the government dithers. The suspicion is that maintaining standards will emerge again as the main objective and will hit the least advantaged hardest. Those with more advantages in our most selective universities are pressing for higher standards.  On Wednesday, the Secretary of State for Education set out in very simple terms the alternative arrangements for qualifi