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Showing posts from February, 2021

The next labour of Ofqual is announced: Social mobility UPDATE

UPDATE 1st March2021  Since writing this post, there has been valuable analysis added to the worsening situation by Lee Elliot-Major, Chair of Social Mobility at Exeter University and former head of the Sutton Trust. His article in The Guardian today, ‘How do we ensure disadvantaged kids don't lose out in England's new exam system?’  concludes that “it will be long after this summer’s exam grade battles that we will comprehend the full consequences this pandemic has had on young people.” That could be an understatement as the idea of ‘social mobility’ unravels fast. He cites a recent research publication with colleagues at the LSE Centre for Economic Performance  entitled  ‘Unequal learning and labour market losses in the crisis: consequences for social mobility’ . This is a detailed and rigorous analysis and survey that should set alarm bells ringing in government in the run-up to the budget this week. The evidence is stark as the “education and labour market losses due to C

Taskforce for international student support launched

This week brought a glimmer of  light and some hope to international students finding it tough to continue their studies in the UK. A taskforce to coordinate support for international students was launched on Tuesday by Universities UK international (UUKi) , London Higher and the University of East London . It is late in the academic year for this to happen, but it will be welcome news for all international students across the UK. TEFS has called for the government to set up a task force to coordinate support for all students since last summer and this move at last acknowledges the plight that many find themselves in. Those who are a long way from home are particularly vulnerable if their income dries up. It is only right that all students, including international students, are considered together when hardship support is needed. But despite government policy it seems what happens on the ground is a long way from being adequate. The conclusions are that support is variable across the

Gamekeeper and poacher (between them) at the Office for Students

There has been considerable noise made this week about the confirmation of James Wharton as the Chair of the Office for Students (OfS). Not since the failed attempt to install the controversial Toby Young to the OfS Board in January 2018 has there been such opposition. Despite support from the government, the hapless Young decided to resign within days of his appointment. It looks less certain the same fate will befall Wharton, despite similar opposition. With the future of Higher Education, and fairness for all students, hanging in the balance, it is clear there must be full confidence in the leadership of the OfS. It appears the government falls well short of this ideal. Instead, they are intent on exerting even more direct control on universities through the OfS. Shadow Education Secretary, Kate Green, immediately wrote to the Cabinet Secretary asking for an investigation. She noted that Wharton “has none of the statutory qualifications for this post, and both the higher education

Why a student support task force is needed

And it should not be an ‘Impossible Mission Force'. If the government was serious about supporting students at this time, it would set up a coordinated taskforce similar to its research and sustainability task force set up last May. Instead, this has remained the priority despite ample warnings. Now there is a panic reaction that will do little more than bail out student accommodation providers who fear students defaulting on their rent payments. Precious time is being lost as students, and increasingly hard-pressed families,  are taking most of the hit. It is doubtful this will be forgotten in time. Proof that a taskforce on students is needed was amply displayed in parliament this week. An urgent debate was in response to the release of a limited amount of support with ‘Government announces £50 million to support students impacted by Covid-19’ on Tuesday. On the same day, the Universities Minister, Michelle Donelan, wrote to all students to stress how much support she was givi

Always late or better late than never with student support

The government made a surprise decision today to inject a further £50 million into universities in England to support students experiencing financial hardship. It is a very late move triggered by increasing pressure in the last few weeks. There has not been a mass exodus of students from universities so far this academic year but universities must be experiencing considerable problems with student engagement ( TEFS19th January 2021 ). Although very late, the funding is essential to avoid a larger shortfall in attainment by many students with fewer resources. Hopefully, it will be easy to access and not already too late as the situation worsens. The £50 million offered today ( Government announces £50 million to support students impacted by Covid-19 ) falls far short of what the All Party Parliamentary Group on students (APPG Students) recommended last week ( ‘APPG Students inquiry into tuition and accommodations costs during Covid-19: The Case for Compensation’ ). If funding in En