Monday, 4 July 2011

The government's HE plans explained by someone calmer than me

The Vice-Chancellor at Salford University isn't too impressed by the government's White Paper on HE. He explains it all here, much more lucidly than I did the other day.

Some extracts:
The White Paper on Higher Education, delayed from last November and finally published last week, is both bad and dangerous. Bad because it lacks both a credible vision for education and because it will put in place the opposite of what it espouses: a massive regulatory system. Dangerous because its proposals will further divide an already-divided society
Universities are “top” because they only admit applicants with the highest A-level grades. Because they are “top” they should be rewarded by being given unrestricted places for students with the highest A-level grades which, of course, guarantees that they remain “top”. 
“Efficiencies” is a euphemism for cuts.  Because universities typically spend between 55 per cent and 60 per cent of their income on salaries, the only way to compete on price in the market that the White Paper seeks to create is by increasing the size of classes and tutorials and by reducing face-to-face staff-student contact in other ways. Both Ministers and clever economists in BIS know only too well that education throughout the world suffers from “cost disease” – it is not possible to maintain quality while making cost efficiencies in the same way as in a manufacturing production line. “Contestability” for student places on the basis of price is a race to the bottom in quality. 
There's plenty more here.

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