As the Conservative Party manifesto promises a shake-up of the technical education and skills landscape, Andy Westwood argues that universities will need to be fully on board with the changes to come.
What ever happened to foundation degrees? Ben Verinder dusts down the current policy and communications context for the oft-forgotten qualification.
Anyone interested in higher education funding and regulation should take some time out in the next few weeks to think about Higher National Diplomas. The plan recently announced by BIS to transfer HNDs and HNCs out of the higher education funding system represents an important moment in policy for both HE and FE. Julian Gravatt looks at the long history of higher nationals and the implications of BIS’ latest proposals for funding and regulation.
It is widely understood that graduates with higher level skills are critical to the ability of the UK economy to innovate and thus be competitive internationally so it is vitally important that the way we measure how the supply of graduates meets the demand of employers is useful to both universities and businesses. Rosa Fernandez looks at recent research that shows why current measures of graduate employability are not sufficient, and shows how it could improve.
We thought the last Spending Review in 2010 was bad enough. But this one – covering 2015-16 and then 2016-2018 is beginning to look a whole lot worse. Alongside this is a growing attack on the knowledge economy and the idea of human capital in the media and by policy makers. What might this mean for the future of further and higher education in the UK? Andy Westwood gives his take.
You could be forgiven for thinking that all is well – we’ve gone through the pain of reform and everything is now in place for the long term – the system, give or take a few thousand students (on a like for like comparison with 2011 this looks like we are over 50,000 down but after factoring in deferrals this might be more like 30,000), is in place, the sky hasn’t fallen in, resources maintained for universities and so on. But while there is some confidence that the new funding system might bed down over time there are looming questions over whether it will. There are three storm clouds on the horizon that together may question the sustainability of the new settlement.
There are few things that excite wonks more than excellent and well-timed policy research. Last week, BIS published its report Understanding Higher Education in Further Education Colleges, written by a dream team of policy researchers – Gareth Parry from Sheffield and Claire Callender, Peter Scott and Paul Temple from IoE. HE in FE is one of the least-understood parts of UK tertiary education, and despite pockets of work in other quarters; no one else has attempted such an exhaustive study of this issue. Although it will surely have its critics, this new report is without a doubt the seminal work about HE in FE right now and absolutely essential reading no matter which side of the HE/FE divide you fall.
Whilst the graffiti sprayed on Westminster walls during student protests in December has long since been removed, (although one stubborn proclamation of “this is NOT a riot” remains) debate has somehow remained feverish throughout the long wait for the government’s plans. Nonetheless, not a great deal in yesterday’s White Paper was likely to surprise.