Following the recent IFS report into graduate earnings, Charlie Ball discusses the significant implications for the sector, and previews the forthcoming consultation on the future of the DLHE survey – an opportunity to get this right for the future.
Days before the National Student Survey (NSS) goes live, the National College for Teaching and Learning, responsible for overseeing Initial Teacher Training has inexplicably pulled the plug on universities and future students receiving and learning from effective student feedback. One vice chancellor expresses his frustration at this counter-productive and contradictory move.
Information is dangerous territory for HEFCE. There’s a lot riding on getting the balance right between what students and the taxpayer have a right to expect, and the burden on universities in providing it. The 2011 White Paper argued that in order to be ‘at the heart of the system’, students would need a diverse ecosystem of information. A landscape that would foster free market choices and a relentless competitive drive towards quality. However the diversity has instead created a jungle of data. Johnny Rich sets out the issues and 7 principles for clearing up the data landscape.
Today the Government launch their much-anticipated PR campaign to explain the new tuition fee changes. A partnership with Channel 4 is in place to target a key demographic through E4 and other mediums close to ‘youth’.
Those close to David Willetts and BIS have been consistent in their calls for the Government to undertake such a communications exercise. The calls have not gone unheeded, but the tangled web of policy that Willetts, Cable and Co. managed to maneuver themselves into meant that until now, it has been hard enough to communicate their intentions to the HE sector, let alone the people that are now weighing up the pros and cons of applying to higher education.
BIS have today published a flyer and FAQ sheet about the new fees system. But it’s too little, too late. Their failure to communicate adequately through the policy quagmire they have created will have lasting repercussions.
As someone who was brought up in working class surroundings and was the first in my family to move permanently out of Wales, let alone go to University, I get frustrated when (albeit well meaning) journalists, HE representatives etc. speak as though student fees are the only factor that will inform the decisions of people like me about whether to go to university.
An article published today in the Guardian has highlighted the real challenge the Government and the HE sector face in ensuring continued access to HE. Whatever your opinion on the politics around HE funding, and indeed whatever the new ‘HE market’ landscape will look like in 2012, we are faced with the fact that fees will be higher across the sector.
But articles like the one published today, and the rhetoric of debt in constant use by anti-cuts protestors and indeed Her Majesty’s Opposition are having a real impact on prospective students and parents in lower-income families. Of course those of us involved in Higher Education know that this perception is wrong – paying graduate contributions does not represent a debt in the same way as that of a credit card, for example it won’t affect mortgage applications etc, and indeed higher education will be free at the point of use in terms of fees.