Responding to Sonia Sodha’s article in The Observer which strongly criticised universities, Andy Westwood asks if the sector has got the balance right in the debate about value and diversity in the system.
Following speculation that HEFCE could bring quality assurance in house, Jess Bridgman calls for regulatory powers to be shared amongst different actors.
Today the Guardian asks the question, what are universities for?
In the course of the article we see the usual dichotomy emerge between the traditional view of ‘learning for learning’s sake’ in which universities are positioned as guardians of knowledge and ‘institutions committed to deepening human understanding’ and the ‘marketised’ view of universities as contributing to public economic growth and preparing students for employment. Cambridge don Professor Stefan Collini is quoted in defence of the first view, with Carl Lygo, chief executive of BPP espousing the second. Lygo suggests that the fact that more students from his kind of background (he was the first in his family to attend university, and was eligible for free school meals) means that universities have become more utilitarian in their understanding of their purpose.
A couple of weeks ago Mario Creatura and Martin Hughes delved into the issue of university representative groups. Mario and Martin (not yet a boyband) both mentioned the difficulties UUK has of representing a sector that boasts of a diverse range of missions and interests.
They were both right. Since the expansion of the sector it has been impossible for UUK to solely represent the interests of universities. But why? Three famous studies from the world of political science may start to offer us an answer.
How do you represent the collective interests of the HE sector? Universities UK, the representative organisation for the UK’s universities, aims to be the voice for all institutions. They attempt to “promote a successful and diverse higher education sector” [Source]. This is a difficult task. A big reason is because of the word ‘diverse’. While… read more