As the work of the Office for Fair Access begins to transfer to the new Office for Students, Les Ebdon offers his perspective on the way the new body will need to approach this vitally important issue.
Geoff Layer, Vice Chancellor of the University of Wolverhampton reviews Alan Milburn’s latest report in to the social mobility ‘state of the nation’, published last week. Depressed at the rhetoric inside the report and how the sector has received it, Geoff calls for a more realistic view about what higher education already does to drive social mobility, and an honest appraisal of what really works drive better outcomes.
There is little doubt that we have a problem or two in postgraduate policy. Fifty vice chancellors recently wrote to the Observer to say so. BIS ministers have been asking for imaginative suggestions and are clear that they are very open to considering any new or ingenious ideas. Well here’s one: don’t do anything (or at least don’t do anything rash).
‘Social mobility’ is now the central trope in the public discussion of university tuition fees and the guiding principle of HE policy. Given that social mobility is only a possible side effect of a university education not its primary purpose; we are entitled to ask how we arrived at this confusing situation in which the tail seems to be wagging the dog.