Friday, 15 August 2008

The story so far

Mike Besley (Head of Policy at Edexcel) has published a 20 page report covering ALL changes to education in the first 1/2 of the year. The 20 page document can be accessed here. The first page makes for interesting reading as it summarises the new and dead agencies.

Meanwhile, the HE specific summary reads ;

  • HE loses the chair of its Funding Council, gains a new look THES, is awarded an annual £7bn grant, starts to shift funding away from equivalent and lower (ELQ) second degrees, faces a series of reviews and moves closer towards employer co – funding
  • The transfer of ELQ funding is the most contentious; Select Committee condemn it as “hasty” and not based on firm evidence
  • There are exemptions and funding being re – channelled rather than lost but fears that the part – time market may take a hit
  • Annual Grant Letter at the start of the year sees overall grant rising to £7.4bn but an armful of tasks to go with it including: increase in student numbers of 60,000 by 2010/11, target of 100,000 Fd enrolments, increase in employer co – funded places of 5,000 this year, 10,000 next and a steady upwards curve thereafter, 1,000 students on ‘compressed’ or 2 yr courses, stronger links with schools and leading edge research
  • The Sec of State adds a long - term vision in a key note speech in Feb
  • In 15 yrs, he claims HE will be: leading research output; world – beating in business links; involved in major collaborations; developing home grown talent; and contributing fully to local and regional development
  • To set things on their way, he launches a series of major reviews ‘to help shape the role of HE in the future:’ these to cover student population trends, diversity; widening participation; and international competition
  • This coupled this with a proposed expansion of HE provision as part of a new ‘University Challenge;’ £150m to help set up new centres often in towns and places across the land where existing HE opportunities are limited
  • The target is 20 centres offering 10,000 additional places, all with a strong link to the local economy
  • Latest (July) figures show business links strengthening, a 17% increase in business funding for 2006/7, some wariness about whether this is sustainable let alone what universities are for, ‘universities should be pursuing knowledge for its own sake’ Roger Brown tells the audience in an inaugural lecture but many universities going for it
  • Elsewhere, the Integrated Quality and Enhancement Review (IQER) goes live in Jan, first visits completed
  • Consultation closes (June) on the FHEQ, next stage is to match it against the European Framework prior to the Bologna ‘review’ in Dec 08
  • Lord Triesman is appointed the first Minister for Students
  • More universities come out to support schools through Academies, Trusts and Compacts
  • The HE Academy sharpens its vision and targets after a detailed consultation on its future
  • Stories surface about universities under pressure to file positive learner feedback stories; concerns also about ‘record’ number of high grades, investigation set up
  • Burgess recommendations may be under consideration but stories about grade inflation won’t go away: 13% now gain a 1st, 48% a 2.1
  • Widening participation remains a constant theme; current budget £364m but is it having any effect?
  • Latest National Audit Office Report concludes “people from lower socio – economic backgrounds make up around ½ of the population in England but represent just 29% first time entrants to HE”
  • Maybe recent research from the LSC might help, it suggests ‘70% of 18 – 24 year olds find love in the classroom’ presumably once the lecture is over

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