Tuesday, 2 December 2008

The Great HE Debate

copyright cleared image from FlickrCC

The DIUS HE debate moves into it’s next phase with the publication of 9 strands. These nine contributions to the continuing HE debate were published unaltered recently both on the HE Debate blog (http://hedebate.jiscinvolve.org/) and on the DIUS corporate site (http://www.dius.gov.uk/policy/HE-debate.html).

Professor Paul Ramsden (head of the Academy) has responded to this DIUS debate on the Academy website, in a short report entitled: “Students should have bigger say on quality

And, other leading UK educators have been commissioned by the DIUS to respond this HE debate . Read their reports here : http://www.dius.gov.uk/policy/users_perspective.html

What does it mean to us? Well, quite a lot in the West Midlands specifically! Apparently the lack of higher skills in the West Midlands costs us approximately £10 Billion in lost productivity! This is part of a stark set of statistics delivered to us by AWM in a short presentation last week. So this represents a real challenge if we will ever meet government targets and fulfil the Leitch agenda. In the meantime HEFCE have been holding consultation events across the UK to move the new Universities programme to the next phase. A new set of colour coded maps indicate areas of possible HE candidates :


To help SMT understand and implement the HE strategy, HEFCE and its leadership foundation are running a set of 4 UK workshops (spring 2009) for College principals and invited staff. This is hot off HEFCE approval board this week. Email project administrator Karen Kitchen: K.kitchen@sheffield.ac.uk


The 9 strands summarised by Steve Besley of Edexcel

International Issues in HE

Key Issue: How best to take advantage, as well as understand the risks, of the international student market

Key Messages:

  • “Need to focus on a long – term programme of internationalisation and avoid the temptation of short – term mass recruitment to traditional study”
  • “The main problem with the UK is a perception that our universities are solely interested in international students as a source of revenue”

Key Recommendations:

  • Need to “broaden our perspectives” using networking, partnerships, distance learning options
  • Need to target financial resources and incentives better
  • Need to promote the brand as an “exciting and reliable partner”

Understanding Institutional Performance

Key Issue: How to understand institutional performance in different dimensions

Key Messages:

  • We start from a position of strength, a mass of data already collected, but need to refine this to meet new demands
  • Some users, notably employers, mature learners, need clearer information

Key Recommendations:

  • Need to create a web – based ‘spidergram’ to allow drilling down
  • Need to look at how far value added measures might work
  • Develop a code of practice for using performance and funding measures

Part – Time Study in HE

Key Issue: How can HE respond to demand and challenges from p/t students?

Key Messages:

  • P/T students are “consistently disadvantaged” by the current system
  • 40% of HE students currently on accredited p/t courses
  • Significant system changes needed to be able to accommodate p/t study

Key Recommendations:

  • Develop a ‘holistic’ system of student finance and support which is mode free. Co – funding should not replace mainstream funding
  • Reward those institutions that develop diverse missions

Teaching and The Student Experience

Key Issue: How to respond to evolving student experiences and demands

Key Messages:

  • The idea of a single experience or single set of expectations has no meaning
  • No great evidence that student ‘average’ expectations have changed drastically over the last 10 years, most still “breezily self – confident”
  • Need to see students as ‘engaged collaborators’ not ‘inferior partners’

Key Recommendations:

  • Need to reform curriculum and assessment especially degree classification
  • Need to develop a more flexible workforce
  • Need to rethink quality and engage students in a responsible partnership

The Demographic Challenge Facing Our Universities

Key Issue: How to understand and prepare for demographic change

Key Messages:

  • Can’t isolate demographic factors from other factors such as class
  • 2006 data suggests decline in 18 – 21 yr olds between 2010 and 2019, then recover by 2027, increases in 20 – 29 age group up to 2019, 30 – 39 group will initially decline then increase substantially

Key Recommendations:

  • Continue to widen participation
  • Clarify the objectives of public funding for HE

E – Learning and ICT

Key Issue: How can we become a world – leader in education e- learning?

Key Messages:

  • We lag behind in generating quality modern teaching/learning resources”

Key Recommendations:

  • The UK needs to develop a core of open access learning resources

1 comment:

Martin Hawksey said...
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