Lord Mandelson’s 11th Feb Dearing speech defends the government’s record on HE funding, commits to “sustainable expansion” and urges HE to source other forms of income and consider alternative modes of provision.
Lord Mandleson, continues the debate and defends his Higher Ambitions report, by facing critics and outlining new ways that UK HE needs to respond to market trends, competition, student needs, and maintaining quality.
" For universities Lord Dearing had a clear message that the institutions needed to focus on distinctive missions, diversified sources of income, a new recognition of the value of teaching, a constant focus on the quality of the service to the student."
and in regards to improving flexible provision he said...
"along side traditional three year full time degrees, I want to see more part time study, I want to see two year Foundation Degrees and three years Honours courses delivered intensively over two years expand as part of the mix. Not creating a single blueprint in which everyone is made to conform. We’ve got to create a mix to take higher education forward"
..."And because these flexible kinds of education and training are vital for those who miss out on higher education straight after school the push for two year degrees and wider part time or work-based study should be at the core of the wider participation agenda. Those who argue against it risk painting themselves as defending an institutional inflexibility that doesn’t serve students, and doesn’t get the most out of public investment that we make in higher education."
...."All these apprenticeships will earn UCAS points so that they act as a ladder into university."
In respect of UK HEIs diversifying to attract private investment he said..
"The first is on the need to seek out alternative sources of funding. The best university systems in the world are defined by a wide range of public and private funding and British universities need the same diversity."
..."Part time degrees, shorter and more intensive courses all offer the potential to lower student support costs, use resources more intensively and improve productivity."
"I passionately believe universities cannot stand still. Universities must adapt to new times, to new sorts of courses, to new ways of delivering and teaching. This is where I will continue to lead the debate and policy. "
All I can say is that distance and blended learning is the answer, using the VLE, eportfolios and cloud computing methods. This mix of flexible approaches and a (less resource based) curriculum rethink will give UK Higher Ed' the edge we need. My view is backed up by Dr Tony Bates in his comments on eLearning progress in HE, Dr Bates recognises the importance of e-tutoring & sound instructional design models to move online/blended delivery to a more "active" realm of student-tutor interaction. And David Lammy also throws his two 'penneth in by stating the following at a recent conference
“Students are all on Facebook, Twitter, Bebo, i-Phones and i-Pads for their social life and their university experience is still divorced from that […] Universities have to be advancing technology.”
Tho' , as we are all well aware UK HE is a slow beast to move and react to change and forcing UK HEIs to simply adopt ICT as the panacea to cure all ills is a road well trodden and resisted 'afore. Innovative teaching, improved CPD, and adoption of flexible (blended) curriculum delivery is key, so says Drew Whitworth in his insightful comments on Should e-learning change university management blog post. And, as Drew also states in his posting, not all students are demanding unfettered access to a pletohora of social networks, as we know, poor digital literacy is an issue to be addressed by generations X,Y and baby boomers alike. As we are well aware the term digital natives is a misnomer perpetuated by the media, and JISC have done quite a bit of work in this area to try and find out how a modern student studies.
Interestingly The 2010 Horizon Report also highlights some key trends facing education across Europe, which echo some of the innovative approaches UK HE need to address, as mentioned above. They are;
- The abundance of resources and relationships made easily accessible via the Internet is increasingly challenging us to revisit our roles as educators in sense-making, coaching, and credentialing.
- People expect to be able to work, learn, and study whenever and wherever they want to.
- The technologies we use are increasingly cloud-based, and our notions of IT support are decentralized.
- The work of students is increasingly seen as collaborative by nature, and there is more cross-campus collaboration between departments.
- And, not so coincidently JISC have just announced a suite of resources for universities on employing technology to support their business goals.
Ewart Woodridge CBE, Chief Executive of the Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, says, “The ‘Agile University’ is about the capacity to innovate, particularly in new business or operating models. It requires a creativity in how an institution is structured and people are equipped to lead and manage it. It also requires a strategic and entrepreneurial approach to the use of technology.”