Thursday, 14 July 2005

Remember the education thing?

The government has no chance of reaching its target of 50% of young people entering higher education by 2010, a respected thinktank reveals today. From the Education Guardian.

Remember a while back before events conspired to deflect us from the discussion about Higher Education in the 21st century? Well I'm sure the latest report from the Higher Education Policy Institute will be given very little attention in the short term and in the longer term used by politicians of varying colour to support or beat each other.

The report itself points to a number of factors which impact on participation and these include the significant drop in demographic growth around 2010, i.e. there will simply not be as many uni aged students around between 2010 and 2015 - while this makes "50%" easier to achieve the drop in real numbers will have an impact on provision. The finger is also pointed at the Celtic fringes, the populations in both Scotland and Wales are declining and in order to maintain their own HE base they might start recruiting aggressively in England with the obvious effect on demand for English HE providers. There is also evidence that the growth in student numbers staying on to take "A" levels has stalled and shows no real signs of restarting. Without this primary feeder participation in HE will be reduced.

The report also suggests that the only way the government targets might be reached is if take-up of HE by older students , i.e. those over 21 years of age, increased but it would have to rise nearly three times as fast as the shortfall in younger students to compensate for this falling away of participation by younger students. It simply ain't gonna happen is it boys and girls?

I think, therefore, that it's a good job that I'm here and prepared to offer the benefit of my wide ranging experience to our lords and masters in order that we can avert this failure of a main plank of successive Labour Party manifesto pledges. Once I lay out my master plan I'm sure you will agree that it draws together a number of strands to create a coherent solution to a few societal problems.

We need to rebuild Hadrian's Wall and Offa's Dyke. Simple really. It offers work for all those people attracted to taking vocational qualifications in the building trade and it also has some "big" engineering for the newly graduated civil (and uncivil) engineers. Both projects are away from the super-heated south east and will offer work in areas of unemployment to offset the work that is flooding into London to build the Olympic infrastructure. Blair and Clark's soon to be formed Border Guards will have somewhere to keep warm and they can watch for youngsters trying to make a break for Stirling or the University of Wales in Aberystwyth. Of course the introduction of biometric ID cards will also help as students will be unable to lie about their age and claim that it's a junior school trip or a family holiday when they are actually trying to attend an interview at Cardiff or St Andrew's.

Remember - you heard it here first!

9 careful considerations:

kat said...

I have no regard or respect for government targets, whatsoever. I do not therefore see the need to build any walls or dykes. Sorry.

Instead of concentrating on targets and achieving by any crooked or miscalculated means, they could consider opening up opportunities for all.

kat said...

The article below shows how anyone can typically achieve any target they like. HE should be able to do it without any problem.

No need for walls - you just need to move the stats around. :-)

http://education.guardian.co.uk/egweekly/story/0,5500,1249021,00.html

Nogbad said...

I'm sure you know how much I agree with you Kat but I'm afraid that the government has made it far harder for providers to actually open up to a wider group - despite the stated objectives of widening participation.

Reduced funding between levels 1 and 4 and reduced funding for adult learners will create a new underclass with much the same outcomes as our current disenfranchised groups but with the (as far as Blair is concerened) benefit of a qualification. That the qualification might have very little value in the marketplace isn't an issue for the politicians.

kat said...

I was suggesting that the government ( rather than the providers ) forget some of their daft and unrealistic targets and consider offering funding and opportunities for everyone.

Do you think the politicians realize that the qualifications will have little or no value in the market place?

Nogbad said...

I think it's a question of perspective. To the people gaining these qualifications they will be of little real value but to the politicians they are of great value in the league tables; Blair is trying to get to a position where he can claim that the UK workforce is well qualified - even though the qualifications might be of little real value.

Lobster Blogster said...

I hope nogbad was joking with a suggestion to re-build Offa's Dyke and Hadrian's wall. More investment in the north of England wouldn't go a miss, though, the south feels more and more crowded by the day.

My local paper has a letter from the Association of Colleges this week, to get behind Adult Education. If I get my HTML tags right, you should be able to see it here.

kat said...

Thank you very much for that link.

Nogbad said...

Thanks for the link lobster. Of course I'm joking about Hadrian's Wall and Offa's Dyke although you must admit that tarting them up a bit might attract a few more tourists and that can't be a bad thing now can it?

Love the Olympics posting by the way - brilliant!

Bluefluff said...

the populations in both Scotland and Wales are declining and in order to maintain their own HE base they might start recruiting aggressively in England with the obvious effect on demand for English HE providers.

Or not?
Tuition fees rise for non-Scots