Tuesday, 18 September 2007


UK slips behind on graduate numbers

Let's ignore for one moment the recent decision to withdraw funding for students studying any course which is at a level lower than that which they've already achieved. Let's look first of all at some of the details of the BBC report. Firstly
With modern economies emphasising the need for a highly-skilled, well-educated workforce, the survey shows that the UK has been relatively sluggish in its approach - with much less expansion than in countries such as South Korea, the Czech Republic and Hungary.
Of course it's difficult to find any real research that supports this proposition. In fact the reason that so many Poles come to the UK is that they have a highly educated workforce, one of the best in Eastern Europe, but the economy is a basket-case.

The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development says the UK has slipped from the third highest proportion of graduates to 10th.

The survey also found that teenagers in the UK had particularly low expectations of going to university.

Damning really given that this government has spent the last 10 years pumping money into projects like Aimhigher and P4P. Millions and millions of pounds - the cost of each widening participation place is incredible and the ongoing failure shows how poorly targeted these activities have been. If the money had been put into secondary schools....

In response, Higher Education Minister Bill Rammell said: "The figures are encouraging.

"The UK has one of the highest entry rates for vocational higher education and since the higher education figures in the OECD report are from 2005 we expect to see continued increases over the coming years.

And here's the nub of it. This government is so hung up on the idea of "vocational higher education" that they are prepared to devalue all the other types of higher education. The much vaunted lifelong learning agenda has a rider - only if the learning is vocational. How long before they offer a degree in floor sweeping to increase the number of vocational higher education courses? New Labour's love affair with qualifications rather than learning continues and we are all paying through the nose for it.

2 careful considerations:

kat said...

It isn't just higher education!!

Unfortunately, many people fail to realise that government policy is at the heart of their problems. They think the educational establishments are failing to provide worthwhile courses at affordable rates.

I'll take that floor sweeping job before the qualification is mandatory - Where is it?

Nogbad said...

I agree Kat although I think it's a tad extreme to suggest that government policy is at the heart of all my problems :-)

The changes to LSC funding on FE L2 and L3 courses chopped away any coherent progression routes for many "adult" learners - here an adult is anyone over the age of 16. I can only speak for Kent but the government's predicted influx of businesses keen to sponsor courses and/or learners has failed to arrive so courses have been chopped mercilessly.

I only said that floor sweeping will need HE soon - I didn't suggest that there wasn't already a mandatory qualification :-)