Skip to main content

Sector News, 20 - 24 June 2011

Teachers must think internet first, Monday 20 June 2011

UK digital champion Martha Lane Fox argues that digital skills are now vital for education and employment. She says people are 25 per cent more likely to get work when they have web skills, and once in a job will earn 10 per cent more. Martha outlines the work being done at Race Online 2012 to make the UK 100 per cent networked by the time of the Olympics, and to make recycled PCs affordable for all. But she says that there is evidence that the clever use of technology in the classroom can be significant in helping people learn, especially those who have had bad classroom experiences the first time around. She also gives examples of how the US and India are ahead of the UK in this, and says we need to think internet-first in education to realise the opportunities of learning for now.

Vocational qualifications get a new champion, Monday 20 June 2011

Former schools minister Andrew Adonis argues that a technical baccalaureate should be offered in schools alongside the Ebacc, which makes pupils take a proscribed central core of five subjects. He is a trustee of the education charity Edge which is working closely with the Baker Dearing Educational Trust to come up with a plan for a Professional Technical Baccalaureate under which pupils aged 14 – 16 would spend 60% of their time studying for GCSEs in English, maths, science and another subject., and the rest working on a technical qualification such as an engineering diploma or a construction course. The new university colleges for 14-19 year olds would be the first to teach it.

Oxbridge: is hard work enough?, Monday 20 June 2011

Mary O’Hara, who went to Cambridge from a deprived area of Belfast and graduated 20 years ago, looks back at Oxbridge outreach schemes after the publication of a report from the OECD which showed the UK today performs poorly in an international league table showing how many disadvantaged pupils succeed ‘against the odds’ at school. Under 10 per cent of undergraduates at Oxford come from families with an income meaning they qualify for free school meals. She has spoken to Oxbridge students and graduates from low income backgrounds, and asked them about access and social mobility. They all felt more needs to be done on access, and that it is hard for students to make up the lack of cultural and social capital of many of their fellow students and this affects their longer-term prospects and social mobility.

School walkouts planned to coincide with public sector strikes, Monday 20 June 2011

It is thought that thousands of school and college students could stage walkouts next week to support the co-ordinated strike action organised by trade unions for June 30. Students behind last year’s demonstrations against cuts to post-16 education and mobilising in schools and FE colleges, and direct action group UK Uncut has also said it will stage a “public spectacular” in London to coincide with the action against the government’s austerity programme. More than 750,000 public sector workers from unions including the Public and Commercial Services Union, the National Union of Teachers and the Association of Teachers and Lectures are expected to take part in the strike next week.

Social media presents challenge to universities, Monday 20 June 2011

The problem of universities protecting their reputations when student bloggers and tweeters can say what they like is highlighted in this article, which uses the example of Vshuf, an international student who posted a message on the Student Room discussion site wanting to know which of several universities would be the best to study business. He asked about reputation and what the people were like and added "I have watched some videos about Warwick on YouTube and it seems to me that the people are snobby and arrogant in contrast to those from Nottingham." People quickly defended Warwick, but the incident highlighted that reputation control is not always within universities’ hands, an issue raised at the Youth Strategy Marketing Conference 2011 last week.

Exam board forced to apologise over mistakes in GCSE papers Guardian, Tuesday 21 June 2011

An exam board has had to apologise after GCSE students were set a paper which contained questions from an old exam. The paper set by the AQA board included questions asked of pupils who sat the same exam in March – the mistake has been blamed on a printing error. More than 31,000 pupils at 567 schools and colleges took the paper last week. Ofqual is already investigating five errors in AS level papers and one in a GCSE.

Private university BPP launches bid to run 10 publicly funded counterparts Guardian, Tuesday 21 June 2011

A private university has launched an expansion plan to jointly run at least 10 UK publicly funded universities, revealed in an exclusive Guardian story. BPP currently offers undergraduate and postgrad business and law degrees at 14 UK study centres and says it is in talks about managing the business side of universities campuses, with the universities controlling all academic decisions. It would not reveal the universities, but said they were not necessarily those in financial difficulties. BPP also plans to increase its own number of students by undercutting publicly funded universities.

Graduate salaries fall short of student expectations Times Higher Education, 20 June 2011

An annual survey by Graduate Prospects of 22,000 graduates from between 2000-2010 found that there was a big discrepancy between what they expect to be paid after finishing university and what they are actually paid. Only 53 per cent were satisfied with what they earn, with 77 per cent earning less than £30,000. The survey also reported that a sixth of this year’s university leavers expect to earn £100,000 or more by the age of 30, but only a quarter of graduates earn more than £30,000 up to 10 years after completing university, and only 7 per cent receive over £40,000.

University of Wales rapped over link to foreign business school Times Higher Education, Tuesday 21 June 2011

A university has been criticised after its linkup with a Singaporean business school which was offering the university’s degrees. The University of Wales failed to stage thorough checks on the new owners of the Turning Point Business School and the process for the validation of its foreign partners had “serious shortcomings” which must be tackled as a “matter of urgency”, a report from the Quality Assurance Agency found. Students were left unsupported after the owners disappeared. The QAA also found other problems with links to colleges in Thailand and Malaysia.