Skip to main content

Sector News, 21 - 25 January 2008

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 4 “Minister calls for a cultural revolution”  (Rebecca Attwood and John Gill) 

“Grant letter urges universities to embrace business and two year degrees.”

John Denham, Universities Secretary, argues for heavy involvement in business for agenda setting in HE, degrees part funded by employers, compressed two year honours degrees and vocational foundation degrees.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 4 “New order of service as customers are ditched” (Melanie Newman)

Short article on Liverpool Hope University’s decision to ban the use of ‘customer’ instead of student.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 5 “Ofsted gives low marks to ex-chief” (Melanie Newman)

“Chris Woodhead’s education department rated as just satisfactory”

Short report on Ofsted inspection of university education department.  Report generally critical of department.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 6 “Nurture sceptics, not industry fodder, critic says” (Rebecca Attwood) 

Argument that universities are becoming too economically focussed.

Bob Brecher, director of the Centre for Applied Philosophy, Politics and Ethics at the University of Brighton warns that “the vision of universities as places that foster independent and critical thought is being replaced by a wholly economic view.” NB There may be a connection to an article on “non-academics” being predicted to run departments (page 11 of THE 24th Jan). 

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 9 “Scholars raise concern over business school theory fetish” (John Gill) 

“Universities are urged to focus more on practice to remain relevant to managers”.

An obsession with theory is ruining the value of business school research states Donald C. Hambrick former president of the US Academy of Management.   Donald Hambrick argues that, whilst theory is important the universities have gone overboard with it making the research unreachable to many managers.  Basically a research article but with teaching implications.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 9 “Poor research cited for low language take-up” (Melanie Newman) 

“Very weak modern language research is to blame for a decline in the popularity of the subject”, claims Richard Hudson, emeritus professor of linguistics at University College London. Refers to Lord Dearing’s comment that pupils general dislike of languages is down to poor teaching.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 4 “1994 Group offers diplomas a mixed reception” (Tariq Tahir) 

Short discussion on the new diplomas being introduced as a rival to A levels. Cites a survey of admissions tutors reporting that 48% are very likely to accept new diplomas where there is a clear link toi a degree-course content.  However, 36% said they would not.  A major concern expressed is lack of student’s knowledge and analytical skills.  The extended project component of the Diplomas has been broadly welcomed.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, pages 14 & 15 Various articles on overseas links 
Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 17 Policy watch
  • Lifelong learning – “The Government has launched a consultation on informal adult learning that is not deigned to lead to a formal qualification” 
  • Environmental issues – Attention drawn to new report Greening Spires – Universities and the Green Agenda 
  • DIUS science and innovation strategy.  DIUS seeking contributions to a new science and innovations strategy.  Policy to include Sainsbury review The race to the Top. 
  • Embryological research - human-animal studies approved.  

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 27 “Taking the Mickey out” 

“Sally Feldman on killing off soft option media studies” (opinion)

Full page discussion on the Russell Group universities that applicant should avoid soft A levels.  Argument generally for good quality media studies programmes but lamenting the variable quality of many.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 30 “Reaching out but still falling short”  (Hannah Fearn and John Gill) 

Major 8 page article on top up fees. Discusses effect of provision of bursaries to lower income students.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008; Page 38 “When the face doesn’t fit” (Esther Oxford)

“Women who brave the traditional male bastions of science, engineering and technology must still confront both gender and old-boy exclusion”.

As outline above suggests, article is concerned with difficulties faced by women in male dominated industries.  Article includes a ‘snap-shot’ of women in sciences etc. at various levels from GCSE to Professors.

Times Higher Education 24 January 2008, page 44 “Strategic Resources” (Hannah Fearn)

“Governors perform an important and complex function in higher education, but what exactly do they do and what skills can they bring to the role?” Outlines various models of governance and explores the roles of and conflicts faced by governors.

TES 25 January 2008, page 6 “Doubt cast on diploma skills” (David Marley) 

“Universities question whether new qualification will prepare students for degree courses”.

Findings from the 1994 Group of 19 research intensive universities express concerns over whether the new 14-19 diplomas will give pupils the knowledge and skills needed by undergraduates.  The group are also concerned about the new extended A level projects which they see as leading to increased plagiarism and the possibility of skewing admissions in favour of middle class students.  Despite the above most universities praised the potential of diplomas. 

TES 25 January 2008, page 11 “Plan to split A-level maths for gifted is dangerous” (Warwick Mansell) 

“A proposal to split A-level maths into separate exams [.] would be a dangerous and unnecessary move.”

The above is a comment from Mathematics in Education and Industry (MEI) that develops examinations and syllabuses for the OCR.  “What was needed was to develop mathematical skills in large numbers of school leavers.”

TES 25 January 2008, FE Focus, page 3  (See also “Comment” on page 4 ) “Adult learning takes its place in the sun” (Steven Hook) 

“Education and knowledge is the path to people power, Tony Benn tells conference delegates.” 

Article summarising Tony Benn’s support for adult education to be more than vocationally skills based.  Comment upon |John Denham’s (Skills Secretary) hint that education courses not directly related to vocational needs could provide greater flexibility.

TES 25 January 2008, FE Focus, page 3 “Leaving age damaging” (Steven Hook) (Short article giving opinion on above)

“Raising the school leaving age will hurt the economy according to leading academics”.   Argument based on costs to small and medium employers.

TES 25 January 2008, FE Focus, page 4, Comment “Special needs students deserve a better future too” (Len Parkyn)

Describes fall in special educational needs provision.

Argues that the “golden age” was 1990 to 1996 after which provision for SEN has fallen by about 75%.  Blames to a large extent policies made by the Learning Skills Council.

 TES 25 January 2008, FE Focus, page 5 “Are museums the classes of the future?” (Joseph Lee)  

“As John Denham launches a consultation on informal education, he is criticised for not appreciating face-to face tutoring”.  

“Much of the innovation in this sector (adult education)  has been achieved by learners themselves. people adapting to technologies, not relying on support from government”   Mr Denham wants education to consider issues ranging from where learning should take place to how disadvantaged students get the same opportunities as those who have computer and internet access.  There is also mention of the possibility of virtual vouchers and bring public and private sector bodies in closer relationships.

TES 25 January 2008, FE Focus, pages 6 & 7 “Coming out of the shadows”; (Ian Nash) “How you can fill those 30 training hours” (Steve Hook)

Both articles refer to shadowing, the Ian Nash report on shadowing by middle managers and the Steve Hook report on lecturers sharing expertise. 

“It is very much a vision of FE whereby the improvement of teaching quality is driven by lecturers” (page 7). The article on page 6 has an addition at the foot of the page referring to Brockenhurst College and their experiences with shadowing.