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Sector News, 25 - 29 April 2011

Do we need to be defensive about arts and humanities? Education Guardian, 26 April 2011.

Comment: Jonathan Wolff, professor of philosophy at University College London.

Whilst admitting that it is difficult to justify the place of Arts and Humanities, Jonathan Wolf asks whether we want to live in a world without them. He discusses the argument between what he sees as intrinsic or instrumental justification in a world where arguments for and against Arts and Humanities are a growth industry.


Time to ask the tricky questions about university technical colleges. Education Guardian, 26 April 2011.

Comment: Estelle Morris.

Estelle Morris questions the government’s opinion that the creation of University Technical Colleges is the answer to the nation’s educational problems.  Lord Kenneth Baker and the late and Ron Dearing are parents of university technical colleges (UTC). The 14-19 vocational colleges will offer vocational qualifications alongside an academic curriculum, but with the vocational qualifications being the most important. The government is opening the first in September and there is funding for 24 colleges to be up and running by 2014. Estelle Morris is generally in favour of the move but asks:

· Who will the colleges recruit? There is no selection process and the choices are to be left to parents. However, what happens if there are fewer places than applicants?

· What effect will they have on other schools? Are we going to see a revival of a tripartite system in which grammar and technical schools are seen as more up-market choices?

· What impact will it have on pupils who find themselves being transferred at 14?


Essay writing trips up students. Education Guardian, 26 April 2011.

Introduced by the tale of the difficulties faced by Daphne Elliston as she started her first assignments towards a degree, the Guardian reports on the thinking of academics on how the initial fear of essay writing can be overcome.


Cutting funding for English lessons is a false economy. Education Guardian, 26 April 2011.

Comment: Alan Tuckett, chief executive of the National Institute of Adult Continuing Education (Niace).

Alan argues that learning English is one of the biggest factors in pulling poor people out of poverty. There were over a quarter of a million people taking Esol classes in 2006. “Two in three of those were women. Almost half were pursuing entry-level courses, and still there were long waiting lists in the cities, especially in London”. Now the picture is different the loss of benefits, the introduction of fees, changes in eligibility and caps on numbers have reduced the numbers on Esol courses by 80,000. To Alan, English classes are the cornerstone for industrial success, a success we are in danger of losing.


How the English bac maintains the status quo. Education Guardian.

Opinion: Phil Beadle.

Phil Beadle thinks that the English Baccalaureate is a just ploy to keep private schools at the top of the tree. He argues that Michael Goves would be hard put to create a case that having an English Baccalaureate would make you more employable and sees Michael Goves as doing little more than bowing to the will of private schools.


Taking the credit: the rise and rise of private SLC income. THE, 28 April 2011.

Independent colleges are not subject to the student cap, yet they have received over £25 million in public funding for loans since top fees were introduced. S

enior figures expect that the forthcoming higher education White Paper will allow students at private institutions to receive publicly funded loans up to the £9,000 maximum from 2013-14.


Will cases open as courses close? THE, 28 April 2011.

London Metropolitan University’s decision to axe all its humanities courses is likely to leave students unable to complete courses for which they have enrolled. It is possible that such a move may be considered a “breach of contract”. Andrew Johnson, a specialist in education law at Walker Morris solicitors, said that, in general, course closures could leave universities open to legal action by students“.


FE colleges plan to offer degrees for less than £6K. THE, 18 April 2011.

There are many FE colleges who say that they will offer degrees at or below £6,000 per year.  Seventeen colleges who have submitted plans to Offa (Office for Fair Access) say that they will charge fees over £6,000. However, there are 66 colleges who have said that they are unlikely to charge over £6,000.


All set to shatter glass ceilings but not to start a revolution. THE, 28 April 2011.

The European University Association (EUA) has its first female head. Professor Maria Helena Nazaré, rector of Aarhus University, Portugal and new head of EUA, has vowed to use her new position to improve the gender situation in European universities.


From where I sit - High scores in the wrong game. THE, 28 April 2011.

Opinion: Stamenka Uvalic-Trumbic, chief of the section for higher education at Unesco.

International rankings of universities are influencing the behaviour of governments and institutional leaders against the interests of the large majority of students seeking higher education. . This is the opinion of Unesco (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation) becasuse Unesco believes that the best-known rankings are based on research output and not teaching.


College anger grows over 'attempts to dictate fees'. THE, 28 April 2011.

FE Colleges are angry over what they see as university decisions which affect their provision. Colleges have accused some universities of pulling out of agreements and removing students and others that universities of attempting to dictate what fees the colleges may charge. Ben Verinder, spokesman for the Association of Colleges, has said that the main the relationships between FE and HE are in the form of partnerships, and a variety of colleges don't feel they have been treated with respect.


The glitter meets the grim reality. THE, 28 April 2011.

A project aimed at 25- to 40-year-old men who are a difficult group to reach with health messages is being run by Barry Drust, reader in applied physiology at Liverpool John Moores University. The project, dubbed the Football Exchange is an example of local and social engagement with a group of young men who sleep rough.  The Liverpool and England footballer Steven Gerrard, is a supporter of the project which aims to improve the health and wellbeing of disadvantaged men.


Features in this week’s THE.

So last century” considers higher education’s ability to prepare students for 21st century employment. Employer reviews have constantly stated that higher education students are ill prepared for work in modern commerce. The THE comments that the skills being instilled by universities are the ones which were needed last century and not the ones required now.

Imperial lather”: Clive Bloom, emeritus professor of English and American studies at Middlesex University, takes a humorous but nevertheless serious look at revolutionary history in the UK.


The Arts. THE, 28 April 2011.

In “Unexpurgated version”, Josephine Guy who is professor of English literature at the University of Nottingham argues that simplifying texts does not necessarily allow the reader to understand the author’s original intentions. This week’s film review is “Hanna” to be released in the UK on the 6 May. It is a story about a genetically modified teenager and out of control technology which both amuses and irritates Duncan Wu. Gary Day’s TV slot “What's the Point of Forgiveness?” , discusses the programme of the same name transmitted by BBC One on 22 April.


Top MP backs EBac critics as row escalates. TES, 29 April 2011.

The Conservative chair of the Commons education committee has expressed serious doubts over the introduction of EBac. Graham Stuart is concerned that the drive to obtaining EBacs will leave little room for subjects such as Arts, humanities, ICT and vocational course. The MP is also fearful that lower abiity students will be seriously affedted by the introduction of EBac.


Overseas student rules put FE at disadvantage.  TES, FE Focus, 29 April 2011.

FE colleges say that bias by the government in favour of universities under the new visa rules will leave them thousand of pounds out of pocket. Under the new rules university entrants will be able to take up to 20 hours per week part time work but for FE this is limited to 10 and overseas students will have to prove their ability in English through an examination. The Association of Colleges fear that the move will downgrade foundation degrees.


Cash woes force 50% of colleges to drop courses. TES, FE Focus, 29 April 2011.

Course cutting, increased class sizes and the loss of some sporting and student support systems are amongst the changes over 50 per cent of FE colleges are making in face of the cuts. A survey conducted by the University and College Union and the NUT reported that more than 95 per cent of FE colleges faced reduced budgets next year.