Two big events have happened in the last 10 days from either end of the political divide, that will affect HE dramatically.
Firstly, The National Union of Students have recognised, & verbalised what many have known for some time, that students are going to have to pay for their studies – although they suggest, not through the current fee structure but rather they are recommending a ‘graduate tax’, payable at once you start earning a certain amount & rising as you earn more. Making the point that you only pay for your higher education if you then go into the world of work, otherwise it is free!
And at the other end of the debate the Government have put Universities and Colleges into Mandelson’s new super Department for Business, Innovation and Skills. The point here being that Universities feed business and are about innvotaion & skills (no longer education itself). Will this end the debate once and for all that education is no longer an end unto itself, but a stepping stone into the world of work? Follow this logic through and Universities will have to work much faster on their agendas for giving students the skills they need for the world of work.
In general I am in favour of this but we must not allow life at University to be all about preparing for work – University is an environment where individuals learn about themselves, and learn how to learn, I would hate to see ‘targets for skills’ becoming key drivers at University as we have done in schools – yes, students need skills but life after Univesrity is increasingly tough and competitive so let them have their fun too!