In this article, A J Angulo provides a view of the marketisation of higher education and a quick summary of its history. Socrates warned us against creating “Merchants of Knowledge”. On that point, we wonder: what have we learnt from the current situation? As an independent Awarding Organisation, a Higher and Research Education Institute, the question of widening access to high quality education is on our agenda every day. In the current financial and political climate, how do we provide for education in a format that allows access to as many people as possible? We have very good reasons to believe that what we offer makes a positive contribution to society and we want to offer what we have developed to all those who are ready to engage. We are not about to create a consumer-supplier relationship with those people. But intelligent, innovative solutions are urgently needed. We are working on it. Are you? Join us and tell us what you think.
The BBC is reporting that top universities will be offering online undergraduate degrees within the next 5 years, something they have been reluctant to do until now. The rising costs of university education will make this an attractive offer to many young people particularly. We believe that online Higher Education, or blended learning with a mix of online and face to face can work very well, as long as students are well supported, have ready access to tutors and an engaged peer group. An example of this is our HE programme: Researching Holistic Approaches to Agroecology which invites students from all over the world, is mainly online with an annual meeting and is for anyone interested in taking a research approach to the environment and agriculture.
The White Paper reveals some interesting developments that could have positive implications for Crossfields Institute. Most exciting of these is that new providers will find it easier to obtain the power to award degrees. You will see in news reports that these are called ‘Challenger Institutions’ because they represent a challenge to the established universities. The idea of challenging the status quo around how education is delivered, what it addresses, and who can take part is something we like the sound of – its what we do.
The press will be focusing a lot on two elements in the white paper: the raising of tuition fees beyond the current 9,000 a year cap and the permission to do that being based on the score a University gets for the quality of its teaching as measured by the Teaching Excellence Framework. Challenger Institutions will be in a good position to provide cheaper and potentially more innovative degrees. Something the press doesn’t seem to be picking up on is a loosening of the Framework for Higher Education Qualifications to allow for greater student mobility between institutions. This should make the transfer of credit for learning achieved to be more easily transferred. This is certainly good news for one of our latest projects which is to explore the demand for a completion year for people who never finished their degree and would like to do so by taking an innovative one year liberal arts completion course.
Exciting times in Higher Education – watch this space…
The Council for At Risk Academics in co-operation with 110 universities in the UK, has been offering lifesaving opportunities to academics in conflict ridden countries. Reem Doukmak talks about her experience: