We were treated to a presentation on this topic by James Wisdom. He was a very engaging speaker, animated and clearly enthusiastic about his subject matter and I thoroughly enjoyed his two hours with us.
While introducing many very interesting themes and ideas, interspersed with anecdotes (many of which I have repeated to friends and colleagues), I wondered at times how well some of what he said would hold up under more intense scrutiny from a less sympathetic audience…
James suggested :
- Higher education should be for all citezens at all stages of life – not just an extension of the school pathway.
- We should have more apprenticeships and gap years!
- Higher Education’s expansion was the result of national competitiveness rather than a desire to educate all.
- The more individual funding becomes commonplace the more education socially excludes the poor (although he cities this beginning at A-level where top performing colleges with the grade avarges to get a university place are mostly fee paying).
- The real cost of HE is the 3 years wages the student stands to forfeit to attend the course.
- Research oriented institutions (with a lower standard of teaching) attract the largest numbers of students on reputation.
- Students don’t want a ‘customer culture’, rather ‘engagement – Participation & partnership, like joining a gym, you only get educated if you work hard.
As a class we then discussed the possible futures of different aspects of HE over the next 5 years.
- Integrity under threat because of fee paying?
- External moderation may be toughened up to counteract this (some ‘failure’ protects the value of the system).
- Alternatives to hounours degrees : Personal development portfolio, 2 year courses, Vocational degrees, Higher level skill awards, Foundations, Post Grad, Partial / No qualification education.
- International value of English HE may change.
Methods of delivery :
- Lecture sizes.
- E learning + Technology (Social media).
- Global market expansion (European eduction in English language.)
- Part time / Evening / Weekend.
- Credit accumulation.
- Workplace learning / Employer designed courses.
- Work based / Problem based learning.
Academic culture :
- Vocational v. Academic
- Protection of standards in the face of institutional complacency.
Lecturers & Teaching :
- More qualified teachers.
- More post graduates in teaching roles (potentially delivering courses designed and assessed by academics).
Processes of Learning :
- Static – methods of delivery are improving to better suit how we learn.