The Context of Higher Education (Notes on James Wisdom presentation).

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.

Qualifications :

  • 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.

 

 

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