Wednesday 8 December 2010

Vote No! - Universities should not be allowed to rob the future generation!

The government's proposals for funding higher education are ill-judged and will have a devastating effect on students.

No one would invest £50k in something which is a leap of faith. Yet this is what will be demanded of the students by Universities if the legislation is passed. Universities will struggle to avoid being seen as shamanistic tricksters.

A better policy would be to put learners in control.

Learners need degrees to get on in life. To get a degree they have to study to pass exams and assignments. Universities should be up-front about what a learner needs to do to get their degree; at the moment they hide this away, so the learner only sees the dreaded (and often dreadful) assignments once they have paid-up - and by then it's too late. This is the rational bit of education: a degree is a necessary commodity today. If Universities were up-front, learners could make an informed decision about their chances of success, and the financial risk they would take on.

Learners ought to be able to choose the right teachers, the right social environment and the right lifestyle for them to be happy in their studies. These things are the fundamental 'human goods' of education. Learners should be able to take time to make these decisions; they should be able to make the wrong decision without onerous financial implications. They should be able to flexibly adjust how they engage with the university as their life circumstances permit.

Why does this not happen already?

Because we have been focussing not on the learner's problem, but on the institution's. Universities are not organised to operate like this. The institutions (at least, the posh ones) have argued "we can only continue in our current form by charging this much in this way!". The government has danced to their tune and our children are at great risk of being burdened with uncontrollable debt as a result. Were the vote to pass, Universities would share the culpability for this robbery with the banks.

Deal with the learner's problem and organisational change in universities is inevitable. Redundancies are inevitable. But it would be the right thing to do: it would put learners in control.

No comments: