The Government’s friendless higher education policies may have another enemy that has been previously lying low; the Tory right. Yesterday the Government announced their Social Mobility Strategy which has been broadly welcomed by most. But right-wing Tory, and one-time leadership hopeful David Davis, used the opportunity to further his libertarian argument that would see the retreat of the state in almost every aspect of life, including laws designed to rebalance unfair socio-economic realities. Included in his complaint are measures to ensure that universities take state school applicants through what many view as the discredited and largely toothless OFFA regime which in any case allows institutions to set their own benchmarks for success, rather than complying with a Whitehall edict.

Let’s not lose sight of the real participation dream

by Derfel Owen March 17, 2011

As someone who was brought up in working class surroundings and was the first in my family to move permanently out of Wales, let alone go to University, I get frustrated when (albeit well meaning) journalists, HE representatives etc. speak as though student fees are the only factor that will inform the decisions of people like me about whether to go to university.

They’re not.

Read the full post →

The real widening participation challenge

by James Redfearn February 24, 2011

An article published today in the Guardian has highlighted the real challenge the Government and the HE sector face in ensuring continued access to HE. Whatever your opinion on the politics around HE funding, and indeed whatever the new ‘HE market’ landscape will look like in 2012, we are faced with the fact that fees will be higher across the sector.

But articles like the one published today, and the rhetoric of debt in constant use by anti-cuts protestors and indeed Her Majesty’s Opposition are having a real impact on prospective students and parents in lower-income families. Of course those of us involved in Higher Education know that this perception is wrong – paying graduate contributions does not represent a debt in the same way as that of a credit card, for example it won’t affect mortgage applications etc, and indeed higher education will be free at the point of use in terms of fees.

Read the full post →