Writing for Research Fortnight this week, University Alliance CEO Vanessa Wilson voiced concerns over the recommendations of the recent Post-18 Education and Funding Review.
Alliance Universities are centres of their communities, offering technical, practical education to a broad and diverse group of students. Vanessa worries that this could all be put at risk by the review. She wrote “The value of higher education starts with aspiration and unlocking potential. But when I look at Augar’s recommendations in the round, I detect a worrying underlying narrative. The report is permeated with the idea that too many people go to university.”
“As someone who has worked outside the education sector for much of my career, this is something I am alert to and deeply concerned about. If we’re not careful, we will feed a snobbery about who higher education is and isn’t for that is still far too entrenched.”
In addition, there is a concern about the funding implications that this general narrative, and specific proposals, will have. Not only could a loss of funding have a devastating impact on the local communities served by universities but also on the UK’s industrial and technological excellence, and our global position.
Vanessa outlined that, “If, as is frequently promised, the UK is to be an economic, industrial and intellectual world-leader post-Brexit, our education system is going to have to do a lot of the heavy lifting. Innovative, applied research, future-proofing businesses in the face of technological change, will be paramount in enabling us to hold our own and command global authority and respect. The value of this is reflected in the government’s Industrial Strategy, yet inadequate financial support for universities could undermine the important work being done elsewhere.”