HOW MANY WILL MISS OUT ON UNIVERSITY THIS YEAR?
Opportunities and Innovation for All the Nation Going to university should be a right and not a privilege and, right now, it makes no economic sense to turn people away from university.
Figures from the University Admissions Service, UCAS, confirm that there is an unprecedented demand from people of all ages to study at university in 2010. Many pre-qualified students who were unable to get on courses last year have re-applied. This will have a knock-on effect on this year’s school and college leavers and those who want to progress from foundation degrees to honours courses. Many people in their 30s and 40s are also looking to refocus their careers. At a time of unemployment, this should come as no surprise.
The decision of the Coalition Government to reduce the number of additional university places, funded in the April 2010 Budget, to 10,000 means that there will be an even greater mismatch between those who want to study at university and the number of places available. MPs, who themselves have benefitted from a university education, need to be cautious about pulling up the ladder and denying people of all ages the opportunity to study at university.
The idea that vocational education should be promoted rather than study at university misunderstands the scope of the many professionally focused degree courses offered by the universities of today. Many of those who miss out on a university place will already have been to college.
This is why cutting university places is an efficiency saving that the UK cannot afford to make and it is not the approach being adopted by the UK’s competitor countries. In China, France, Germany and the US, the graduates of tomorrow are seen as part of the solution to future economic growth and not as part of the problem.
The opportunity to study at university is also linked to the social mobility which all parties and the Coalition Government say they support. Students from lower socio-economic and non-traditional backgrounds often do not enter university straight from school or college and they present with lower pre-entry qualifications. These students, who have the ability and who are likely to significantly improve their life-chances by studying at university, will be most at risk of not getting a place.
In the interests of social justice and economic efficiency, it is not too late for the Government to fund the additional university places which students deserve and the economy needs.
million+ is a university think-tank using rigorous research and evidence based policy to solve complex issues in higher education.
www.millionplus.ac.uk Contents August 2010
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Cover story In conversation with Eric Pickles 14 Iain Dale talks to communities and local government secretary Eric Pickles about the vision for his department, mistakes made at the general election and his famous waistline
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