Thursday, 29 October 2009

Mike Baker wonders when review of student fees is going to happen

Thanks to Paul for highlighting this recent bbc news article by Mike Baker asking when the "New Framework for Universities", due late October is going to be published.

The following extract from this article ponders current challenges for flexible and part-time learning.....

....Lord Mandelson has also hinted that boosting the number of skilled people in the economy will be central to the new framework for universities. This is likely to be mean more short courses, at both undergraduate and post-graduate level, delivered in a variety of ways: part-time, in shorter, more flexible modules, through distance learning and in the workplace.

Yet the worrying reality is that in the past few years the number of part-time students has started to fall. This is at a time when total student numbers are rising. No-one quite knows what has caused this reversal of the previous growth trend. However a student support system that discriminates against part-time study may be part of the explanation.

After all, is it logical to treat a student with a full-time job who studies part-time differently from a student who studies full-time but has a part-time job?

.....The other half of this equation is the way universities are funded for part-time students, which tends to discriminate against those institutions that are trying hard to widen participation by offering more flexible learning.
Some universities have pushed ahead with encouraging part-time students - on short courses, via distance learning and at undergraduate level - but this is a risky strategy, as these students often require greater support, need teaching outside standard office hours and are more likely to drop out.
We already have benchmarks to measure universities' achievement in widening participation, should we have benchmarks for the proportion of part-time students enrolled? ....

(Posted on BBC News Website Saturday 24 October 2009)

Thursday, 15 October 2009

Curriculum and Design Programme Meeting 13th and 14th October -The Why and for Whom Questions

Thanks to Sarah, Lisa and Marianne for organising a really helpful programme meeting.

As usual the more my prejudices are reinforced the more I like it. This time it was why do we have validation/approval processes and student record systems and for whose benefit. The consensus seemed to be both are largely driven in their current incarnations by the needs of external agencies i.e. HEFCE reporting and QAA audit. Ensuring a variety of stakeholder’s requirements is met by these processes and systems including assurance and funding bodies is perhaps the key challenge.

Key points for me were:
1. The ability to re purpose the data generated by validation events and processes.
2. Ensuring validation/approval events encourage properly evidenced reflection by programme/course teams.
3. How to ensure that the artefacts from validation events add value after the event/process is completed. Should it ever be completed?
4. Once again the need for joined up processes.
5. Flexibility without boundaries is called a mess.
6. The process of course/programme delivery should be a larger issue for those involved as opposed to content.
7. External agencies are happy to support a greater range of flexibility than they are often given credit for.

The Design studio should provide a valuable resource and help guide our developments. We need to think about how we introduce it to the management team and institution generally. Reassured that the discussions the project are enabling within and outside of the institution are acceptable outputs.

The projects outside of our cluster group that seemed to have the most direct relevance for our project are Staffordshire, Ulster and Manchester Met. Particularly liked the look of the user interface design tool Ulster is using.

Enjoyed Keri Facers presentation without agreeing with some of the conclusions she was drawing. Is there really a disconnect between parents and their children as a result of technology. Sounds like a familiar tune with technology replacing pop music.