It gives graduates both personal and intellectual fulfilment. Working with business, it powers the economy, and its graduates are crucial to the public services. And wide access to higher education makes for a more enlightened and socially just society. In a fast-changing and increasingly competitive world, the role of higher education in equipping the labour force with appropriate and relevant skills, in stimulating innovation and supporting productivity and in enriching the quality of life is central. The benefits of an excellent higher education system are far-reaching; the risk of decline is one that we cannot accept.
An excellent higher education system'' would look like, together with some thoughts about what effective policy making might look like. The only aspect of university life that seems to be immune to assessment is the quality and wisdom of central government toward higher education.
Impact of Government Policies
The Government's main policies for higher education are:
- To expand the system ''towards 50 per cent'' participation by the relevant (18-30) age group by 2010 as compared to the present 44 percent;
- To increase participation by students from social classes 5, 6 and 7(what I shall refer to as the ''working classes'');
- To promote two year Foundation Degrees as an alternative to the traditional three year honours degree;
- To raise the status and quality of university teaching;
- To protect teaching funding by obtaining greater private revenue through increased (''variable'') tuition fees, endowment funding and overseas student recruitment;
- To increase funding for research but to concentrate it (and numbers offended research students) in a smaller number of institutions;
- To maintain, and if possible increase, institutional diversity, efficiency and responsiveness to the needs of the economy and society, particularly business, including through greater institutional collaboration.