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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2012): Education - UK - higher

Choice and information in the public sector: a higher education case study

J. Harding

Social Policy and Society, vol. 11, 2012, p. 171-182

Successive UK governments have encouraged users of public services to be viewed as consumers who exercise choice of provider based on information about the quality of service. In higher education, prospective students are expected to choose which university to apply to partly on the basis of its National Student Survey scores. However, this case study of a post-1992 university showed that not all students chose their institution on the basis of external quality evaluations. They were influenced by slick marketing materials, ease of daily travel, and the general attractiveness of the location. There was limited use of written information, particularly National Student Survey scores, highlighting the gulf between the principles of welfare consumerism and the reality. Where decision making was based on quality factors, it often seemed to incorporate the idea of a good reputation, the origins of which were difficult to identify.

Donors could desert universities, says Cable

J. Kirkup

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 13th 2012, p. 6

Business secretary Vince Cable joined the political backlash against plans announced in the 2012 budget to cut tax relief on large charity donations, warning that the move could hurt British universities. This public questioning of the policy has added to pressure on the Chancellor to soften plans to restrict tax relief on donations by higher-rate taxpayers.

Dons take charge in A-level shake-up

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 3rd 2012, p. 1 + 2 The education secretary announced that the government would no longer play a part in setting A-levels. Instead, the main examination boards would be expected to consult leading academics from Russell Group universities when drawing up syllabuses. The new A-level qualification could be introduced as early as 2014. The reforms were proposed because of fears that A-levels were failing to prepare young people for higher education.

Emotional connections in higher education marketing

M. Durkin, S. McKenna and D. Cummins

International Journal of Educational Management, vol. 26, 2012, p. 153-161

Through examination of a case study this paper aims to describe a brand re-positioning exercise and explore how an emotionally driven approach to branding can help create meaningful connections with potential undergraduate students and can positively influence choice. The paper's approach is a case study description with quantitative analysis in support. Results show that the use of an emotionally driven branding concept positively impacted business development and brand likeability within a UK university. However, the paper is specific to one case study and evaluation of success remains relatively early. Initial implications relate to the potential use of emotion in higher education marketing communications and how the use of emotion acted as an enabler of more rational decision-making processes within the case university context.

Go easy on students from poor schools, universities told

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 19th 2012, p. 14

The higher education minister David Willetts claimed that bright students from poor-performing schools should be admitted to university with worse A-level results than other pupils. He also suggested that rising numbers of poorly qualified students should be given a foundation year before the start of their full degree course to enable them to catch up.

(See also Daily Telegraph, Apr. 24th 2012, p. 10)

Millions wasted as university dropout rates rise to a record

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Mar. 30th 2012, p. 14

The higher education dropout rate rose above 30,000 for the first time in 2011 according to data published by the Higher Education Statistics Agency. More than one in five undergraduates were failing to complete the first year of their degree at the worst performing universities. The figures also showed that an estimated 45% of undergraduates would fail to complete their degree courses.

Pakistani students applying for UK visa face compulsory interview

N. Watt

The Guardian, Apr. 13th 2012, p. 6

Every Pakistani student applying for a visa to come to study in Britain will face a compulsory interview with consular officials following a secret pilot study indicating that up to 40% could be ineligible. Theresa May, the home secretary, will soon announce that 'bogus' students will be blocked from entering Britain when the measures are introduced.

Pupils 'not encouraged to apply to Oxbridge

R. Garner

The Independent, Apr. 27th 2012, p. 13

A survey by the education charity the Sutton Trust revealed that only 44 per cent of state school teachers would encourage even their brightest pupils to go to Oxbridge. The study revealed that many teachers assumeed that Oxbridge recruited more private school pupils than it actually did. According to the charity, the two universities should do more do dispel myths about access.

Top universities should set A-levels to better prepare pupils - Gove

J. Shepherd

The Guardian, Apr. 3rd 2012, p. 2

Education secretary Michael Gove asked the top universities to set A-level exams, amid fears that tens of thousands of teenagers were woefully under-prepared when they started their degrees. Gove instructed the exam boards and ministers to 'take a step back' from dictating the content of A-levels and hand over the power to academics. The Department for Education set out the structure and core knowledge A-level students needed to know, and exam boards devised the questions and coursework. Gove wrote to the qualifications watchdog, Ofqual, asking for universities to be allowed to 'drive the system'. The 24 most academically competitive universities in the UK, known as the Russell Group, would be allowed to set questions and the content of the syllabus. Schools would be advised to put their pupils in for only those A-levels that had been approved by the universities.

(See also The Guardian, Apr. 4th 2012, p. 9)

Universities give remedial lessons in the three Rs

G. Paton

Daily Telegraph, Apr. 3rd 2012, p. 6

Research by the Cambridge Assessment examination board showed that universities were being forced to provide remedial lessons in writing skills because students arrived unable to structure an essay, spell or use correct grammar. Many institutions also provided additional tuition in independent study skills and basic numeracy. Six in ten academics said they were providing additional support classes because students were so poorly prepared for the demands of higher education.

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