Online learning should not be used as a “cost saving measure”
Many people reading this may already know me as Minister of Higher and Further Education, but it is a slightly misleading title considering how I view my role.
Although I work closely with universities and colleges themselves, the vast majority of my time is actually spent supporting, advocating and assisting students and prospective students. Basically, making sure the students get a fair deal.
Over the past two years, Covid-19 has caused disruption in virtually every aspect of student life. Much of my time has, rightly, been spent advocating for causes that have helped bring some normalcy back to your college experience, but as we begin to recover from Covid-19, it is time for the question to be answered. transparency for students becomes a priority.
The transparency of your university is not something that I consider a vague ideal: for me, every student has the right to receive accurate information about their course and prospects from their university before making decisions that will determine its future.
After all, the decision to go to college is one that involves a huge investment of your time and resources over a number of years.
So with that in mind, I don’t think it’s unreasonable for students to expect their course to deliver on the promises made to them and lead to a good graduate job.
Students deserve transparency and information from start to finish, knowing clearly from the start where a particular course can take them and honest recognition of doors that some courses simply habit open. However, this is not always the case.
Some universities offer courses with a dropout rate of over 40 percent
The disappointing truth is that some universities are not as straightforward or available with useful information as they could be.
Some universities continue to offer courses with a dropout rate of over 40 percent, which is a fact that potential students considering this course should know in advance.
Universities should actively inform applicants of these results in their prospectuses – students should not have to search through the fine print to find this kind of background information.
Students Deserve Better – They Deserve Fair Treatment
Other courses perform very poorly in graduate studies, where for example only a third of the students who start the course will find graduate employment or continue their studies. Most recently, my colleague, Mark Pawsey MP, discovered that a course in early childhood care and education in his field promoted ‘career progression’, but in reality the course did not. not the necessary accreditation to actually work in the early childhood sector.
I was shocked at this and the impact it had on Mark’s voter – frankly, it’s not good enough. Since the minister is committed to representing students and fighting for your right to make informed choices, these kinds of practices are totally unacceptable and I would go so far as to say that they clearly mislead students. Students deserve better – they deserve fair treatment.
If a university wishes to hold a particular course, it has the right to do so, but it should not withhold information from students that would help them make a better decision about their course and prospects.
I have cracked down on this particular case and several others before, but in the future I will personally name and shame any university that does not provide students with the transparency they deserve.
However, the importance of clear and transparent information from universities goes far beyond the courses themselves. The ability of disadvantaged students to excel in school and college, and then enter university, depends in part on the openness and honesty of universities about how they will help people from all walks of life to Enter university.
The United States is too focused on ‘getting in’ not ‘going in’
We currently have what are called access and participation plans, which require universities to establish their plan to improve access and success for students from under-represented groups.
But despite these plans to help ensure that more disadvantaged students have access to university than ever before this year, universities continue to focus too much on the ‘getting in’ aspect and not enough on the ‘getting’ aspect of these. plans.
True social mobility isn’t just about getting students to enroll in courses – it’s about making sure they complete those courses and get good jobs for graduates.
So, last week I announced that we are reviewing these plans to simplify them, tackle dropout rates, and help underprivileged students get in, through and out of college as they navigate their way. towards more qualified and better paid careers.
Online learning should “not be used by universities as an opportunity for economy or convenience”
I also want universities to become more transparent about the return to face-to-face learning. During the uncertainty of Covid-19 and before the deployment of the student vaccine (over 90% of students are now vaccinated), face-to-face learning has rightly been suspended.
However, this temporary change in learning should not be used by universities as an opportunity for economy or convenience.
Face-to-face learning is a staple of almost any course, and while virtual learning is a fantastic innovation, it should never be used other than to complement and enhance your learning experience, and not to harm her. I have written to universities across the country to let them know that I expect universities to listen to their students.
Universities need to be fully transparent with students about returning to face-to-face learning, and there are options for students if they feel they haven’t received what they were promised – more than that. half a million pounds have already been reimbursed by providers as a result of complaints filed with the Office of the Independent Adjudicator for Higher Education on a wide variety of issues, and greater clarity from universities will help even more students obtain reimbursements, if applicable. Above all, universities need to listen to students when they change the way classes are delivered.
Students deserve good quality face-to-face education
I must also take this opportunity to express how disappointed I am with the decision of some professors to go on strike at this time.
Students have gone through enough in the last few years and any further disruption to their learning is totally unfair and totally unnecessary. Students deserve good quality face-to-face education from their universities and we need a resolution that brings that to them ASAP.
This is what the vast majority of teaching staff want and what students rightly expect. Let’s not forget that the strike last time didn’t solve the problem – but it disrupted student education. I urge the Union of Universities and Colleges to bypass the negotiating table and put students first because they deserve a fair deal.
Finally, I want to both thank and assure every student who reads this. Thank you for your resilience and determination throughout this pandemic, and you can rest assured that I will continue to fight for your right to all information so that you can make informed choices about your future.
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