Higher Education

In 1960, only 4% of school leavers (mostly men) went to University: now nearly 50% do so (and more women than men do so).  Most Universities provided substantial extramural programmes for adults, some of them focused on providing higher education for those who had had no chance of attending in their youth, and others focused on wider civic and cultural engagement. In the 1970s, the new Open University (OU) transformed access for adults through distance learning. Since then, the place of higher education in society has changed, socially and economically, and adult participation (apart from the OU) has declined dramatically. The papers listed below are a reflection of some of the debates and issues which concerned us in the 1980s and 1990s, as the proportion of adults in HE rose, and then declined rapidly.

As a student, I attended two “new” universities (York and Kent) which were both exploring what a University might be in the late 20th century, and ever since, I have been interested in what is distinctive about “higher” education, and its relation to society, the economy and our culture.

During the 1990s I worked half time as one of a small team of Advisers to the Government’s Employment Department, working on higher education development, and especially the Enterprise in Higher Education Programme. The aim of this work was to promote curriculum development in higher education which would improve the employability of graduates.  For the other half of my time, I was responsible for NIACE’s work on Higher Education, and directed its general research activities. This included writing, with an advisory group, NIACE’s major policy paper on HE, An Adult Higher Education (see below)

In 1999 I became Head of the School of Education at the University of Surrey: the only University school of education concerned exclusively on post school learning (FE, HE, AE, and Work Based Learning). While there, my research on higher education included the evaluation of the funding programmes of the Higher Education Funding Council for England on widening participation and on non-accredited higher education. I also chaired the Policy Committee of the Universities Association for Lifelong Learning.

Between 2004 and 2005 I was seconded from Surrey to work as one of three Heads of School at the NHS University, created in 2003 by the Labour Government to transform learning in the NHS.  However, Government decided to close NHSU only 18 months after its creation, and I was commissioned by the NHSU Board to write the final evaluation of the NHSU experiment (see below).

Relevant publications include:

Transforming Learning in the NHS (2005) is the short version of the unpublished final evaluation of the “NHS University” project. The report was commissioned by the NHSU Board and presented to its final meeting.

 Is tertiary a solution? (2005) – an unpublished discussion paper developing the notion of a two stage higher education as more appropriate for adult learners.

Employability in Higher Education (2003) – was a report commissioned by the HE Learning and Teaching Support Network, building on the experience of the Government’s Enterprise in Higher Education Programme. It was aimed at senior managers in HE, and includes case studies by Gillian Brewin (Derby), Dawn Lees (Exeter), and Maeve Cowper (Paisley).

 Widening participation – where are we now? (2002) – a paper presented to a conference of the Conference of Validating Universities, reflecting on the evaluation of the HEFCE Widening Participation strategy

HEFCE Widening Participation Support Strategy  (2002) – I was a member of the team which evaluated the widening participation strategy of the HE Funding Council for England

Non Award Bearing Higher Education (1999) – a report commissioned by HEFCE to evaluate the Council’s NABCE funding programme, which ran from 1995-1999. With Sue Cara, Veronica McGivney,  Fiona Raybould (now Aldridge), Jim Soulsby, Alastair Thomson, and Mike Vaughan.

HE in the UK: Socrates Report (1999) – overview of HE in the UK, produced as part of an EU SOCRATES project on adults in Higher Education. With John Payne.

Development in HE -a discussion paper (1998) – a personal commentary on the experience of the Employment Department’s interventions in HE.

Developing Disciplines (1998) – a review of the Discipline Network Programme, funded by the Department for Employment, which promoted curriculum experiment in new and emerging academic disciplines.

The contribution of HE to the University for Industry (1998) – paper commissioned by the Department for Education and Employment as part of the design of UfI. Reviewed the roles that universities might play in the planned new institution, including illustrations of particular initiatives.

The invisible majority (1997) – an article for Higher Education Quarterly reflecting on the response of the HE system to adult learners during the 1990s and the implications of the Dearing Report into the future of HE in England.

Getting the most out of HE: guidance and learner autonomy (1997) – report of the Guidance and Learner Autonomy in HE Project Programme, funded by the Department for Education and Employment. The project also produced a  book  Putting Learners at the Centre: reflections from the Guidance and Learner Autonomy in Higher Education Programme , published by the Department for Education and Employment (not available in electronic form). This comprised essays by a range of key players in a range of institutions.

Is there a crisis in higher education?  (1997) – a paper on the nature of higher education (and its role in lifelong learning) for a book The End of Knowledge in Higher Education edited by Ron Barnett , London, Cassell/Institute of Education 

Graduates & SMEs: a briefing paper (1996) – a briefing paper for mangers in HE institutions and SMEs, commissioned by the Employment Department  – aimed to improve collaboration.

A TEC Manager’s Guide to HE (1995) – a guide to higher education in England for managers of Training and Enterprise Councils, commissioned by the Department of Education and Employment to encourage closer collaboration between HE and employers.

Enterprise in Higher Education (1995) – I was guest editor for special edition of Education and Training which reviewed the experience of the EHE programme (not available electronically)

 An Adult Higher Education (1993) – a NIACE policy paper proposed a radical reshaping of higher education to respond to the priorities of lifelong learning.  A short article about the report was published in Education and Training Journal in 1994, and can be found here .