Problems facing students in post-18 education
I am Olivia and Matti invited me to write to the Forsal blog about a current issue within education in the UK. I am high school history teacher and prepare my A-Level students for the University application process and I am concerned with the number of my students who will be unable to get places in September 2010. The application system itself needs to change to match the numbers of students now applying and from a system which relies upon predicted grades and personal statements to a more level approach.
“Top universities shut up shop as thousands of ’exceptional’ students left without a place during clearing” (Guardian, Friday 21st August 2009)
Over the last 10 years, since Tony Blair made his ‘education, education, education’ speech, and was determined to get at least 50% of post-18 students into University, places to study at degree level are increasingly difficult to come by as all students are encouraged to follow this route. However, students leaving University are still no better off in terms of graduate salaries than if they had not gone to University, as loans needed to study have now escalated in to tens of thousands of pounds to survive the traditional three years of University study (tuition fees and general maintenance).
What will the effects of this be? How will the economy continue to strengthen if thousands of bright students are having to fight for places at top universities and if other students are not encouraged to develop essential skills as they have entered into degree courses which provide them with little else than debt. The government needs to address the fundamental problem that believing University for all students post-18 is the answer. Once they realise that funding more vocational training courses and apprenticeships post-18 is a better solution, it will help to offer a more diverse choice for students to match their widely different needs. Consequently, it will not only enable students to make a more educated decision about post-18 education but it will surely help to boost the economic recovery as students are offered more practical options.
At the moment it is clear from the careers advice, which the government agency ‘Connexions’ in the UK provides students with, that the government is more concerned with increasing the number of young people in education, training and consequently employment, than offering tailor made advice. Therefore, by not encouraging every post-18 student to go to University, this will hopefully enable those students missing out on University places to continue their academic studies. Furthermore, it could also provide ALL students with a more personalised education, which is the idea that the Labour government in the UK have been promoting in 14-18 education over the last decade.
Happy New Year to all!