Etusivu > Uncategorized > Problems facing students in post-18 education

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!

  1. Jaakko Murtomäki
    tammikuu 22, 2010 8:00 am

    My regards to Olivia as well. Thank you for great post.

    I don´t have much insight on bigger cultural or political issues. I just wanted to say I think the idea of vocational training and more tailored choices that could bring studying and the actual work closer to each other is an outstanding platform for new ideas and ways to bring education again one step forward. I agree much with Tero on the part that we still need the people to execute these kind of ideas in a working way. We often look up to the same structures for solutions, that don´t work in the first place , but what if the key is in our own hands.

  2. Tero
    tammikuu 22, 2010 8:00 am

    Good post Olivia! Here’s my bias on the topic.

    I think Mr. Blair did his part after the education campaign. I once read that the government spends over 1bn pounds every week on education. Is it wisely spent is another topic, but he made the funds available. But his role was to make it into a priority, get funds, support healthy eating, and direct them to get more teachers etc. I’m not an expert on the UK system, but I like to follow global exam results because I think they reflect one aspect of the countries future potential. And if I remember correctly UK has been raising their level after the end of 90’s.

    I think UK’s strategy to raise focus on the younger students and watch them excel in the future is wise. But unfortunately I feel UK is not doing so great. One main reason is the next future. I don’t think it’s Blair’s fault, but more a cultural problem.

    British people have serious health problems. The people appear to be obese and not always behaving all that well. When your body doesn’t feel all that well your quality of sleep is often bad. When you can’t sleep well and your sugar levels are like a roller coaster your concentration is awful. How can this kind of nation thrive in the future?

    I know comment is a bit of the original text, but I just wanted to share my own views around the UK education. I think Blair did a-okey, but the British culture doesn’t have a good platform to exert from. I agree that vocational training should be increased drastically in Western countries (not just in UK). I also agree on the more personalized approach. I just think the change starts more at home than in the parliament.

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