Almost three-quarters of young people believe they do not live in a fair society, a survey has found. Youth volunteering charity V asked 1,000 people aged between 16 and 25 questions on a range of themes, including their beliefs and values.
Universities in England will need to be allowed to charge higher fees if they are to maintain standards, according to John Holman, Director of the National Science Learning Centre. The Government is soon to begin a review of tuition fees in England.
The Learning and Skills Improvement Service has launched a programme of workshops to help further education providers prepare for inspections under the new Common Inspection Framework. For details of how to register for the workshops go to: www.lsis.org.uk/pfi
More than one in three young jobless – 366,000 – have been out of work for more than six months, the highest level since October 1994, according to a TUC analysis.
Social networking websites such as Facebook could help to reduce college drop-out rates, it has been suggested. Gloucestershire College reported a
significant improvement in retention after using social networking to keep students informed and in touch with staff.
A table of leading world universities shows a fall in the number of North American universities and a rise in the number of European and Asian universities in the top 100. There are 39 European universities in the top 100, up from 36 in 2008, and 36 North American universities, down from 46. The number of Asian universities rose from 14 to 16.
4 ADULTS LEARNING NOVEMBER 2009
Gap between educational haves and have-nots is getting wider
The qualifications gap between the most and least educated areas in Britain is growing wider, warns a report from the University and College Union. The survey found that Richmond Park in south- west London has the highest proportion of graduates, 64 per cent, compared with the lowest, 10 per cent, in Hodge Hill, Birmingham. The lowest-achieving areas are found in the industrial cities of England’s North and Midlands, and parts of East Anglia. The Birmingham Sparkbrook and Small Heath constituency has the highest percentage of people with no qualifications (37 per cent). The report analysed educational achievement by
Westminster parliamentary constituency in England, Scotland and Wales and ranked each according to the percentage of people with at least some qualifications and the percentage of people with a degree or above. It also provides analysis of 21 of Britain’s biggest cities by constituency. In the 20 constituencies with the lowest level of
participation in higher education in 2008, the proportion, on average, of the working age population with a degree-level qualification or above fell from 12.6 per cent in 2005 to 12.1 per cent in 2008. However, in the 20 constituencies with the highest level of participation in higher education in 2008, the proportion of the working age population, on average, with a degree-level qualification and above increased from 48.8 per cent in 2005 to 57.2 per cent.
The analysis of the different cities also revealed
Ministers are calling for businesses and individuals to submit evidence on the default retirement age to feed into a review taking place next year. The Government is asking for evidence in a number of areas, including: the operation of the default retirement age (DRA) in practice; the reasons that businesses use mandatory retirement ages; the impacts on businesses, individuals and the economy of raising or removing the default retirement age; the experience of businesses operating without a default retirement age; and how any costs of raising or removing the DRA could be mitigated and benefits realised. Evidence must be submitted by 1 February 2010. Go to: www.bis.gov.uk
The higher education sector faces significant challenges in creating equality for all staff and students, despite progress over the last five years, according to a report from the Equality Challenge Unit. Equality in higher education: statistical report 2009 found that while the proportion of black and minority ethnic (BME) students achieving first and 2:1 honours degrees had increased over the past five years, the attainment gap between BME and white students continued to widen.
In 2003-04 63.1 per cent of students describing themselves as white obtained a first or 2:1 in their undergraduate degrees, compared to 35.5 per cent of students who described themselves as black. By 2007-08 66.4 per cent of white students obtained a first or 2:1 compared to 37.7 per cent of black students, meaning that the attainment gap had widened from 27.6 percentage points in 2003-04 to 28.7 percentage points in 2007-08. The gap in attainment between Asian and white students also
grew, from 16.2 percentage points to 17.6 percentage points, over the same period, with 48.8 per cent of Asian students gaining firsts and 2:1s in 2007-08 compared to 46.9 per cent in 2003-04. The report found that the proportion of BME students had increased from 14.9 per cent in 2003-04 to 17.2 per cent in 2007-08.
The proportion of students disclosing a disability also increased, from 5.5 per cent of all students to 7.3 per cent, while the proportion of professors and heads of department who are women rose from 15.1 per cent to 18.7 per cent. At this rate of change it would take another 33 years for men and women to be equally represented at this level.
stark contrasts. In Sheffield, almost 60 per cent of people in the Hallam constituency are degree-holders and only three per cent have no qualifications, while in Brightside 15 per cent have degrees and 23 per cent have no qualifications. In Glasgow North, 53 per cent hold degrees, while in Glasgow East, the figure is 16 per cent. UCU General Secretary, Sally Hunt, said: ‘The current Government has rightly prioritised investment in education but this report shows that the problem is even more deep-seated than previously thought and is a challenge for all the parties. ‘Education holds the key to improving social
mobility, tackling poverty and extending opportunity for all. Those with the greatest access to qualifications tend to be healthier, wealthier and more active citizens. Yet, as this report shows, the current divide between the haves and have-nots is growing with where you live largely determining your chance of educational success.’ She said she hoped the report should act as a
‘wake-up call’ to politicians of all parties ‘to recognise the power of education to change people’s lives’.
Location, Location, Location: the widening education gap in Britain and how where you live determines your chances can be downloaded at www.ucu.org.uk/location
locationlocation. Turn to page 15 to read Sally Hunt’s reflections on the report’s findings.
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