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LETTERS TO ThE EdiTOR Learning the law Education

is further complicated for the Channel Islands by their particular relationship to the UK. “In Jersey, we can’t access the UK student loan system,” explains Andy Gibbs of Careers Jersey. “That means that those from Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man are classified as island students, which means they’re not international students or UK students. While that may change in 2012, as it stands the islands negotiate a fee with UK universities for different bands of subjects.” This ‘island fee’ reflects the fact that the

UK university doesn’t receive any funds for a Channel Island student, resulting in a higher price. Currently a UK student would pay just under £3,300 for the lowest band course. For an island student, that jumps to £6,500. For the 600-odd Channel Island students that leave school at 18 looking to go on to higher education, the costs are significant – whoever shoulders the burden. The States make a contribution to the fees

of lower-earners in Jersey, while Guernsey operates a similar system. But for average earners the contribution is reduced, meaning the personal cost can be substantial. According to the figures (see page

ChallengeD University

44 June/July 2011 E

The cost of higher education off-island can prove prohibitive for potential students in Jersey and Guernsey. But could a Channel Islands university offer a solution? Christian Doherty investigates

Dear In Christian Doherty’s interesting article ‘University Challenged’ in the June/July issue of he draws attention to what he regards as the limited choices available to students wanting to remain in Jersey for degree-level study. In relation to Jersey, the article refers only to Highlands and the Jersey International Business School (JIBS). Since 2009, the Institute of Law in Jersey has been offering tuition to students taking the University of London LLB law degree through the University’s International Programmes. A ‘flying faculty’ of experienced university teachers come to the island every Friday, Saturday and Sunday during term-time to deliver study weekends, supplemented by a team of locally based lawyers who lead midweek tutorials for first years on the course. While the Institute cannot

replicate fully the entire ‘university experience’ that is so attractive to many 18-year- olds, it does provide a level of contact with expert academics (several of them distinguished professors) that most UK university law schools struggle

47), the cost to a Guernsey family with average earnings – say a combined gross income of £75,610 – to send a student to a UK university is around £11,495. For Jersey, the figure is even higher at £13,694. With Universities free to charge up to £9,000 a year in tuition from 2012, these figures could rise significantly.

VER SINCE Tony Blair adopted it as his mantra, education has

enjoyed a place firmly at the top of the political agenda. This position has been further cemented in the last 12 months with the continuing controversy over university funding and the thorny problem of tuition fees. At its heart, the debate has centred

on how higher education in the UK should be funded: are we still prepared to pay for young people to spend three or four years at university, or are we living in an age where students must shoulder the majority of the burden, and where institutions are able to sell their services to the highest bidder? This issue

Weighing up the options One way to avoid

this expense is to look

beyond the UK to Europe. Some European universities are offering a growing number of international qualifications, with many taught in English. For instance, the

prestigious University of Maastricht currently offers degrees for EU students for just £1,500 per year, a fraction of the cost in the UK. Not surprisingly, that route is growing popular. “There is definitely a strong trend of

students looking further afield to study,” says Gibbs. “We fund 12 in Australia, 12 in New Zealand, seven in the Czech Republic as well as students in Denmark, France, Germany and elsewhere. The educational opportunities are

“Once a university is set up, it can go on bringing economic benefit for decades – even centuries”

more global, and we’ve extended our funding to incorporate that in the same way as we do in the UK.” For those wishing to study at home, taking

the cheaper option of staying on-island has its drawbacks, notably in the level of choice. Currently, Highlands College in Jersey offers a small number of foundation degrees in finance-related subjects, as well as courses including childhood studies and construction management. Many of these courses are offered in partnership with UK universities, notably Plymouth and Portsmouth. The construction management course, for instance, was the result of a tie-up with London’s South Bank University. Focusing on developing partnerships

with UK universities is a well established and deliberate strategy. “When we started a few years ago, we based it on research to see what demand would be, and we also looked at what other small jurisdictions were doing”, says Professor Ed Sallis, Principal of Highlands College. “For smaller places that have close connections with somewhere bigger – the Caribbean, for instance, or Jersey – institutions in these places often look to partner with larger institutions. “For a long time we’ve had a link with

Plymouth, so we’ve taken a pragmatic view: what can we do with a reasonably small demand? There are restrictions on staffing to take in to account, so by working closely with local employers we’ve come up with a plan: to create a separate University Centre within Highlands College.”

staying at home The University Centre is clearly successful – Sallis reports it is now the single most popular HE option for young people in Jersey, having superseded Plymouth University. And as well as Highlands there

June/July 2011 45

Time for an island university?

Dear While waiting at Jersey airport for my flight back to Exeter, I came across the article by Christian Doherty on the subject of a university-level institution in the Channel Islands. The purpose of my trip had been to carry out the annual approval visit for a Hospitality Management qualification at Highlands College. My first impression was

to match. Students taking the LLB include school-leavers, recent graduates returning to the island, and mid-career professionals seeking a change in direction. The Institute of Law – the brainchild of former Bailiff, Sir Philip Bailhache – is a not- for-profit organisation, and in addition to LLB teaching, it also provides the Jersey Law Course for candidates sitting the Jersey advocates and solicitors examinations. It’s therefore now possible

for a person in Jersey to study for and obtain a law degree from a prestigious university and to qualify as a Jersey solicitor – and thereafter a Jersey advocate – without leaving the island. As the article emphasised, nobody is suggesting to prospective degree students that they ‘must’ stay in the island. There are clearly benefits to going away (I did), but not everyone wants to or can afford to do so – and in-island higher education is also attractive to people who are already graduates but who want to gain expertise in a new academic discipline. n

Professor Andrew Le Sueur, Director of Studies, Institute of Law, Jersey

8 August/September 2011

that this idea is being looked at through the wrong end of the telescope. Instead of focusing on the 450 or so 18-year-olds who leave Jersey to study, the target market should be the 400 million or so 18- to 20-year- olds living in the rest of the world. The market for higher education courses taught in English is colossal, especially in the emerging economies such as India and China. A glance at the departure

board revealed the following destinations – London City, London Gatwick, Birmingham, Bristol, Exeter and Southampton. Every one of these destinations is a source of significant numbers of young people looking for a university place. The vast majority of these potential students from England are faced with the prospect of paying £9,000 in course fees from September 2012. Flying in from Bristol to study at a university in Jersey is nothing compared to some of my students who live in Shanghai or Beijing. Ed Sallis, the Principal at Highlands College, quite rightly points out the dangers of replicating the UK offer. Why not create a unique offer? The University of Buckingham has always offered two-year undergraduate degrees based on a teaching year of four

10-week terms, and the year runs from January to December. Even if the course fees were set at £9,000, it is only for two years thus representing a significant saving. The trick then is to persuade the successful graduates to roll that saving over into a postgraduate qualification. Ed Sallis is also correct in emphasising the vocational nature of degree programmes as being a critical factor in the search for careers in today’s competitive employment market. Jersey has a global reputation in the field of finance, and the brand values associated with that business could be extended to the business of higher education. In my field of Hospitality, Tourism and Events, Jersey has assets of the highest quality that could underpin the teaching and learning by providing both part-time employment and structured internships for students. A School of Tourism, Hospitality and Events should sit well within Jersey Polytechnic University (JPU). The article gave a clear impression that the platform for a higher-education institute already exists, and in the present turbulent environment with the UK, the time may have arrived for a university in the Channel Islands. n

Mike Turner Chair of External Examiners, Institute of Hospitality; and Lecturer of Hospitality Management, School of Tourism and Hospitality, University of Plymouth

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