“Old-fashioned universities letting students down”

Moaners not Maoists

According to the Guardian, David Willetts has said that old-fashioned universities are letting students down:

Universities are badly failing students with unfit teaching and old-fashioned methods and will have to radically modernise lectures and facilities if they want to raise fees, according to the Conservatives’ spokesman on higher education. David Willetts told the Guardian that vice-chancellors are not prepared for the pressure their students will put them under if fees go up and that many have failed to prove students are getting value for money.

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It is really not at all clear from the article what “old-fashioned” methods large numbers of universities are employing…

“There are still too many horror stories I hear when I’m talking to students ‑ issues like academic work not coming back, not being able to contact tutors,” he said.

And such anecdotes, however horrific late return of work might seem, are really not a solid base for policy development.

“It’s amazing the change in this generation of students. The issue is not fomenting Maoist revolutionaries somewhere. They are much more likely to complain about how crowded seminars are or how slow the response to their dissertation was. Those are the kind of things that young people register.” Students in England, Wales and Northern Ireland currently pay up to £3,225 a year in tuition fees but many universities want a rise in the cap or even its removal. Willetts signalled the Tories were prepared to look at increasing fees, but with strings attached.

It will be interesting to see what these conditions for a fee rise turn out to be.

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