Richard Garner: Money matters, but students take precedence

Share
Related Topics

The hidden tragedy of the London Metropolitan University affair is the lack of care taken to keep a check on its students, many of whom were from disadvantaged areas having their first taste of university life.

Universities such as London Metropolitan, born of a merger between the University of North London (the former North London Polytechnic) and London Guildhall, enrol far more youngsters from poorer backgrounds than the average university. They are at the forefront of the Government's efforts to widen participation, yet they have drop-out rates which are among the worst in the country.

Worse still, they appear to have a haphazard approach to their students taking their end-of-year assessments, which is crucial in identifying weaknesses students have, showing where they could be helped to improve to make it, and ultimately, making it less of a struggle for them to continue.

Even without the two reports highlighting the inadequacies of London Metropolitan's management structure, it was obvious there was a need for far more effort to be devoted into curbing the high drop-out rate at the university – and at other inner-city universities that recruit well among society's disadvantaged groups. The drop-out problem underlines the need for the "students' charter" that the Business Secretary, Peter Mandelson, advocated when he launched his blueprint for the kind of higher-education system the Government wants to see in a decade's time.

It calls for universities to give their students guaranteed access to tutors – and to the employability record among past students on their course. It should also promise action to help students whose weaknesses are exposed in end-of-year assessments.

Fortunately, this aspect of the blueprint is one that is also supported by the Conservatives' universities spokesman David Willetts, thus guaranteeing it plain sailing whoever wins the forthcoming general election. It is an idea whose time has come. It might also be a handy time to emphasise the need for tailor-made courses to be provided for the likes of the students at London Metropolitan – such as encouraging advanced apprentices into taking skills-based degree courses by offering them bursaries, another option advocated in the Mandelson blueprint. Lord Mandelson denied this was heralding a return to the era of the polytechnics but it does indicate the value of the kind of courses they provided.

If nothing else comes from the shambles exposed by today's two reports on London Metropolitan University, they should at least ensure more care and attention is paid to the progress being made at university by those who are the most vulnerable to dropping out and most in need of help.

React Now

  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Whitehall Editor: The spurious Tory endorsement that misfired

Oliver Wright
 

General Election 2015: Ed Miliband hasn’t ‘suddenly’ become a robust leader. He always was

Steve Richards
Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence