In the 1990s I acted in the capacity of admissions tutor for the Psychology department at the University College London, so I have some experience of the system, plus its history, that is I’m afraid more than can be said for Mr Ollie Cooper in his article: “If employers don’t value degrees, what’s the point of going to uni?”
First and foremost: “Those standards were watered down by John Major’s reforms” is not quite correct. Grade inflation in the rUK (ie the UK excluding Scotland) began in the mid 1980s with the Thatcher government coinciding with the formal unification of CSE and GCE examinations leading to the GCSE. The Thatcher government was also responsible for the move from an Elite to Mass tertiary educational system leading to 1 in 3 targets as stipulated by Kenneth Baker in the 1989 Lancaster Speech.
Moreover, while revenues are important to universities, especially to avoid closure of departments, Mr Cooper’s statement “too happy raking in the astronomical fees” is misleading, and demonstrably so. Overseas student fees are around £18,500 pa. UK students pay £9,500 or thereabouts per annum. The difference is paid by the government. Prior to the introduction of student fees, HFCE funding via government and LEAs paid 100 per cent of student university fees. Were government funds not available to supplement the difference between rUK and non UK student fees, obviously, universities could, depending on the funding mix, have looked to cut the number of rUK students in favour of non UK students to make up for financial shortfalls. It’s not fees that are of concern, but rather student numbers.
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