Fidest – Agenzia giornalistica/press agency

Quotidiano di informazione – Anno 32 n° 25

UK Higher Education in Crisis

Posted by fidest press agency su mercoledì, 18 febbraio 2015

Queens University Belfast,Speaking at a breakfast meeting today, Robin Chater — Secretary-General of the Federation of International Employers (FedEE) — pointed out that “the UK spends less as a percentage of GDP on higher education than most of our major world competitors. According to the latest UNESCO statistics just 1.02% was spent on the tertiary educational sector in the UK compared to 1.29% in France, 1.38% in Germany and 1.39% in the USA.” Robin Chater went on to point out that, on closer examination, the pattern of spending was far from even. “The cost per head in England is far lower than in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland. In fact, the per capita expenditure in Northern Ireland is 60% higher than in England (Public Expenditure National Statistical Analyses 2014). This is largely due, of course, to the growth of student tuition fees and the fact that Wales and Northern Ireland heavily subsidize ‘home’ students, and Scotland has lifted tuition fees altogether.”
“It could be argued, however, that asking English students to pay excessive tuition fees does at least increase funding to higher education and thereby raise educational standards. The increased financial burden on students might also be seen as a greater incentive to apply themselves to their higher educational studies. Yet there is little evidence that standards of education or student diligence has risen. Many gifted students have decided to skip University education altogether, student drop-out rates are higher than ever and Universities have not responded by increasing staffing numbers to any significant extent. In fact, the preoccupation of many English Universities has been on recruiting foreign students who may be charged tuition fees around 50% higher than those of home students.” “If we take as an example Reading University. Funding body grants fell between 2009 and 2014 by ₤25.8m, but tuition fees rose over the same period by ₤50.8m. However, during the same period staff numbers fell by 2.1% . Moreover, over 20% of the extra student revenue came from foreign student tuition fees. So where has all the additional funding gone? One answer is in higher salaries for senior personnel. In 2009 there were 22 University staff earning over ₤100,000 a year, whilst by 2014 this had virtually doubled to 41.” “The present higher educational funding system in the UK can also lead to many anomalies and inequalities. For instance in Northern Ireland, at Queens University, Belfast, students from other parts of the UK are charged ₤9,000 a year in tuition fees whilst students from the Irish Republic or other non-UK EU countries are charged only ₤3,685. What is more, students attending institutions at the bottom of the University league table can pay virtually as much for tuition as those in the best institutions. For instance, The University of East London was ranked at the last review (http://www.thecompleteuniversityguide.co.uk/league-tables/rankings) as one from the bottom, but its annual fees are only ₤531 lower than the maximum that can be charged.”“If the pace of economic growth in the UK is to be regained and sustained at pre-2007 levels, much more needs to be done to increase public investment in the development of human capital. As things stand Universities are not providing good value for money to home students, they are directing resources away to more lucrative foreign students and there is a lack of centralized control by government to ensure that standards are maintained and fairness is achieved. England is trying to get its intellectual wealth on the cheap and in the resulting free-for-all it is only the most senior University staff who are winning out.”
The Federation of International Employers (FedEE) was established in 1988 with initial assistance from the European Commission. FedEE now operates on an independent basis from regional offices in the UK and Hong Kong. All its members are major multinational enterprises and it is currently chaired by the Ford Motor Company.

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