The expansion of higher education

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Analyse the historical development of Higher Education and the role which it plays in society. Compare and contrast recent developments with predecessors. Who were the main 'stakeholders'?

The 1900's was the start of the expansion of Britain's, universities. University courses offered to students increased and so did the student body. The Universities Grants Committee 1919 administered central government funding of universities.

Mass education was provided by universities in 1970 before this it was the territory only for the social elite; it was the 1807 Parochial School Bill that made provision for educating the laboring classes which led to the mass of education. Women attending university also increased greatly, and teaching provisions expanded which included a range of new subjects and specialties on offer.

The Butler Education Act 1944 signaled the expansion of secondary education and therefore there was a greater demand for university places. Late 1950s, the higher education sector needed expanding as there was a shortage of university places due to the increasing number of students leaving school with an official qualification, entitling them to a chance to go to university.

Classical education was questioned, and policy makers became convinced of the importance of science and technology and recommended the transformation of some technical colleges into universities, becoming institutes of technology, recommended by The Percy Report of 1945.

The Barlow Report of 1946 recommended more university places for science students, funded by the state as they believed it would double the annual output of science graduates. In 1956 selected technical and further education (FE) colleges were updated to university status from being just Colleges of Advanced Technology. In mid 1960's most of these became the new universities.

In the mid 1960's the chairman, Sir Geoffrey Crowther, of Central Advisory Council, reported that he was to raise the school leaving age to 16 years old, and compulsory part time education up until the age of 18 years old. In doing this it highlighted there was a need for more university places and to expand university facilities, as higher education was a universal provision now, for all with the necessary ability.

In 1961, there were less than 15 per cent of applications going to university. Although there was major growth in higher education as the founding of the new institutions were in line with the expansion of existing universities. In 1962 the government outlined a plan to raise student numbers to 150,000, a 40,000 increase over five years, this was through the idea that an increase of funding from £104 million to £165 million per year would be given. In 1966, a white paper set out the Labour government's intention to establish polytechnics in England and Wales. Thirty were set up between 1968 and 1973. Courses were to concentrate on those with a vocational emphasis, offer part time and sub degree or full time and sandwich courses. These were run by local education authorities (LEA's).

1973, the Russell Report states that the number of people in adult education has grown by 750,000, so effectively enabling the laboring classes to have the opportunity to go to university showed more graduates, opening up more opportunities. The Education Act 1973 was the act that made the provision that postgraduates were no longer eligible for LEA grants, so this would have the effect that only those who could fund their education would be able to pursue their education further, after the completion of an undergraduate course. The Education Act 1975, extended provisions of the 1962 Act that stated, students at universities or in further education establishments had £304 available to them in the academic year 1962/63 and £346 in 1968/69, an increase of about 14 per cent, this student grant would therefore help in resources enabling more individuals to attend university.

1988 Student Support, white paper, proposed top up loans for students, yet the secretary of state education, Mr. Kenneth Barker, states "We have the most generous system of student support in the western world, yet fewer of our young people enter higher education than in other European countries". HC Deb 09 November 1988 vol 140 cc307)

The top up loan averaging over £400 in a full year is not means tested like today but helped as it is available to everyone and individuals were allowed to take as much or as little as they want of that £400. In 1990, Education (student loans) Act established the reduction of student grants as the introduction of top up loans that were available for all higher education students, meaning there would be less free money available and more loans to be paid.

In 1991, the Conservative government made polytechnics grant university status. Polytechnics concentrate mainly on applied research; this is solving practical problems of the modern world, rather than to acquire knowledge for knowledge's sake. Where as universities does strategic research, this being research conducted to produce specific applied programs. The status of polytechnics to be equivalent and the universities means that funding and grants are available and accessible to those students who at polytechnics. The White Paper on Higher Education 1991, recommended expansion of student numbers in higher education. The Prime Minister John Major said the end of the divide between universities and polytechnics would "Build on our plans to transform education and training for 16 to 19-year-olds by removing the barriers between the academic and vocational streams". Where as, Marenbon, Medieval philosophy fellow at Trinity College, Cambridge, stated that conservative politicians, as much as Labour ones, believed in the nonsense about making vocational education of equal esteem to academic education.

In 1992, Further and Higher Education Act unified the funding of Higher Education under the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFC's), which introduced competition for funding between institutions and abolished council for National Academic Awards, which validated degrees outside universities since 1965, was to close and abolish the binary divide, The binary divide being the division of higher education into two sectors, the university sector and the polytechnic sector

A study by Mr. Ramsden and Mr. Brown for the Universities UK, longer-term strategy group, shows that "New university research income grew from 4.6 per cent to 5.8 per cent of total income in this period. Old universities with medical schools saw this proportion increase from 33.1 per cent to 39.1 per cent. Old universities without medical schools remained stable, the percentage going from 23.1 per cent to 23.3 per cent. This situation would hardly have improved if new universities had remained polytechnics" Analysis: Mixed report for class of '92, Claire Sanders, (28 June 2002).

The next change in higher education was after a four year gap in 1996, the Student Loans Act extended the provision of student loans, "Be it enacted by the Queen's most Excellent Majesty, by and with the advice and consent of the Lords Spiritual and Temporal, and Commons, in this present Parliament assembled, and by the authority of the same" Education (Student Loans) Act 1996, CHAPTER 9, [29th April 1996]

Dearing Report 1997 was the review of higher education. Higher education colleges as well as Universities educated 2.8 million students in 1996/97 (figure 1); this is less than a quarter of who were from the group which used to be the backbone of the old universities. 64 % of students were mature students perusing a qualification and 37 % part timers. Nearly one million of people enroll with higher education institutions do not to gain a qualification, but to meet a particular skill need (applied research) or fill a gap in their knowledge (strategic research), or just because they wanted to learn. Higher education is a key contributor to national, regional as well as local economic growth and regeneration. Also in 1997/98 statistics show how the United Kingdom attracted 209,000 international students to study in the U.K. (figure 2)

In 1998, the Education (student loans) Act transferred the provision of student loans to the private sector this would allow the students to have protection as there would be fixed terms and no loop holes for debts to be recovered until the relevant time. The Regulations also provided new repayment terms for disabled borrowers, which meant they had separate terms from 'normal' students as it would be harder for them to find a job under discrimination possibly. The terms were set at the discretion of the loans administrator. A major change towards the higher education institutions was also in 1998 the Teaching and Higher Education Act established the General Teaching Council (GTC) abolished all student maintenance grants and required students to contribute to tuition fees. Tuition fees paid by all, except the poorest students from 1998/9. Means tested loans/grants meant that about 30% of pupils did not have to pay tuition fees because their income or that of their parents/spouses is not enough. Students that had family incomes of less than about £35,000 a year paid less, this was 30% of students, and they then had the maximum level for 1998/9 of £1,000.

Maintenance grants given to students towards living expenses with loans from 1999/2000 was replaced by loans, these repayments of loans were at the rate of 9% of a graduate's income once it is above £10,000. This is very similar to the way the students of today 2010 are surviving and also in the same way that the availability of a supplementary hardship loan of £250 a year but terms of either being a single parent, having a disability, are in their last year and some other similar stories are entitled to this loan, which again has to be paid back.

From the above paragraphs discussing the development of higher education from the early 1800 to 2000, I will now explore the most recent changes, developments, and controls of higher education, making notes of the impact of previous legislation, laws and reforms that determined the way of the higher education institutions and universities of today.

Higher education today is open to all classes, religions, cultures, sexes, ages and societies as has changed from just the elite group, the upper classes. Nowadays it shouldn't only attempt to engage with students outside the elite circle, of powerful and wealthy parents but also attract those with the opportunity for higher education is denied by reason of funding. This is the process of widening participation; this is different from just opening the doors to university for the lower classes but also individuals from under-represented communities. There are organizations that prepare them for higher education, ensure success on their programme of study, improve their employment prospects and open possibilities for postgraduate study, and give them opportunities to return to learning throughout their lives.

The value of higher education argued and there are many tensions between what students want and what staff want, for example, between the vocational and professional on one hand, or the more academic. There are a lot more vocational courses running at colleges and sixth forms, where students complete successfully which qualifies then to go to university if they please, so, nowadays there are courses "from sports management to computer games design, all manner of vocational courses are on offer in higher education" Andy Sharman, 2006, this is a very big social change.

The British schooling system measures pupil's achievements by having league tables, even higher education institutions and universities have a benchmark, and this seems to be the means towards higher educational achievement. In the higher education context a benchmark is used to measure a level of performance, resources, or outcome against which an institution or group might be compared too. The majority of Universities of today are competing for a 'world-class statuses', these statuses are given to the universities and higher education institutions by the contribution of the students perceptions (stakeholders), scholarly citations, research and also availability of facilities and resources. The United Kingdom, to gain first class status of its' universities is to convey the impression of high standards in learning, teaching and research quality. So, ask some people question whether children at school are taught he test it can be argued whether lectures teach in the way they do for a 'status' rather then to handout knowledge within a specific topic area.

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