Archive for September 22nd, 2011

Changing views of HE

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The view that degrees should be seen in individual, economic terms was emphasised today by the production of data about graduates’ salaries six months after graduating. International consultants The Parthenon Group drew on data from the Higher Education Statistics Agency and concluded that some post-1992 institutions do just as well as or better than many Russell Group institutions on employment outcomes.  Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said the analysis risked contributing to a “fast food” vision of higher education. She added that

Universities are not just graduate factories turning out a ready supply (of employees) for business – they are there to teach a diversity of academic subjects for a wide range of purposes that serve all our communities 

This has echoes of Harold Wilson’s response when asked about housewife students at the OU:

I’m not at all appalled at this. They are having a chance they have never had before. I’ve never thought of the Open University as a technical college for vocational education. It doesn’t matter if their degrees never earn them a penny piece (Education & Training, December 1972)

 However, since 1972 the pressures to conceptualise the university in terms of the market have grown.

Educational Futures Thematic Research Network

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

The OU has a new thematic research network, Educational Futures. The Educational Futures network draws upon the university’s distinctive engagement with understanding new forms of technological engagement, digital literacies, creativity, educational dialogues, professional identity, pedagogy, international teacher education, learning in non-formal spaces and the development of new research methodologies.

An element of this network is the History of the OU Project because to understand where we’d like to go we need to assess where we’ve come from.  As Arthur Marwick, 1936-2006, first Professor of History, The Open University noted on 24 November 1994 in the THES

We study history because of the desperate importance of the human past: what happened in the past… governs the world we live in today, and created the many problems which beset us … To change the world, we have first to understand it.

This project can help make connections and ensure that network bids are strengthened by reference to the long-standing traditions, assumptions and values of the OU. Longitudinal studies are possible here as they are not elsewhere because the OU has over 40 years of pedagogy including TV footage and course materials in the archives while other universities don’t even have collections of lecture notes from the past. The status and relevance of the OU has dramatically changed over the last half century but popular images, often reliant on stereotypes about kipper ties, remain. Through an understanding of the past the HOTOUP can take education forwards.

Pillar of wisdom

Thursday, September 22nd, 2011

Milton Keynes council has commissioned a new war memorial to commemorate those who died in battle.  There has been speculation that the memorial which is to feature pillars and at ground level, an image of a rose, might also commemorate both those killed on the local roads and according to the Milton Keynes Citizen  on 22nd September, those who gained degrees at the OU.  According to the local council Minutes ‘spend approval for the MK Rose Cenotaph project’ was granted by the Cabinet on 6th September. Former OU employee Councillor Sam Crooks, the Lib Dem leader felt ‘unable to support proposed expenditure’. The Cenotaph Trust is backing the idea of what is being called the MK Rose. The memorial and (if the rose-tinted conjecture is to be believed) tribute to scholars will be in Campbell Park, in Milton Keynes, (pictured) once a site proposed for the OU.