Changing views of HE

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.

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