Policy fails to entice working class to university
A SCOTTISH Executive policy designed to raise the numbers of working class students at university is failing, resulting in few entering and a high drop-out rate, according to a new report.
Professor John Field of Stirling University said yesterday that thousands of students and the country as a whole are let down by a policy of encouraging students to progress from college to university, which, he said, was good in principle, but was poorly implemented.
Prof Field said: "The higher education system is creating opportunities for half of young people to enter, but far too many young people are going in by a revolving door and shooting right back again with little or nothing to show for it."
He added: "It is extremely demoralising for students and in the long-term creates a culture of failure in education."
In a research paper, Prof Field said that thousands were failing at the first hurdle, as a fifth of college students registered on Higher National Certificate (HNC) and a third of those taking Higher National Diploma (HND) courses did not sit the exam. Of those who entered, a quarter of HNC students and a third of HND students did not pass.
Many college students who did go on to university - a process known as articulation - were steered into low-status subjects with poor career prospects, he added.
"None of Scotland’s judges, surgeons and top company executives have come through the articulation route."
Prof Field has called for a drive to ensure students are better matched to courses and a change in funding arrangements to reward colleges for lower drop-out rates.
• The Scottish Parliament’s financial watchdog has accused the body which distributes over 400 million from the public purse to colleges of failing to monitor the institutions effectively.
In a strongly worded report published yesterday, Holyrood’s audit committee said there needs to be a transparent picture of the performance of individual colleges and of the further education sector as a whole. MSPs accused the funding council of "dragging its feet" in drawing up reliable unit cost measures.
In a statement the council said it was "surprised and disappointed by the conclusions and views" in the report.
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