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BU lecturers chair debate in the House of Commons

7 December 2011

Chairs in the House of Commons BU lecturers in panel for debate entitled ‘The politicisation of higher education’.

Journalists, politicians, academics and novelists gathered to panel a debate entitled ‘The politicisation of higher education’ at the House Of Commons on Monday, which was organised by the Political Studies Association Media and Politics Group.

Senior Lecturer in Marketing Communication at BU, Dr Richard Scullion and Dean of the Media School, Stephen Jukes, both held a place on the panel, and course leader Dr Dan Jackson helped organise the event as a member of the Media and Politics group.

The debate split into two halves, first discussed, ‘The changing nature of higher education’, and secondly, ‘Is there really no alternative?’

The First half of the debate was chaired by Dr Heather Savigny, drawing comparisons to the pre 1997 model of higher education, which was completely free. Marion Hersh, from the University and College Union, raised the idea of ‘inter-generational mugging’; that the current move to politicize education and raise the cap on tuition fees is hypocritical, saying “The politicians who are deciding the cost of higher education never had to pay in the first place.”

Also pointing out that league tables aren’t particularly important to students, accreditation from professional bodies is preferential when deciding which course to pursue.

The second half of the debate was chaired by Stephen Jukes, which discussed the panel’s ideas on better higher education systems which may be worth infiltrating into the British system.

Global comparisons were made to higher education in America and Finland, with the former starting to see a copying trend of more liberal arts degrees emerging in the UK, and the latter having the best statistic for adult employment and job satisfaction.

BU lecturer Dr Richard Scullion, drew from his book on The marketisation of higher education, that the move towards the private sector and marketisation of education recruits different mindsets from students:

“Students arrive on campus as consumers, choices they face have adopted a marketing personality, where the emphasis is on having the attributes to be successful, rather than emphasise on becoming or being a more interesting or rounded person.”

Other suggestions for improvements came in the form of reforming from within. Professor Jeremy Gilbert from the University of East London argued that there should be a National Staff Survey, similar to the National Student Survey, “to rate the facilities of learning at each university and release a similar table of results.”

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