Universities Face Major Change

University structure is facing major re-development in all areas, from grading to the lay-out of the academic year, according to senior academics.
University Secretary John Denham has announced a recent review of the higher education system which will cover all aspects of the traditional system including support for part-time students and flexibility of contracts for academic staff. The review is tied in with the 2009 analysis of tuition fees.
Christine King, vice chancellor of Staffordshire University says the traditional academic calendar is unhelpful to part-time students who also work. “Certainly traditional university systems, timetables and calendars are constructed with little reference to the world of employment,” Professor King said. She suggests a system where students receive ‘credits’ for completed modules, with the opportunity to return to study if they drop out during the year.
Suggestion of a reform of the traditional honours degree classification system was brought forward by Paul Ramsden, former pro vice chancellor of Sydney University and Head of the Higher Education Academy. He says a detailed report card would be more suitable than the traditional first, second or third degree classification. He also suggests more flexibility for academic staff who face lack of career structure within the university as a workplace.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) says that prospective students need more information about universities, for example possible career prospects that courses would provide.
John Denham says “The question of how we can ensure we have a world-class education system is one that everyone has a stake in.” However, university staff were not consulted in the review which took place earlier this year. University and College Union (UCU) general secretary Sally Hunt says “There will always be different points of view and it is imperative that the government takes them all on board.
“We find it astonishing that the secretary of state failed to ensure that those genuinely representing the people tasked with delivering government policy on the ground – the staff – were afforded the opportunity to contribute to, or review, the submissions.”