If you’ve read Donald Clark’s Plan B Blog you know that he offers intelligent critiques of the state of higher education and corporate training in the UK. His recent post, Universities: Focus On Fees Is Wrong, really hit home in so far as we are witnessing a redefinition of how institutions are funded. His seven suggestions are well thought recommendations that would help schools improve efficiency and avoid passing the buck in the form of increased student tuition and fees.
There is no doubt that many of these ideas will be met with strong resistance. For example moving towards a full academic year will mean that there is appropriate student demand and faculty resources. Likewise his suggestion to cut back on third rate research and instead refocus energy on the quality of teaching will be a punch line for many of the academics that survive by publishing ignored research. However, I agree with both recommendations as better facilities management, and ensuring that buildings are in use, would go a long way to improving the throughput of students in numbers. A renewed focus on teaching would help attract qualified students while providing stronger motivation to retain those at risk of leaving the system. Of course his emphasis on switching from predominantly lecture based classes to “more sophisticated pedagogic techniques and online learning” is directly in-line with my personal views and experiences.