Whether you think that the policy behind it is right or wrong, it seems that the ‘hearts and minds’ campaign to convince students of the fairness of the proposed increase in university tuition is backfiring.
I’m not talking about the vandalism in London last week during the protest about the proposed hiking of fees from 2012, but two things that I have personally observed in Yorkshire in the last few days.
1. Students do not understand the proposed fee increases
The first is that current students do not realise that there will be no more of an upfront payment due under the proposed scheme, than there is under the present scheme – under which they entered and will leave higher education.
This perhaps shows that government assumptions that everyone understands the new policy are not true and, in such a major change to higher education, this position needs stating time and again until the message hits home.
2. Teachers in the dark about 2012 university entry
The second thing is that the teachers advising those who are going to apply for 2012 entry are hopelessly in the dark. As intelligent people, they will have read and heard the news and have the basic information they need from there, but whilst universities themselves are digging to find the nuances of the Browne report and beginning to formulate their response to it, schools and colleges have their everyday business to run as usual. Higher education entry is an important part of their business but it is only one part of that business – and it is at the farthest end of their remit.
Not only do universities have a duty to keep advising our next generation of students about how we are working through the implications of Browne generally, but I hope we also take on board and include schools and colleges – who provide the majority of our students now and in the future – in our conversations.
Have you found that students and teachers understand the reality of university fee increases for those young people applying for 2012 entry?