Ill will afflicts NHSU 1

October 15, 2004

Contrary to popular myth, the raison d'être of the National Health Service University was not to create a new new university, it was to widen learning opportunities in the UK's biggest workplace for those who face difficulty developing their potential. It was the view of ministers that a university title and a proper status for the NHSU would be the best way to achieve this.

We know ministers can change their minds - and we know too that elitism can defend titles. But in the case of the NHSU, mutterings about an unpublished report are being used to suggest apocryphal endings ("NHSU may lose its bid for title", October 8).

Over the past year, the NHSU can claim seven learning programmes and services delivering to 11,000 learners, with nine new programmes coming on stream, and there are 13 academic development partnerships involving 50 or so higher education institutions.

While new agencies certainly should be subject to rigorous critique, it does seem curious that attention focuses on the one new learning agency of the 21st century that is about direct delivery of innovative opportunities for vocational learners. Why, I ask, should it be the butt of so much ill will? Methinks they do protest too much!

Dianne Willcocks
Chair
NHSU academic advisory board
York St John College

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