Measuring boom and bust

September 26, 2013

Failure analysis” raises interesting points, but is rather simplistic in considering what failure is (From where I sit, 5 September). In the case of a bridge collapsing it is quite clear, but only recently there was the suggestion that poor design exacerbated the 130-vehicle pile-up at the Sheppey Crossing in Kent (failure may not be all or nothing).

When it comes to higher education, “failure” is more complex still. Is it a failure of recruitment if a student leaves because the course was not what they expected? If a student gets what they want and leaves without completing, is that a failure? (It may not be for the student, but what about the university or the funder?)

We need a wider discussion of what we mean by success and failure. My fear is that governments and universities look at them only from the institutional perspective and not from the students’, so come up with remedies that meet policy goals rather than student needs.

Tom Franklin
Tom Franklin Consulting

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