Not fit for purpose 1

July 14, 2006

I am appalled at the implications of Ruth Kelly's statement on employer-led provision of higher education ("Here's Bob the builder to show you the ropes", July 7). Traditionally, colleges and universities dealing with vocational subjects have provided benchmarks in and taught standards of best practice.

Standards in academe have already been reduced from those of excellence to minimum acceptable levels thanks to government financial strategies. Now it would appear that in work-based learning universities must adopt a strategy already found to be unacceptable by the NVQ system.

This demonstrates that a) employers have to compromise between best practice and commercial viability - a compromise that in most cases makes the syllabus and its standards of good practice the loser, and b) employers involved in funding this form of education and examination are not prepared to pay for their student employees to fail - further eroding the "acceptable" pass level and therefore inevitably also the standards of teaching.

Margaret Rayner

High Wycombe, Bucks

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