Part-time no easy option

March 4, 2010

As someone whose formal higher education was entirely part-time, I'm sure that Lord Mandelson's enthusiasm for the part-time option is founded more on economic expediency than his own student experience.

My experience, in common with thousands of others, was of day-release education supported by committed employers and conducted by lecturers with the time to relate classroom study to workplace experience.

Re-establishing the direct involvement of employers in such courses, on a scale necessary to support co-operative patterns of higher education, would be neither cheap nor easy. And the parallel commitment of lecturers' time to sustaining educational partnerships would need to be recognised by the funding models.

If this is an approach the peer wishes to explore, he will find a receptive audience. But if he seeks simply to channel excess demand for places into part-time courses without employer support and with questionable outcomes, the First Secretary may find himself accused of cynicism.

John Bale, Emeritus professor, Leeds Metropolitan University.

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