Skilled workers 1

March 31, 2006

Frank Furedi ("Soft focus skews the perspective", March 10) confuses the issue of key skills with the demand for higher level skills in the economy, which is the real agenda confronting universities.

He categorises medicine and engineering as "vocational" in contrast to "academic" subjects that, one imagines, includes his own field of sociology. It is this kind of false dichotomy that informed the ill-judged rejection of the Tomlinson report and perpetuates the historic prejudice against technical and applied subjects in this country.

Furedi's candour is also breathtaking in his argument that the main determinant of the curriculum should be academics pursuing their own interests in accordance with the mysterious "integrity of their subject"

regardless, it would appear, of the outcome for students. Failing to describe learning outcomes, ignoring the needs of the economy and overlooking the changing expectations of debt-laden students are the route to ensuring that universities are truly diminished.

Deian Hopkin

Chair, Skills Task GroupUniversities UK

Already registered?

Sign in now if you are already registered or a current subscriber. Or subscribe for unrestricted access to our digital editions and iPad and iPhone app.

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Register to continue  

You've enjoyed reading five THE articles this month. Register now to get five more, or subscribe for unrestricted access.

Most Commented

Globalisation

Times Higher Education World University Rankings data reveal the top 200 most outward-looking institutions

Common cactus finch (Geospiza scandens)

Tiffany Taylor on a thought-provoking view of the forces acting to ensure survival

Stressed businessman answering four telephones

Some surveys show faculty putting in at least 60 hours a week, but research casts doubt on whether this is a productive routine

Student asking question during class

University of Reading research finds link between undergraduate satisfaction and ethnicity of lecturers

Level of quality compass

Authors argue this means universities should spend less on senior academics and give promising younger scholars more of a chance