Blackstone pledge to raise profile of teaching

October 1, 1999

Alan Thomson reports from the Labour Party conference in Bournemouth this week

Baroness Blackstone has promised to raise the status of teaching in universities, particularly those that are research-led.

The further and higher education minister told a higher education union fringe meeting that there had been a tendency to put teaching "on the back burner". She said: "It can't be. It always has to be at the top of people's agenda."

Baroness Blackstone also acknowledged that both staff and students in further education were worse off than their counterparts in higher education.

She said: "Further education college staff have had a pretty tough time. We had demand-led expansion and then the rug was pulled from under the feet of colleges. Compared with higher education students, further education students are far worse off.

"Encouragement of the celebration of success and access to training are all very important, as well as pay. I am committed to all of them."

The minister also said she was concerned about the fall in the number of mature higher education students. She said that the government was looking at why this was happening.

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