CBI calls for more short university courses

Universities need more freedom to run one- or two-year compressed degrees tailored to the needs of companies, according to business leaders.

July 31, 2013

The Confederation of British Industry claims in a report that there are too few courses with business links, students have a weak understanding of student finance and that careers advice available to young people looking for a more vocational route is poor.

Recommendations in Tomorrow’s Growth, released today, include:

- A single Ucas-style applications system for all business-backed university courses and industry-run training programmes.

- More “commercial nous” in universities and colleges to find skills gaps and design courses to fill them.

- A reform of student finance arrangements so that universities can design short courses and tailored programmes for business, including one- or two-year compressed degrees.

- The removal of higher education places that are fully funded by employers from the student numbers quota as they are “no burden on the taxpayer”.

- Exempt “strategically important” subjects from rules which bar public funding for part-time degrees for those with equivalent or lower qualifications, as this “holds back mature students looking to reskill”. The CBI raised concerns over the 40 per cent drop in part-time students since 2010-11.

In response, Nicola Dandridge, chief executive of Universities UK, said: “We share the CBI’s concern about the sharp downturn in recruitment to part-time higher education study, and the impact of this on meeting the UK’s skills needs.”

david.matthews@tsleducation.com

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Reader's comments (2)

As the CBI picks up, the current fee system is based on a full-time model and needs to be adjusted if universities are to be given any incentives to run shorter degree courses which would undoubtedly be of benefit and interest to some students. Currently universities are limited to charging 2 years worth of fees for a compressed three year course. The Government were alerted to this but missed a trick in not facilitating it via the 2012 Education Act (the basis for the Regs used to introduce loans for part-time students).
While student recruitment straight from schools stays buoyant presumably universities are unlikely to venture far from the 3 year full-time degree market and funded research for league tables performance. Industry probably needs to massively invest in packages of 120 credit Higher Apprenticeships as ready alternatives for HE students, thereby perhaps inducing a shift in the strategies of some universities with appropriate teaching staff expertise to cope with the venture.

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