V-cs push for further expansion

January 20, 1995

Vice chancellors are ready to reaffirm their support for renewed university expansion in their submission to the Department for Education's review of higher education. The council of the Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals will finalise its paper at a meeting today.

The draft paper up for approval quotes the support of bodies such as the Confederation of British Industry for expansion, and says: "As a nation, we cannot afford not to expand." It accepts that there are difficulties in predicting demand, but says: "We share the CBI's conviction that the consequences of an under-supply of graduates are far more serious -- in particular for the competitiveness of the UK economy -- than those of over-supply." It also reiterates the CVCP's call for a review of funding, and the possible need for a student contribution to tuition costs.

The DFE asked participants in the review to nominate the purposes of higher education over the next decade. The CVCP suggests: * Providing students with a learning experience that enables them to grow intellectually, prepare for future careers, acquire and update skills and knowledge needed in the workplace, contribute to economic, social and cultural prosperity and play a full part in a democratic and pluralist society; * Promoting advances in the methodology and delivery of teaching and learning; * Promoting the advancement of research and knowledge transfer; * Serving local and regional communities; * Participating actively in international higher education.

It believes that the key influences on the shape of the sector will be: * The need and demand for lifelong learning; * The demand for new types and modes of provision; * The potential impact of new technology; * Changing boundaries between HE and other sectors.

The paper reaffirms support for diversity and argues that current funding and assessment methodologies are creating pressures to converge rather than diverge. It argues for the encouragement of scholarship -- defined as "the activity of building on and extending knowledge created by others" -- as well as teaching and research.

It says demand for masters and other postgraduate courses will continue to expand, with part-time and work-based study playing an important role, and emphasises the CVCP's commitment to the development of vocationally-relevant skills in higher education and its wish to play a full role in the development of a framework for higher vocational qualifications.

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