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Attitudes to HE
The value of Higher Education (HE) has been called into question ever since the introduction of £1K tuition fees in 1998, and even more so after they were raised to £3K in 2012.
This September saw the launch of ‘Universities: Improving Futures’, an ITN/Universities UK programme showcasing the positive impact universities have on people’s lives. It seemed timely to consider public perceptions of universities and whether positive PR is needed: my Facebook poll suggests it is.
Latest research from The Sutton Trust found the proportion of young people who think it’s important to go to university to get on in life is at its lowest since 2010: 75% (compared with 86% in 2013) and just 32% are now ‘very likely’ to pursue HE (down from a 41% high in 2009). The balance between the number of people who favour practical skills and those who favour academic results appears to have shifted further still, according to the annual British Social Attitudes survey. In 2014, only a minority of people in England (13%, down from 22% in 2005) believed good academic results would give more opportunities and choices in life, as opposed to good practical skills and training (51%). When asked whether getting a degree represents good value for money, only 28% felt it did and 51% felt it did not.
In the drive to recruit students, have universities become too blinkered? Has the focus on prospective students and teachers come at the expense of the average Joe/Jane? Have we forgotten to engage with our broader communities? Sadly, it would seem so. In UPP Foundation focus groups conducted in 10 UK cities earlier this year, on average, 35% of people were unable to name a single thing their local university had done to engage the local community. While over half (58%) were ‘proud’ of their local universities, 7% said they were ‘not proud’ and 28% were ‘indifferent’. So what can you do? Read more.