There seems to have been some misunderstanding of my position on the proposals in the Dearing report (DW 25 July). I do not believe that “colleges will have to become more efficient”.
Anyone who has had any contact with colleges over the last few years, and has seen tutors trying (and amazingly often succeeding) to get quarts out of pint pots, will know that there is no scope for further efficiency gains based on traditional ways.
As ex-students start to pay far more, I believe they will increasingly evaluate the cost-effectiveness of the college education.
Post-Dearing, the traditional degree may come to be seen by many as an unaffordable luxury. Colleges are already experimenting with condensed degrees, part-time study, distance-learning and other methods delivering more learning and better skills at lower cost. There is a growing demand for college-based courses from (usually) mature students and employers who are prepared to pay to update or upgrade their skills. These cost-conscious “consumers” are finding colleges offering intensive teaching and the required learning outcomes at excellent value-for-money.
So, the future has to be about radical and fundamental change. In my view, there is more to be gained from embracing change and trying to work positively with it rather than simply throwing up one’s hands in despair.
Consultant director of education
British Design and Art Direction