James Reed, Chairman, REED Recruitment

Last week I went to see the brilliant theatre production Hamilton in London. The cast perform eight shows a week and tickets are sold out months in advance within hours as soon as they are released.

Imagine if they cut half of the productions and closed their doors for half the year, it would be madness! But that’s exactly what’s happening in Britain’s elite universities.

The actors in Hamilton don’t take six months of holiday so why should we settle for less when it comes to the UK’s best academic institutions?

Oxford and Cambridge Universities currently operate three terms consisting of only eight weeks each – a total of 24 weeks throughout the entire calendar year. These colleges exist purely to educate first and foremost so there is a huge missed opportunity here to diversify the student body and double the number of undergraduate places across 48 weeks of teaching – with four weeks of holidays still to spare.

To me, this seems an obvious solution to a growing problem at Oxbridge recently highlighted in a report by the Higher Education Policy Institute (HEPI). The report shows that many other leading universities have grown rapidly, some by more than half, while the number of students at Cambridge has risen by only 4% and Oxford’s own figures suggest an even more modest increase of 2%.

This comes at a time of growing scrutiny on Oxford and Cambridge's applications process following freedom of information requests to uncover the number of undergraduates from disadvantaged backgrounds. The figures show that between 2012 and 2016, six of Cambridge’s 29 undergraduate colleges admitted fewer than 10 black British or mixed-race students, while eight of Oxford’s 29 colleges accepted fewer than three black applicants in the past three years.

In the report, Nick Hillman, director of HEPI, published his ideas for diversifying Oxbridge's student body. He argues that opening new colleges is the preferred solution. However, Professor Graham Virgo, pro-vice-chancellor for education at Cambridge, disagrees. He claims that the university’s "biggest problem is convincing people they should apply and making it clear to them that they are welcome here.” He questions "what message about inclusivity would be sent out by setting up a new college for this purpose?"

With Cambridge dragging its heels and Oxford releasing its own statement that it has "no plans to expand overall undergraduate numbers or create new colleges", there seems to be something of a stalemate.

My solution would double the number of semesters, effectively increasing the number of undergraduates two-fold without even having to lay another brick.

Resistance may come in the form of academics who use the time for research projects or from businesses who use the space for commercial reasons during the holidays. However, there is legitimate cause to argue that the colleges should instead refocus their priorities on education.

It is well known that Oxbridge is oversubscribed – with more than 19,000 people applying for around 3,200 undergraduate places at Oxford alone, there is certainly the demand for this; and by hiring twice as many academics or offering significant pay increases to those willing to double their workload, the supply can be raised to meet the demand and make more of the existing university infrastructure.

But the opportunity isn’t just limited to income for the universities. The extra capacity created would provide more students with access to the high-quality education they and our society needs. My view is that this could greatly improve opportunities for poorer British students and ethnic minorities and would help to redress the imbalance at the core of Britain’s best universities.

The difficulty is that there’s no single decision point. There's no one realistically with the power to implement this kind of change. Let’s make it a national priority to educate and let’s make high quality education more accessible to all.

Few organisations in the world have the good fortune to be able to double their income through a single change to their business model. I’m sure the producers of Hamilton wouldn’t pass up such an opportunity, so why should Oxbridge?

By James Reed, Chairman, REED Recruitment

You may also be interested in these articles:

Advertisers

Advertiser Skyscrapers

Video Advert

Newsroom Activity

Ahlan Safety commented on 5 ways to keep your Company safe yesterday

Workplace health and safety is very important part for every business. I read these 5 steps, So I...

Ahlan Safety commented on 5 ways to keep your Company safe yesterday

Workplace health and safety is very important part for every business. I read these 5 steps, So I...

I really enjoy to read this article. I want to...

Latest Education News

Further Education News

The FE News Channel gives you the latest education news and updates on emerging education strategies and the #FutureofEducation and the #FutureofWork.

Providing trustworthy and positive Further Education news and views since 2003, we are a digital news channel with a mixture of written word articles, podcasts and videos. Our specialisation is providing you with a mixture of the latest education news, our stance is always positive, sector building and sharing different perspectives and views from thought leaders, to provide you with a think tank of new ideas and solutions to bring the education sector together and come up with new innovative solutions and ideas.

FE News publish exclusive peer to peer thought leadership articles from our feature writers, as well as user generated content across our network of over 3000 Newsrooms, offering multiple sources of the latest education news across the Education and Employability sectors.

FE News also broadcast live events, podcasts with leading experts and thought leaders, webinars, video interviews and Further Education news bulletins so you receive the latest developments in Skills News and across the Apprenticeship, Further Education and Employability sectors.

Every week FE News has over 200 articles and new pieces of content per week. We are a news channel providing the latest Further Education News, giving insight from multiple sources on the latest education policy developments, latest strategies, through to our thought leaders who provide blue sky thinking strategy, best practice and innovation to help look into the future developments for education and the future of work.

In May 2020, FE News had over 120,000 unique visitors according to Google Analytics and over 200 new pieces of news content every week, from thought leadership articles, to the latest education news via written word, podcasts, video to press releases from across the sector.

We thought it would be helpful to explain how we tier our latest education news content and how you can get involved and understand how you can read the latest daily Further Education news and how we structure our FE Week of content:

Main Features

Our main features are exclusive and are thought leadership articles and blue sky thinking with experts writing peer to peer news articles about the future of education and the future of work. The focus is solution led thought leadership, sharing best practice, innovation and emerging strategy. These are often articles about the future of education and the future of work, they often then create future education news articles. We limit our main features to a maximum of 20 per week, as they are often about new concepts and new thought processes. Our main features are also exclusive articles responding to the latest education news, maybe an insight from an expert into a policy announcement or response to an education think tank report or a white paper.

FE Voices

FE Voices was originally set up as a section on FE News to give a voice back to the sector. As we now have over 3,000 newsrooms and contributors, FE Voices are usually thought leadership articles, they don’t necessarily have to be exclusive, but usually are, they are slightly shorter than Main Features. FE Voices can include more mixed media with the Further Education News articles, such as embedded podcasts and videos. Our sector response articles asking for different comments and opinions to education policy announcements or responding to a report of white paper are usually held in the FE Voices section. If we have a live podcast in an evening or a radio show such as SkillsWorldLive radio show, the next morning we place the FE podcast recording in the FE Voices section.

Sector News

In sector news we have a blend of content from Press Releases, education resources, reports, education research, white papers from a range of contributors. We have a lot of positive education news articles from colleges, awarding organisations and Apprenticeship Training Providers, press releases from DfE to Think Tanks giving the overview of a report, through to helpful resources to help you with delivering education strategies to your learners and students.

Podcasts

We have a range of education podcasts on FE News, from hour long full production FE podcasts such as SkillsWorldLive in conjunction with the Federation of Awarding Bodies, to weekly podcasts from experts and thought leaders, providing advice and guidance to leaders. FE News also record podcasts at conferences and events, giving you one on one podcasts with education and skills experts on the latest strategies and developments.

We have over 150 education podcasts on FE News, ranging from EdTech podcasts with experts discussing Education 4.0 and how technology is complimenting and transforming education, to podcasts with experts discussing education research, the future of work, how to develop skills systems for jobs of the future to interviews with the Apprenticeship and Skills Minister.

We record our own exclusive FE News podcasts, work in conjunction with sector partners such as FAB to create weekly podcasts and daily education podcasts, through to working with sector leaders creating exclusive education news podcasts.

Education Video Interviews

FE News have over 700 FE Video interviews and have been recording education video interviews with experts for over 12 years. These are usually vox pop video interviews with experts across education and work, discussing blue sky thinking ideas and views about the future of education and work.

Events

FE News has a free events calendar to check out the latest conferences, webinars and events to keep up to date with the latest education news and strategies.

FE Newsrooms

The FE Newsroom is home to your content if you are a FE News contributor. It also help the audience develop relationship with either you as an individual or your organisation as they can click through and ‘box set’ consume all of your previous thought leadership articles, latest education news press releases, videos and education podcasts.

Do you want to contribute, share your ideas or vision or share a press release?

If you want to write a thought leadership article, share your ideas and vision for the future of education or the future of work, write a press release sharing the latest education news or contribute to a podcast, first of all you need to set up a FE Newsroom login (which is free): once the team have approved your newsroom (all content, newsrooms are all approved by a member of the FE News team- no robots are used in this process!), you can then start adding content (again all articles, videos and podcasts are all approved by the FE News editorial team before they go live on FE News). As all newsrooms and content are approved by the FE News team, there will be a slight delay on the team being able to review and approve content.

 RSS IconRSS Feed Selection Page