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    What is the Purpose of a University?

    Centres for higher learning have existed for centuries, even millennia in some cases. The ones that have survived the ages have exercised a proven...

    • Tuesday, 17 April 2018 06:30 PM
    • Pearson College London, 80, Strand, London
    Ben Hughes is now a featured member. 4 months ago

    Articles from Ben Hughes

    The Office for Students – some devil’s advocacy

    “Don’t call students consumers” Nicola Dandridge CBE, Chief Executive of the new Office for Students, was reported as saying at the launch of its new regulatory framework last month.

    A long time in higher education…

    If a week is a long time in politics, a month is an eternity in the politics of higher education.

    Signposting the roads less travelled

    Maybe it’s because it’s New Year and the traditional time for existential angst. Maybe it’s because education and skills policy are arguably in a greater state of flux than at any time since the earlier 1990’s. Or maybe it’s because of the ever increasing costs associated with tertiary education coupled with diminishing certainty of its benefits. But whatever the reason, questions about the purpose of higher education abound. “What is a university education and where is it going?” was discussed by the great and the good at UCL’s IOE last week (11 Jan), and we will be asking the same fundamental questions at a panel discussion at my own institution in a few weeks’ time. “You are thinking about not going to university – congratulations! You have just proved that you can think differently” states the website, as quiet-voiced elders in careers departments and family homes everywhere look on aghast.

    Feedback Distortion

    I attended that most oxymoronic of events last week - a useful conference - on the subject of the National Student Survey. It was useful because it provided the opportunity to hear from several horses' mouths how they handled this annual steeplechase event. The most interesting contribution came from the most successful. I won't embarrass them by mentioning their name, but suffice it to say the form book discloses a phenomenal track record. The alleged secret of their success was instructive, though hardly rocket science. It boiled down to investment in the product - specifically the teaching - the correlation between satisfaction with which and overall satisfaction rates was the closest metric.  Essentially the message was - you can invest in other stuff all you like, but get the classroom experience wrong, and nothing else matters. 

    The Future of Skills

    I recently chaired an event hosted by Pearson College London’s Centre for Industry Engagement exploring why, after years of innovation and collaboration between educators and industrialists, soft skills remain such a tough nut to crack.

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