Scale and recognition

This article from Times Higher threw me a little at first. It’s about a report from the QAA on the state of UK universities’ overseas provision and the difficulties faced in getting such courses officially recognised. But what caught my eye were the numbers involved:

Around 285,000 students are currently registered on the BSc in Applied Accounting offered via distance learning at Oxford Brookes University – almost half of the nearly 571,000 students studying for a UK degree overseas, according to the latest figures from the Higher Education Statistics Agency.

285,000 students on one course, at one university? So it would seem.

The course is run in partnership with the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, with students automatically enrolled with Oxford Brookes when signing up for Acca’s professional qualification. Students must pass nine “fundamentals” papers and a self-assessed professional ethics module to receive the Acca qualification, but must produce in addition a 6,500-word research project to receive the BSc qualification.

Administering distance-learning courses can be difficult enough, and adding in an overseas dimension makes it more so, but I can’t begin to imagine what an impact those numbers would make on their admin processes, cash cow notwithstanding.

Their VC is very proud of the scheme though.

Daily Mail calmly assesses the state of higher education for us

Paul Greatrix finds a great piece from the Daily Mail about the current state of higher education

Daily Mail online has a terrific piece which manages to conflate a host of different higher education issues within a single kick ass column. On the back of recent HESA data which shows an increase in the number of students achieving first and upper second class degrees the article moves on to plagiarism, league table corruption, commercialisation (not clear if good or bad), the optionality of HEAR (bad?), an ‘expert’ view of classifications, coercion of external examiners, VC pay increases and fee rises in the context of declining HE funding. Unbelievable? … A veritable smorgasbord of entertaining higher education observations. All in one short piece. Truly the Mail is spoiling us.

Read the rest of his post or go to the Daily Mail article itself, ‘Dumbed-down’ degrees: University standards under fire as 50% more students awarded a first.

Viewing the html source for this page reveals its more hysterical, original title, which I prefer I think:

So we’re not dumbing down? Number of students graduating with first class degrees soars by 45% in just FIVE YEARS | Mail Online

OMG!

Links for 2011-12-02

  • Times Higher Education – Offa releases details of revised access agreements
    “Proposals by 25 universities and colleges to cut their tuition fees so they can bid for 20,000 cut-price undergraduate places in 2012-13 have been approved by the Office for Fair Access, but it has led to only a small fall in the sector average of £90 to £8,071. … The National Union of Students said that by switching funding from bursaries to fee waivers to “cope with the moving goal posts of funding policy”, the universities that had revised their access agreements had taken £13.8 million “out of students’ pockets”.”

Links for 2011-12-01

  • Times Higher Education – Watchdog finds fault with Leeds Met validation
    “The Quality Assurance Agency has raised concerns about Leeds Metropolitan University’s validation of degrees. The watchdog said this week that it had “limited confidence” in the institution’s management of academic standards for courses delivered by partner colleges.”
  • The price of a University drop-out 4: Time for some numbers. | Help Me Investigate… Education
    “The data takes into account HEFCE decided partial completion premiums and the reduced funding delivered for each masters and post-graduate student (because they pay entirely for their course), and is, basically, quite complicated. The data I compiled (in slightly raw, Google doc form) was drawn from HEFCE-released data from 10/11, and is free for anyone to play with, so if you want to see how your university fares for non-completion rates, take a look. So what can we take from this? I think the most interesting discussions will be for the future, and how the whole system will dramatically change why tuition fees sky-rocket.”
  • A “zero email” policy that makes zero sense – Good Experience
    “According to this article (also covered by the WSJ), the French IT company Atos has discovered that its employees are becoming less productive because of the increasing onslaught of email. … the CEO announced that the company will BAN EMAIL. This is a technology company with 74,000 employees. No more emails – internally, at least, as a few people outside the company still use the tool. If you work in X business, shouldn’t you make sure your employees are good at X?”

Links for 2011-11-28

  • “figures suggest that the fall in the number applying to university is mostly owing to a glut of applications in 2010″
    “Wendy Piatt, director general of the Russell Group, which represents the UK’s 20 leading universities including Oxford and Cambridge, said it was too early to predict how many students would end up at university next autumn. She said it was unfair to compare the number of applicants for next autumn’s courses with those for this year’s because the previous figures may have been artificially inflated by students applying before the near-trebling of fees came into effect. “Current 2012 figures are actually very similar to figures at the same point in 2010,” Piatt said.”
  • Information is Beautiful on the Thailand floods | News | guardian.co.uk
    “Floods. Amazon deforestation. Earthquake destruction. Satellite maps somehow don’t always help us to fully imagine the size of these disasters. Is there a better way to visualize the scale of destruction? Here I’ve been playing with the ranges of various natural and unnatural disasters, pulling data from various media reports and the US Geological Survey.”