26th February 2010
at Brettenham House, London
"A very thought provoking event"
"It was certainly a valuable theme to address"
This event was organised by JISC RSC London to bring together representatives from HEIs across the region to focus on the impact that future funding cuts might have and discuss what responses the HE sector might make. The range of delegates ensured that the RSC-supported HEIs were represented alongside some larger unsupported HEIs and FE colleges with significant HE provision.
Evan Dickerson presented on the "New Realities and Government Blueprints" that are currently facing the HE sector. Key strategic documents were identified, cuts to funding from the 2010-11 academic year were outlined and balanced against the need government is placing upon HEI to continue provision of high level skills needed by today's knowledge economy. This will see institutions having to identify areas of research strength and teaching priority whilst broadening outreach and diversifying the models of HE course level, structure and format available to students. To conclude, note was made of some potential impacts upon the sector that could be seen alongside JISC's initiative of the Agile University, which places technology use at the centre of an institutional solution to achieve business goals.
Andrew Williams assisted delegates in reflecting in on their own situations by first providing some background on the HE in FE context at Kingston College. He proceeded to ask some significant questions, which he suggested, delegates would need to answer with reference to their own contexts:
Philip Butler, ULCC, gave a provocative presentation in which he suggested that the HE sector has to think about how they support and deliver teaching and learning in the 21st Century.
The following issues and statements were considered:
Taking a personal portalised approach, as Lewisham College have done, streamlines the e-portfolio, VLE, Personal Learning Plan and Assessment Manager to take account of professional and social audiences alongside national, instututional and personal drivers. Failure to do so risked the deskilling, disengagement and disenfranchisement of learners in a potentially deregulated and unstrategic educational landscape of the future.
It is clear that the future of Higher Education will not conform to a 'one size fits all' blueprint, a future also shared by other post-16 sectors. Tough decisions will have to be made, but equally these may often have to take account of how mulpuple agendas and drivers interlink whilst maintaining quality, the student experience and institutional infrastructure, making the most of opportunities to employ technology where appropriate. To achieve this will throw the need for thought through strategic planning continually into the spotlight.
Evan Dickerson and Martin Sepion
JISC RSC London