Years ago, when I was looking at education and who sits where, I found out that colleges in Scotland had people from universities senior management sitting on the college boards. At the same time, I was looking at the Scottish Funding Council in terms of who gets what in cash terms. The biggest bulk of cash coming from the Scottish Government goes to what are known as the ‘ancient’ universities, places like
St Andrews and Edinburgh, Aberdeen
and Dundee. At the bottom end of the financial
scale in terms of cash were the colleges, in recent years there has been a restructure
of the college sector with ‘mergers’. The upshot of mergers once you cut
through the glam and hype of how wonderful everything is because it is new was
tens of thousands of college places lost.
Consider this, the bulk of college places go to working class kids, but you must also mention, foreign students use this as a gateway to university, along with middle class kids who didn’t get the grades! Higher education or university education is operated on a class system, yes, there are many working class kids in it, but their numbers are dwarfed by the middle classes from private schools. In subjects like medicine, veterinary medicine and dentistry, you will generally have to look very hard to find the students from disadvantaged backgrounds. Having spent 20 years at
I saw first hand the make up of the student population which changed little
from a working class perspective. There were ‘changes’ but it was noticeable
when it was done when the University was targeting foreign students. In the mid
80’s when I arrived, there was a healthy Norwegian contingent because of Oil
and engineering, later years a huge influx of Chinese students. Glasgow University
In Court minutes as far back as 20 years go, the
decided to increase their intake
of students from foreign backgrounds. Why the interest in teaching foreign
students, basically money, universities were raking in cash to the tune of £25k
a year from them. In recent years, as people noticed that EU students were
getting free tuition, people clicked that this largesse worked against working
class kids. University of Glasgow
But this would be yet again, a symptom, of a problem never addressed.
The greatest lie of free tuition is that it is free, the bulk of the population which is working class over the years is paying for it and effectively frozen out of it. The current exams fiasco of downgrading working class kids to mere ‘second class citizens’ isn’t new. It is just a different style of discrimination on a massive scale, and it is just getting an airing because what the SNP have done under Nicola Sturgeon and John Swinney. Their actions were so heinous that even their own SNP supporters and the press are up in arms. Today, the spotlight is focused on the SQA, but what has happened here is a symptom; a real part of the illness is the SFC, the Scottish Funding Council. This organisation should be split into two separate bodies, one for universities and the other for colleges, but it won’t. You see politicians like to talk about how much they are spending on education, which is billions, but not who they spend it on.
A brief glimpse of the make up of Holyrood MSPs you can see most of the them have a degree from university, and a cosy relationship with them, they have no interest of changing the status quo to give disadvantaged kids a level playing field. When they talk about letting more working class kids in, the narrative they use is ‘lowering the bar’, basically saying the working class kids are ‘thick’, and the press and politicians, they generally don’t say anything in protest.
Working class kids don’t need the bar lowered for them; they need the same help that rich kids get. Pre covid, you take a walk into the Mitchell library and you could see kids from private schools getting extra help with paid tutors, pretty much every day.
Where was the level playing field which politicians were suppose to provide?
Have you ever considered the concept that the State school system isn’t there to provide educational opportunities beyond a certain point?
You are living in a world of passive discrimination which is socially acceptable to the political classes. Politicians keep saying they are trying to fix these issues, but they never tackle the people who do discriminate, have you never noticed that? Name one person dismissed from a university appointment for discrimination. I suspect you can’t name one, never read it in a paper, never saw it one a news programme because the university protects them, and in turn for covering up, they protect themselves, the politicians ignore it unless it is a ‘cause celeb’ to boost their election chances to either get into office or stay in office.
Today, while we are still in the maelstrom of the SQA fight, something caught my eye, and it should get you thinking as well, establishments are being asked to ring-fence degree places for college students to help open up fresh opportunities for a university education to thousands of the
disadvantaged in the post-Covid economy. When you look at who is offering this
apparent ‘help’, you really need to ask, three questions, who, why and when. A
new report released today in a college and university collaboration apparently sets
out a series of recommendations to create more opportunities for students to
progress seamlessly between a Higher National (HN) qualification into a university
It should be pointed out that this already exists; it is not unknown that people who have taken an HND at college would enter university either at second or third year depending on their course or assessment of their ability. As to who came up with reinventing the wheel, is it produced by the National Articulation Forum; who are made up by people from Colleges Scotland and Universities Scotland. If you are the curious type, look up who funds Universities Scotland, then who runs this organisation; then check their linkedin background to see where they came from.
is a mouthpiece organisation for universities! Scotland
When I read their proposals of what is effectively re-organising the deckchairs, I have to ask where these alleged extra thousands of the
disadvantaged kids are going to pop up from. This measure looks rather to me to
be a housekeeping measure to help clear out those already in the system earlier
and make them look good because if the grades fiasco doesn’t pan out, then they
have already got their ‘story; ready about helping, especially when they start
rejecting people. If you take what these people say as gospel for a minute,
they are really admitting that under the current system, thousands of working
class kids who are disadvantaged where further disadvantaged by them regardless
of grades. Scotland
How many decades have they known the system is broken; and if they only spotted this now in 2020, what does that say about the current state of management in education? How can people have faith in a system, which people on the outside know is flawed but those on the inside choose to do nothing of note to fix it. A real gem which you should look at is Higher education establishments are being asked to give a guarantee of places for college students on undergraduate and graduate apprenticeship degrees. I don’t like ‘ring-fencing’ when it comes to people, because when you stick in quotas based on things like social class, you just condoning the discrimination of the past, and green lighting the discrimination of the future. Of course, many will be taken in by the rhetoric, extra places for thousands of disadvantaged kids, but truth is, given the system was setup to fail poor kids, how much faith can we have in the same people who failed us all before and the politicians who failed to act unless pressurised?
Are we to simply believe they have had an epiphany?
Also, another cracker to hone in on is that the forum say they have not included timescales for change "as the expectation" is for colleges, universities, the Scottish Government and other organisations "to progress them as a matter of importance".
This is the admission in my opinion of ‘no change’, because there is no commitment, no will, no ambition and no urgency to change the status quo.
Having seen the SNP Government of 13 years fail the poorest in society from the get go, given we have seen a lack of action for decades and decades, who is kidding who about anyone attaching importance to this? The reason that universities and colleges are squealing like they have got their ‘tits in a wringer’ is that foreign student numbers are expected to fall sharply as liken to ‘off a cliff’ due to covid. This creates a funding black hole, if covid hadn’t happened, universities were able to pad out the university population with £25k foreign students; this wouldn’t even be talked up as a starter beyond previous middle class rhetoric of ‘we are trying to help the poor’.
Lydia Rohmer, joint convener of the National Articulation Forum and principal of West Highland College UHI said:
“Colleges and universities have been working in partnership for many years to provide opportunities and pathways to enable students to make the transition from college to university. The work of the Forum has been invaluable in helping to provide focus on ways that colleges and universities can enhance that provision and provide more opportunities for students to progress towards their chosen careers. Articulation routes provide a valuable pathway from college into university for many students, some of whom will have already overcome significant barriers; therefore, it is important that the routes are flexible, seamless, and provide equality of opportunity.
The recommendations encourage even closer working relationships between colleges and universities – and indeed collective leadership across the wider Scottish education system – to deliver fair, equitable and sustainable pathways into university, and reducing any unnecessary repetition of the learner journey.”
That being said, we know the numbers of students from the most disadvantaged backgrounds still stinks, especially in places like St Andrews. In January figures showed that 15.9 per cent of the intake in Scottish higher education came from the most deprived 20 per cent of the population, amounting to 5,210 students.
Ask yourself, how many universities and colleges are there in
Then grasp this, Scottish Funding Council funds 19 universities and 26 colleges, you could take the 5,210 students and they would make up one fifth of the total student population of the
University of Glasgow
To show how un-ambitious Nicola Sturgeon and her SNP Government is; they want to increase the number of disadvantaged working class kids by a measly 0.1%. From 15.9% to 16%, are you underwhelmed by this ambition? How does this stack up against the SNP lie that they are Stronger for
does this stack up with Nicola Sturgeon saying, ‘judge me on education’? Scotland
There is a whole sub industry in university education that appears devoted to widening access, they get resources but in reality, they are just the public face of a talking shop that isn’t credible in my opinion.
And never where!
All they do is ‘talk, talk, talk’ but in the main, they are just educational social engineering tokenists. Their existence is to get you to believe that you shouldn’t complain, you shouldn’t ask questions and shouldn’t look further into this because these people are the education professionals. They might have a two room office somewhere but it is low staffed and stuck away somewhere in a university cupboard, maybe next to the coffee machine and someone’s spotted owl collection. Occasionally, they might get to go out to a school and do a presentation, unfurl some banners, do a power point presentation and tell kids how wonderful their university experience will be.
A Scottish Government spokesperson said:
“Every child growing up in
, regardless of their
background, should have an equal chance of attending university and
participating in higher education”. Scotland
Talk, talk, talk, too much talk and not enough action!
The Campaign for Human Rights at