Thursday, November 6, 2008

HE motivation vs. real benefits?

Some research from the DIUS (Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills) reported in today's Guardian:

Parents want children to get higher education they missed | Education | "Four-fifths of parents who did not go on to higher education wish they had, and three-quarters of mature students regret not going to university straight after school.

The poll, commissioned by the Department of Innovation, Universities and Skills (Dius), found that 16% believe they would now have a better career and 13% that they would have a better future if they had gone on to higher education.

The survey coincides with the launch of a national campaign to raise awareness among parents and their children of the benefits of higher education.

Some 86% of parents say they have actively encouraged their children to consider higher education, or plan to do so, because they regret not going themselves."

I wonder what the figures would be for those who had gone to university? I wonder if they all think it was a good thing or if there's any regret associated there? I also wonder if there are similar number of university-educated parents who want their children to go on to Higher Education because of the benefits it brought them?

Seems to have been a big ol' chunk of research missing because the above is fodder for a 'get your child into uni' campaign rather than a real reflection of its benefits to those who have gone. Me, I don't regret going to university straight from school... but equally I know that the degree choice I made then isn't the one I would have made if I'd waited a little longer.

There's a quote at the end of the article by Higher Education minister, David Lammy:

"We recognise the value that higher education brings, which is why by 2011 we will have increased funding by 30% in real terms since 1997 - spending £11bn a year."

... but I don't actually see that this research gives any weight to that other than revealing regret and perceived missed opportunities. This research reveals nothing about value. Motivation for encouraging your children into HE is one thing... but wouldn't it be nice if it were based on either concrete benefits or real reflections from those who had participated?

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