Universities should run A Levels.

Discussion in 'Current Affairs, News and Analysis' started by smartascarrots, May 23, 2009.

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  1. At least according to the Conservatives' higher education spokesman, David Willetts.

    Alternatively, perhaps the Party which hopes to govern after the next election should tell us how they intend to make the Secondary School education system do what it's supposed to, instead of passing the buck somewhere else? I don't think that's unreasonable under the circumstances.
  2. Willets needs to get a clue, then.

    Universities were running intro courses and extra stuff to get people caught up to the expected A-level standard for university entrance to my certain knowledge over ten years ago.

    All the best,

  3. They were running them in 1994 when I applied to Keele
  4. Most universities run summer schools or intro courses as part of the Widening Participation agenda. They're there to give a second chance to people who maybe went to a crap school or just weren't interested at the time in buckling down. The success rate is pretty good and the dropout rate from degree programmes of people who've been through WP is substantially lower than Direct Entry students.

    That's a different thing entirely to what this pillock is proposing, which is that universities take over the entire 17-18 yr old phase of secondary education in England and Wales.
  5. There's a difference between Foundation Studies/other such introductory courses to widen HE participation, and routinely running A-levels for the 17-18 bracket.

    I don't believe the latter has ever been the norm, can anyone confirm otherwise?

    [Edited for hangover]
  6. It has never been the norm. There was even e great debate about running participation courses for WP, as this departed quite radically from the traditional HE remit.

    Secondary education has always been the responsibility of secondary schools. If the prospective Minister for Higher Education thinks they're not producing the goods, perhaps he should focus his efforts on making them rather than just palming responsibility off onto universities.
  7. I am in complete agreement.
    Fix the secondary system rather than duck-shove the problem to the uni's. Next will be attempts to drop the entry standards, and then the degree criteria.
  8. An "A" at A-level could get you into second year at Scottish unis. Arguably the four year degree amounted to taking kids from fifth year at school (aged 17) and giving them something like sixth form at uni.

    Some of the uni foundation courses are quite something. Rock up two evenings a week for 16 weeks, write a couple of essays, you're in. Needless to say Glasgow's evening access course is booked solid.
  9. How do you fix secondary education though? I doubt that is at all possible to do while still operating under current government guidance. So it isn't going to happen under the current administration. Admitedly we are talking about a conservative so that is not binding.

    What needs doing to/with secondary education though and where do you start? Problems with

    I mean how can a target of 50% graduates be done while maintaining a degrees value/rigour to one from the 1960s? Crazy.

    Carrots is correct though that the shadow minister is wrong to expect universities to deal with an educational problem (caused by government) in the secondary education system.
  10. Only in a very few cases would a Scottish university allow direct entry into 2nd Year and then it would take more than just an A. A quick scout round the websites of the 4 Ancient Unis shows that not all faculties accept multiple A*s at A Level in lieu of 1st Year and where they do the degrees available and options within are limited. Technically you're correct that it could, but it does give a misleading impression.

    Not really, it’s just a reflection of different secondary education systems. A Level involves a much narrower but more intense field of study than you’d get in 6th Year in Scotland. 1st Year Uni up here reflects that by feeding into a wider range of subjects with the advantage that if you find your original choice of degree subject bores the tits off you then you can change to one of the three disciplines you studied in your first year without breaking step.

    Under the English 3 year system, you would normally start your University studies at focussing on your main subject (not always at any different a level e.g. medicine or law) and if you want to transfer it usually means starting over. Swings and roundabouts.

    From a quick shufty at Glasgow’s website the evening access course is 26 weeks and run out of their Department of Adult & Continuing Education. These are quite distinct from the Foundation Programmes as the target audience the FPs are aimed at is coming directly from school. Mature and returning students tend to be better at absorbing their studies in intense packages - I know that I am, I’m a glutton for punishment academically speaking.
  11. The International Baccalaureate.
  12. Phrasing his remarks in the future tense shows Willets is quite remarkably out of touch - Cambridge's examination board already runs the Cambridge Pre-U as an alternative to A-levels. Since A-levels are often (mainly?) taken specifically for getting into university, it's not unreasonable for the universities to be involved in 6th form education: having them involved in secondary education would, however, be unnecessary IMO.
  13. Keele were running them at least 10 years before that.
  14. UK universities seem to be quite flexible in the admissions policy when you consider some of the entrants they have from both the domestic gene pool as well as that further afield. It's just a case of demonstrating that you're 'good enough' to warrant their lightening of your (or the states's) wallet. :)