Contradiction and Change in British Higher Education (реферат)
2.Contradiction and Change
in British Higher Educationp.3
3.Background to the Present Contradictionsp.3
The 1960s- Decade of Expansionp.5
1970s-Change to restrictionp.9
are more than 60 universities in the U.K. The leading universities are Cambridge , Oxford and London. English
universities differ from each other in traditions, general organization,
internal government, etc. British universities are comparatively small, the
approximate number is about 7-8 thousand students. Most universities have under
3000 students, some even less than 1500 ones. London
universities are international, because people from many parts of the world
come to study at one of their colleges. A number of wellknown scientists and
writers, among them Newton, Darvin, Byron were
educated in Cambridge.
university consists of a number of departments: art, law, music, economy, education,
medicine, engineering, etc. After a three years of study a student may proceed
to a Bachelor’s degree, and later to the degree ofMaster and Doctor. Besides universities there
are at present in Britain
300 technical colleges, providing part-time and full-time education. The
organization system of Oxford and Cambridge differs from
that of all other universities and colleges. The teachers are usually called
Dons. Part of the teaching is by means of lecture organized by the colleges.
Each student goes to his tutor’s room once a week to read and discuss an essay
which the student has prepared.
students get scholarship but the number of these students is comparatively
small.There are many sociaties and
clubs at Cambridge and Oxford. The most celebrating at Cambridge is the Debating
Sociaty at which discuss political and other questions with famous
politiciansand writers. Sporting
activities are also numerous.
work and games, the traditions and customs, the jokes and debates-all are parts
of students’ life there.
should be mentioned that not many children from the working class families are
able to receive the higher education as the fees are very high. Besides that
special fees are taken for books, for laboratory works, exams and so on.
Contradiction and Change in British Higher
Higher education covers a complex diversity of institutions, courses and
qualifications. This is because its development has been full of contradiction,
haphazard changes and half-measures. It can be best understood by considering
the conflicting pressures of elitist traditions on the one hand and, on the
other, the increasing popular demand for education and the need of the economy
for properly qualified manpower.
to the Present Contradictions
Well into the 1950s, there was only one major route to academic
studies: from public and grammar schools to university, for a small privileged
group of young people.
is struck by the contradiction between the restricted character of British
higher education and the fact that it was in Britain that a high level of
industrial advance was a first achieved.
the first industrial revolution brilliant inventions were put into practice
using relatively simple technology and large numbers of workers with a low
level of training. This ensured high profits for a long period, and adaptation
to the changing needs of advancing technology, which required a higherlevel of training, was low. Moreover, the
rising business class in the late 18th century was primarily
interested in the universities for their elitist traditions, these being seen
as a help in acquiring a share in the established culture and ideological power
of the aristocracy.
to the mid-19thcentury,
higher education meant just the two universities of Oxford
and Cambridge, four Scottish universities and
finally the universities of Durham and London. The dominant
features were those developed at Oxford and Cambridge, by which
others were subsequently influenced.
lived and worked for the most part in the secluded atmosphere of the colleges
and had close social contact with senior staff. In addition to lectures, every
undergraduate attended tutorials, getting the utmost individual attention and
assistance in his studies from his tutor. The effect was to strengthen the
impact on students of the basic ideas and assumptions of the ruling class.
Training in self-expression played a significant part, as did the emphasis on
classics, the rigorof academic study in
a specialisedfield,the pursuit of knowledge for its own sake and
the striving for academic status. The young graduate went on to an academic
career, or entered the profession or government service.
the mid-19th century onwards, however, alongside this elitist
pattern of studies, pressure grew for a broader provision of higher education.
The sharpening competition with other industrialised countries from the mid-19thcentury onwards increased the need for
trained technologists. Moreover, there was growing popular demand for higher
education. New initiatives were clearly called for.
the end of the 19th century a number of new colleges had been
established in the big industrial cities, later to become the civic (or
"redbrick”) universities (for example Birmingham and Manchester).
the same period other institution developed outside the university sector,
often starting as evening institutes for young workers. By the mid-20thcentury a number of these were to provide
higher-level studies as well, including courses leading to academic degrees
awarded externally by London
University. This sector
of technical colleges and other institutions, also called " further education”,
had a strong vocational tradition that was to prove important for later developments.
It remained inferior however to universities in material standards and social
growing section was teacher training. These colleges, many having a church
background, also remained poor relations of the universities.
until the mid-20thcentury,
advance in higher education was slow, and the elitist traditions of the
universities continued to dominate.
The 1960s- Decade of Expansion
The Labor government in office from 1964 to 1970 accepted the
Robbins recommendation on student numbers. But the problems in trying to
improve standards of higher education under imperialist conditions soon became
apparent. The continuation of " world power” policies, involving massive
military expenditure and export of capital, inevitably hindered the proper
financing of the expansion undertaken.
addition, there was obstinate resistance from reactionary groups, anxious to
maintain the selective character of higher education. Claiming to be concerned
about "academic standards”, they foughtagainst broadening access to studies, particularly for theworking-class, and resisted demands for more
democracy in educational management. Their campaign reflected a basic
contradiction in the position of the ruling class. On the one hand, a large,
highly skilled work-force was needed, able to cope with the requirements of
modern industry. On the other hand, the resulting growth of student numbers was
feared as a potential challenge to ruling class privilege.
expansion and reform of higher education in the 1960s was inevitably restricted
and inconsistent. The following outline of changes will show this.
the university sector, new institutions had been founded by the middle of the
1960s, for example the universities of Keele,
York. They introduced more broadly based courses, which provided an alternative
to the narrow specialisation at other universities, although they otherwise
tended to continue on established academic lines.
the promotion of technological studies the institutions of further education
had to step in. Ten of the most advanced technical colleges (such as Bradford
and Salford) had already been selected for
higher-level courses and were (in the mid-1960s) upgraded to technological
universities. They broke new ground with work-oriented studies, but remained a
group on their own, striving to achieve academic recognition, and failing to
challenge sufficiently the outlook of the traditional universities.
it was mainly at postgraduate level and in research that universities partly
adapted to modern industrial needs, responding to increasing pressure from the
firms that provided much of the finance. There were new courses in science and
technology, and management training was developed in a number of universities
and at two special business schools.
despite these partial changes, the university sector generally stuck to its
traditions, and the contradiction remained. What fitted universities for their
role as educators of personnel for the ruling class made them unsuited to
produce the mass of highly qualified manpower required for scientific
Labor government felt that amore
decisive move was needed. In the late 1960s a number of colleges in the further
education sector were turned into 30 new centers of higher education-the
polytechnics. These were partly intended to make expansion possible at lower
cost, and consequently suffered from inferior conditions and equipment as compared
with universities. But they had a second aim, which was to establish more
flexible and work-orientated studies than those normally found at universities.
the natural sciences and technology as well as the arts and social sciences,
courses at polytechnics were set up in close association with a new national
body for regulating degree courses in further education, the Council for
National Academic Awards (CNAA). Entry requirements for students were not, as
at university, restricted to qualification normally gained at school- the
General Certificate of Education at advanced level (GCE "A”)-, but also
included vocational certificate and diplomas obtained at technical colleges.
Apart from improving the manpower position for industry and commerce, this more
flexible approach on the admission of students and the extension of part-time
study broadened access for the working class.
degree work, polytechnics keptsub-degree courses for vocational qualifications. This widened the range
of studies and also enabled students to transfer from one level to another
within the same institution.
were the prospects of the polytechnics, which progressive leaders of the trade
union concerned sought to exploit. Other stuff, however, wanted development on
the lines of traditional universities. This and material restrictions hampered
advance, but in no way reduced the significance of the new directions in higher
education that polytechnics represented.
special project of the Labor government was the Open University (study by
television, radio and correspondence), mainly for people who had missed out of
higher education in their younger years. Its first students enrolled in 1971.
Courses were to take four or five years, beginningwith a broad introduction followed by a
flexible combination of specialised studies. Its activity, including the
production of course materials, also had an impact on the wider population.
Furthermore, it did not demand formal entry qualifications but accepted all
applicants capable of study.
Open University represented an important advance. However, it should not be
overlooked that most of its first entrants were "middle-class”, a reflection of
the fact that many working-class school leavers lacked the educational basis for
further study. Quite apart from this, the cost of study exceeded the financial
means of many workers.
back at the development of higher education in the 1960s, three issues stand
out: the widening of access to study, new approaches to courses, and changes in
the structure and organisation of higher education. Let us consider these in
In the course of the 1960s, the percentage of the age group gaining access to
higher education more than doubled. In full-time studies the proportion reached
about 15%, but, including part-time students, about every thirdschool leaver or holder of an ordinary
vocational qualification started some form of course in 1970-half of them for a
yet, though numbers increased, discrimination against the working class, and
also against women, remained. The proportion of university entrants from the
working class stayed virtually unchanged at the 25% prevailing since before the
second world war.This represented less
than 5% of working-class youth of that age group. The proportion of women
students in higher education increased gradually to a third by 1970, but was
unevenly distributed, most being in teacher training and very few in
technological subject. All this showed the limits of the Labor government’s
program: It was still mainly the "middle class” that gained from advances
achieved in higher education.
The 1960s also saw some important new approaches to courses. Many university
students still studied one or two highly specialised subjects for three or four
years(in some subjects longer) to
obtain a degree, mainly the Bachelor of Art (BA) or ofSciences (BSc). Most degrees were awarded "
with Honors”, while broader courses (two or three subjects leading to a"general” or "ordinary” degree) had a lower
standing. A fewstudents carried on with
postgraduate studies, usually for the degree of Master or Doctor demanding a
university courses, though pro viding sound knowledge and general academic
skills, fell short of requirements in a number of fields, especially for
industry, and in some cases the new polytechnic degree courses came to be
initiatives already seen in the technological universities, polytechnics
offered courses with a broad base, often integrating subjects. Advances were
made in combining theoretical knowledge with practical training, and "sandwich
courses” (periods of study alternating with periods of work in industry or
office) became especially popular. Moreover, high standards were guaranteed from the start by the fact
that polytechnics had to submit detailed programs for every courseto the CNAA. This council examined the
syllabus, the teaching staff and the general conditions in each case, and often
made rigorous demands before approving a course. This contrasted with thesituation common at universities, where
academic standards tended to vary and subjects were sometimes taught without
new approach in polytechnics was accompanied by controversy. There was strong
pressure from central and local government and employers, this being evident in
the involvement of business interests in sandwich courses andin the demands putby themonopolies tothe CNAA. At the
same time, some success was achieved by the teachers’ union and student
organisation in gaining staff and student representation on management bodies
of polytechnics, and participation in course development.
this point we should consider the question of ‘academic freedom’. This is a
cherished ideal of university life, allowing opinions ranging from Marxist to
reactionary all to be broadly tolerated within a pluralist framework. The
concept is misleading, because it functions in the context of an all-pervasive
bourgeois ideology, and because, by permitting each university academic to
teach broadly as he wishes, it in practice evades the fighting out of ideas. In
polytechnics, at the time they were established, conflicts between progressive
ideas and traditional bourgeois thinking were brought out more into the open.
New courses had to be worked out collectively and defended before the national
body, the CNAA, and this produced syllabuses to which all teachers involved
this achieved at polytechnics should not of course be exaggerated. There was
both advance and compromise, an example of the latter being "European Studies”
(combining the study of the literature, history and economy of several
countries). Objectiveshere tended to be
confused, and there was mostly a biastowards Western Europe.
Thethird problem in higher education
standing out in the 1960s was its divided ("binary”) structure and
administration: the relatively privileged universities on the one hand and the
less favored "public sector” institutions, with polytechnics in the lead, on
universities defended their so-called "autonomy”, that is, independence from
outside control. In practice this concept had lost its real basis: universities
were already financed mainly from state funds, these being distributed by a
mediating body, the University Grants Committee (UGC), including
representatives of both government and universities. This allowed for
increasing control from outside. Nevertheless, the universities, asserting
their function as ideological strongholds of the ruling class, did retain on
student intake. The Labor government, with its reformist policies, was not
prepared tochallenge their position.
status of polytechnics was different. As institutions of the "public sector”,
they not only depended on state finance, but were also subject to direct
government planing. Their enforced expansion, withrestricted resources, was intended to save
money./ in reality, the separate development of polytechnics and universities
meant duplication and waste and deepened the social division between the two
maintenance of this "binary” policy led to growing conflict by the end of the
1960s between the Labor government and progressives. Left forces in the Labor
Party itself demanded a system of unified financing and administration (under a
central education commission, responsible to the Department of Education and
Science), while programs of the Communist Party and progressive teachers’
unions went further, for example with proposals for the representation of
teachers, students and democratic organisations on the regional bodies of a
unified higher education system. Within the limits imposed by the capitalist
order, these were worth-while and realistic demands.
The 1970s-Change to restriction
economic difficulties increased, pressure from the monopolies caused one
question to dominate more and more: how to reduce the cost of educational
expansion. A first response followed with the Tories’ White Paper on Education
in 1972, which slowed down the growth rate of higher education, limiting both
resources and student numbers
mid-1970s, the capitalist critics completely overshadowed economic life in Britain. The
new Labor government (1974 onwards), giving way to increasing pressure from the
monopolies, forced through devastating cuts in social expenditure, including
education. They announced even lower projectionof students numbers for the 1980s than the 1972 White Paper had done.
The number of full-time places in higher education, having risen only slowly
during the early 1970s, was to reach no more than 550,000 by 1981/82. This
meant a percentage of 18-year-olds entering full-time studies that would be no
higher than a decade earlier. The revised estimates went with immediate cuts in
building, equipment, staff and courses.
restrictions were wrapped up in arguments about an alleged falling demand for
education, unemployment of graduates and a dropping birthrate. But the real
problem lay in the effects of the economic crisis:
-Opportunities tostudy lessened, especially for the working
class, as a result both ofthe cuts in
education and the worsening financial position of wide sections of the working
-The "labor market” for students
tightened: not because there werealready too many qualified specialists, but because overall economic
activity had been drastically reduced.
-Young teachers in particular
faced large-scale unemployment. The government’s claim that the birthrate (and
hence numbers of future pupils) had dropped was based on uncertain estimates.
The essential reason for training fewer teachers was that school expenditure
had been cut back.
Short-sighted economising also affected
course development in the mid-1970s.
Laborgovernment speeded up the
reshaping of teacher training already envisaged in the White Paper of 1972.
Some colleges were to be integrated in polytechnics, some merged with other
colleges in further education to become new institutes (or colleges) of higher
education, a few were to remain in existenceon their own , and a number of colleges were shut down altogether.
Although the closer link between teacher training and further education,
especially polytechnics, had advantages regarding the character of courses,
this was far outweighed by the fact that the overriding aim of the changes was
simply to save money.
restructuring of teachers’ courses was itself contradictory. A new form of the
Bachelor of Education (Bed) degree was established, replacing an earlier scheme
of the late 1960s. Supervised by the CNAA, it was to combine academic studies
and practical training. It had positive features, but was initially not
introduced for all teachers, and the older sub-degree certificate course continued
to be taught.
further controversial innovation was a two-year course for the so-called
Diploma in Higher Education (DipHE), designed both as the first part of the new
BEd, and as a course in its own right provided at any institution within higher
education. There was little doubt that the DipHE was intended primarily to
provide a cheap way of meeting the continuing demand for higher education.
Questions of content were left open, no attempt was made to ensure that DipHE
students could transfer to full degree courses other than the BEd , and the
valueof the DipHE as a qualification
remained very uncertain.
from the hampering effect on educational provision, the impact of the
capitalist crisis on education was also clearly evident in the ideological
field. Reactionary ideas (that of inborn intelligence, for instance) reasserted
themselves, and Marxists came underattack.
progressive forces themselves were affected. Their campaigns at some points
became defensive, concentrating too much on purely material questions- a
tendency which Marxists have always had to combat. On the other hand, the ties
between teacher and student unions and the labor movement were consolidated.
the way forward, Communist and others on the left stressed the need to
associate immediate with long-term issue, always trying to stimulate fresh
initiatives on the vital questions that had already been raised in the late
1960s-on course content, the aims and organisation of higher education, and its
role in the struggle to achieve fundamental change in Britain.