The growth of higher education: What are our goals?

Hoskins, Sherria
University of Portsmouth,

This discussion paper was written a year ago, stimulated by my understanding of the changing nature of higher education. I found myself, as an active researcher in pedagogic issues and a psychology lecturer, constantly considering and reconsidering the changing nature of higher education and it’s goals. The paper does not necessarily present my opinion accurately, but was written to provoke thought.

This led me to set about working on a research paper (Motivation and Achievement: the effect of delivering transferable skills and careers guidance on psychology undergraduates). The investigation is longitudinal in nature, following a cohort of undergraduates from 1st stage to graduation. By the time of the conference data from their 1st year and 2nd year will have been analysed. This could aid further discussion.

Many changes to British higher education since it’s conception, have facilitated a massive expansion in participation. However, still, little is known about the quality of learning promoted in universities, regardless of the concerns being expressed by educationalists since the 1800s. Where issues of quality are raised, they tend to be expressed in terms of the depth of student learning. However, these concerns may be regarded as outdated, since they tend to overlook other areas of learning via which quality might be measured, namely the extend to which transferable skills are facilitated and the vocational relevance of the curriculum. These areas might be considered more relevant to 21st Century education, given the massive expansion in participation, since it could be argued that this expansion has led to a change in the purpose and role of higher education.