Education in Britain

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Both universities grew gradually, as federations of independent colleges, most of which were founded in the fourteenth, fifteenth and sixteenth centuries. In both universities, however, new colleges are periodically established, for example Green College, Oxford (1979) and Robinson College, Cambridge (1977).

In the nineteenth century more universities were established to respond to the greatly increased demand for educated people as a result of the Industrial Revolution and the expansion of Britain's overseas empire. Many of these were sited in the industrial centres, for example Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Newcastle, Liverpool and Bristol.

With the expansion of higher education in the 1960s 'plate-glass' universities were established, some named after counties or regions rather than old cities, for example Sussex, Kent, East Anglia and Strathclyde. Over 50 polytechnics and similar higher education institutes acquired university status in 1992. There is also a highly successful Open University, which provides every person in Britain with the opportunity to study for a degree, without leaving their home. It is particularly designed for adults who missed the opportunity for higher education earlier in life. It conducts learning through correspondence, radio and television, and also through local study centres.

University examinations are for Bachelor of Arts, or of Science (BA or BSc) on completion of the undergraduate course, and Master of Arts or of Science (MA or MSc) on completion of postgraduate work, usually a one- or two-year course involving some original research. Some students continue to complete a three-year perio of original research for the degree of Doctor of Philosophy (PhD). The bachelor degree is normal classed, with about 5 per cent normally gaining First, about 30 per cent gaining an Upper Seconi or 2.1, perhaps 40 per cent gaining a Lower Second, or 2.2, and the balance getting either i Third, a Pass or failing. Approximately 15 per cei fail to complete their degree course.

In addition there are a large number of specialis higher education institutions in the realm of the performing and visual arts. For example, there a four leading conservatories: the Royal Academy Music, the Royal College of Music, Trinity College of Music and the Royal Northern College of Music.

There are a large number of art colleges, of whi the most famous is the Royal College of Art, where both Henry Moore and David Hockney once studied. Other colleges cater for dance, film-making and other specialist areas in arts.

In spite of the high fees, Britain's universities, Fl colleges and English language schools host a number of foreign students, in 1996 there were fewer than 158,000.

Female undergraduates have greatly increased proportionately in recent years. In the mid-1960 they were only 28 per cent of the intake, became 41 per cent by the early 1980s, and were 51 per cent by 1996. There is still an unfortunate separation of the sexes in fields of chosen study, arising from occupational tradition and social expectations. Caring for others is still a 'proper' career for women; building bridges, it seems, is not. Unless one believes women's brains are better geared to nursing and other forms of caring and men's to bridge-building, one must conclude that social expectations still hinder women and men from realising their potential. Students from poorer backgrounds are seriously underrepresented in higher education. Although more in social categories C, D and E are now enrolled, it is the more prosperous social categories A and B which have benefited most from university expansion. For Labour there are two issues here:

equality of opportunity, and maximising all of society's intellectual potential.

Ethnic minorities' representation is growing: 1 3 per cent in 1996 compared with only 10.7 per cent in 1990. It is noteworthy that their university representation exceeds their proportion within the whole population, a measure of their commitment to higher education.

In 1988 a new funding body, the University Funding Council, was established, with power to require universities to produce a certain number of qualified people in specific fields. It is under the UFC's watchful eye that the universities have been forced to double their student intake, and each university department is assessed on its performance and quality. The fear, of course, is that the greatly increased quantity of students that universities must now take might lead to a loss of academic quality.

Expansion has led to a growing funding gap. Universities have been forced to seek sponsorship from the commercial world, wealthy patrons and also from their alumni. The Conservative Party also decided to reduce maintenance grants but to offer students loans in order to finance their studies. However, the funding gap has continued to grow and Labour shocked many who had voted for it by introducing tuition fees at 1,000 pounds per annum in 1998. Although poorer students were to be exempted it was feared that, even with student loans, up to 10 per cent of those planning to go to university would abandon the idea. One effect of the financial burden is that more students are living at home while continuing their studies: about 50 per cent at the ex-polytechnics, but only 15 per cent at the older universities.

Реферат опубликован: 20/09/2009