The Tes reports that the former Labour education minister Andrew Adonis has reignited one of the oldest controversies in British education by calling for the clock to be turned back on polytechnics granted university status.
Lord Adonis told a House of Lords committee that the government’s decision 25 years ago to allow more than 30 polytechnics to take the title of university was a mistake, and argued for the removal of the status from what he termed “the lower-performing former polytechnics”.
“I think we’ve lost a very great deal of the edge and focus of vocational, particularly technical, higher education as a result of it.
“I think there is a very good case for reversing that reform, in respect of the lower-performing former polytechnics and doing it in the context of a very significant reduction in the fees they are allowed to charge students, so we can offer a much better deal to students as part of a new reform.” he said
Adonis’s radical proposal, which would be fiercely opposed across the higher education sector, is the latest in a string of controversial proposals by the peer, a former education special adviser to Tony Blair and later a minister in Blair and Gordon Brown’s administration.
Asked by the committee for his view on Theresa May’s recent decision to raise the income threshold that triggers graduate repayment of student loans from £21,000 to £25,000, Adonis said he thought the whole system of loans and fees would soon be scrapped.
“It looks to me as if the whole system is a pack of cards waiting to collapse,” Adonis said.
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