As heralded in a news story in the Independent on Sunday last weekend, David Blunkett is today using a speech at the University of Greenwich to announce plans for the radical use of technology in higher education.
He announced the introduction of the Foundation Degree as a new vocationally-focused route into higher education. Currently, more than one in three students who gain two or more A-levels or the vocational equivalent do not go directly into higher education.
Urging all colleges and higher education institutes to grasp the opportunities of technology to drive Britain into the knowledge-based economy, he said that all such institutions must adapt quickly to these advances.
The Higher Education Funding Council for England will bring forward proposals for a new collaborative virtual venture - a consortium of ‘e-universities’. He wants to create a new partnership between universities and the private sector which will develop a novel means of distance learning and exploit the new information and communication technologies. It will concentrate resources from a range of partners on a scale which can compete with leading US providers.
The ‘e-universities’ is the working title for a consortium - to be appointed after a competition - which will bring together universities and companies drawn from relevant sectors. The objective of the consortium will be to adapt and develop the new information and communication technologies to new ways of teaching and learning, including flexible distance learning, so that British universities are well placed to compete in the growing global market for higher education.