higher ed

ELQ funding and the Brown psyche

As many in the UK will know the Government has decided to stop funding ELQ students (Equal or lower qualification), so if you are a student who is studying for a qualification equal or lower to one you already possess you have to pay the full fee. This is obviously vexing for a university such as the OU, which specialises in such qualifications.

It’s also completely at odds with any agenda on lifelong learning, which the Government, and Gordon Brown in particular, claims to support. There has been some suggestion that lifelong learning will be funded in other ways, but just in case any Labour MPs are in any doubt, let’s be clear – it is impossible to hold both concepts in your head simultaneously without conflict. It would be like a minister declaring they wished to increase atheistic thought in society by opening up a set of faith schools (or vice versa). The two actions are mutually exclusive.

And this is where we see the strangeness of Gordon Brown’s personality come to the fore again. I accept that all politicians want to have their cake and eat it, but Brown seems peculiarly afflicted on this front, wanting to have his cake and eat it and then be admired by cake-eaters and cake-keepers alike (cf. being present or not to sign the European treaty). I ought to say that in case anyone interprets this as a Tory political broadcast, it isn’t – I remember how education fared under them last time round.

This is what psychologists call a double-bind and used to think was a cause of schizophrenia (before they admitted that genetics might have a role to play, and double-bind seemed to be a load of old tosh in the causation stakes).

Anyway, the e-petition against the ELQ cuts is here if you feel like tightening the bind.


  • Martin

    Thanks John, I hadn’t made the link to social mobility, but of course you’re absolutely right. That social mobility hasn’t changed in 30 years, is as the report says, shameful.

  • Nigel

    A report by NAICE this year (were I organised I’d cite it) suggested that over the last 10 years social mobility and the opportunities to climb out of the lowest socio-economic groups had actually declined, i.e. if you were born poor under Blair you would find it far harder not to stay poor all the way through your life.

  • jmarko

    Just to take a personal look at this, the effect of the withdrawal of ELQ funding will finish my chances of getting my IT BSc. I already have an MA in politics (which, as degrees go, isn’t the most useful) and have decided to do one in IT with the OU. Although I am classed as ‘well paid’, I pay out a shed load of tax and NI (for which I get very little back – not that I have ever complained about that) and the rest goes on paying the mortgage on a pretty average (or smaller than average) house and bills. I am left with very little at the end of each month. I don’t go out, I don’t have a car and I don’t drink. But I can *just* about afford the current course fees. If they are to increase 3 or 4 times, I’m just not going to be able to do it.
    While other countries are increasing the reach of their education policies, we will reduce the number of people who can access education. When they got in, Labour introduced tuition fees for first degrees and now they’re withdrawing support for second degrees. So much for helping people to help themselves.
    Thanks for everything… Idiots!

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