Reflections on Clearing…and the future for Graduates

This has been a strange time. Those sections of the media most scathing about the mass influx of young people into Higher Education have been outraged that suitability qualified young people can’t get into University.  We have had the somewhat traditional “Qualifications arn’t what they used to be in my day” leader articles or news reports. This has included our local radio station interviewing a local employer who finds current graduates so very poor he now recruits from Warsaw University instead. I’ve also had the contents of this article about a young man who was awarded a certificate for getting on a bus  http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1206444/Boy-gets-exam-certificate-catching-bus.html#comments mentioned more than once, although it is interesting it gathered 247 comments on this one website, let alone the other papers which reported it.  We’ve also had the spectre of no jobs for graduates mentioned in the press this month. Again recruitment of graduates  does seem to be far more mixed than some of the press reports would lead you to believe.  As someone who has been through recessions before, this is not unusual. However the press coverage would lead you to believe that there are not any opportunitys for a graduate in the UK…well maybe I exaggerate slightly. I’ll be glad when the press have some more news to get their teeth into. Thought that Dr Wendy Piatt of the Russell Group made some valid points when she was interviewed about this issue. Also there is an interesting blog posting by Charlie Ball of HECSU about Graduate employment issues at the HECSU blog http://hecsu.blogspot.com/2009/07/labour-market-gloom.html

Goodbye exams – Hello continuous e-assessment

As we get ready for the words to flow from all sides as the time for Clearing gets nearer I find the comments by Simon Lebus, chief executive of Cambridge Assessment, thought provoking to say the least. In brief he is saying that within the next 10 to 15 years we shall be saying goodbye to the old exam structure and moving toward a continuous assessment (ca) using e-technology for all exams. http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2009/jul/12/written-exams-computerised-testing  As advisers I expect that we have all dealt with students who, despite producing good work, find sitting exams so stressful that it can seriously impact their grades. It will be interesting to see how this progresses as the classic “sit down and write for 3 hours” exam is often seen as a final quality proof of the work that a student has taken in and can use to answer the questions set.  Thinking of some of the feeling towards ca we have seen so far it will not be a technical issue, but rather one of political perception.. It has been said that the current Government has concerns about ca and would like to look at  introducing “controlled assessment”, which could be done in school and supervised like exams, while the Conservatives are reported as wishing to go return to the high stakes final exams that were traditional, as they feel the continuous assessment approach has lost confidence with people http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/life_and_style/education/a_level_gcse_results/article6220846.ece