Recent education headlines express the dilemma currently facing UK higher education. The Council for the Defence of British Universities launched last week promoting a vision of education for education’s sake, with universities as centres of learning in danger of being shackled by short-term performance measures and funding models. On the same day, the Engineers Employers’ Federation (EEF) called for a closer alignment of the education and training system ??? including higher education ??? with the needs of the labour market and employers.
Are universities a key pipeline in the nation’s skills supply route? Should they be pursuing academic excellence and scholarly enquiry, or fulfilling more prosaic but economically valuable goals? Could they do both? These questions will be at the heart of next week’s Institute for Employment Studies (IES) conference as part of a discussion of the wider role of higher education and the ways it might meet employer demand for high-level skills.