Whether in equipping individuals with the knowledge and abilities to achieve self-development and social mobility or in equipping societies with the skills necessary to promote technological advancement and economic growth, education is critical.
Yet the UK education system suffers from shortcomings at all levels that raise questions over its ability to deliver these benefits. Schools are facing dramatic teacher shortages, buildings at the risk of collapse due to decades of inadequate capital investment, and pupils struggling to readjust to normal schooling following years of online learning during the pandemic. Inadequate investment in further education and adult learning has left the UK with a shortage of the digital and technical skills needed to sustain the productive jobs vital for the green transition and an economy that works for everyone. And a crisis is looming over the higher education sector, as it struggling with a funding system that works for neither students, universities, university staff nor taxpayers.
The Education Policy Centre at King’s Think Tank will seek to address some of these issues and propose recommendations for improvements by drawing on the experiences of other countries over the course of the coming academic year. As university students, our focus will naturally be on the problems facing the higher education sector. The commodification of higher education has resulted in students being treated as consumers without the requisite consumer protections; lecturers and university staff suffering from increasing casualisation, low pay and cuts to pensions; and universities becoming dependent on charging ever higher fees to ever greater numbers of international students simply to stay afloat. The rise of generative AI also poses questions for whether traditional forms of university assessment are outdated and how we should think about the purpose of higher education moving forward.
But we recognise that university can be difficult to access for those from disadvantaged backgrounds. Therefore, we will investigate the issue of socioeconomic disadvantage in education at all levels – whether the benefits of universal free school meals outweigh the increased costs over more targeted programmes; how students at universities and FE colleges can be supported through the cost of living crisis; and how adult education can help those who find themselves out of work to reskill and find new jobs.
We look forward to engaging with you on all these important questions through our research and events over the course of the next year.
Director, Education Policy Centre, 2023-24
Our Policy Centre:
My name is Zeki and I’m in my final year of a part-time MA in International Political Economy. I’m primarily interested in the financialisation of higher education and developments in the higher education sector since the 2012 reforms. Outside of policy, I enjoy reading history, playing board games and supporting Arsenal men and women.