Select Committee on Innovation, Universities and Skills Written Evidence

Memorandum 80

Submission from the Revd David A Neaum


  A letter of argument against the reducing governmental support given to institutions for students taking second qualifications of an equivalent or lower level (ELQs).


  I am an ordained deacon within the Church of England and personally benefited from the support in question. Although wishing to note the devastating impact such a reduction would have on students like myself my argument focuses upon broader concerns: on the need for reskilling not just upskilling; on how the government's plan results in back door discrimination against women; and on the government's elected duty to represent interests besides the national economic interest.


  A continuation of the current levels of governmental support, or, if such support is not forthcoming, exemptions including but not necessarily limited to those training for ordination within the Church of England and/or leadership within other established faith traditions.


  The government believes it is in the "national economic interest" to "upskill" as many people as possible to first degree level and the present changes are designed to facilitate this goal. The timing is considered to be of such importance that these changes can not wait until a fuller and more comprehensive review could take them into account with a larger and more coherent strategy.

  I argue that "upskilling" should not be to the cost of "reskilling" in a changing economy that demands increasing market flexibility and increasing workforce flexibility. The workforce needs to be able to re-tool and adapt in the contemporary economy and the government's plans are designed to reduce this flexibility for employees and workers. We certainly need to "upskill" but in conjunction not in opposition with "reskilling".

  The government's plans in effect result in back-door discrimination against childrearing, against the family, and against mothers. It is particularly important for those who have not worked for some time, such as women returning to work after child-rearing, to be able to re-skill and re-enter the workforce. The government's plan is reducing choice for women and perpetuating a masculine model of an "employee" and "worker".

  The government, whilst duty bound to care for "collective national economic interest" is also bound to represent those who have other interests, other notions of the "good". The Church of England is an umbrella body which itself represents people who care about more than just economic well-being. They care about justice, community, goodness, and the moral health of society. The government is therefore duty bound to support in some measure the established Church of England in it's representative capacity. The Church of England needs governmental support in helping to reskill the people who are called to be its leaders and priests. If the government fails to represent the values the Church of England and it's parishioners advocate then it fails in the representative duty it was elected to fulfill, it fails in that those interests besides "economic interest" will not be cared for, and it fails in that the well-being of society will suffer.

  We want a knowledge economy not just a skills economy. We want lifelong learning not learning once for life. We want further and higher education, not a limited education.

January 2008

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