Submission from the British Philosophical
1. Introduction: This evidence is being
submitted by Prof. Helen Beebee, University of Birmingham, on
behalf of the British Philosophical Association (BPA).
2. Summary: The BPA believes that the proposed
phasing out of funding for ELQs will disproportionately affect
both students and departments of Philosophy. Further, that a Philosophy
degree, as an ELQ, can significantly enhance a student's employability;
thus making the study of Philosophy as an ELQ more costly runs
contrary to the spirit of the Government's "skills agenda".
3. About 37% of students studying Philosophy
at the Open University are ELQ students; the figure for the Philosophy
Department at Birkbeck is 31%. These figures contrast with the
proportion of ELQ students at the OU as a whole, which is about
25%, and nationally, which is lower still. Philosophy is thus
disproportionately represented amongst ELQ students, and thus
Philosophy ELQ students, and the Departments that teach them,
will be disproportionately affected.
4. Removal of ELQ funding will not only
have a detrimental effect on the numbers of students pursuing
Philosophy at ELQ level; it will also have a detrimental effect
on those Philosophy departments that teach a high proportion of
ELQ studentsspecifically the OU and Birkbeck, which were
rated 4 and 5 respectively in RAE 2001. This will affect the quality
and standing of UK Philosophy research internationally.
5. The proposal to remove ELQ funding is
misconceived, since it presupposes that qualifications at the
same level, irrespective of the discipline within which the qualification
is gained, deliver the same set of skills. This is manifestly
not the case.
6. A Philosophy degree is recognized by
employers as making a valuable contribution to the skills of the
workforce. The following quotations are taken from a Guardian
article, "I think therefore I earn" (20.11.07, education.guardian.co.uk/higher/news/story/
Lucy Adams, human resources director of Serco,
a services business and a consultancy firm, says: "Philosophy
lies at the heart of our approach to recruiting and developing
our leadership, and our leaders. We need people who have the ability
to look for different approaches and take an open mind to issues.
These skills are promoted by philosophical approaches."
Fiona Czerniawska, director of the Management
Consultancies Association's think tank, says: "A philosophy
degree has trained the individual's brain and given them the ability
to provide management-consulting firms with the sort of skills
that they require and clients demand. These skills can include
the ability to be very analytical, provide clear and innovative
thinking, and question assumptions."
Deborah Bowman, associate dean for widening participation
at St George's, University of London, which offers medicine and
health sciences courses, says philosophers are increasingly sought
after by the NHS: "Graduates of philosophy who come in to
graduate-entry medicine, or to nursing courses, are very useful.
Growth areas in the NHS include clinical ethicists, who assist
doctors and nurses. Medical ethics committees and ethics training
courses for staff are also growing. More and more people are needed
to comment on moral issues in healthcare, such as abortion."
7. A degree, or sub-degree credits in Philosophy,
provides valuable training in intellectual skills, such as those
listed in the Quality Assurance Agency's Philosophy Benchmark
philosophy.pdf, §§ 23-26), including
articulacy in identifying underlying issues in all kinds of debate;
precision of thought and expression in the analysis and formulation
of complex and controversial problems; the ability to analyse
and construct good arguments; and the ability to consider unfamiliar
ideas and ways of thinking.
8. Such skills are developed to a greater
extent in Philosophy than in other subject areas, and they are
therefore skills that will be developed in a student studying
Philosophy even if they already have a qualification at the same
or a higher level in another discipline.
9. The removal of funding for Philosophy
as an ELQ would therefore contradict the spirit of the Leitch
Review of Skills 2006.