Examination of Witnesses (Questions 440
WEDNESDAY 6 MAY 2009
Q440 Dr Harris: So you would be supportive
of moving to a more credit-based system, at least, in order to
facilitate that, or do you think that would be too radical for
Professor Arthur: I think you
would need to look at the whole picture and look at the impact
of that on the cost of itin other words, the cost of that
on autonomy, and so on, and the diverse nature of the sector.
So I do not think it is a simple set of issues that you can trap
me into saying I definitely am a supporter of the community college
Q441 Chairman: We cannot trap you
into anything, is the answer!
Professor Arthur: I think we should
look seriously at the community college system and everything
that goes with it, as part of the package.
Q442 Dr Harris: What do you mean
by "autonomy"? Do you mean the ability of a publicly-funded
university to do its own thing regardless of the needs of the
sector as a whole, the needs of fairness and the needs of having
a national system? Or do you mean something else by the "autonomy"
argument against the credit system?
Professor Arthur: I am a very,
very strong supporter of the autonomy of universities, but that
does not mean that the autonomy disregards everything that surrounds
itcity, region, government funding. I think we fully accept
our responsibilities, but the thing about autonomy is the creativity
that goes with it for people to develop new courses that are exciting
Professor Driscoll: I think we
need to grasp the nettle of a national credit-based system and
national credit-based funding. You will find that the universities,
like mine, that have very diverse student bodies (lots of part-timers,
full-timers, people moving in and outexactly what you describe)
are closer to what you will find, typically, in the United States
than those universities that are very monolithic, most of their
undergraduates are recruited at 18 and they have comparatively
few postgraduates and, also, comparatively lower levels of part-time.
They do not want it because they see it is a hassle, but I think
we have to take a national decision on this, and it is about time
we caught up with the rest of the world, we introduced a national
credit-based system and we fund students on credit as well, or
institutions for their teaching.
Chairman: On that note, could I bring
this to a close. I have to say, to all three of our witnesses,
that has been one of the most interesting and lively sessions
we have had in this inquiry. Thank you very much indeed for your
evidence this morning.