Mandelson at the Learning and Technology World Forum


Following Ed Balls and Gordon Brown, Peter Mandelson gave an enthusiastic and committed speech today at the Learning and Technology World Forum held in London at the Queen Elizabeth II Conference Centre.  He argued strongly that the UK Higher Education sector can, and should, play a significant role in helping to expand Britain’s ‘exports’.  Amongst some of the many things he said, were the following:

  • Britain has a very strong higher and further education sector
  • Over the last decade real term funding for research in Britain has doubled
  • There is now a real challenge to develop this resource into one equipped for a digital knowledge economy
  • British higher education needs to pioneer new forms of learning – especially ones that fit around work or distance
  • We need to develop alternatives to the traditional  3 year university degree programmes for students straight out of school
  • We need to build on online and distance based degrees to support people wishing to gain degrees
  • The UK’s higher education sector must diversify and change its models – enabling it to fit into new ways of living to suit the individual ways of students
  • ICTs can make the whole process of learning more efficient – he claimed that efficiencies have saved more than £ 1 billion in HE staff time since 2005 – and this represents a huge area for international collaboration
  • We have to focus on to the fact that what we can do together in collaboration will enable us to get more out of this
  • Britain is a pioneer in online learning
  • He concluded by saying that the key is seeing the digital revolution as an agenda where the benefits of international collaboration are not zero sum

Despite the concerns that I have over much of this agenda (see my previous blogs on Mandelson’s vision for higher education) his comments today provided a clear statement of the government’s commitment to using ICTs innovatively to support alternative forms of higher education.

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