PRs will be familiar with a tool called Response Source - it’s basically a way for journalists to email people asking for comment/case studies on topics without having to ring thousands of people individually.
Well, one’s just dropped into my inbox that really does amaze.
Bereavement is a serious topic - one that the NHS should absolutely have material on. But piggybacking on the death of an international terrorist to achieve this?
MEDIA OUTLET: NHS Online
DEADLINE: 6 May 2011 at 12:00
QUERY: In reaction to the huge news that Osama Bin Laden has been killed, and triggered by the repeated comments that ‘justice has now been served’, I’d like to question the notion of revenge on mental health.
Even better - they want vigilante case studies!
- The family/ friend of a loved one who was lost specifically in the 9/11 attacks and/ or someone who was either responsible for bringing about justice or was the family/ friend of someone who was avenged. Can either be within or without the law …
So - there you have it. Thats your tax dollar hard at work.
There has been some media criticism of Vince Cable’s claim that most universities would set their fee level far below the £9k limit - which is looking less the case by the day.
Equally, David Cameron’s assertion that Oxford’s all-white intake was a “disgrace” has stirred some strong feelings - not least from those responsible for Oxford’s admissions.
In both cases, the issue is access - making a top university education accessible to a wider social and ethnic demographic, more representative of the country at large.
Yet it would be entirely wrong to weaken the academic integrity of institutions by forcing them to accept candidates who, were it not for their background, would not have made it.
In other words, the issue is not widening participation through university admissions intervention and the ‘fair access’ provision of bursaries , but increasing the academic achievement and aspiration of students long before they come to fill in their UCAS form.
It used to be the state provided such a route - through grammar schools, and later the assisted places programme. I’ve always been unsure about assisted places - taking money from the state budget and giving it to already full private schools does have an awkward feel to it. However, why not go one step further - why not have universities fund them?
It was always part of the fair access provision that universities had to engage with schools to increase the aspirations of students. I myself went to various events in the North East to encourage students to consider Durham University. Furthermore undoubtedly there are some teachers who take an approach to university that often resembles a concerted attempt to put students off applying to more prestigious institutions. I also spoke to students who came to Durham for a short stay in their holidays, the idea being to make applying to the university less daunting. Both schemes undoubtedly raise aspirations and do deliver benefits.
So - why not bridge the gap? Why not have universities fund a pool of money, which in turn can be used to fund an assisted places scheme? And why not go beyond traditional academic testing in the style of an 11 plus and use the expertise of universities to develop far broader ways of identifying potential, in both academic and non-academic fields.
Not only would it be a way of widening participation by increasing the academic attainment of less well-off social groups, it would also enhance the long-term prospects of those children who benefited, in likelyhood far more than a bursary given when they have already reached 18. Indeed, accepting these assisted place students could become a part of the charitable status of private schools.
Seen alongside Michael Gove’s long-overdue reforms of the education system, this would deliver benefits in just a few years (especially if implemented to create two cohorts, at age 11 and 16) and cost the taxpayer nothing.
Addressing educational imbalances will never work if the intervention takes place at 18 - and will arguably weaken the international standing of our universities. The fees debate spoke about the impact on aspiration - now we have the fees, we need the action.