The Need for Separating University Management and Administration from Service Delivery: Reviewing Disability Policy at Four HEIs in Wales

The Need for Separating University Management and Administration from Service Delivery: Reviewing Disability Policy at Four HEIs in Wales

Jonathan Bishop (Centre for Research into Online Communities and E-Learning Systems, UK)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-9850-5.ch014
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Abstract

This chapter looks at how suitable the current equality policies of Wales's universities are to compete in the current economic climate and the changes needed to deliver best value to people with disabilities and all other taxpayers. The chapter makes the finding that universities are too bloated, by carrying out functions, which in Wales could be better handled by the public sector that is under direct control of the Welsh Government's education minister. This would involve learning from how the telecoms and energy companies work UK wide, so that HEFCfW becomes an infrastructure provider, Estyn would become responsible for ensuring the equality of access to higher education and ensuring the standards of university education. Universities would thus consist mainly of teaching and research staff, optimising how they use the infrastructure to attract the most students to their degrees, which are homogenised. The chapter makes clear, however, that whilst this policy would likely work in Wales, it would be unlikely to in England, perhaps allowing “clear red water” between governments.
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Background

Education and public policy in the United Kingdom has in general followed a two and fro between the political party claiming to support leftist policies to the one claiming to represent the right-wing. In the case of the left wing the Liberal and Labour Parties have represented this section of the population, and the Conservative Party has represented the right. The Liberal Democrats, which formed from a merger between the Liberal Party and Social Democratic Party had tried to gain favour with the left or right depending on where they were contesting elections. Since their coalition with the Conservatives and the 13 years of New Labour there had been demands for a new party of the left, which some saw as the Green Party. The difficulty for the Conservative Party had been the rise of the UK Independence Party, which attempted to triangulate the territory the Conservatives always held in terms of being stronger on immigration than Labour or the Liberal Democrats. However, as a result of the first-past-the-post system, the Conservatives were elected with a majority, meaning that they will be able to deliver market-based public policy without hindrance. It might be that as a result of devolution, Wales will be privileged in that it will have a consistent approach to how it governs its affairs due to most of the parties in Wales agreeing to a more statist line on public policy.

Higher Education Policy in Wales

Much of the expansion of higher education in Wales and throughout the UK during the early part of the twenty-first century was accommodated by a number of government initiatives (Jackson, 2013). Since then the Welsh Assembly has matured into a de facto parliament with an executive and legislature, with strategic policies. This has included schemes like Cwricwlwm Cymreig, which seeks to embed an appreciation of Wales, the Welsh language and Welsh culture more generally (Murphy & Laugharne, 2013; Turnbull, 2003). There is also an Education for Sustainable Development and Global Citizenship (ESDGB) strategy that seeks to integrate a socially responsible ethos into Welsh education establishments, including universities.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Natural Inclusionism: An approach to disability policy where if a student is able to take part in their education without any changes to the programme of study then they will succeed, but they should not expect any adjustments to the course, beyond those that are required for them to take part in it.

Estyn: Estyn is the non-departmental public body in Wales that is responsible for ensuring the standards of education in primary and secondary education is at an adequate standard.

Higher Education and Funding Council for Wales: The non-departmental government body in Wales that is responsible for insuring the adequate distribution of public funding to Welsh higher education institutions.

University: A higher education institution that has the powers to award its own degrees.

Devolution: The process of transferring powers from the United Kingdom Parliament to regional and national assemblies and parliaments, such as the Welsh Assembly in Wales.

Higher Education Institution: A university or other institution dedicated to providing education at Level 4 and above, such as bachelors, masters and doctoral degrees.

Inclusive Individual Adjustment: An approach to disability policy where changes are made on a case-by-case basis to each individual student with a recognised disability.

Populist Inclusionism: An approach to implementing disability policy that is based on a populist approach to education that uses a form of inclusion that plays to the lowest common denominator.

Nationalisation: The process by which an organisation or undertaking that is independent of a governmental body becomes part of it.

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