Withdrawal of funding for equivalent or lower qualifications (ELQs) – In yet another bizarre and capricious decision, the Government have instructed HEFCE to remove financial support for students studying for a degree of Equivalent or Lower Qualification than one already possessed.This is a smack in the face for those students who wish to retrain, for those who wish to learn for the sake of learning, and is discriminatory – students in Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland are at present unaffected. Here is John Denham’s letter directing HEFCE. I work at the Open University. Of the £100 million to be clawed back by HEFCE (such an clean, arbitrary number), somewhere between £30-40 million is likely to be wiped from our income sheet.

Our Vice-Chancellor, Professor Brenda Gourlay has reported on the impact of the ELQ policy. John Denham will be at the Open University on 13th December, and will speak to students and staff at 15:00 (Berrill Lecture Theatre, Walton Hall campus, Milton Keynes). It will be interesting…watch this space.

Updated 8/1/08:

Well, John Denham’s presentation was not at all informative (the text can be read here), and he didn’t respond well to questioning. In particular, when asked whether he or his civil servants had modelled the potential effects of this decision, he claimed this wasn’t his responsibility. Well, I beg to differ.

Today there is an item on the BBC News website about the ELQ issue, with the news that the Conservatives are taking a stance. I suppose this may just harden the government’s position on the issue. The Open University Vice Chancellor, Brenda Gourlay, appeared on Radio 4’s Today programme this morning to talk about the ELQ issue.