Belfast Telegraph

Friday 29 August 2014

University of Ulster could really learn a lot from Queen's University

Lord Browne's recommendations regarding the funding of universities in England must surely be a wake-up call for the province's universities.

Our Assembly may pronounce and prevaricate on the subject, but no doubt what is good for England will, in time, apply elsewhere in the UK.

A university education is much more than just the chance to stagger about Belfast's Holy Land for three or four years. It should provide the basis for a useful and rewarding working life.

Students must put more into their own time at university and they, and our wider society, must demand much more from the institutions they attend.

The recently-published Times Higher Education university league tables show a contrasting situation here.

Queen's University, on the back of achieving Russell Group status, has moved up from 42nd place to No 39, whereas the University of Ulster (UU) has, in a single year, slipped down from 56th place to No 62, having at one time actually been in the 40s.

One can see why a bright teenager, wanting to get a high-quality education, may in future look favourably at Queen's as a place 'on the up' while considering UU a risk.

Clearly, there is a problem here, but this is not an issue for our Assembly - it is out of their league.

Hopefully someone in Whitehall will seize the opportunity to get our higher education in shape.

In England, low-performing schools are taken under the wing of high-performers. If that were tried here with the universities, UU could benefit from having Queen's as its big brother, with the duplication of costly administration and management eliminated.

TAXPAYER

Belfast

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