Monday, 28 March 2011

Flags and Fees.

A gorgeous day and a sense of summer. The first year all stayed behind after their Ways of Seeing lecture to help us make banners for The Canterbury Tales procession. We worked outdoors in the courtyard next to Tina's cabin, a area which was paved over for the papal visit last September and that is, only now, with better weather beginning to reveal it's potential as a place for building and making things.

The second year's supervised, Jade set up a radio and in the course of an hour or so we managed to knock out over 100 brightly coloured flags, which we'll be able to distribute to the audience as we lead them in at the back gates of Ham house.

It's times like this morning that makes working at St Mary's so wonderful. There was endeavour, there was production, but most of all there was great good humour, banter and fun.

I still think that as a department of only 300 that it should be possible for Drama St Mary's to cultivate a real sense of interest and support for each others work across both the pathways and the years. In the main we do well, although student and staff support for the various productions is still sporadic rather than guaranteed. Perhaps we just need to join it up a little more at curriculum level. On the level of support an motivation I think it's certainly desirable for all students to understand everything that's going on and be able to reliably advocate the great work that they're a part of.

Whilst we were having fun with scissors, bamboo and glue news came through the University is to charge tuition fees of £8,000 from 2012. High as it seems, it's completely in line with the other declared institutions who are all ignoring the government's suggested £6,000 and backing themselves to recruit at a higher price. The question is, if the accepted wisdom within academia is to set the figures high, and students are not put off applying, then will the promised investment money be available to the Universities?

The if's are big, though. Particularly is industry undercuts the fees with apprenticeship degrees or 'a job at the end or your money back,' type guarantees. For all that can be said in favour of the enlightenment of an academy education it's clearly a huge financial gamble now for students to go to University and in too many cases it's not really possible to glibly suggest it's worth the money. Institutions are going to have to genuinely engage with student aspiration and need in order to keep schools and parents onside. It won't be easy to keep our lecture halls full.


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