In the UK, further education is a bastion of Soviet central planning that has wholly avoided the market-based reforms that have been adopted in other parts of the state sector. In terms of total spending, further education is important, but hitherto - perhaps because of its complexity - there has been little serious policy analysis of the sector. Professor Alison Wolf is one of the country's leading education academics. In this study, she explains the disastrous results of current policy and discusses, lucidly but rigorously, how reform of the sector should take place. The author proposes a new model for funding that is 'student centred', and which can lead to further and adult education once again making a major contribution to the building of a skilled workforce and educated citizenry. In developing her conclusions, the author draws on theory and evidence - including experience of reform in higher education. This monograph is essential reading for all those involved in post-compulsory education, including academics and policymakers. The first serious policy analysis of the further education sector, this title looks at the justifications for state spending on further education, how resources are allocated and the wider policy context. It details the disastrous results of current policies, showing that they are wasteful, inefficient and fail to deliver on their stated aims. It proposes a new model for funding further education which is driven by the needs of students, not the whims of bureaucrats and politicians.
„Universities have expanded rapidly everywhere, but the beneficiaries have been overwhelmingly middle-class. It is not poor clever children who have been flooding into higher education, but the children of the affluent, whether clever or not. Yet bizarrely, in much of the world, governments seem determined that to those who have it shall be given. How else to explain the enormous proportions of public education spending that are directed into higher education?” - Alison Wolf, The cost of higher education, The Economist, 29 October 2008
Alison Wolf is a British economist. She is Director of Public Services Policy and Management at King’s College, London where she holds the Sir Roy Griffiths chair.
Wolf studied at the Universities of Neuchatel and Oxford. Her early career was spent in the United States as a policy analyst for the government. She then worked many years at the Institute of Education of the University of London where she was guest professor. She is a member of the Advisory Committee for Education for the House of Commons of the UK and a member of the council of the United Nations University. She writes frequent articles in the British press and moderated a programme on BBC Radio 4. She is a member of the International Accounting Education Standards Board and has worked as a consultant for the European Commission, Bar Council, OECD, Royal College of Surgeons and the Ministries of Education of New Zealand, France and South Africa
Wolf studies the interface between educational institutions and labour markets. She also has a research interest in performance studies, maths education, training, tertiary education and employment in the health sector.
In her book, Does Education Matter? Myths about Education and Economic Growth, she questioned the widespread view that higher public expenditure on education would increase economic growth. Instead, the causality ran in the opposite direction. For the individual, the crucial skills in the labour market are primarily the mathematical and linguistic skills that are taught in school. She therefore recommends investment in primary and secondary education rather than the tertiary level.
Publications: Improving skills at work (with Evans, K.), Routledge, 2010; An Adult Approach to Further Education: How to Reverse the Destruction of Adult and Vocational Education. Institute of Economic Affairs, 2009;Does Education Matter?: Myths About Education and Economic Growth, Penguin, 2002; Convergence and Divergence in European Education and Training Systems (with Green, A. and Leney, T.), Institute of Education, 1999.