Last week I was at NASMA, and as someone constantly banging on about future capability I was delighted to see that the narrative is slowly changing.
As students and advisors face up to the realities of the economic climate, and the pressures on student finance, more are asking “how can you get the most out of what you have” rather than the traditional “how can you get more”. This is a positive development and not just in the short term while at university.
The world is no longer such and we present students with a false reality and unrealistic expectations if they believe that additional money will simply materialise. That spending can go unchecked. We do them no favours pretending that everyone can have everything they want all the time.
By perpetuating this attitude we deny the capable disadvantaged from accessing opportunity. We place obstacles on the path of social mobility which is disastrous for them and catastrophic for us as a nation. Spreading resources too thinly is unsustainable as it means we are unable to help those who genuinely require the help. Financial education can help rebalance the understanding of needs and wants, of decision making and of the short/long term consequences of those decisions.
Now I am at Starbucks where to my pleasure the WIFI is superb, preparing to enter day 2 of AMOSSHE.
Yesterday we heard from Petra Wend who spoke of transformation at Queen Margaret – improving the “health” of the community, getting back to basics and having great success in the process with all stakeholders. Salford VC Martin Hall, who spoke with great passion about the need for diversity and sustainability and how interconnected they are.
One of the reasons I am so passionate about widening participation is that it brings fresh thinking and new points of view into a space which can easily become stale and separate from the citizenry it is there to serve. A diverse range of students leads to a more sustainable educational ecosystem – something we know as fact by looking at nature.
A video montage of student thoughts and a panel discussion examining the differences in the four countries – four regimes, one commitment to student welfare – all demonstrated a single powerful idea. The challenges are great and the discourse can be messy and confusing but there is more that unites then divides.
This year’s theme is “Imagine” which I believe to be enormously apt. We are living through a period of immense change and challenge. An unrelenting media tells us that all is hopeless and that the current crop of students are a lost generation. Can anything be more corrosive to an optimistic and talented cohort then to declare them doomed?
If it is the worst of times for students it is also the best of times. We can be sure to present them with unparalleled opportunity and possibility. The world at their feet and the opportunities in their hands are unparalleled in human history.
Students have great expectations and we can imagine how to meet them. We are going to have to be more creative, we must be more innovative, we must collaborate more and rise to the challenge and we are imminently capable.
Blogged by Vivi Friedgut – 07837 272 963
Blackbullion is an independent future capability company working with forward thinking universities to provide employability and financial education programs (www.blackbullion.co.uk)