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Higher Education White Paper too focused on economic development

Response from the Church of England Board of Education to the June 2011 Higher Education White Paper - Students at the Heart of the System

The Government should avoid concentrating on economic development and take "a rich view" of the full contribution higher education can make as it shapes new legislation says the Church of England Board of Education in response to the HE White Paper. Failure to do so, the response adds, risks creating a system ill equipped to facilitate the education needed in an increasingly complex and diverse society.

In the response to the HE White Paper consultation which closed this month, the Bishop of Oxford the Rt Revd John Pritchard chair of the Board of Education said: "The Church has consistently argued for a rich view of higher education as being for the holistic development of individuals and communities. As Archbishop Rowan Williams commented in a speech in the House of Lords on 11th August 2011, 'a good educational system in a healthy society is one that builds character,  that builds virtue'."

He added: "Against such a background, the present White Paper is very thin indeed in its understanding of higher education. It is almost totally focussed on the economic contribution.

"This is particularly surprising given the government's concern to create a 'Big Society', develop a localism agenda, develop communities and address issues of morality and values. Universities have traditionally contributed to such agendas and can still do so, by facilitating critical reflection on society and seeking to form in students an ethic of service, that they may be better local and global citizens."

Read the full response