The feedback from the meeting of the MIAP HE Implementation Advisory Group suggests that I was not alone in expressing the concerns aired in my last blog entry. The meeting agreed to proceed with a low risk approach of piloting aspects of the programme to help establish the benefits and so build up the business case. However the meeting also noted that the implementation team were having difficulty in recruiting a representative group of institutions to engage with the pilot studies. This may highlight a problem other initiatives will come across in the current economic climate – where the benefits of an initiative are not proven, few institutions will want to commit already stretched resources to taking part in a pilot to prove or disprove the case. Consequently there is a need for such projects to include funds to mitigate the impact of the pilot on the institution. MIAP does not enjoy this luxury.
As I mentioned in my last post, it will be difficult to demonstrate some of the benefits without the interfaces needed with institutional systems. Perhaps one way forward would be to look to pilot with an institution which has developed its own student records system rather than use a commercial system, with appropriate contributions to the institution to allow the necessary development to take place. Assuming the benefits are then realised, the development could form a template for other institutions and software suppliers. However these institutions will already be looking at what is required to link in with the points based immigration system and so may not be willing to accept more development work.
The meeting also included an update on the pilots of the Higher Education Achievement Report (HEAR). The Burgess report recommended introducing a single document, to be known as a ‘Higher Education Achievement Report’ (HEAR), which would be the key vehicle for measuring and recording student achievement. Eighteen institutions are now piloting the report along with employers. The suggestion is that the HEAR is owned by the institution. This contrasts with MIAP’s Learner Record which is owned by the student. If the MIAP principle of sharing data is to be followed, the Learner Record will need to have a mechanism to allow linkages with institutional HEAR reports. The HEAR Report though may contain information beyond quantitative data on achievement such as a student’s strengths and weaknesses in particular modules, qualities relating to project work, presentations, group work, dissertations, and timed examinations. The question is whether learners will want all this information in their record.
So there remains much work to be done before it is clear how the programme will move forward. Since MIAP was conceived a number of HE specific initiatives have begun and developed quickly. MIAP faces additional challenges to ensure these initiatives are integrated into the programme.