Higher Education: The Best Things in Life Are Free ; since 1995, a Pioneering Summer University Has Run Courses in a Deprived Area of London. Now, Its Future Is in Jeopardy. LUCY HODGES Asks, Can It Survive?
Hodges, Lucy, The Independent (London, England)
In 1993 the late Lord Young of Dartington had one of the brainwaves for which he became so famous. There had been trouble the previous year over the summer holidays with teenagers hanging out with nothing to do. The man who invented Which? magazine and the Open University got thinking. Maybe the young people needed something to occupy their minds and fill their time, he thought.
So Lord Young asked two 18-year-olds to spend six weeks in the summer of 1993 nosing around the council estates and youth clubs of Bethnal Green, east London, to find out what the youngsters were doing and what, ideally, they would like to do. Thus was born Tower Hamlets Summer University, a pioneering concept that has spawned summer universities all over London and around the country.
Established after a small pilot project in 1995, it is not a conventional university. It doesn't teach degrees, so it is not higher education in the traditional sense. But it was an instant success and is now in its seventh year. Youngsters aged 14 to 25 flock to the courses in information technology, new media, music, performing and visual arts, sport and fitness and even to classes in maths and philosophy. The beauty of the university is that it is free to everyone, regardless of where they live or how much money their parents earn. This year places on the philosophy course are going like hot cakes and the courses in first aid and baby-sitting are full.
Other summer universities have sprung up in Hackney, Southwark, Westminster, Hammersmith and Fulham, Camden and Islington in inner London and in Brent, Waltham Forest and Epping Forest in the Greater London area. In addition, there are universities in Slough, Bedford, Luton, Somerset and Blackburn with Darwen. All are modelled on the first one in Tower Hamlets but, unlike Tower Hamlets, they have been developed by local authorities.
Why do the youngsters choose to improve themselves in their holidays rather than slumping in front of the TV? They want to learn new skills, to make progress with subjects they find difficult at school and to have a good time with their friends, says Sarah Davies, the …
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Publication information: Article title: Higher Education: The Best Things in Life Are Free ; since 1995, a Pioneering Summer University Has Run Courses in a Deprived Area of London. Now, Its Future Is in Jeopardy. LUCY HODGES Asks, Can It Survive?. Contributors: Hodges, Lucy - Author. Newspaper title: The Independent (London, England). Publication date: July 25, 2002. Page number: 13. © 2009 The Independent - London. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All Rights Reserved.
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