Report: British aid to Nigerian schools is not helping

The United Kingdom has poured millions into Nigerian school, but an independent group found that money has failed to improve education in the country.

The Independent Commission for Aid Impact concluded in a recent report that:

[The government’s] education programme in Nigeria operates in a very challenging environment, with too few effective teachers, poor infrastructure and unpredictable State funding, all contributing to poor learning outcomes for pupils in basic education. Our review indicates no major improvement in pupil learning. Expectations continue to be modest with no likelihood of Nigeria meeting its Millennium Development Goal for primary education.”

The United Kingdom has already given £102 million (about $162 million) across 10 Nigerian states. Another £126 million (about $200 million) is pledged through 2019, according to the BBC.

A spokesperson for the UK’s Department for International Development told the BBC that report had a narrow focus, but the department would “carefully review the report’s recommendations and respond in due course.”

United Kingdom short 10,000 STEM graduates

The United Kingdom needs to produce 100,000 science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) graduates annually in order to keep its current industrial status quo. Right now, it graduates 90,000 such students a year, leading to a 10,000-person deficit, according to a new report by the Royal Academy of Engineering.

To compound the problem further, a quarter of existing STEM graduates don’t end up working in scientific careers, Jobs and growth: the importance of engineering skills to the UK economy finds. All told, the country needs 1.25 million STEM professionals and technicians by 2020. 

The report also found that women were far less likely to enter STEM fields. The same may be true for low-income students, as well. 

"Stem qualifications are portable and valuable," Matthew Harrison, report author and director of engineering and education at the Academy, said in a statement. "All young people should have access to them as a means of social mobility and to strengthen the economy."

"This government can talk all it likes about improving social mobility but how will erecting punitive financial barriers help our best and brightest get on?"

Sally Hunt, leader of the British University and College Union. After raising tuition fees up to £9,000 annually, United Kingdom university applications were down 8.9 percent this year. 

"Since coming to power the Government has sought to undermine teachers. Occasionally saying we have the best generation of teachers we’ve ever had in no way compensates for the onslaught of attacks and threats to pay, pensions and working conditions."

— Christine Blower, general secretary of the United Kingdom’s National Union of Teachers - which, along with the UK’s other main teachers union, is threatening to strike

Course offerings at British universities decrease

There are nearly 20,000 fewer full-time undergraduate courses at British Universities than there were in 2006, according to a new study by the University and College Union (UCU). At the same time, enrollment at universities rose 5 out of the last 6 years, reports The Guardian.

The drop was most dramatic in England, with nearly a third fewer courses. Northern Ireland saw a fall in the number of courses of 24 percent, Wales saw 11 percent and Scotland saw 3 percent. The average, across all countries was a 27 percent reduction in courses offered.

"While successive governments have been dreaming up new ways to increase the cost of going to university, the range of subjects available to students has fallen massively. The UK’s global academic reputation is built on the broad range of subjects available and on the freedom of academics to push at the boundaries and create new areas of study," said Sally Hunt, UCU general secretary. "This report shows that, while government rhetoric is all about students as consumers, the curriculum has actually narrowed significantly."

Scottish universities free for locals, Euros — but not for the English

The United Kingdom is going through some interesting changes in higher education, as they move closer and closer to U.S.-style university fees. Since the late 90s the UK has been raising tuition for university students, with the latest jump going from a cap of 3,000 pounds up to 9,000 pounds.That stirred up lots of protest among students.

The New York Times says

"Education experts say the increase in Britain pushed its university system much closer to the American model, where education is seen as an individual benefit that should be paid for."

But the really interesting part is up in Scotland, where university remains largely free — at least for Scots and other Euros. English students will have to pay the higher fees if they want to attend Scottish schools. The universities say they had to differentiate the costs to prevent Scottish schools becoming swamped with “fee refugees” seeking to avoid the higher fees in England. Making the situation even more bizarre, because of European Union rules, the Scottish have to let students from other countries to attend at the no-cost rate. So a student from France can get a cheaper education in Scotland than an English student.