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The ‘Transforming Education in Norfolk’ (TEN) Group is a federation of educational institutions in Norfolk linking primary and secondary schools with a higher learning institution. More precisely, it is a partnership between two academies and the City College Norwich, along with a shared services company and a university technical college (UTC) due to open in September 2014.
The concept behind TEN is simple: schools partner with a college to give students, whatever their background, the opportunity to continue their education instead of looking for a job, any job, right after graduation. In other words, when parents enrol their five-year old child in one of TEN’s member schools, they give them access to a degree.
At first glance, the advantages seem numerous: children from disadvantaged backgrounds are given the courage and aspiration to run for a degree; students can gain hands-on experience and relevant qualifications as the college works closely with a broad range of employers; locally-attached students who wish to stay in a familiar place don’t have to make difficult choices; etc.
However, one must keep in mind that many students don’t really have a choice when they decide where to go, either because they don’t have the means to move away or because they weren’t sufficiently informed about other alternatives.
Though it might still be too soon to tell if this is a quantitatively important phenomenon, or if it might pose a potential threat to universities, the concept deserves merit: one should not forget that many of those students would probably not have gone into higher education if it weren’t for that college.