According to the Council for Industry and Higher Education, in the early years of the next century some 60 per cent of 18/19 year olds will reach the educational level qualifying them for university, while employers will look for whole workforces educated in advanced skills and the habit of reflection on the work they do. Patrick Coldstream argues that the UK must expect to provide a far wider spectrum of opportunities than the phrase 'higher education' has traditionally suggested. The workplace has to become the raw material of broad learning. Many people will need post-18 education that is neither academic nor vocational in the traditional sense, but largely based on practice and working back to theory. Graduates will need to be of independent mind, reflective and constructively critical, at home with their own language including everyday mathematics, used to thinking with others, unfazed by the wealth of data on offer and less impressed with their own knowledge than with the prospect of continued learning. To offer such education on a huge scale and efficiently demands a revolution in teaching and learning methods in universities and colleges of further education.
Too much attention to national threshold standards could encourage counter-educational spoonfeeding. On the other hand a serious national research programme could allow Britain to become a world leader in the study and practice of modern university teaching and 'applied education'.