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Report of Discussion

Tuesday, 17 March 1998. A Discussion was held in the Senate-House of the Report, dated 2 March 1998, of the Council on the regulations for Homerton College (p. 460).

Dr J. T. DINGLE (read by Mr J. F. HOWE):

Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I make these comments on paragraph 2 of the Report in my capacity as President of Hughes Hall, a College which has a long tradition of admitting P.G.C.E. students. It is now proposed that the number of P.G.C.E. students whom Homerton College may matriculate should be increased from 350 to 500 a year, an increase which may have implications for other Colleges which the Report does not address. The administration of admissions for all P.G.C.E. students, whether for study at Homerton or at the School of Education, is already handled by Homerton. It would be regrettable if contractual or other tripartite arrangements between the University, the Teacher Training Agency, and Homerton College were eventually to result in all P.G.C.E. students being matriculated by Homerton without students having the option of applying to and being accepted by another College. The majority of P.G.C.E. students come to Cambridge after taking a first degree at another university and will not, therefore, have experienced collegiate life in Cambridge before starting their one-year graduate courses. P.G.C.E. students, like other students, can gain much from belonging to a multi-disciplinary collegiate society and the broadening of experience at this level can be especially beneficial for students about to enter the teaching profession. Because this Report may have significant financial implications for Colleges besides Homerton, I would urge the Council to initiate discussions with the Colleges before any further action is taken to increase the number of P.G.C.E. students to be matriculated by Homerton College above the permitted maximum of 350.


Mr Deputy Vice-Chancellor, I think there is some misunderstanding about the purpose behind the Council's proposal in relation to P.G.C.E. numbers and I would welcome the opportunity to try to clarify the matter.

The recommendation that the permitted maximum for matriculated P.G.C.E. students at Homerton be increased has nothing to do with any desire to alter the present pattern of College membership for P.G.C.E. students. The purpose of the amendment is purely to regularize the current situation.

In the two years since 1995-96 the number of P.G.C.E. students that the TTA have asked Homerton to teach has increased by nearly 50 per cent, with much of that increase coming in the current year. There are a number of factors which have resulted in this large increase. These include: first, the transfer of some existing student numbers (in Biology, Religious Education, and Primary Education) from the University to Homerton; secondly, a contract from the TTA to develop new courses in Maths and Science for middle-school pupils, aged 7-14; thirdly, a virement of numbers from the B.Ed. course into the Primary P.G.C.E. course as part of the strategy to build up numbers on the new B.A. course; and finally a successful bid to the TTA to increase secondary group sizes to viable numbers following the TTA's reduction in Homerton's unit of funding.

Thus, while in 1996-97 Homerton's total P.G.C.E. student numbers were just about within the current limit set by the regulations, in 1997-98 Homerton has been contracted by the TTA to take 461 P.G.C.E. students. At the beginning of the year there were in fact 434 P.G.C.E. students who were Homerton members, less than the TTA target but well in excess of the current limit of 350 and it is this discrepancy that the Council's proposal seeks to address.

The corresponding situation for the University is that over the same two-year period P.G.C.E. numbers have reduced by about 20 per cent (mainly the result of the transfer of some numbers to Homerton). In 1997-98 the University is contracted by the TTA to teach 203 P.G.C.E. students and at the beginning of the year there were exactly 203 P.G.C.E. students who were members of Colleges other than Homerton. (This figure included 89 at Hughes Hall).

The situation for 1998-99 is likely to remain very much the same. The TTA targets are 462 students for Homerton (an increase of just one) and 203 students for the University (which is no change). There is no plan to transfer further P.G.C.E. numbers from the University to Homerton and there is certainly no financial incentive for Homerton to recruit University-funded students as Homerton members because Homerton doesn't receive a College fee. This would simply result in extra students and extra pastoral responsibility but no financial gain.

I hope it is clear that there is no threat to Hughes Hall in this proposal, or to any other College that currently has P.G.C.E. students as members. The proposal will have no impact on the present pattern of College membership. Its sole purpose is to bring the regulations into line with the current situation, and Homerton would welcome discussions with Hughes Hall and any other Colleges who wish to clarify any of the details.

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Cambridge University Reporter, 22 April 1998
Copyright © 1998 The Chancellor, Masters and Scholars of the University of Cambridge.