Students are lining themselves up for £50K debts trying to get useless degrees. Outside some science and medicine the student year is about 28 weeks, with only 9 hours ‘class contact’ in each week. Standards are pathetic, and bureaucracy has replaced the old ways. When I started teaching, HNC (always part-time) involved as much time commitment as most degrees now and HNDs could involve 24 hours class contact.
Students would be better off finding employers who would let them work and invest the university fee money in the business, or a national investment pension scheme. Universities should be taking our best students from 16 on two-year, 40 week year degrees, partly to free up funding for non-academic kids, themselves working on two-day release schemes from 14. The rest should be about practical research projects for higher degrees and teaching qualifications, including collaboration between industry and universities, with some scholars actively pursuing independent interests under peer review and open publication.
If students have to pay for themselves, they may as well go abroad. When Newton went to Cambridge at 18, most of his fellow students were younger and boozing and debauching. We need to encourage scholarship and socialising, but not the dire mediocrity of poor academic students learning from dud textbooks, York Notes and copying practices more fitting for cloistered monks. The bulk of learning should be practical and perhaps take the form of National and International Service on non-war projects.