Don’t Go To University

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.


6 thoughts on “Don’t Go To University

  1. Yes, I agree. As a former employer, I recall shortlisting graduates to be disappointed at interview and discovered some of our brightest and most practical do not necessarily have a degree. An additional problem for any job selection process has been the rise of many second rate Universities during the last few decades. Some courses are worthless. The worst of these are offered to the dumbest students. An annual emergence of mediocre material from Huddersfield with degrees in welcoming aliens from outer space, is a major toe curling event for the Town.

    Employers will resort to scanning cv’s for the awarding Institution, scrutinizing the application itself for errors and responses to sly test questions. It will always be a game between employer and applicant which, I suppose, matters less than falling down the International league tables.

    We should preserve what is good and innovate more with scholarships and fiscal motivators. The worst Universities should be stripped of their status since any reverence of failure is a plague to education and the economy.

  2. Pingback: Don't Go To University (via Allcoppedout's Blog) « THE BANKSIDE BABBLE

    • What’s going on isn’t even fun for anyone. Education is business in the sense that the international market is ‘worth’ maybe a trillion USD. Some of our universities offer degrees I could pass for about £300 by getting answers from websites. I can grade papers in subjects I have little knowledge of on literacy. I see almost no numeracy, despite teaching quants!

      If the real fee per student is £10K and I teach two classes of 100 each, I bring in £2,000,000 p.a. and could service all the teaching. I need only two rooms, one full of computers to access internet libraries and a resource database, the other for lectures (I can make this redundant). I could handle ‘tutorials’ by phone and email from home.
      On this basis the waste is phenomenal, probably as much as 90% of spend.

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  4. The OU has some problems Shijuro, but is generally a good model. It’s not relevant to the general system though, more an argument in practice against it. Standards can be very low though, and some of the modules are hapless. There’s a lot that could be expanded on. There are plenty of other examples around. It’s surprisingly good (as a lecturer) not seeing students. I get ill a lot less.

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