Friday, 10 December 2010

University is not a Uni Youth Club

Universities are not schools.  They are not about teaching and students.  They are about learning and research.  When undergraduates are awarded  a degree they have attained a level of intellectual assurance and a level of knowledge that enables them to begin contributing to the university - or not if they prefer to work elsewhere or the university has no place for them.

It was always a false goal to want 50% of the age cohort admitted to a university.  That's what comes of an inability to think straight, of confusing access to resources and training and the better jobs with access to universities.  It would be helpful for schools if the tertiary education sector were more highly differentiated so that schooling itself is not blighted by the demands to be met for university entrance.  It would be helpful for the universities if undergraduate teaching were provided in colleges organised for undergraduate teaching, preferably that could be accessed from the age of 16 - post GCSEs.

Too many vested interests for such a reorganisation and, from the other side, too many entrenched notions of what is privilege.  But the price is the decay of our universities, an enormous waste of public resources on a Rolls-Royce tertiary education sector we can no longer afford, that many are consuming with little enthusiasm, and riots.


Anonymous said...

I hope nobody is suggesting 20 thousand media studies students are not helping our economy stand proud in the global market place.
Who needs academic subjects anyway? Engineering - rubbish. Football studies and choreography are far more important to us all.


Nick Drew said...

to want 50% of the age cohort admitted to a university

this was indeed a fatuous, brainless goal: the marginal student was pressured into something they had no inclination or motivation for, is taught poorly at a marginal institution, and drops out quickly - having meanwhile been suckered into taking on debt

(as to the 'subjects' being taught ...)

that said, those marginal institutions are universities in name only, and the 50% nonsense barely impinges on the top X%: it's a sad little game being played in the lower divisions

Elby the Beserk said...

Charlie Gilmour, studying Hsitory at Cambridge, said that he did not know the significance of the Cenotaph. Studying History. He clearly DOES need some education. Beardy bloke in sandals on a bicycle...

Off topic, here are a series of absolutely FASCINATING lectures on development

tory boys never grow up said...

So what should be the goals for university education, other tertiary education and apprenticeships? If the UK is interested in maintaining/improving its international competiveness then I'm afraid significant reductions in tertiary education are not really an option - just look at the statistics here for example,,3343,en_2649_39263238_45897844_1_1_1_1,00.html
and a return to the days when only 12% of the population went to university is just not tenable.

The argument that we are running a Rolls Royce tertiary education sector, at least in terms of cost, is just not tenable, the rest of the industrialised world (and much of the rest) is spending much more. There are valid arguments as to where the spending on tertiary education should go - but regarding the overall level of spending reduction isn't really a tenable argument.