University at all cost?
Do all other professions have seasons? My only experience is of education & that is always in a season! We have the ‘starting the year’, ‘mock exams’, ‘proper exams’, ‘results’ seasons. In between we have some normal ‘let’s just teach children & help them learn’ time.
At the moment we are in the Results Season. For quite a few years now this is the time when the media goes out of its way to try to rubbish the results of the students who have worked really hard. The game has been to compare what the various ‘harder’ pre-cursor exams were & show that education is being ‘dumbed’ down.
This year has seen a slight change in this activity. The debate about the percentage of high grades in ‘A’ levels has been put aside to discuss the lack of available places at University. There has been much made of those with the highest grades not being able to go onto the higher education institution of their choice. The current recession & the cuts to budgets have been cited as the cause of this
An interesting piece was posted by Liz Jarvis on the subject entitled Don’t ALL our kids deserve to go to Uni? Certainly that seems to be the expectation. Where did it come from though? Centuries ago when I was at school (!) not everyone went to University or wanted to. Choices post-secondary included technical colleges or polytechnics. These would offer training for those wishing to move more into industry. There were teacher training colleges (hands up those of you who remember them!) for those wishing to teach. Then there were firms offering formal apprenticeships & finally there was the choice of going & getting a job.
Universities offer a degree. In my day, you would not think about going there unless the career you had in mind needed it.
It appears that the desire for equal opportunities has resulted in a proliferation of courses that in the past would not have been provided by a University.
I suspect this requirement has brought about an increase in the number of courses, and in turn, students, leading to a restriction in the numbers able to do those ‘traditional’ subjects. Somehow this feels like a ‘cart before the horse’ situation. Should we not find out what skills the country needs & focus on those? Clearly one of the differences between now & the then mentioned above is that there were jobs available for people to go into.
Have universities gone, in further education terms, from being ‘grammar schools’ to ‘comprehensive schools’ where there is a much broader range of skills /ability levels? If that is the case, does that also mean that a number of highly skilled people who can only follow their chosen career path via a university degree (lawyer, doctor etc) are missing out on that opportunity in favour of others who could perhaps get the training they require elsewhere? Accordingly, what will the ongoing impact be on this country’s ability to compete in the world market?