More University places?

I was on the BBC’s Have Your Say today whilst taking a break from job hunting and packing.  There is a debate on there about whether we should be opening up more university places.  This is not a straight forward answer.  I may sound like an educational snob here, but I think it is the right solution.

University is not for everyone.  The level of academic ability required to get a good degree is such that not everyone can go to university.  The Government target of 50% of school leavers going to university is a ridiculous one.

Some of the degrees being offered today will give the graduate little or no gain in the employment world, so why saddle them with up to £30,000 worth of debt for them not to get the return that they have been led to believe they will get?  That’s just not fair on the individual.

More money does need to be spent on Further and Higher Education, but let’s get it in the right place.  Let’s give those with the academic ability to go and study at University, but may not have the financial backing that others do more financial support so that they can go to University and study.

Also, let’s put money into FE Colleges and open up more vocational qualifications.  We have a drastic shortage of skilled tradesmen in this country.  Why not offer more opportunities for people to learn trades in the right educational setting?  A university is not the most appropriate of places to train builders, electricians or plumbers.  Hands on, vocational courses suit these professions, which are catered for best in FE Colleges.

The Government is always on about having a skilled workforce and this being one of the reasons why we want more university graduates.  However, this fails to realise that a skilled workforce includes the likes of plumbing, brick-layers, electricians and so on.

There is no point sending someone of below average intelligence to university on a course which will add no benefit to the wider economy just for them to gain a drinking problem and be saddled with a massive debt that they will spend most of their working life paying off.

Another problem with sending too many people to university is that Undergraduate degrees start to become devalued and those with degrees in subjects suited to university level study need to start doing post-graduate qualifications in order to give themselves the competitive advantage that having an Undergraduate degree once did.

As for whether there should be more university places?  There should be enough places at university on appropriate courses for those with both the academic ability and desire to go to University without any financial barriers.

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4 thoughts on “More University places?

  1. “There is no point sending someone of below average intelligence to university on a course which will add no benefit to the wider economy just for them to gain a drinking problem and be saddled with a massive debt that they will spend most of their working life paying off.”

    This statement kind of took me by surprise. I get annoyed when people say certain people should not have the right to go University. Starting with “below average intelligence” I would first how would you rank that? When I did my A levels I was encouraged to do a broad range of subjects from Science to humanities and I did so and in result had an appalling grade in science but very good grades in the other humanity subjects and I pretty much don’t have great grades and I would call myself a board line average student maybe even below. Yet when I went University I started hitting 1st and 2.1s with only one 2.2 mark in the entire first year which is above average. My point is University learning is harder but its different and so from going from A levels where you basically learn the mark schemes and key words to University where you learn more theories and come up with your own arguments and theories in a subject your hopefully very interested in. Now I think I took to the University style of learning better than College. So in College where I was considered average if that I turned it around at University.

    You also say that it wouldn’t benefit the wider economy. I could argue that people of below average intelligence, disability or a mental illness shouldn’t go to University as even though they would gain skills required for higher role jobs that could potential enhance the economy it could also be a waste of money as. A person who isn’t intelligent wont hack it at University, a person with a disability or mental illness would struggle at university with no guarantee of finishing while using resources and say if they do finish the disability or mental illness could mean time off work which could cost the economy in sick days ect.

    What Im trying to say is we have entry grades and that if people pass them regardless of their station in life they should be admitted Entry grades in effect is to stop people of a lower intelligence (i don’t like this phrase) getting into University. If we shut down the low end entry grade required Unis you stop people from poorer and not as privileged backgrounds getting into higher education not giving them a chance to try and be what they aspire. When saying the Government aims at 50% of school leavers to go university is a bad thing did you know that 22.4% of University students fail to graduate?

    You also say that it would “devalue” a degree with more people completing. Yes this is true but it allows people to do higher education and still people who are intelligent will show compared to those who have made graduation by their teeth!

    I agree we should invest more in Further Education however the examples you gave “plumbing, brick-layers, electrician” you are aware that these are the Industries hit by recession and the ones that I was getting forced into by my High School. Thank god one teacher kicked me up my bum or I would be at the Job centre waiting for my job seekers allowance like so many of my old high school mates are now because they jumped into the careers being promised vast amounts of money.

    I don’t mean to attack you it’s just I believe Education at University level should always be an option for people no matter what their status in life is.

  2. The above blog entry was writer rather quickly and does not outline my complete preferred policy on Further and Higher Education (I am such a sad person that I actually have documents on a CD somewhere which outline how I’d like to see things done on most key issues), to have done so would have turned it into a mammoth post (the document I have on CD runs to about 50 or 60 pages, but that covers education from pre-school up to Further and Higher Education and continuous learning).

    Provisions would of course be made for those coming from poorer backgrounds and those with disabilities and learning difficulties.

    My references to those with lower than average intelligence are not really applicable at the moment, most university courses have entry requirements which are more or less around the average intelligence level. My point here was simply that to open up more university places will likely mean that more inappropriate courses (of which there are some just now) will be created and that entry requirements for courses at the institutions at the lower end of the entry requirement spectrum would end up offering courses with grades that promote those with below average intelligence to go to university.

    As I’ve said already in reply to your comment, to fully outline my preferred option for the Education system would take some time (fixing parts of the system at earlier stages will also help to ensure that those with the academic ability suited to university are not left out and make their potential).

  3. hello
    i stumbled across this article/blog late one evening after getting in from work. whilst i may not quite agree with some of the sentiment i most certainly agree that the Bachelors Degree is no longer the mark of intellect and achievement that it once was. And that this is down to increased numbers of students encouraged to enroll on quasi-vocational courses such as Hair Dressing, and Music Technology.
    i myself am a recent graduate of Music Production &, my degree is widely considered to be the best of its kind in the world, I was 1 of 30 students from 15000 applicants and achieved a good 1st. Still i work in a bar, no one cared about my degree when i sent out CV’s at the beginning of the summer and now i will have to do a masters to make anyone take note. i understand the governments policy of inclusion to promote social mobility but 50%???? unless some distinction in award is made between the academic and the vocational i can only see this policy destroying the prospects of a generation who where promised the world.

  4. ohh and in response to Looney

    22.4% of university students may fail to graduate but if 50% of school leavers attend that still means that 39.8% of the population have degrees which is only 4% lower that the current situation

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