University musings

Is University education all set to become highly parochial?

  1. Fees of £9000 a year in England.  Currently free in Scotland.   Will any Scottish students ever go to university in England again?
  2. Something in the paper the other day about the low numbers of ethnic minority (or maybe it was AfroCaribbean) students at Oxbridge.  I bet there aren’t going to be many Scottish students applying for Oxford or Cambridge in the future.
  3. Are Scottish students the next ethnic minority?
  4. Why is funding being cut for Arts and Humanities courses?  Will these subjects become second rate, and if so how do schools persuade pupils to learn a language or study History?
  5. Just think of students doing longer degrees like architecture. Whoah – that’s going to be some debt.
  6. A fact trotted out regularly is that someone with a degree earns more.  I would just like to point out that a lot of them don’t.  It was a long time before I earned anything even approaching a teacher’s salary.  If I’d had a £30,000 debt, increasing with interest, I wouldn’t be living in my own house now.
  7. Britain does not have a tradition of paying for higher education. This means that we do not have a well established system of endowments, bursaries, scholarships like the States.
  8. There is already a tradition of Scottish students going to their local university – nothing wrong with that, they’re all excellent universities.  Far more live at home than in the days when I went to university and planned to move as far away as possible.  If fees are introduced up here – and it is potentially likely, following next spring’s election – will most Scottish students live at home?
  9. Scottish degrees are four years, not three.
  10. Loans are means tested (don’t know what happens south of Hadrians Wall) so, even on a fairly modest parental income, students may only be able to borrow about £900 a year plus any overdraft.  Parents are footing the bill (this I do know).  Most students will go the closest university and live at home.
  11. Is this commodifying (is that a word? Apologies) Higher Education?  I think I’d prefer my doctor to be a doctor because she/he wanted to be a doctor rather than because of potential earnings.  I guess the days of learning for the sake of learning, just because its interesting, may have gone forever.  Except in Scotland of course. Now, where’s my Latin dictionary?

Does any of this matter?  My parents didn’t have the opportunity to go to university. I wonder, would five of their six children have gone, if  faced with fees of £9000 a year (and don’t forget living expenses on top of that)?  As it happens, the sixth now earns way more than the rest of us and would probably have paid off the loan yonks ago.

I’ve no idea but it’s all very scary.

And, without telling you what I voted last time, I’m not sure I would ever vote Liberal Democrat again.

Looking back, I wrote these possibly prescient words some time ago about related matters:   LEAP and    Further LEAPS.

3 thoughts on “University musings

  1. A whole can of worms here. Now this is not intended to be contentious, but I think that “futher education” has been used as a parking lot to reduce youth unemployment figures. I think a far better plan would be to reduced the number of “micky mouse” courses and fully fund the “real” University courses, medicine, science, teacher training etc. at the same time increase apprenticeships and work placement training schemes.

  2. A can of worms indeed, R&C! Feel free to be contentious -I’m sure if anyone had the answers then that vote would not have gone through last night. Some more random thoughts:
    > There’s a difference between Further education and Higher education;
    > HE may well be a parking lot but a very large proportion of 17yr olds have no idea what they want to be doing when they’re 18 never mind 25 or 35;
    > Quite agree, there should be more apprenticeships, work placement training etc.;
    > One man’s (or woman’s) micky mouse degree is another man’s opening and opportunity;
    > I would be very concerned if “real” University courses hadn’t moved on in the last 20, 30, 50 years and new subjects hadn’t come into the curriculum;
    > On second thoughts, most 17yr olds do know what they want to be doing at 18 – they want to be a) in the pub, b) asleep or c) not printable.

    And you’ve reminded me to add another little bit into the post above 🙂

  3. I agree with retiredandcrazy. A degree doesn’t “mean” much these days because everyone know that just about anyone with anything about them can get one. Going to university used to mean that you were academically gifted but, it doesn’t any more. We should revert to the old system and fund it properly. Less academic students should go to local colleges and live at home!

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