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A 'Free' University education in the UK ?

Roger · 21 · 1147

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Online Roger

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This is a General Election topic as Jeremy Corbyn has proposed free Higher Education in his Manifesto, but it's also a wider and deeper issue.
From some comment in the DT :-

''If the next Government wants to make effective changes to education, surely it is time to junk the costly vanity game of university for all. Instead, university education should be rationed only to those who are capable of rising to the standards set by top-ranking institutions – while classification of university should only be conferred on those whose students fulfil the highest criteria.''

I agree with that 100% ! And :-

''Suddenly the possibility of going to "uni" – any uni – was open to everyone, thus devaluing the currency of a university degree. A situation not helped by the sprouting of new and useless courses which left students unemployable because of their poor numeracy and literacy skills.''

Agreed 100% too. The abolition of the old Technical Colleges created 2 problems - the first noted above and the second, a shortage of practical skills in trades needing electricians, plumbers, builders, mechanics etc. (and the attendant apprenticeships).

Just MO that there should be FREE or highly assisted University education via Scholarships available to the top 10% of the most talented Students, in a few absolutely critical and very demanding disciplines such as Medicine, Computer Sciences, Physics, Engineering for example.

Every time I hear about Students and Uni these days it seems to be a nonsense of indulgence in drink and messing around - as Taxpayers we pay and the Students end up in debt - all too often to no purpose.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2017/05/17/must-keep-tuition-fees-wake-fact-university-isnt-everyone/
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Wizard

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Good article Roger! In the states, currently many students major in themselves. Many uni's allow the students to customize their
degrees and basically graduate with no skills to get a job, but the real problem is they have no experience in todays workforce.
Mommy & Daddy have pampered them and never allowed them to experience disappointment or any failures in life. My
brothers son, age 27, has never had a real job. He went to the uni, but after three years lost interests. He is now working for
a restaurant and is the delivery driver, while living at home with no expenses. I asked my brother what he plans on doing with
him. He said nothing. You ask these students about history or politics and they have no clue. Rather than send them to the uni,
I agree we need to bring back Vocational Schools and teach them a skill. An Electrician or a Plumber can earn $100,000 a year
easily, if the are competent, but they need to learn and have good working habits. The Teachers and Schools in America have
really failed in educating the past 2 generations. The parents are responsible too for not taking part and raising their children
properly. Of course, I have no children, but this is my personal evaluation of seeing others raise these past generations. The
results speak for themselves.


Offline Alfie

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This is a General Election topic as Jeremy Corbyn has proposed free Higher Education in his Manifesto

Every time I hear about Students and Uni these days it seems to be a nonsense of indulgence in drink and messing around - as Taxpayers we pay and the Students end up in debt - all too often to no purpose.

If higher education is not free now, how are taxpayers paying for the student's drinking and "messing around"?   ???


Online caller

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I never went to uni and at the time I left school, most didn't. My sister has had a very successful teaching career, in the UK, Hong Kong and Australia. She went to a teachers training college, which no longer exist. Recently she was contacted and told her generation were all going to be awarded honorary degrees, because at the time, when they completed their training, degrees weren't awarded.

I used to interview for posts in the team I managed as part of a 2/3 strong interview panel, eventually this was delegated, to a degree, to my managers for them to have sole responsibility to recruit the staff they were going to manage. The real reason for this delegation was that I used to find the process so depressing. I now have a hate of any of any degree which ends in the word, 'studies'!

We used a lot of scenario type questions, requiring the candidates to actually think about how they would apply themselves in certain situations, in many cases, with all these bright young things coming straight out of uni, we might as well have been asking how long it would take them to walk to the moon. So many just seemed vacant, completely empty where it matters, despite having a detailed overview about the nature of our work and a job description and spec. 

To be honest, whatever degree they had wasn't important, it wasn't even a requirement, although a knowledge of law was helpful, it was just that almost all candidates of a certain age had been to uni and quite frankly, 90% of them were a waste of time.

So based on my experiences, I'm all for bringing back alternatives to attending uni as some sort of catch all.



Online Roger

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Alfie. Sorry if that's confusing. Yes we pay in tax towards Higher Education of course but the Students also borrow to the hilt and whoop it up !

Caller. I too never went to Uni. but to Swindon, one of the old Technical Colleges.
Rather than mooting targets of sending 40-50% of youngsters to Uni. I think we should send just 15-20% of those tested as the brightest and others to Tech or Art School to learn trades and skills - or to get a job. We have far too many graduates in some subjects and too many in pointless subjects. Education in the UK needs restructuring again.
(I too observed poor levels of literacy in many job applicants and I've been out of that sort of work for 15 years). The UK needs to go back to the past in some ways !

Thanks Wizard. Education has always been a hot topic in our Family as my Father was a Principal Lecturer at Swindon and he was also President of NATFHE.
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Alfie

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Alfie. Sorry if that's confusing. Yes we pay in tax towards Higher Education of course but the Students also borrow to the hilt and whoop it up !

That debt will be theirs. And it's up to them if they waste their opportunity. More fool them.


Offline Alfie

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Rather than mooting targets of sending 40-50% of youngsters to Uni. I think we should send just 15-20% of those tested as the brightest and others to Tech or Art School to learn trades and skills - or to get a job. We have far too many graduates in some subjects and too many in pointless subjects.

How would you do that? A special national test and the highest scores get to go to university and the rest don't? And who would choose their subjects for them? The government? And you would abolish the subjects that you don't approve of? I can't say I agree with that.

Education in the UK needs restructuring again.

Apart from your previous ideas, in what way?


Online Roger

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Hi Alfie.

Just MO but the Examination system should be used to select the 15% for University entrance. Surely the current Exams are able to do that job ? If not, then the system should be beefed up or entry Exams added.

As for which subjects to select for NO State assistance at all - well I've noticed 'Horse Whispering', 'Puppetry', 'Yacht Operation', 'Floral Design', 'Surf Science', 'David Beckham', 'Viticulture and Oenology', 'Horology', 'Circus and Physical Performance', 'Hand Embroidery' and let's not forget, 'Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame'.
And more commonly, 'Performing Arts', 'Media Studies', Graphic Design', 'Dance', 'Choreography' and maybe 100 more from the UCAS list.

Accuse me of being a 'Phillistine' if you like. I don't suggest abolishing any subjects at all - except maybe Lady Gaga and David Beckham !  But Students who want to study non-core subjects, should IMO pay the full cost of their Tuition.

The UK needs to decide which academic pursuits it needs to encourage and then needs to support that view with FREE Tuition Fees. The study of Engineering, Computer Sciences, Medicine, Physics, Mathematics and similar subjects are essential to the Nations survival and prosperity. So these and and no doubt some other subjects, would be core.

Restructuring ? I think we've already thrown in enough ideas to be going on with !

ATB


 
« Last Edit: May 19, 2017, 03:51:31 PM by Roger »
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Alfie

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Just MO but the Examination system should be used to select the 15% for University entrance. Surely the current Exams are able to do that job ? If not, then the system should be beefed up or entry Exams added.

I think entry exams would have to be introduced because, I believe, the tests are not exactly the same throughout the country.

As for which subjects to select for NO State assistance at all - well I've noticed 'Horse Whispering', 'Puppetry', 'Yacht Operation', 'Floral Design', 'Surf Science', 'David Beckham', 'Viticulture and Oenology', 'Horology', 'Circus and Physical Performance', 'Hand Embroidery' and let's not forget, 'Lady Gaga and the Sociology of Fame'.

There are university degrees in those subjects? Really? What the ...

The UK needs to decide which academic pursuits it needs to encourage and then needs to support that view with FREE Tuition Fees. The study of Engineering, Computer Sciences, Medicine, Physics, Mathematics and similar subjects are essential to the Nations survival and prosperity. So these and and no doubt some other subjects, would be core.

That sounds like a jolly good idea to me.


Online Roger

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''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Alfie

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The abolition of the old Technical Colleges created 2 problems - the first noted above and the second, a shortage of practical skills in trades needing electricians, plumbers, builders, mechanics etc. (and the attendant apprenticeships).

I wasn't aware that "Technical Colleges" had been abolished. Perhaps they were just renamed to "college", like Dumfries and Galloway College (used to be called 'Dumfries and Galloway College of Technology', but I see that Farnborough College of Technology has kept "technology" in its name. http://www.farn-ct.ac.uk

On your point "shortage of practical skills in trades", for apprentices, only a small part of their time is spent in a college, either on day release (once a week) or block release (a couple of months, for example). Most of their time is spent on the job, learning from tradesmen. Most of the theoretical side of the trade is learnt in colleges. Depending on the particular course or the needs of the employer, some practical/technical learning can also be done at the college.

Here's a link to Exeter College's Electrical Installation course for apprentices:

http://www.exe-coll.ac.uk/Course/electrical-installation-advanced-apprenticeship
« Last Edit: May 20, 2017, 02:13:39 PM by Alfie »


Online Roger

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Alfie. I think many of the larger 'Tech Colleges' became Universities some time ago.
(My ex-Lady in the UK - her Daughter went to Northampton was Tech now University to do 'Performing Arts').

I'm really glad that Exeter has a good College running advanced apprenticeships. I was an Apprentice at Vickers Armstrong near Swindon who actually sent me on a 3 year 'Sandwich' to Farnborough that you mention - to do HND Business Studies.

Sorry my use of 'abolition' is wrong. But IMO it is certainly true that the coverage of Tech Colleges and also the number of Apprenticeships available, has been much reduced.
IMO we had a much better chance when we were young than the Kids today.

So I'm suggesting that standards should be raised at Universities, focus on important subjects and reduce the % of Entrants overall. Any money saved should be redirected to Colleges such as Exeter, Swindon and Farnborough, to develop talents in an employable way for the good of all.

Perhaps this pendulum is already swinging - I hope so.

Thanks.
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Alfie

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Did you know that an "apprenticeship Levy" has been introduced? From 1st May this year all businesses with a payroll of more than £3m will have to pay a monthly levy contribution at 0.5% of their payroll bill. The idea is to persuade employers to take on more apprentices.

Some details about it here:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/apprenticeship-levy-how-it-will-work/apprenticeship-levy-how-it-will-work


Online Roger

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Thanks Alfie - I'd heard about it but I didn't realise the Scheme had started. A step forward.
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Offline Alfie

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After this discussion about higher education in the UK, it's interesting to see a Thai university dilemma.

http://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1253922/three-quarters-of-universities-at-risk-of-closure



Three quarters of Thai universities are 'at risk of closure' due to low enrolment and increased competition from foreign rivals.

During last year's admission, the universities had vacancies for up to 150,000 prospective students to study various subjects, but only 80,000 applied for the entrance test, he added.

"New social trends could make some majors outdated, so those which want to stay financially healthy may have to close certain programmes. Majors in the social science field are likely to go first," he said.





Online Roger

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The problem rumbles on . . . .

''Students going to university with EEE grades at A-levels is “lunacy”, an education minister has said as he warns it is “madness” but the Government has to “suck it up”. Lord Agnew, the minister for school systems, said that the voices “screaming for lowering standards” in higher education are “relentless”. Speaking at an education conference at Brighton College, he said: “Why are we letting kids go to university with three E’s at A-levels? I mean, why? It’s lunacy.   

“But unfortunately there’s a body of people out there because they then never have to pick up the tab for the results of that kind of madness that’s the problem. And so, as a government you just have to suck it up basically and just keep plodding forward and that’s what we do.”

His comments come amid growing concern that universities are admitting too many students who are not suited to the academic rigours of higher education. There is now fierce competition among universities to attract students, with top institutions prepared to drastically lower their entry grades to entice school-leavers
.'' 

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2019/05/02/students-going-university-eee-grades-a-levels-lunacy-education/
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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New proposals for Higher Education - still missing the point by a mile and a half   ::)

From the Guardian . . . .

''The rescue job on student loans performed by Philip Augar this week is expected to channel another £6bn a year of state funds into universities and colleges. Almost half the nation’s post-18 cohort – principally the richer half – will continue to be removed from the labour force, supposedly to fructify in peaceful retreat for three years. Meanwhile, universities are sitting on £44bn of reserves accumulated since fees tripled in 2012, the other outcome of which is a staggering £100bn of student debt built up over the past decade. No one can say what the nation has gained for all this money.''

''The other change is welcome, a shift of emphasis from higher to further education, towards so-called technical colleges. The crushing of Britain’s skills-oriented college sector over the past decade – down by 16% – has been a scandal. The Office for National Statistics claims that a third of all graduates – including scientists – are not in “graduate level” jobs, while many skills are in acutely short supply. There are a mere 10,000 degree-grade apprenticeships in Britain each year, against 300,000 university places. This is absurd. Somehow the binary structure of post-school education must be restored.''

''What universities have not done is budge an inch on their own reform.''

''The evidence suggests that most British universities have drifted far from this essentially scholarly ideal to become a generational rite of passage. For most people, graduate and non-graduate, the best education takes place in the university of life, and that costs nothing.''

Why not raise standards at Universities, focus on important subjects and reduce the length of Degree courses to 2 years where possible and the % of Entrants overall to 20% ? The vast amounts of money saved should be redirected to Colleges to develop talents that can be employed . . . .

https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2019/may/31/what-are-universities-for-taxpayers-right-know
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Coolkorat

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''The evidence suggests that most British universities have drifted far from this essentially scholarly ideal to become a generational rite of passage. For most people, graduate and non-graduate, the best education takes place in the university of life, and that costs nothing.''

Why not raise standards at Universities, focus on important subjects and reduce the length of Degree courses to 2 years where possible and the % of Entrants overall to 20% ? The vast amounts of money saved should be redirected to Colleges to develop talents that can be employed . . . .

I 100% agree with this. There is so much emphasis on gaining UCAS points to facilitate entry to university, but much less emphasis on what that education will achieve. But the UK is not alone in this; how many Thai job opportunities come with a requirement that the individual has a university degree? Every sizable Brazilian town has a 'university' (and university education in Brazil normally lasts 5+ years, although is part time and the student works at the same time). Germany has had the technical college system in place for many years. The UK needs the plumbers, electricians, builders, nurses, etc. of the future and should encourage youngsters to become members of these highly-skilled trades.


Online Roger

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Hallelujah - will this mean the end of Degrees in "'Horse Whispering', 'Puppetry', 'Yacht Operation', 'Floral Design', 'Surf Science', 'David Beckham', 'Viticulture and Oenology', 'Horology', 'Circus and Physical Performance', 'Hand Embroidery' and let's not forget, 'Lady Gaga and the 'Sociology of Fame'. And more commonly, 'Performing Arts', 'Media Studies', Graphic Design', 'Dance', 'Choreography' and maybe 100 more from the UCAS list."

At last someone in Govt. talks sense on this subject . . .

"Too many youngsters are going to university, the Education Secretary has said, as he rips up the 50 per cent target. Gavin Williamson said that there are "limits" to what we can achieve by sending increasing numbers of school leavers into higher education, adding that it is "not always what the individual and nation needs".

"In a virtual speech, hosted by the Social Market Foundation, he warned that we should not try to drive half of young people down a path which they are not all suited to. School leavers should instead be encouraged to enroll in technical and further education colleges or apprenticeships. “For too long, we’ve been training people for jobs that don’t exist. We need to train them for the jobs that do exist and will exist in the future,” Mr Williamson said. “We have to end the focus on qualifications for qualifications sake. We need fundamental reform: a wholesale rebalancing towards further and technical education
.” "

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2020/07/09/many-youngsters-going-university-education-secretary-says-rips/
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein


Online Roger

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Ms. Street-Porter is on the button today ?

"Our economy is desperate for highly skilled workers, the product of apprenticeships and technical colleges, specialists who will start their own businesses. In short, electricians, plumbers, construction workers, tool designers, and technicians for the scientific, medical and engineering industries. Boris has said our climb out of recession would be realised through construction and building - where are the workers coming from?"

The answer - Rumania, Albania, Poland, Hungary and anywhere else outside the UK.

"The degrees which are most likely to result in a high earning job are in business, computing, law, economics, and maths from Oxford, Cambridge and Unversity College London. So what about all the other 1.3 million students not studying these subjects? Yes, in normal years they will be making lots of friends and enjoying social events."

And enjoying a gap year or two ?

I win today's 'miserable git' prize LOL

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/debate/article-8643069/JANET-STREET-PORTER-Shouldnt-asking-Mickey-Mouse-degrees-worth-money.html
''If you can't explain it simply, you don't understand it well enough'' - Albert Einstein