NOTTINGHAM – The extensive dumbing down of courses, reduction of entry requirements and introduction of pointless degrees such as ‘computer science’ contribute to why people are coming out of Universities dumber than when they went in.
What I will discuss in this article is the foundation of what bore the creation of the 21st century University, made in Tony Blair’s New-Labour image. I will discuss the types of courses we see today and why they are harming the effectiveness of both the institutions and their students academic capability. I will also talk about how University culture is now full of dangerous fads and PC culture. From safe-spaces to campus rape-culture and post-fact protests. Inclusion really is no illusion in modern Universities, but damn is it painful to challenge many of the students who posses such entitlement in their very existence here.
Many students view the world typically to how the post broadband generation is beginning to turn out, with self-importance and stupidity. Education may be a universal right but it’s not one that should isolate ignorance and protect people from their short-falls. It’s meant to be quite the opposite. Not a place which views incompatibility or inability as discrimination but as a place that exposes flaws and combats the delusion of students who feel like they’ve made it in life just for showing up to lectures. University should expose to these students the reality of the long and challenging road ahead. Today’s system is tantamount to assigning different mark schemes with varying leniences for different abilities, perpetuating a culture where everybody feels ‘important’. It isn’t obvious to everyone studying at Universities today that the real world isn’t like this, it’s not a unique position to be a student anymore. People who didn’t go to University today have a better grasp on their finances, have more wider career prospects in their chosen job, better life experience, have made more business decisions affecting others, are more grounded in reality, and most importantly do not feel like a degree is a free-pass on having to work hard in a career before rising the ranks.
Firstly here’s my theory for why it’s such a mess.
In a government sponsored academy like the one I went too, and indeed the Grammar school prior to that, there has become only one option post A-level; University. In state schools at least in the UK (where I’m from), colleges are usually built onto existing comprehensive secondary or ‘high’ schools which allow students to seamlessly slip from lower GCSE or even (‘even’ lower) BTEC courses straight through to higher (Advanced) A-level qualifications. The format for the education system is systematic in this way to encourage a natural progression of students to follow-through straight to University, it is set up to de-emphasise the decision to go from GCSE’s to A-Levels, a decision at 16 that most students should feel is a monuments moment for their life-choices – but it isn’t anymore. I’d like to highlight a number of policies which have enforced this and support why the government is killing the ability of Universities to identify, converse with and challenge potential great future thinkers, academics and other emerging eminences within their own halls.
Tony Blair’s Labour government set minimum ‘quotas’ for academic achievement in the UK, specifically around Universities. Institutions were told they should expect to receive up to and above half the population under the age of 30, as soon as potentially achievable. This changed the landscape of how secondary schools viewed the further education sphere. Once colleges such as Oxford and indeed my Russel Group Uni of Nottingham were stereotypically seen as elite schools for pompous rich kids, inclined on poking their genitals into various farm animals. Now these great institutions suddenly had to adapt to make themselves more accessible to not only lower incomes, and those with further educational requirements, but also to new students who posses a lower capacity for academic rigour to their usual cohort. They did this through phoney courses, ridiculous degrees and by handing out honorary PhD’s to celebrities like they were going out of fashion. Although it’s easy to start any article by blaming the Labour party, I believe there is a genuine case to be made for a deep cleansing of the University system in the UK, which is only making people less attractive to the outside world and ultimately, dumber.
The extent to which Universities have committed to Labour’s policy is evident in the course options for under-graduates. Universities have lowered entry requirements, adopted ‘special’ processes to accommodate people who wouldn’t normally make the cut required to study there, and also employed professional ‘hand-holders’ and scribes to work with students who can’t keep up with the pace of lectures. The term ‘University’ has also been muddied by the recent expansion into more vocational areas of study seen at Universities like Loughborough. What should have died along with secondary modern schools in the 1980’s are prime examples of the ridiculous fad of having a University education in today’s world. Courses available at places like Loughborough include hair-dressing, mechanics, marketing and PR. Driving past it the other day I saw they even had their own building dedicated to the academic rigour and fantastically perplexing art of being a hair stylist. These courses do nothing but set people up to fail, narrow their life experience and peg the University educated hair-dresser against the experienced apprentice whom subsequently has the greater opportunity of excelling in their career at the same time, earning money and progressing. This all without the need for a degree, through pure talent instead of being hand-held through their learning.
Back to my main gripe
Thank-fully I’m writing from Britain’s most employable University – Nottingham.
I therefore took it upon myself to search for lists of ‘top 10 pointless under-graduate degrees’ in the UK. I found myself agreeing with the courses and even if I didn’t, the figures – as usual – speak for themselves.
I find it difficult to understand how it’s possible to think a degree in ‘Retail Management’ is a better alternative to just working in retail and gaining practical experience so maybe the top 10 list will include that? [Spoiler: Surprisingly, it didn’t…]
Top of The Sunday Time’s: degrees with the ‘Worst Job Prospects’ list of 2015 is… Animal Science! This is followed by Creative Writing, Sociology and Communication and Media Studies. It’s only fair to point out that some of the most employable ones are also typically, Medicine, Dentistry, Nursing, Radiography, Veterinary Medicine and Civil Engineering. The average person in the street could guess these subjects and where they’d fit, so why is it people still choose to study them, if not because of the way we are told without a degree we will fail in life? It’s worth making a note that Forbes’ list on US University courses is fairly comparable – if not more in line with my original theories on the ‘worst courses to study’ Forbes includes Archaeology and Anthropology as the worst and makes mentions of Fine Art, Liberal Arts, Graphic design, Music.
Today’s academic culture has lost sight of why academic subjects were for Universities, and vocational ones for apprenticeships. What turns heads is uniqueness and individuality in the fields of art and marketing, not qualifications. The statistics show that those the government has been trying to capture – the students from the poorest families – are waking up to this self-imposed restraint and choosing now not to go to University – partially due to the current government’s efforts to expand apprenticeships. There’s a clear reason why: People have realised these courses are the Universities answer to meeting the quota that was once enforced by Labour. They have continued to increase the availability and funding of these courses simply because they’ve realised it’s an effortless way to increase margins and charge students extortionate fees and provide very little real academic rigour, this only narrows people’s future life choices.
The most prominent thing to – unfortunately – come from modern Universities is Social Justice Warriors.
This moves me on to what the culture of Universities is like subsequently to this catastrophically misguided decade of anti-intellectual University policy. We live in a post-fact world. In University, identity politics rules over facts, what someone identifies as or feels is more important to what they are and what the facts are. I can’t help but feel this is what happens when you take a liberal institution such as a University and lower the expectations of the cohort, and entry requirements, I can’t help but feel that allowing students to study literally anything you could Google (as I’ve found) that creating a new kind of internalised polytechnic system. This way of learning was supposed to have been abolished in favour of making everyone’s University lives more compatible with the modern challenges lying ahead yet instead students go to study subjects even of the most traditional types like Politics with no drive or enthusiasm for anything but the prescribed course, their background knowledge is spoon fed in the first year just so Universities don’t have to fail them in the second.
Free speech is constantly under threat in these institutions, students continue to have a deficit of ideas which creates ignorance-inperpetuity. This to me is a good explanation for the rise of the social justice warrior. Today at Uni we are subject to ‘rape-culture’ on campus, where some girls have related being wolf-whistled to sexual harassment. The Student’s Union creates safe spaces around events and public speakers that they deem to have content potentially ‘harmful or trigger emotional distress amongst students’. The idea that people’s words and thoughts could be considered to upset others at an academic institution where views are meant to be debated and heard openly is appalling. The idea that teaching ‘Cultures and Values’ as a core module to first years is necessary to ensure they learn how to be PC enough to not ‘offend’ others in debates and to be able to take into account ‘cultural sensitivity’ is shocking. I have news for these people: The facts don’t take into account cultural sensitivity and they often run rampant over culture and values.
None-the-less this fact of life exists and we have created this culture through the mass-commercialisation of degree courses, through telling people any opinion is a valid one no matter what the facts, if you feel that way you must be respected. People are taught everyone’s studying desires can be accommodated no matter how irrelevant and unemployable the course may sound and is. This condition has been accomplished at the expense of the traditional academic subjects like Politics where, although it still continues to prove itself as one of the most employable degrees, the figures show an increasing amount of graduates no longer get into a career in the same field, such as the Civil Service due to not achieving as highly as previous years. A degree should be for life, not a stop gap, it should not make you dumber than when you started by graduating with knowledge you’ll never use and inevitably have to unlearn.
Many graduates today must quickly shake off their degree level entitlement and prepare to ‘muck-in’ with those who made the smart decision at 18 and fight their way up the ladder. I have a feeling that most graduates with their predispositions to SJW post-fact feelings and worries will struggle to renounce their attitudes in favour of working alongside the ‘common employee’. This ‘common employee’ will have no care for their feelings and have no clue what they so venomously preach, not when they have dealt with reality for 3 years, just getting by on the poverty line. 60% of graduates in some of the worst subjects will leave University and work along-side people who ultimately are better versed in the business and by the time they graduate, 3 years senior to them. They will graduate dumber than when they started.
Introduction to pointless degree courses: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/04/14/too-many-universities-teach-pointless-degrees-that-offer-nothing/
Labour’s quota: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/education/2305925.stm
Background facts on British Universities: http://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/facts-and-figures
Some ‘pointless’ degree’s from the US: https://www.forbes.com/pictures/fgek45hg/no-3-fine-arts/#507c5579ad5a
University PC, SJW madness example: https://milo.yiannopoulos.net/2016/10/sjw-human-wall-block-white-students/
Less of the UK’s poorest choosing to go to University: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/education/education-news/number-of-poor-students-attending-uks-leading-universities-falls-despite-millions-spent-to-encourage-a6879771.html#gallery