Monday, 11 November 2013

Rip-Off Britain-The University Sector

Key Thoughts The University sector does not value properly experienced, highly qualified and dedicated teachers. Over-valued University researchers are duplicating R & D that can be funded by the private sector. No-one appears concerned for the consequences of poor quality and incomplete University teaching. Please note that University sector salaries are hugely expensive to the UK.

A few weeks ago, I read in Letters section of The Times that "University students deserve to be taught by the best researchers". The University Sector of the UK is tax-payer funded. It's purpose is to educate over-18 year olds such that they will be able to (a) get a better job than they would have without their degree and (b) pay back their debt to the tax-payer over time (c) enhance the greater good of the country by being part of a higher skills set.

The reality of paying £9 0000/- per annum for a degree is that, if the student, on graduation, never gets a job worth at least £21 000/- per annum, their debt to the tax-payer will never be paid back.

So the quality of that incredibly expensive education is pivotal to justifying the hugely expanded and now absurdly expensive University sector at a time when ordinary people feel squeezed. [Privately funded Universities are of course accountable to no-one but themselves].

Researchers and RAE ratings are used to determine the position of a University on League Tables. Does this in reality translate into a majority of quality graduates per University?  Is it about plush student accommodation, fancy student unions, "friends"-style cosy corners in libraries, and wearing gowns? I think not.

The single most important factor in producing a quality graduate is good teaching by highly skilled committed teachers. The anecdotal evidence flowing from this sector, however, indicates, that highly qualified and very skilled teachers are now being replaced by postgraduates who are still en-route to Masters and PhDs. In short, teaching is being done on the cheap since University fees went up, and research academics, so lost in their research work, bound by the requirements of their contract, teach with reluctance merely to fulfil contractual obligations.  Also, as specialists in their area of research, researchers know more and more about less and less, and can enthuse for example, about the left-side of a protein they are studying, oblivious of the patchy knowledge they are imparting. This then translates into an incomplete education, and defective skills set for the student.

By analogy, if we can imagine an hypothetical NHS in which Consultants will deal with General Practice and the traditional GP-role will be dispensed with; such an NHS will try to produce an effective service using only NHS Direct and Consultants!  Such an NHS would be an inefficient and possibly dangerous rip-off for the British public.

Why have we not spotted this worrying situation in our very expensive University sector?

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