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University:was it worth it? The £9,000 question

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University:was it worth it? The £9,000 question

Post  Panda on Tue 7 May - 12:04

University: was it worth it? The £9,000 question


The first cohort of students paying £9,000 university tuition fees are
reaching the end of their first year. David Ellis asks them if it has been worth
the hefty pricetag so far.









The message to universities is
clear: sharpen the courses, increase teaching standards and offer more
support. Photo:
OJOImagesLtd






By David Ellis

7:00AM BST 07 May 2013

32 Comments




Until recently, those undecided about university were often given a rather
dubious piece of advice: “Any degree will do – you just need a qualification.”
Universities found applicants for every, and any, course. Equine science was a
hit, golf management an unmitigated success.


The sceptics laughed (though, interestingly, not Boris) but it wasn’t
until Clegg’s broken promise and the tripling of fees that debate about the
value of university really kicked off.


But here's a thought. Perhaps we should consider
what the students themselves think? They are, after all, the ones who matter. Student Money Saver asked 500 for their
thoughts...


Freshers' blues


The statistics initially seem contradictory. Although 58.4 per cent felt
their first year wasn’t worth the £9000, most said they don’t regret it, or at
least consider it a worthy investment. A conclusive 86.2 per cent would enrol
into university if they had to make the choice again.



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And even bearing in mind the cost, 84.4 per cent would recommend university
to someone considering it. Given that almost six-in-10 freshers think their
first year was too expensive, it is perhaps a surprise that 84 per cent are
optimistic for the coming years and think the remainder of their course will be
worth the fees. At £9000 a year, plus thousands in living expenses, this is a
precious endorsement of university.

What these figures really show is that in the majority of instances,
universities must improve the first year in order to justify its cost. In many
subjects, the first year still ‘doesn’t count’, insofar as the results aren’t
used to determine the final grade.

While once this might have been a saving grace for those too keen to indulge
their ‘extra-curricular’ habits, students now rarely conform to the
sleep-all-day-do-no-work-party-all-night archetype. They regard paying for an
outcome which has little impact as money for nothing.

As one student from the University of Bedfordshire put it “…the first year
doesn’t go towards your degree and most if not all lectures are put online, so
nine grand seems pointless…” Others, like Joe Rowley at UWE, were less tactful:
“First year is a bit of a joke – it doesn’t contribute towards your degree and
barely any work or effort is needed to maintain a pass.”



Out of contact

The demand for more from the first year of a course is reflected in
criticisms of the teaching and contact hours.

"The teaching is just a sideline chore for professors,” says Joanne
Evans-Stone, studying at the University of Sheffield. I imagine a few lecturers
will be raising their eyebrows, feeling much the same way about their students'
approach to learning. But fortunately, 79 per cent of students are happy
with the quality of the teaching.

More worryingly, almost one-in-two said they weren’t receiving adequate
contact time or enough teaching.

It’s a frequently expressed gripe: “Personally, my course only has four hours
of contact time… I would recommend uni to anyone who wants a great experience,
just not my particular one!” said one.

Others were less restrained: “Barely any contact time whatsoever – seven
hours a week for nine grand a year? Absolutely ridiculous. After looking forward
to this for most of my life, it's definitely the biggest disappointment too,”
said a student at the University of Leeds.

Sarah Hocking at Plymouth University's comment profiled majority opinion:
“Quality of teaching was good but abysmal contact/teaching time for the money,
absolutely ludicrous.”



Ask not what you can do for your degree...

The impression I gleaned from students’ comments was that they consider a
university as a service provider. But unlike an increase in the price of a cup
of coffee, where the consumer doesn't necessarily require more from the
business, students are becoming increasingly discerning with their education.


Many undergraduates emphasised the importance of the institution – and the
likelihood of it aiding securing a job, or even a job interview, on graduation.
The idea that “any degree will do” was absent entirely.

Through all the comments, there was an almost perceptible sneer against doing
a degree without a purpose in mind: many commented university derives its value
from the impact a degree will have on a career.



Was it worth it?

Is university worth it? It seems only few would choose not to go again. A
fraction (1.6 per cent) expressed dissatisfaction with every aspect of their
first year and most have high hopes for the rest of their course and the
long-term benefits their degree will grant them.

The message to universities is clear: sharpen the courses, increase teaching
standards and offer more support. The increased costs have prised university
away from its long-standing position as "the next step" for bright pupils – it
is now no more than one choice of many.

The survey also touched on another, intangible element. Though the questions
centred on value for money, teaching, accommodation and the likelihood of
recommending university, a fifth of comments mentioned the university
‘experience’ as part-justification for the cost.

University, it seems, matters not just for the numbers stamped on a
certificate, but the way one grows up to get them. Some things never change...

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Re: University:was it worth it? The £9,000 question

Post  Panda on Tue 7 May - 12:21

'Mickey Mouse' degrees are just the job







By Boris Johnson

12:01AM BST 23 Aug 2007

174 Comments




OK then, let's have a good snigger. Let's all look at the list of these
so-called degrees, and sneer at the pathetic delusions of the students who are
taking them. In the saloon bars of England, it is by now a settled conviction
that the university system is riddled with a kind of intellectual dry rot, and
it is called the Mickey Mouse degree.


Up and down the country - so we are told - there are hundreds of thousands of
dur-brained kids sitting for three years in an alcoholic or cannabis-fuelled
stupor while theoretically attending a former technical college that is so
pretentious as to call itself a university.


After three years of taxpayer-funded debauch, these young people will
graduate, and then the poor saps will enter the workplace with an academic
qualification that is about as valuable as membership of the Desperate Dan Pie
Eaters' Club, and about as intellectually distinguished as a third-place rosette
in a terrier show. It is called a Degree, and in the view of saloon bar man, it
is a con, a scam, and a disgrace.


Kids these days! says our man with the pint of Stella, slapping The Daily
Telegraph on the bar. Look at the rubbish they study! 'Ere, he says, finding an
account of the recent investigation by the Taxpayers' Alliance, which has
compiled a list of the 401 "non-courses" being offered by our
universities.


In a satirically portentous tone he reads out the brochure of Marjon College
in Plymouth, which really is offering a three-year BA (Hons) degree in Outdoor
Adventure With Philosophy.


Yes, he says with incredulous sarcasm, the dons at Marjon College give
instruction in the ancient discipline of Outdoor Adventure by examining its
"underpinning philosophy, historical antecedents, significant influences,
environmental and sustainable aspects and current trends"; and just in case you
thought that wasn't quite rigorous enough, they guarantee that "the modules will
include elements such as journeys, environmental management, creative indoor
study and spirituality".

Absurd! cries saloon bar man, and then jabs his finger at yet greater
absurdities: a course at the University of Glamorgan in "Science: Fiction and
Culture"; and get this - the Welsh College of Horticulture is offering anyone
with four Cs at GCSE the chance to study for an Honours degree in "Equestrian
Psychology"! It's a degree in horse whispering! he says. It's bonkers.

Why, he asks rhetorically, are we paying for students to waste their time on
these Mickey Mouse courses, when it is perfectly obvious what they should be
doing. Trades! Skills! Craft! This country doesn't need more bleeding degrees in
media studies and whispering into horses' ears! What we need is people who can
fix my septic tank! We need more plumbers," he raves, and it's not just because
he resents paying so much for his Polish plumber; it's because the whole
university business is - in his view - such a cruel deception on so many young
people. They rack up an average of £13,000 of debt for some noddy qualification,
when they would have been far better off getting stuck into a job after leaving
school and engaging in an old-fashioned apprenticeship.

That's what he thinks; and that, I bet, is not a million miles from the view
of many eminent readers.

And yet I have to say that this view of higher education - pandemic in Middle
Britain - is hypocritical, patronising and wrong. I say boo to the Taxpayers'
Alliance, and up with Mickey Mouse courses, and here's why.

The saloon bar view is hypocritical, in the sense that it is always worth
interrogating the saloon bar critics about their aspirations for their own
children or grandchildren. Would they like them to have degrees? Or would they
like them to have some kind of explicitly vocational training?

It is notable how often a critic of university expansion is still keen for
his or her own children to go there, while a vocational qualification is viewed
as an excellent option for someone else's children.

It is patronising, in that you really can't tell, just by reading a course
title, whether it is any good or not, and whether it will be of any intellectual
or financial benefit to the student.

The other day my normally humane and reasonable colleague Andrew O'Hagan
paraded the idea of a degree in "Artificial Intelligence", as though it were
intrinsically risible, and for 20 years we have all been scoffing at degrees in
"media studies".

But AI is one of the most potentially interesting growth areas in computer
science; and the truth about Media Studies is that its graduates have very high
rates of employment and remuneration.

Of course there are mistakes, and of course there are a great many students
who drop out, get depressed, or feel they have done the wrong thing with their
lives.

But the final judge of the value of a degree is the market, and in spite of
all the expansion it is still the case that university graduates have a big
salary premium over non-graduates. The market is working more efficiently now
that students have a direct financial stake in the matter, a financial risk, and
an incentive not to waste their time on a course that no employer will
value.

It is ridiculous for these saloon-bar critics to denounce "Mickey Mouse"
degrees, and say that the students would be better off doing vocational courses
- when the whole point is that these degrees are very largely vocational.

We can laugh at degrees in Aromatherapy and Equine Science, but they are just
as vocational as degrees in Law or Medicine, except that they are tailored to
the enormous expansion of the service economy.

It is rubbish to claim that these odd-sounding courses are somehow devaluing
the Great British Degree. Everyone knows that a First Class degree in Physics
from Cambridge is not the same as a First in Equine Management from the
University of Lincoln, and the real scandal is that they both cost the student
the same.

There again, who is to say where a Mickey Mouse course may lead?

The last time I looked, Disney had revenues of 33 billion dollars a year -
and if any university offered a course in the Life and Works of Mickey Mouse, I
wouldn't blame them in the least.


  • Boris Johnson is MP for Henley

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Re: University:was it worth it? The £9,000 question

Post  Guest on Tue 7 May - 13:08

I bet Andrew O'Hagan wouldn't last a week on an AI course. There is a very high level of mathematics, probability and quantitive analysis and a huge drop out rate because it's just so damn difficult. Andrew O'Hagan apparently doesn't even have any natural intelligence, never mind the artifical kind. Even Boris knows better!

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Re: University:was it worth it? The £9,000 question

Post  Panda on Tue 7 May - 15:09

This is another excerpt from Boris......he really has a way with words. However, that girl who wouldn't work in Poundland, passed her UNI exams and still couldn't find a job.!!! I think Universities should adjust their subjects to fit in with the changes . no Guarantee any more that Philosophy will get you a job.
"Yes, he says with incredulous sarcasm, the dons at Marjon College give
instruction in the ancient discipline of Outdoor Adventure by examining its
"underpinning philosophy, historical antecedents, significant influences,
environmental and sustainable aspects and current trends"; and just in case you
thought that wasn't quite rigorous enough, they guarantee that "the modules will
include elements such as journeys, environmental management, creative indoor
study and spirituality".

Absurd! cries saloon bar man, and then jabs his finger at yet greater
absurdities: a course at the University of Glamorgan in "Science: Fiction and
Culture"; and get this - the Welsh College of Horticulture is offering anyone
with four Cs at GCSE the chance to study for an Honours degree in "Equestrian
Psychology"! It's a degree in horse whispering! he says. It's bonkers."

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Re: University:was it worth it? The £9,000 question

Post  Guest on Tue 7 May - 16:33

Does that mean that human psychologists are all just "Human Whisperers" then?

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Re: University:was it worth it? The £9,000 question

Post  Panda on Tue 7 May - 16:43

Iris wrote:Does that mean that human psychologists are all just "Human Whisperers" then?
I think he is just having a joke, it would be interesting to find out what degrees he obtained at Eton apart from him being President of the Students Union

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Re: University:was it worth it? The £9,000 question

Post  Badboy on Wed 12 Oct - 14:53

IT IS NOW BEING SAID THAT PEOPLE LEAVING UNIVERSITY/FURTHER EDUCATION HAVE AVERAGE DEBTS OF £44000 BUT THERE SIMPLY ISN'T THE JOBS PAYING HIGH ENOUGH TO CLEAR DEBTS AS STUDENT END UP IN JOBS THAT DON'T REALLY NEED DEGREES MEANING NON-GRADUATES LIKE SCHOOL LEAVERS CAN'T GET JOBS TAKEN BY GRADUATES.
WHAT A WASTE OF PUBLIC MONEY!

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