glitzfrau: (knew it all by sinsense)
[personal profile] glitzfrau

I felt quite pleased with this rant I posted in [ profile] shreena's journal re: St. Vincent Cable's claim that government-subsidised higher education is 'unaffordable', so I thought I'd post it here;

I have yet to hear the case for the 'affordability' of systematically and publicly deskilling Britain's workforce. For advertising to foreign investors that the pool of skilled labour in Britain will shrink rapidly over the next few years. For pulling investment out of poor cities highly dependent on universities for development. For consigning school leavers to years of restricted incomes and poverty.

But then, I'm not a Tory nor a Lib Dem, so I am clearly foolish in my notion that investment in higher education isn't just one of the smarter moves a developed economy can make, but an essential one. And I'm not British, so I'm sure I can't understand why it's a savvy idea to divest from higher education when everywhere else in the developed and developing world is moving towards the highest possible participation in higher education. We foolish Irish with our 70% rate of participation! See where that got us.

Posted via LiveJournal app for iPhone.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-20 10:46 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
But surely when you say 70% participation in HE, that can't possible be at the same quality as in the UK? I mean, you can't possibly have that many clever people in your country - most of them must be doing Mickey Mouse degrees in, I don't know, media studies or something?

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-20 10:56 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
[Trying that again, this time while logged in.]

As I understand it, many students do, in fact, participate in a part-time media study course in Mickey Mouse, and not just here in Ireland. But they also watch stuff other than cartoons...

Less flippantly, it saddens me that Ireland is also choosing education as something to save on, rather than invest in. Sadly, the effects of doing the right thing wouldn't generally pay off significantly and blatantly in time for the next election, which explains a lot.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-21 10:44 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I do agree that education is important and have been totally against the fees increases brought in. BUT... this cannot be equated with "systematically and publicly deskilling Britain's workforce" - that is just not the case. There are so many people who work in areas that have absolutely nothing to do with their studies, and have picked up entirely different skillsets over multiple years in the workforce.

I really don't like the assumption that people must have a university education to get anywhere other than poorly paid jobs, and that assumption is perpetuated by the universities, schools and workplaces who require "degree level education" rather than experience.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-21 10:56 am (UTC)
ext_37604: (Default)
From: [identity profile]
That's a thoughtful and useful comment. Thank you.

You're absolutely right that learning is a life-long process, and that many skills are learned in the workplace. I would argue that university teaches you the facilitating skills - how to learn independently, quickly and at a high level. Of course, many people manage this without university - but that doesn't mean that university doesn't do a very important job in teaching those skills.

While it's not true that people must have a university education to get well-paid jobs, the statistics are still very strongly in favour of graduates. [ profile] biascut has these statistics to hand, but graduates still are more likely to be employed, earn more as their starting salary, move more quickly up the promotion ladder and earn more over a lifetime than non-graduates. Certainly, alternative paths exist, but there are much fewer of them, which means they are harder to access. University provides an efficient path to prosperity for a huge number of people. Solid apprenticeships, for instance, are much more rare, and, I would argue, harder to access as a result.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-21 11:23 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I agree that university does (or at least should) teach these skills, although I could argue that a lot of these should be taught in schools and colleges anyway as a part of study support and learning methodologies. Maybe that's me seeing that these things should be a) common sense and b) useful to everyone as life skills.

It would be interesting to see if anyone in government had done studies and predictions over costs vs benefits of this over the next, say, 10 years. I would expect to see less people applying for university because of the fees, and no guarantee of a higher income post studying, and I'm not sure why the media were surprised when universities announced they had more places available than in previous years.

Apprenticeships are, certainly in Scotland, becoming more popular and common. Our local council has a fairly high number of them, certainly more over the last couple of years than they have previously.

The other issue I have is some of the qualifications that you have to do now to get certain jobs. Nursing and healthcare (Occ. Therapy, Physiotherapy etc.) are all degree based, when in fact people would learn a lot more and be better for it having a much more hands on training than they do. My mum, as a nurse, was frustrated with graduate nurses who knew the theory but just didn't have the practical knowledge. Poorly designed courses, clearly.

(no subject)

Date: 2012-09-24 12:37 pm (UTC)
ext_37604: (knew it all by sinsense)
From: [identity profile]
Learning to learn at different levels is hard and complex, though. It should be and is taught in schools, but there are different levels of it, from basic memorisation up to the PhD level of being able to design and carry out your own research project. And anecdotally, PhD graduates do move even faster in their careers than graduates - their transferable skills are anything but common.

I'm delighted that apprenticeships are taking off in Scotland. In Germany, where for a hundred years British commentators have been enviously eying the apprenticeship system, they're a serious business, strictly regulated, heavily underwritten by both industry and government, and lasting years. The trouble here seems to be that routine in-house training lasting a few weeks often seems to be passed off as a proper apprenticeship, whereas that actually adds little value either to the apprentice or to the economy.

I'm never sure about the nursing situation, because I know nothing about the profession. However, I would say that technology, medical skills and nurses' responsibilities have advanced extremely fast since your mother trained as a nurse. While her experience is invaluable, the procedures that a nurse can carry out now often will require degree-level knowledge and skills. In the 1950s, nurses were efficient angels who soothed fevered brows and kept wards spick and span because there wasn't much more they could do for (e.g.) cancer patients, whereas nowadays, I think, they do much more. But as I said, I know little of the area and am sure that courses can always do with improvement.

(no subject)

Date: 2014-07-08 07:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile]
I totally agree. As an old leftie i hate what is happening to our higher education, Oh and BTW i am Dave. I don't know what your friending policy is but would like to be mutual LJ friends.

(no subject)

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