Tuesday, August 21, 2007

What do you mean, any fool can go to Uni nowadays?

Didn't get on to your first choice course? Never mind, it's time to broaden your horizons.

How about a degree in Fashion Buying at Manchester Metropolitan University? Don't forget to buy an umbrella for when the deluge of job offers arrives in three years time.


alanorei said...

We used to call them 'Mickey Mouse courses' at the uni. where I was a staff member for a good many years.

It's all about 'b.o.s.' i.e. student revenue.

Although we had a more enlightened VC for the last several years before I retired, his predecessor had firmly established the MM courses culture and it remained endemic amongst elements of line management who were only ever interested in student recruitment, i.e. 'b.o.s.' never in 1st destination returns, or how well graduates had done in the job market.

To much of management, your son or daughter was only ever an FTE or PTE, i.e. Full or Part Time Equivalent, never an individual for whose professional future the institution was directly responsible.

Also, in the 1990s, when the new universities were formed, they very quickly became weighed down with bureaucracy. It was an opportunity for managers to expand their 'empires' (plus salaries and perks) once the institutions, i.e. former polytechnics, moved away from LEA control.

When I retired, the institution had one full-time manager for every 6-7 members of academic staff and about 3 administrators for every 4 academics. Academics were about 40% of the total workforce.

(And the standard of management, by and large, was pretty naf. Moreover, much of the existing admin. was also centralised and thus did not contribute substantially to traditional academic support roles.)

Mr C has made other posts about 'dumbing down' of subjects. We were in a 'hard maths, hard science' area and were not popular with management because, by definition, we were much less likely to pull in punters than the MM courses.

You found yourself between a rock and a hard place because students were, sadly, coming in less and less well-prepared from 6th form, year 12/13 with respect to the basic sciences and it did tend to be frowned upon by management if you taught in a way that made students use their brains rather than if you resorted to spoon-feeding.

That said, it has to be emphasised that a high proportion of our students, including sponsored students from the Middle East, worked hard and gained sound qualifications such that, within 12-18 months of graduation, about 90% had either found employment in their chosen vocation or gone on to higher degrees at more prestigious universities. The overseas students were, I think, of considerable benefit to their parent companies when they returned home after their course.

To be fair, I think by the time I retired, some of our immediate superiors were beginning to acknowledge the short-sightedness of the 'b.o.s.'/MM course mentality but implementing a change of culture in the new universities' environment is a bit like trying to throw the QE2 into reverse in mid-Atlantic.

Anonymous said...

How long until we'll see a Master's degree in Prostitution?
Chantelle Whiplash, Cert. Prost.

Or an NVQ3 in GBH or Binge Drinking?

alanorei said...

Or an NVQ3 in GBH or Binge Drinking?

I once came across a media studies exam paper at our uni, asking candidates to name various cartoon characters, including an obnoxious bird. (I think the answer was Woody Woodpecker but as a 'hard maths, hard science' academic, I wasn't sure at the time - I probably would have failed the exam.)

I understand that at one southern HE institution, a degree course in curry making was on offer.

Although somewhat of a rumour, we heard this after our former VC's assistant VC went to this institution as the VC. He helped our former VC set up both the bureaucracy and the MM course culture.

Apparently this individual also sought to shut down a humanties department in the southern institution, even though it had an outstanding research record.

But it wasn't pulling in the punters, i.e. student FTEs, to the extent required by the new broom VC.

Their loss, our gain as far as his transfer to pastures new was concerned.

We felt the same when our former VC departed. I was a member of the NATFHE (now UCU) Branch Exec. at the uni. at the time and we were all pretty hacked off with him by that stage - we'd even got members to pass a vote of no confidence in him. The result was 108:1 'thumbs down.' (It was really 109:0 but one character thought it was confidence vote and voted against the motion. There's always one...)

Pogo said...

My kid brother is a sound engineer and is astonished that every year assorted "universities" produce more "graduate sound engineers" than are employed in the entire UK industry.

Anonymous said...

A good test, or used to be, of the value of an engineering course is whether it is acceptable to the British Engineering Council, via the appropriate institution, for registration.

Anonymous said...

anonymous said:

"A good test, or used to be, of the value of an engineering course is whether it is acceptable to the British Engineering Council, via the appropriate institution, for registration. "

Now they've moved on, through being "The Engineering Council" to "EC[UK}".

I won't mention grade inflation, but registration used to be possible with an HNC. When I did it, it was a Bachelor's degree with honours. Now you need a Master's.

They're at http://www.engc.org.uk/.

Anonymous said...

I'm an employer and all I can say is this:

If you are reading this and considering doing a degree in Surf Studies, Golf Course Design, Curry Making or Sound Engineering, then go right ahead and get yourself £20k in debt.

But don't then get yourself any more in debt by buying a stamp to send me your CV, because it is going straight in the bin.

That is all.

Anonymous said...

-I won't mention grade inflation, but registration used to be possible with an HNC. When I did it, it was a Bachelor's degree with honours. Now you need a Master's.-

Yep. That’s right I remember HNC (plus evidence of professional competence) being the gateway. There were also two fearful examinations called CEI (1) and CEI (2) which could qualify you for registration.
Why has the Engineering Council changed its name to EC[UK]. It doesn’t impress those on the continent.
Although now retired my engineering job took me to Paris where, before appointed, I was subjected to what amounted to an interrogation about my academic achievements. Registration with the Engineering Council didn’t cut much ice with them. “So, you belong to a club that validates your qualifications – ha. That is not how it’s done in France. We have special schools for engineers. Is there a bar in your club?”
I think there is.

Anonymous said...

MBAs cost around £40,000

So a good applicant is one who ha sbeen accepted for an MBA BUT has turned it down

That shows intelligent thought

(NB if you pay someone to do your dissertation then the cost is £2000 higher)

Hal Apeno said...

"What do you mean, any fool can go to Uni nowadays?"
"What do you mean, any fool can join the Police nowadays?
Same sh*t for us guys.
Standards - weep weep weep.
Having read through so many blogs it seems that what we are all experiencing is becoming pandemic....

Anonymous said...

I did my second masters degree last year - for fun basically. It was a science course. All the others had "good science degrees" and the department was highly rated. In one maths (I would call it remedial) lecture several students questioned the practice of canceling the same number from the top and bottom of an expression. i.e. 10/10 =1.

In another optional course I joined a number of Social Science PhDs. I don't think most of them would pass the 11+ even now. They were incapable of reasoning.

metcountymounty said...

anyone fancy a sleepover?

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