University education needs to be capped and more selective
Last updated: March 2, 2017
With thousands more students graduating from university every year, Britain has more graduates than ever before, and it is becoming harder for potential employers to distinguish candidates by education alone, meaning a degree has less and less value in the workplace.
A university degree has far less worth than it once did
It is beneficial that a crowded marketplace means that people are having to stay on at university longer in order to gain more unique qualifications – this means that those in the top jobs have far more knowledge and education than they would have 50 years ago when further qualifications were not needed for distinction.
With so many new universities and colleges, employers can't tell the difference between the good and bad.
Scottish universities (particularly the Ancients which are St Andrews, Edinburgh and Glasgow) require an undergraduate to undertake a range of different subjects in the first two years in order to complete a degree, rather then focusing on just one. Thus a student leaves university with a range of advanced disciplines, even though on paper, it seems as if they have the same education as those from an English university.
Those who have prior work experience in their chosen field or who can demonstrate relevant work-place skills in other ways will often have the edge over someone with a degree.
Employers are not too busy to be au fait with university rankings, such as the Times' list, or to remember that the Russell group tends to be the best universities, especially when they have dedicated HR departments as the larger employers do.
The argument that more universities dilute the quality signal sent by holding a degree is premised on static, unsophisticated employers that do not engage in ranking the quality of an education. This is a short term cost because any firm that seeks to gain a competitive advantage over its peers would invest the resources into differentiating the quality of education; further, the argument that small employers cannot afford to do this is also limited to the very short term: as more firms adopt this practice, the cost of acquiring this information decreases significantly (not to mention the many surveys and academic studies that keep track of this for profitable reasons).
Many don't 'use' their degree after graduating, yet still end up in huge debt
The result of this is that more students drop out of university before completing their qualification than ever before because they took it for the wrong reasons, and yet still end up in debt.
There's a national shortage of skilled labourers
Many don’t ‘use’ their degree after graduating, yet still end up in huge debt
Universities are more and more frequently departing from traditional career orientated subjects such as accountancy, medicine and law. Instead they are focusing their marketing efforts on attracting new students with unusual subjects such as ‘American Studies’ or a degree combining two subjects of your choice; for example the interesting combination of ‘Dance and Journalism’. These options may well be appealing at first sight but after three years of studying these in depth, students can often find themselves saddled with a large amount of debt and few transferable skills. Having personally known two individuals who actually undertook the above courses, I can tell you that the first person is now living in America, as this is the only place where American Studies is any advantage. The other is in the business of repossessing homes, having found it extremely difficult to secure a job as a singing/dancing journalist!
The experience of University is invaluable and there is undoubtedly much more to be gained beyond the piece of paper handed over upon graduation. However, it should be borne in mind that the main objective of a degree is to provide an individual with the skills and specialist knowledge to financially support themselves and build a career in the future. It should not be possible for an individual to invest three years or more of their time and money into a University education and remain unable to secure a job they desire at the end of it.
There are plenty of skills one can get from most degrees - meeting deadlines, communication, teamwork and working independently being some of the more obvious ones. Taking a degree demonstrates that the candidate has shown serious commitment to their education at a non-compulsory stage, and seen it through to completion.
A large number of graduate vacancies merely specify that the candidate needs a degree, rather than a specific subject. This demonstrates that they have faith that a degree in itself is a mark of merit, and that graduates will have skills aside from the specific subject-related ones.
There is not the need for the number of graduates being produced
For some reason, academic achievement is considered more important that engaging in a career that you want, or that you are exceptionally well-suited to. Sir Ken Robinson[http://bit.ly/rkYC6D & http://bit.ly/paSYmD%5D%5D, talking for TED, tells the story of a fireman who always wanted to be a fireman. When he was a child, he was told "You can do better than that", meaning he could do a 'proper' job, by getting a 'proper' education. But he wanted to be a fireman.
When he saved the life of his teacher and his teacher's wife, he said "I hope he thinks better of me now".
We should encourage people to follow careers that they enjoy or are well-suited to, or both - not just assume that a university education is the paramount achievement. What is the ultimate outcome of a perfect education? University professors; not valuable services.
We do not realise how many fantastic gardener's, artists, writers and eletricians and service men we are losing because of the pressure society put into the individual to sign up. This is because everybody thinks that it is easier to become enrolled into a university.
I, personally, would support incentives for people to move into skill areas that are most needed - however, that is vastly different from intentionally making it impossible for some people to achieve their full potential. This is their lives - they should do what they enjoy the most and want to do with it. They have the right to determine their destiny.
And if that's detrimental to the economy, or otherwise, that's a shame - but ultimately you cannot force people to sacrifice their humanity and their life goals for the sake of others. If they choose to, we should definitely welcome and support that. But there will never be a time, no matter how dire the circumstances, when we can tell people that their own dreams don't matter.
Selective education leads to an unfair bias towards the rich and the middle classes
This would lead in turn to those from middle class backgrounds being favoured by employers as they would be more likely to have a university education, and the lower classes would be stuck with the unwanted, lower paid, manual labour.
We should do all we can to strive for a meritocratic society and not move backwards away from one.
You say that it will not be based on the basis of social or financial background. But how can you regulate this? In countries where the government doesn't make significant contributions towards an individual's tertiary education, personal finances are the only way to attend university, and that must be balanced by a person's other daily costs etc. In that way, without strong financial backing attending university and surviving concurrently would become rather difficult!
Furthermore, whether we like it or not, the fact is that in our society higher income does mean better education. If your parents rich you will have attended the best schools, have had access to the best resources etc. Someone who grows up in a single-parents household on the minimum wage obviously would not, and therefore, regardless of their true potential, their academic results and educational outcomes would reflect their financial circumstances. Therefore, even if it is correct to say that entry would not be directly affected by a person's financial background, it almost definitely would be indirectly.
It is a curious fact that people actually believe educational outcomes are a result of 'talent', rather than circumstance. Most children who end up in the few grammar schools left come from middle class or well-off families.
if we took 10% less people in Universities like Oxford or Cambridge many people of whom have worked all their life of a chance to get in to a red brick University. Since 100's of people worke to get these grades get let down just because the other child had a better schooling from his partents money.
Many students strive of a education at Oxford but most let down, because of these caps.
Our hard work for nothing!
Students don't always attend university simply for career advancement
Students also often find themselves having to financially support themselves, at least in part, and this is invaluable for self-confidence and also imbues them with the basic skills needed in later working life.
Reducing the amount of students attending universities would also reduce the amount of young people with these social and financial skills, and unless other institutions are set up in place of universities to provide these skills, there is more to be lost than gained in making them more selective.
There are youth services, career services and plenty of different apprenticeship programmes that teach these skills, and many others besides, and often fast track people into appropriate work environments.
Wide university education produces a literate, multi-skilled and widely knowledgeable nation
Those who end up ruling the country are the ones that went to university. The democratic process does not work. It would be foolish for poorer people to not pursue a path that allows them at least a chance of being part of the power system. Being a plumber, while useful, is no way to do that.
For an able youngster, it would be unwise to forgo a likelihood of a good future simply to avoid debt.
The British media has improved so much and become so diverse that there are many high quality documentaries that have brought a wider education to those with interest outside university. Libraries, evening classes, and the internet can provide all the education one could want to those with a specific interest but with no real urge for a degree or career in that field.
If self-education were promoted more in this manner, and university was kept separate for those who wanted to learn for career advancement rather than education for education's sake, then thousands of young people would be more financially and vocationally secure.
Capping admissions is a sub-optimal method of improving the value of university education.
We need more universities as the population is growing!