Thursday, 15 May 2008

Academics discover Ursidae defaecate in afforested areas

When I took my first degree, at a redbrick university, I was amongst about 5% of my age who did so. The County Council paid my fees and paid me a maintenance grant. It was quite a good system. Then for some reason the polytechnics grandly started calling themselves universities (to hoots of derision) and it became government policy that not 5% but 50% of young people should gain a first degree. The result was clear for all to see, except perhaps the academics. The senior lecturer in welding at Grimeshire Poly who overnight found himself Professor of Applied Engineering at Grimeshire University would have thought it quite a good idea.

Now those gents have discovered that Ursidae defaecate in afforested areas. 'Mass entry threatens university standards' they bleat today. Bit late, mateys.


Anonymous said...

I can assure you that most academics, at redbricks and mediaevals alike, view the rise of the ex-polys and the commitment to 50% of young people in HE with grave reservations.

The most obvious problem at my university (a Scottish mediaeval Russell Group) is the pressure from government to admit students on the basis of socio-economic background rather than of ability.

Alongside this pressure, there is a quiet insistence from Whithall that universities (esp. those offering four year long undergrad degrees) should reduce the workloads for our degrees. Ostensibly, this is because so many students now have full-time jobs to fund their studies that we cannot expect them to do the same amount of work we expected of students ten years ago (a legitimate issue, sadly). In practice, it's to make degrees easier and to facilitate the admission of less able students from very poor backgrounds (whose presence is, necessarily, politically advantageous both to the universities and to the government).

Needless to say, a British degree now is held in considerably less esteem than it was seven years ago. More and more students are receiving degrees but the degrees themselves do not, in all cases, confer a real mastery of the subject.

A lamentable situation and one that is entirely political in origin.

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