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Home » Australian Politics » A degree in Excovatory Ditchology?

A degree in Excovatory Ditchology?

graduation_capSometimes it is most valuable to see beyond the surface of reports like the one I quote below and consider the wider ramifications and look to the reasons for attending tertiary education in the first instance.

Despite the Dawkins reforms of 1989 creating a mass university system and the introduction of income contingent loans, students from the bottom 25per cent of postcodes ranked according to wealth and education make up only 15per cent of university admissions. In contrast, the wealthiest 25per cent claim a disproportionate 37per cent of places.

While the numbers of low-socio-economic students getting into university grew to 43,383 last year from 36,150 10 years ago, there has been little progress in denting their chronic underrepresentation.

Promoting access is set to be central to recommendations from Canberra’s Bradley review of higher education that will be released next month.

Universities are likely to be given more incentives to widen access at a time when more and more vice-chancellors are also looking to base this access beyond narrow statewide exam results to take into account background and broader achievements.

“Through no one’s fault, the universities are complicit with schools and the state Government in running secondary school education tests that necessarily disadvantage sections of the population,” La Trobe University vice-chancellor Paul Johnson told The Weekend Australian.

Macquarie University vice-chancellor Steven Schwartz has said: ‘Unless we believe that students from low-income families lack the ability or the motivation for university-level study, the absence of talented students from our campuses represents not only a loss to them but also to society”.

Now when I was a much younger man I really believed that attending university was by far the most valuable thing that anyone could do to secure their future, and I went to great lengths to first achieve my matriculation, (as an adult student) and then to get a degree myself. Boy was it a fun time I loved the life of a student, It was interesting and stimulating and from a social point of view the lifestyle was great. but now that I am a parent and I have to look to the education of my own children I am beginning to question the real value of university study and to wonder if a degree for all is really the best thing that a society can aspire to.

Do we really think that even the chap operating a back hoe needs a degree in Excovatory  Ditchology? Or that the waiters in a restaurants need a PHD in Food Service & Tableology? I can’t help thinking  more and more that academics decrying a lack of participation or a lack of funding for universities are really just using such rhetoric to feather their own nests and that as a whole society we just  do not need everyone attending university. Personally I think that learning a trade is a better use of a young persons time and energy, unless they have a very special talent or facility for academic study, ah but that would not provide the opportunities for those in the halls of academia to expand their empires and further their own careers now would it?

Something to consider Comrades

8)


19 Comments

  1. kae says:

    Dumb it down and then everyone can go.

    Oh, and there are many hospitality workers waiting tables who have degrees in hospitality. (Or are working on degrees.)

  2. Iain Hall says:

    Yes Kae and it seems so stupid to me I waited on tables when I was a student and It ain’t that hard, just how you can make a degree course about that eludes me. Do you need to major in “obsequiousness in the pursuit of tips” or something?

  3. Jason says:

    Iain, is anyone saying that everyone should go to university?

    On the other hand, are you suggesting that university shouldn’t be more accessible for those who do wish to attend?

  4. David Davidson says:

    Part of the problem guys and gals, is that business has been brainwashed, to think that someone with a piece of paper, (with no experience), has more knowledge and is a better prospect, than a person that has direct hands on experience in the selected field ? Unfortunately, that is the way it is.

    You can enter university now by many different ways. I did not get high enough marks in high school for a uni offer, but found out, that at age 25, could enter as a mature aged student, with little hassle. A quick special tertiary admissions test (STAT Test), and straight in, and able to do any degree available.

    With a high rate of unemployment, and with such competition for jobs, the prospective employer, can increase the academic standards to way beyond what is required, simply to get the best person. Often, this is done, not only to get the best, but also, to get FREE expert skills for them to exploit ? These skills would be very expensive for business, and could not be able to be affordable in an economy of full employment.

  5. Iain Hall says:

    Jason

    Iain, is anyone saying that everyone should go to university?

    Not in absolute terms Jason but the thrust of Labor education policies is to want tertiary education to be the norm for most high school graduates. rather than it being for just the best.

    On the other hand, are you suggesting that university shouldn’t be more accessible for those who do wish to attend?

    As It stands Jason in our society any one who desires it and has the ability can get a place in university
    As a society do we need for everyone to get a degree?
    Or are we just making it possible for a larger part of each generation to to delay entering into real life until they are in their mid twenties?
    There is nothing sadder than seeing someone in their late twenties still acting like a child…

  6. Mark L. says:

    Not in absolute terms Jason

    Not in any terms, Iain. The policy stance being discussed is that those born into poor or disadvantaged backgrounds should have the opportunity to attend university – not that they must or that everybody having a degree will benefit society in some mystical way. You must buy your straw by the tonne.

    I’m actually of the view that university should be difficult to get in to and to complete. If you lower the requirements for enrolling then the natural consequence is that you end up lowering the standards of courses and assessment. It’s not a right, it’s an opportunity for the intelligent, the well-organised, the hard-working and the ambitious. There are plenty of other educational options (e.g. TAFE, traineeships) available to those who don’t cut it for university.

  7. Jim says:

    University’s are leftist training grounds anyway. Students come out with their heads full of pro-Aboriginal/Global Warming nonsense. Worse still, they think they know everything. They should go through the university of Life, that’ll teach them a thing or two.

  8. Mark L. says:

    No cliches at all in that comment, Jim.

  9. Jim says:

    Thanks, I tell it like it is.

  10. Iain Hall says:

    Really Mark you are full of contradictions

    Not in any terms, Iain. The policy stance being discussed is that those born into poor or disadvantaged backgrounds should have the opportunity to attend university – not that they must or that everybody having a degree will benefit society in some mystical way. You must buy your straw by the tonne.

    The fact of the matter is that anyone can attend university in this country provided that they meet the entrance requirements and this policy is not about making university more accessible at all it is about a sort of inverse snobbery from the silvertail socialists in the halls of academia who want to see more of their beloved minorities and “disadvantaged” folk take up places at uni. I know from personal experience that this is window dressing and that those silvertail socialists really have no desire to mix with the real working class, unless they can mould them into their own likeness.

    I’m actually of the view that university should be difficult to get in to and to complete. If you lower the requirements for enrolling then the natural consequence is that you end up lowering the standards of courses and assessment. It’s not a right, it’s an opportunity for the intelligent, the well-organised, the hard-working and the ambitious. There are plenty of other educational options (e.g. TAFE, traineeships) available to those who don’t cut it for university.

    I find it amusing that you denounce my view with one breath because I am suggesting that we do not need so much emphasis on tertiary education and then you say that we should keep university study for only the best and the brightest, Hmm you are a typical conflicted leftist I suppose.

  11. Keri says:

    Iain, I think if you read what Mark wrote objectively instead of just finding fault with it, you’d have seen there is no contradiction, Iain.

    Everyone should have the opportunity, regardless of their socio-economic place in life to a tertiary education, but those who take up those places should be those who have worked hard and actually want to, rather than those who think they “should” or that they’ll figure out what they want to do as they go along.

    There’s nothing conflicted about that at all.

  12. Mark L. says:

    And your apparent university education belies your ability to comprehend the written word. In the first paragraph I was interpreting what was being presented in the article and pointing out your misrepresentation of it – I was not saying that I agreed with the article. In the second I was voicing my own opinion. There is no contradiction.

    The fact of the matter is that anyone can attend university in this country provided that they meet the entrance requirements

    Yes, just like anyone, in theory, can become president of the United States. The reality of course is far different. There are many obstacles that prevent people from the lower classes attending university and the article is making suggestions about how those obstacles can be overcome, to allow capable people to participate in tertiary education. There is no fill-up-the-universities-with-minorities conspiracy.

    a sort of inverse snobbery from the silvertail socialists in the halls of academia who want to see more of their beloved minorities and “disadvantaged” folk take up places at uni. I know from personal experience that this is window dressing and that those silvertail socialists really have no desire to mix with the real working class

    Now who’s full of contradictions. They want to fill up the universities with the working classes – but they don’t really like them. So why do they want them there?

    Be honest with us, Iain. University wasn’t a really happy time for you, was it? Were you mistreated and shunned by your lecturers and fellow students?

  13. Iain Hall says:

    Mark

    Be honest with us, Iain. University wasn’t a really happy time for you, was it? Were you mistreated and shunned by your lecturers and fellow students?


    Did you miss this part of my post about what a fun time I had as a student?

    Now when I was a much younger man I really believed that attending university was by far the most valuable thing that anyone could do to secure their future, and I went to great lengths to first achieve my matriculation, (as an adult student) and then to get a degree myself. Boy was it a fun time I loved the life of a student, It was interesting and stimulating and from a social point of view the lifestyle was great.

  14. Mark L. says:

    No, I didn’t miss it. But you obviously emerged with a chip on your shoulder re: the ‘socialist silvertails’ you bang on about constantly.

  15. Iain Hall says:

    No chip Mark just a belief that university is rather over rated in many ways

  16. Mark L. says:

    You’re right, it probably is. But for those who want to challenge themselves intellectually and/or find a path to various professions, it’s still the pinnacle.

  17. kae says:

    Hi Iain
    No. They learn how to run the restaurant/business they work in and perhaps wonder why they aren’t the boss, fresh out of uni?
    Just working my way thru the comments.

    It’s a shame that the attainment of a tertiary qualification has been devalued by the, er, decline in standards in many tertiary institutions.

    They now rely a lot on money from students, who used to be called “students”, now they’re clients or customers, and they quite often have more say in their education than the lecturers who teach the subjects.

    I’m sure there’s a better way than the one we have now.

  18. Iain Hall says:

    Are you agreeing with me Mark?
    wow !
    Kae
    I know what “hospitality ” students study and I still think it is a load of tosh.

    Those who deny that the quest for cash by institutions does not influence their pronouncements is off with the fairies

  19. beevo says:

    By all means remove the barrier of wealth but this is not the main reason the lower socio-ec groups are poorly represented. Negative attitude towards education as inherited from parents is a huge issue. You would think that poorer parents would encourage their kids to study harder and do better than they but I can assure you the opposite is true in a majority of cases. These are often the adults that did poorly at school themselves and see it all as a waste of time. So there is no culture of striving imparted and the kids barely struggle their way to year 10,11 or 12. Even in primary years I have seen parents with an appalling attitude to the school establishment. Unwilling to support the efforts of teachers or even their own children. They set the example and few can break from it. This is where we should spend time and money and invest in creating a desire to learn bringing the greatest reward for our youth. There is no point lowering standards of Uni entry to suit the market. Better that the Unis stand empty for lack of suitable candidates than produce second-rate fodder. In my early years I had the ability but not the will. It took far greater effort in later years to achieve useful qualifications and every day I regret the wasted time spent trying to catch up. I have achieved a lot but it has been many times the effort. Success takes hard work and achievement is always a competitive exercise to overcome, even if only against yourself. “Degree” is literally a measure of success and achievement on a recognised scale. If you relegate it to a rubber stamp then it is counterfeit currency.

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