Liz R Response
Created on 6/6/2008
Sometimes I get an overwhelming response on something I’ve written but one note stands out from the crowd. This is one of those occasions. Yesterday’s article about how Higher Education is working in the UK generated a large number of comments from all different types of people. Those of you who wrote unanimously agreed with my article.
However, there was one response, which articulated the general response of almost everyone who works within the academic field and that came from my friend and previous colleague, Liz Rymer. I reprint her comments, with her kind permission, below.
Liz is a teacher who really cares about her students, as do all of the good lecturers I know.
“I largely concur with your (TK’s) musings - however, I want to add to it.... we have been experiencing a marked decline in the standard of education in our 'recruits'. My (educated) impression is that these young people are being short-changed by the schools. I was told by our Dean that 'we don't have a selection process; we recruit'. Meaning that our institution, and I'm sure many
others outside the Russell Group do not interview - we look at credits - if a potential student has enough, they get on; if not, they don't. This assumes that the student, having passed A levels, has the necessary aptitude to study for a
Degree - by and large, they don't.
In a great many of our students, we are finding a poor standard of literacy, a complete lack of self-awareness and absolutely no idea what independent study at HE level actually entails.
It is not their fault.
It is the fault of a system that pushes ill-equipped students into HE, compounded by the fact that league tables and pass rates dominate every teacher's [and lecturer's] life. Retention rates at HE level have hit the headlines this week - the 43% who do not complete are testament to the fact that they are not ready to take on the responsibility, nor do they have the academic ability (even a BA in Media requires this!) to deal with what is required of them.
I am deeply saddened by all this - these young people are being forced through a sausage machine, modules are dumbed down, students that should by rights fail, are given slim passes to assuage the Governors and HEFCE and keep the money rolling in. Education is not a business, it should never be predicated on money.
Students are not looked upon as people (with aspirations and hopes), but as beans... and whilst the bean counters are running the show, it will only get worse.
I hate Tony Blair and I blame him and his acolytes for this, bastards all.
Thank you Liz, all I can add is that I agree with almost every word you write. Except I don’t hate Blair, I hate the fact that we have a government that just doesn’t listen to anything except the echo of it’s own voice.