Posts Tagged ‘higher education; coalition; university;’

Vince Cable has the solution to the crisis about to unfold in higher education. Two year degrees! Those lazy inefficient boffins can teach 40 weeks of the year, and produce more graduates, with less resource.

Some courses, he claims, have a meagre 8 hours of teaching time per week! Of course students can work harder and get their degree finished sooner.

As one of those lazy boffins, this idea fills me with dread. Yes, our students could do the degree in less time. They have 20 weeks of teaching a year, of course they could have more. They have five weeks of exams, three weeks of revision, so study for a mere 28 weeks in total. Twenty-eight weeks x three years = 84 weeks; and so two years of forty weeks nearly adds up. However, we are not teachers. We are University Lecturers. Academics. Involved in teaching and research. Our research is at the heart of our teaching. University is not like school – we are not teaching to a set syllabus. Physics at Cambridge is not the same as physics at Oxford, or indeed physics at the University of Central Lancashire. The people who lecture to the students are those who have done the actual research and have generated knowledge. If this link between research and teaching is to be maintained, then the summer vacation, and 3 year degrees must be preserved.

However, it is apparent that Vince Cable does not appreciate this relationship between research and teaching. His proposal that any institution should be able to administer a university exam, and that universities should be brands, rather than necessarily delivering teaching themselves proposed a breakdown of th relationship between the academy and the undergraduate. Already in Europe and the US our 3 year degrees are viewed as insufficient, what value will a 2 year degree taught by a private institution be, internationally?

This attack, on one of our truely world leading industries, is short sighted, and will damage our economy and international standing.


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