|A view from the North|
Our country has witnessed a huge change in ‘higher’ education in the preceding quarter of a century. Degrees awarded in higher education institutions in the UK have risen from 108,487 in 1990, to 545,470 in 2011. The university sector has expanded, reducing the number of young earning a living and contributing to the economy at an early stage in their lives. In some cases, this is a positive thing as our economy changes and ‘digital skills’ become imperative and greater training is required to meet the challenges that the future will present.
Of course the expansion in education has been fuelled by the favourite device of many recent governments. Free money. As a business proposition, the University game has its attractions. A good PR campaign is essential. At 9 grand a pop, every eight students will cover a comfortable average salary for the Profs; get 400 students on your department role and – kerr-ching! – a £3.6M budget, that’s before you charm the various academic funding NGO’s and GO’s that have control of a chunk of tax payers’ money for ‘research’. But the really nice part is that the customer doesn’t need the money to pay. It’s created out of thin air, written as debt onto the future of the unsuspecting customer. Now where is number of that PR firm, we need bodies?
Whilst understanding mathematics is key if one is to progress in the pure or applied sciences, the proportion of young people predisposed to excel at cerebral machinations has not altered in the last 25 years. To my knowledge there is no evidence to suggest an evolutionary shift in mankind’s cerebral abilities, so there is no room for expansion in those fields of study without steering more students of high ability towards them. But lawyers, accountants and tax advisors get paid more, and as they say – money talks.
Social sciences or the humanities, or whatever-ology, are the natural areas of expansion in the education debt bubble, where a demonstration of the understanding of science (study of the world in which we live) is regarded as less important. This acceptance of scientific sketchiness creates a naturally more comfortable environment for students who may find the rigours of a degree in Mechanical Engineering or Medicine out-with their cerebral and emotional capacity. An environment which creates a more natural home for those students outwith the top ten percentile. There is serious academic work to be done, in languages, literature, history, and many other fields of what used to be referred to as ‘The Arts’ and there remain many fine expanders of young minds covering these subjects of humanity, but on the edges – the ever expanding edges – are the charlatans and witch doctors of academia. Are these young people being ill served by this expansion in higher education, and by extension, our society being damaged? I would suggest they are, and it is.
In his essay ‘Postmodernism Disrobed’ [Published in Nature, 9 July 1998, vol. 394, pp. 141-143.] Richard Dawkins reviews the activities of Alan Sokal and Jean Bricmont in exposing academic fraud in US institutions. It really is a hoot, an explosive expose, yet nothing has changed in academia since – the charlatans persist, ‘Untouchables’ – and their anti-educational effect is expanding, as the bubble in the business for student indebtedness expands.
A recent invitation has been sent out to attend a ‘Young Feminists Summer School’. I pity the poor young minds of those who do participate in such a gathering, as I fear they will not be informed and taught how to think, but rather misinformed by Groupthink and taught what to think. Perhaps others have a different view to my own. Perhaps others would take up the invitation:
“…………The European Women’s Lobby (EWL) is looking for candidates to participate in its second European Feminist Summer School taking place in Brussels from 7 to 11 September 2016.
Are you interested? Or do you know anyone who is interested?
Are you a feminist woman (self-defined) aged between 18 and 30 years old?
Do you have experience in activism related to gender equality/ women’s rights?
Are you interested in strengthening your knowledge and skills to build bigger and better campaigns to fight for women’s rights and gender equality?
Are you keen to find out more what young feminists are doing to fight inequality across Europe? Do you live in the European Union or EU Candidate countries?
Do you want the chance to shape future feminist strategies and campaigns in Europe?
Do you have good English language skills, as the programme will be in English?
Dr Pat Cullum BA (Hons) DPhil FRHistS, FHEA
School Co-ordinator for Student Experience
School of Music, Humanities and Media
University of Huddersfield
HUDDERSFIELD HD1 3DH
West Yorkshire UK
Tel: + 44 (0)1484 472315
Fax: + 44 (0) 1484 472655
University of Huddersfield inspiring tomorrow’s professionals…………”
Inspiring tomorrow’s professionals? Or teaching how to treat men and women differently and reinforce perceived injustices – a course in bigotry? Should certain young women really hold a belief that men, (the brothers, fathers and sons of – women) are out to ‘put women down’ then such views should be challenged, not reinforced? It makes no sense without the acceptance of a presumption of a prejudice against men; and an acceptance that men conspire against women, both on the part of those who offer the ‘course’ – teaching what, not how, to think. This may give young women a route into journalism and activism, but it can only sully their chances of forming a constructive lifelong relationship with a man. What purpose such education? And why the hell is the taxpayer, and future taxpayers, funding all this?
That our state schools are feeding into the higher education system young people with comparatively low basic literacy and numeracy skills, ranking 23/23 and 22/23 in the 2016 rankings , demonstrates the failures of our schools in providing our young people with a starting chance in life:
|[chart published in The Spectator 29/1/2016] H/T Isabel Hardman, The Spectator|
When young people graduate and exit the safe world of our academic institutions, they soon find out what the answer to the question is. What is a degree’s degree of worth?
 Statistical abstract for the United Kingdom 1935, Board of Trade Annual abstract of statistics, ONS/CSO Higher Education Statistics Agency