Tuesday 18 April 2006

About time

So, the government is going to introduce a two-year degree option:
Students in England can do honours degrees in two years, under new "fast track" plans to save time and money.
Er, what's with this "new" nonsense? The University of Buckingham has been doing two-year degrees for thirty-odd years. But Buckingham's a PRIVATE university, so it can't be mentioned by the powers that be, can it? Like other private organisations, Buckingham is geared towards satisfying its customers - the students - rather than its staff. The minister seems to understand the problem with state universities:
Traditional degrees had been organised for the convenience of academics rather than students, he said.
It's a pity he didn't acknowledge that the private sector had solved that problem decades ago.

1 comment:

David Farrer said...

Comments made on previous template:

Sorry, David, didn't mean to sound offish. Anyway, "privatise" - but our Universities are in a sense private anyway. They are not owned by the government. They have their own independent charters. Their staff are not civil servants. They even have a proper, funded pension scheme. The problem is that the government has them by the goolies financially.

25 April 2006, 18:29:06 GMT+01:00
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Yes, I meant "in choosing which uni".

22 April 2006, 16:20:44 GMT+01:00
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"setting aside whether prestige should be a key factor in choosing uni": judging by the young things I know, 'holiday-camp'is THE key factor in choosing Uni, but prestige is a factor in choosing which.

22 April 2006, 15:32:34 GMT+01:00
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It's good that one can have so much flexibility with the Open University, but that's simply not enough choice. If we had more competitive universities, there would be flexibility everywhere. For people going to university straight out of school, the OU isn't really a good option. In particular, the OU isn't attractive to bright young people who want a degree from somewhere prestigious (setting aside whether prestige should be a key factor in choosing uni).

21 April 2006, 16:34:14 GMT+01:00
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Andrew Duffin
Anon A Moss - everything you've claimed for the US flexible system is true of the Open University here in the UK. 
The OU is partly state-funded and partly exists on the fees it earns; it has a low profile but is one Britain's few great success stories. 
It would - in theory - be possible to complete an OU first degree in two years, but it would be a pretty serious undertaking. Those courses are not dumbed down, and the assessment is rigorous. 
Disclaimer - I have experience only of hard science OU courses. Possibly (probably) in liberal arts subjects it's quite different.

20 April 2006, 12:10:02 GMT+01:00
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Anon A Moss
"Traditional degrees had been organised for the convenience of academics rather than students" 
Indeed it has, and this is due to state funding. If institutions get their dosh directly from the state they are not going to be too bothered about accomodating the student/consumer, why should they? 
In the USA the system is more flexible, a person can study full time, or part time, or in the evening so he can continue in employment, and he can go at his own speed and take courses in different places to make up his degree over a number of years.  
Of course in the USA the student/consumer pays - if not everything - a significant portion themselves.

19 April 2006, 21:25:04 GMT+01:00