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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Is a university degree worthwhile?

Having a university degree seems important today, with a high intake recently. Although I'm not totally convinced. 

I see so many graduates who have their degree but are working in low paid jobs that probably don't lead anywhere. Graduates that are working in shops or cafes when they have a good degree in law, marketing or geology. And although universities train students to think and create this is only happening with a minority. Sure we all know graduates who are doctors, lawyers, teachers and nurses, and who are successful and settled in a career. But these are a minority.

I personally feel that the old system of layered education was far better. There was a place for all. Universities for the brightest, colleges for the majority who wanted to learn skills over a shorter period and to a lower standard, and apprenticeships for those wanting to specialise in manual skills such as mechanics, plumbers, electricians and brickies. Ok. So there are some apprentices around and colleges too, but not enough of the former and not enough discipline in the latter. By discipline I mean ensuring students attend, behave in a socially acceptable manner and learn. I've been in colleges recently where this just isn't happening. I gave a course on entrepreneurship a couple of years ago in a college and only 7 out of 23 students bothered to turn up. Two were totally disinterested and one fell asleep. Now I'm not a trained teacher but I do put my message through with enthusiasm and was surprised. The tutor told me that this was common, and incidentally they left a year later.

We are now in a world of insecurity with jobs, and the need to change. So life-long learning is really important from a jobs perspective. Learning new life skills can open up  big opportunities for anyone who continues to learn.

Now it's true that you can learn anything on YouTube for free. But online courses offer so much more. Firstly they offer a comprehensive course in one place, then they are structured so that you learn through a system, usually tutors/lecturers are available to talk over particular issues but there is usually a a discussion board so that both students and lecturer can cover points in depth. And you can learn anytime, anywhere where you have an internet connection, and any topic. 

That knowledge you gain can help you at work but also throughout your life. And if you have some knowledge about a specific topic you might even become a lecturer with your own courses. It's not difficult. 

Meanwhile watch out for more

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