Saturday, 11 May 2013

What is wrong with universities?

I don't think that a university education is the right thing for many young people these days. About half, Allan Rock (of uOttawa) says, graduate without debt. Many DO get jobs, but many do not. Yes, we hear of roofers with degrees in engineering, but this isn't the norm.

Universities are relevant, U of O president says

Ottawa Citizen-May 10, 2013
Despite a "myth" that universities are out of touch with economic realities, ... on a tax return," University of Ottawa president Allan Rock says.

There are quite a number of kids who refuse to take a job, then they go back to get a Master's and end up with another $30,000 in debt. They say they cannot find a job and figure that going back to school, and deferring repayments of university loans, is a way to survive.

What is wrong with universities?

High schools have destreamed, resulting in classes mixed with kids who are achievers and those who are underachievers. Not all kids are prepared for university literacy and numeracy standards. When I taught at uOttawa, the students complained to me that profs were:
a) unfamiliar with integrating technology into education.
b) many profs would simply provide a list of URLS.
c) Profs without classroom experience (i.e., in the real world) were basing their lectures on research and not practical experience. (A prof with a Ph.D. in education may not have ever been a classroom teacher!)
d) No one actually taught the kids classroom management skills or how to manage a classroom of mixed ability learners, and behavioural issues.

Universities in general, those who complain about them say:
  • There is too much cheating, with few consequences
  • Lack of ethics throughout the system
  • The system is greatly politicized
  • Highly inflated marks
  • Pressure to publish or get tenure
  • Teaching to the lowest common denominator
  • Universities taking all comers, despite the competency of students
  • Universities who do not fail kids who should fail, they want bodies in seats, tuition in the bank
  • Universities are not preparing kids for the work force
  • Lack of motivation of students and a sense of entitlement, with no work ethic
  • The expectation that their A+ in high school equals the same in university.

Ivory Tower Blues, an excellent Canadian book about Canadian universities, tells us, not everyone SHOULD go to university. The jobs aren't there, and many cannot achieve at a university level, and we must face this fact. Universities stuff classroom with underachievers, who will not be failed, and profs cannot and do not give students realistic marks. I know, I taught at the University of Ottawa. Some students beg and argue about marks, but don't feel compelled to attend classes. They expect to get 'A's. They don't expect to earn them.

Throughout, the authors argue that fewer and fewer students are experiencing their university education in ways expected by their parents and the public. The majority of students are hampered by insufficient preparation at the secondary school level, lack of personal motivation, and disillusionment. Contrary to popular opinion, there is no administrative or governmental procedure in place to maintain standards of education.

Why We CheatScientists are unraveling the causes of fraud and dishonesty and devising new strategies for rooting them out.  By Ferric C. Fang and Arturo Casadevall

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