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Re: casual contributors

From: Graham Percival
Subject: Re: casual contributors
Date: Fri, 23 Mar 2012 20:21:40 +0000
User-agent: Mutt/1.5.21 (2010-09-15)

On Fri, Mar 23, 2012 at 08:06:23PM +0100, David Kastrup wrote:
> Engineering student numbers have dropped significantly
> at my former university, and it is to be expected that standards were
> adjusted downwards in order to get enough students back (we have state
> education almost exclusively, but the funds are distributed according to
> student numbers).

Sounds familiar.

> And that means that the degree is less worth as a means of securing a
> reputation and a job.

Sure, but it'll take 5-20 years for employers to realize this
(depending on the employer).  Government elections happen every
4-5 years, so guess what the government pressures universities to

Famous quote (well, paraphrase) from a high-ranking UK government
official approximately ten years ago:

Official: we want to have over 50% of school-aged students
attending university in ten years.
Reporter: excuse me sir, but only 40% of students finish their
A-levels.  [these are high school exams for academic-oriented
Official: well then, we'll just have to reduce the difficulty of
the A-levels.

They know what they were doing.  The government, and universities,
know that they're trading short-term "number of students with
degrees" and "tuition fees from foreign students" for "quality of
degrees".  I don't think that's a good trade-off, but then again I
always tend to favor long-term approaches.  But although I
criticize their goals, I cannot find fault with their methods.
They wanted to reduce long-term quality in exchange for short-term
numbers, and they are succeeding.

- Graham

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