‘Students at the Heart of the System’

That, for anyone who is fortunate enough not to know, is the title of the new White Paper on higher education. We can assume they mean the higher education system, which is now supposed to have students at its heart for a change (as opposed to, I don’t know, pineapples, or meerkats, or dodgy statistics – oh, no, hang about…)

There is much I could say about it. But I will say this one thing. I do not think that the value of education can be measured in terms of monetary reward to the educated individual. My colleagues do not think that the value of education can be measured in terms of monetary reward to the educated individual. I have no evidence that my students think that the value of education can be measured in terms of monetary reward to the educated individual.We don’t think that, because it’s patently not true. If we thought that, we’d all give up and go home.

So this White Paper is an insult to all of us.

I don’t think students will choose courses on the basis of salary expectations (insofar as these can even be calculated with any degree of plausibility, which I am pretty sure is not the case, but that would be another argument). But I’m mighty cross that the government thinks they will, and apparently wants to encourage them to do so. And I’m also faintly sickened that we don’t have more academics coming out in public and saying: this is not all about money. The good and worthwhile life is not all about money. A person’s vision of his or her future is not all about money. We know this, our fellow educators know this, our students know this, and we respectfully beg to remind members of Her Majesty’s Government that they once knew this, too.

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2 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by Lisa on 30 July, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    Well said, Rachel!

    Reply

  2. Expected earnings from music and theology degrees = miniscule. I’d have been better off working in retail. I hope my accountant friends are happy with their maths degrees, but I’d rather be skint and interested in what I’m reading. From the goverment’s perpective, I think it’s more like “money at the heart of the system”.

    “Money makes the world go round…” Stop me before I launch into Cabaret…

    Reply

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