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University Fees and Degrees

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Are our university fees well spent?

Our correspondent writes ...

I learned some years ago that you cannot get a job these days unless you have a degree. Even simple jobs that I could do blindfolded with one arm tied behind my back demand a degree. But I do not have one.

After five years at grammar school, I'd had enough of education. For the first three years I was bullied unmercifully (being of small stature) and the masters completed my punishment by caning me regularly, mostly for being late for school. Well, punctuality never was my saving grace in those days!

Apart from all that, times were hard and I just wanted to get out into the wide world and earn my own crust. So university never entered the equation.

Since that day, I guess I've had a very complete education at the university of life. I can turn my hands to most things, except those involving trowels and other types of working tools. I can analyse problems and find solutions and I put a considerable amount of effort and pride into anything I do. But I don't have a degree.

I don't let that worry me too much because I have worked with many youngsters who do have degrees. Worryingly, most of them don't know how to spell or add up so I have that advantage over them. More worrying, most of them don't do any productive work. They sit at their computers playing Solitaire of surfing the internet. Unlike me, they don't seem to have any ambition to end each working day feeling they have achieved something worthwhile.

I am inclined to blame the universities for this. Students are not conditioned for work. They are given too much free time. Work is a culture shock that only hits them when they leave university.

I am not really surprised by this because I see and hear about the things that happen at my daughter's university and I am convinced the academics in charge genuinely could not organise a boozefest in a brewery. If they were capable of organising things properly, university courses would be completed in two-thirds of the time they now take. Students would be obliged to attend classes almost every day of the week and their student debt would be decreased by one-third.

But let's get back to the job front. Here is my solution to a situation that currently ensures most new graduates start their working life with a millstone of debt hanging round their necks ...

Every company that stipulates a degree is necessary for a particular vacancy should be made to fund the cost of university education. Candidate students would be interviewed before they went to university and would be sponsored throughout their academic education. In return, they would sign a contract that committed them to the job for a specified number of years. The only way out for a student would be to personally reimburse the company for the sum they had invested or move to another company on payment of a transfer fee (like footballers) which would again compensate the original sponsor.

Naturally, this solution isn't entirely practical and it would be difficult to make it workable but it would have one instant effect. Put the onus of cost on the employer rather than the student and you can almost guarantee that at least fifty-percent of advertised vacancies would no longer require university degrees.

This would immediately open up jobs to perfectly capable people who did not have the requisite educational qualifications and would get us back to the stage where fewer students needed to attend universities because fewer jobs demanded it.

"Many men stumble across the truth ... but most manage to pick themselves up and continue as if nothing had happened."

Winston S Churchill

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