Those were indeed some sad images that showed the next generation in its worst light. Whilst I sympathise with them, this is not the way to create change – if anything it will lead people to take a harder stance.
I appreciate that this is easy for me to say given that I was one of the lucky few to be given a grant and free university teaching. However, I am responsible for my children and will inevitably be forking out for their university degrees (assuming they go).
There are two issues at play here:
- we are saddling youngsters with huge debts just when we want them to be at their free-est so they can innovate and become the future leaders of communities, companies, the country
- we are releasing them to an unforgiving employment market
The situation most low/middle class people will find themselves was best put by a Nepalese headteacher “We are too poor to afford education. But until we have education, we will always be poor.”
So does this forgive destroying property and creating chaos? No, not in the slightest. The problem with most complaints is that they offer a problem but not a solution. So whilst they do not want to be burdened by the problem, these actions also offer nothing constructive to the issue.
In my eyes the problem is that the education system is not working for most people. People leave with a lot of theory but little practical knowledge and in turbulent times people will go with experience over training. Then how to overcome this?
I’ve some very rough ideas that perhaps are impractical but perhaps (just perhaps) might be worth exploring by people much more learned than I.
- Use the Open University model – the web and new technologies mean that you no longer need to be in a lecture to learn. You could do virtual learning therefore reducing costs to provide education and costs to learn
- Improve on-the-job learning – GNVQs might have been laughed at during my time, but I can now see the value of them. Learning on the job is more beneficial and the sooner people do it the better
- Make practice learning a bigger part of university – University leavers don’t leave with a desire to get a job, they leave with a desire to be their own boss. However, current programmes don’t teach them this ability. So, why not have business students (for example) running a company within the university? They could use people learning Accounting, Economics, Law, etc. It would make them more involved and allow them to learn some entrepreneurial skills earlier on in their careers ready for when they leave for the big wide world.
- Will lecturers overtake universities? – with new technologies who is to say that courses could not be independent – i.e. lecturers could set up their own university/degree and teach pupils without the infrastructure costs of universities making access and learning cheaper.
Are any of these winning ideas? I doubt it, but there needs to be a re-think of how universities work and the teaching they do. Having a debate will get us there, breaking glass and cracking skulls won’t.