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Does Your Degree Matter?
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 867

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hod wrote:
Iím going to nail up some colours here. Why should governments pay for undergraduate-level education? To support the future economy, there is an argument for engineering and science to be supported, but many companies in these fields plough a lot of cash into universities as it is. And what about students studying media studies, sports science, fashion and textiles, etc? Are you happy for your taxes to support these courses which benefit no one at all?


I'd be absolutely happy to pay for them. They are some of the fields that actually bring money into the UK.

Textiles studies is a growth industry, textiles research is a technology and engineering science. Expect to see massive advances in textiles, especially textiles that interface with technology, within the next couple of decades.

Sports science? Professional sports is big business. Football alone is worth billions to the UK. Sports technology and the development of new kit and equipment is as cut-throat as it is lucrative. That's before you get into none tangible assets such as its power to market 'brand UK'.

The UK fashion industry is worth twice the value of the automotive industry.

The age of a clear cut distinction between 'useful' science/engineering and 'useless' arts subjects is long gone. Textile design companies want textiles graduates with IT, chemistry or physics skills, not computer science, chemistry or physics grads with no clue about textiles. If you wiped out sports, fashion and textiles the UK would go bankrupt over night. So in what sense can you claim that they benefit no-one?

Hod wrote:

In any case, there are just too many graduates nowadays, and the jobs most of them do donít by any stretch warrant a degree. If you want to bash governments, Iíll join you, but rejuvenating the economy will only come by attracting real work back into the country and not, for example, depleting the UKís manufacturing industry which has gone from thriving to non-existent in the space of twenty-five years. Churning out more media studies graduates wonít help anyone.


There's too many young people and not enough jobs, removing degrees from the equation won't miraculously create jobs for them. The UK manufacturing industry is dead, it's not coming back. Things have moved on, money is in the ownership of ideas now, not the manufacture of the products. The UK can't compete with the cheap labour and cheap materials of developing countries. Even if they did try to bring the industries back, they'd have to ship workers in as well, because Brits don't want to work in factories anymore. They'd rather do a sports science degree, earn twice as much working as a personal trainer, and buy cheap semi-disposable products from China.


Hod wrote:

The repayment of fees should also not be a barrier to potential students. Firstly, you donít have to pay any fees up front. Then you will not pay back anything until your annual salary exceeds £21000. The student loan repayment website gives an example of a graduate earning £30000 having to pay £67 a month. This is not a bank buster by any means.


Except the goal posts shift constantly. They've changed virtually every year since they were introduced. Almost every intake year has a different payment schedule. Some people pay interest at the rate of inflation, some are paying commercial rates, some get the loan written off after x number of years, some don't. The rules may look reasonable now, but they won't stay that way.

Aside from anything else it's blatantly unsustainable. By their own figures most people who only make minimum payments will never pay off the full loan. They will only absorb that loss long enough for the furore to die down and then the repayments will start creeping up. They have to, or the whole system will go bankrupt.


I am playing devil's advocate here to some extent, but I don't think the situation is as black and white as you paint it.

Personally, I wouldn't have gone to Uni with fees at the current level, it would have scared me off. But then when I was making the decision it was still possible to have a career of sorts without a degree. These days it isn't, and again, that's unlikely to change now.

Nowadays the realistic alternative is that if they aren't in education they'll be on the dole, I'd rather my taxes went on education than a giro.


Last edited by HLJHLJ on Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:22 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1207

PostPosted: Mon Dec 10, 2012 7:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
That's another point I never understood about degrees in arts, humanities and such useful subjects. If you only need to attend two or three lectures a week, why not just do a correspondence course, such as the Open University, especially now students have to pay?


Part of the appeal is that Uni is away from home. It's about a lot more than just studying for a degree. It also gives you three or four years to explore a subject, and make the transition from a teenage student to an independent adult.

For many of us, it was also an escape! I went to Uni in the 1980s, when choices for girls were limited. After school you either got work - generally locally; went on to higher education, or settled down with a bloke. Uni for me opened countless horizons, and I'm really, really grateful that I had those opportunities.
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Hod



Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 915
Location: Home

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
[
There's too many young people and not enough jobs, removing degrees from the equation won't miraculously create jobs for them. The UK manufacturing industry is dead, it's not coming back. Things have moved on, money is in the ownership of ideas now, not the manufacture of the products. The UK can't compete with the cheap labour and cheap materials of developing countries.


Britainís automotive factories have alas long since gone to countries with cheaper labour such as Spain, and have cars gone down in price? No, someone just got richer. The British government could have at least tried some incentives to stop the likes of Ford recently shutting a few more of its UK factories. After all, it certainly tried to help the odd bank or two in recent times. Bit of a political rant, but my point is, the economy wonít suffer as a result of tuition fees. Iíll not shed too many tears if sports science students (and whilst weíre at it, arts students), whoíll never earn over £21000 anyway, have to in theory one day pay back what they owe for their studies.

By the way, I wouldnít say the UKís manufacturing industry is dead. Fair enough for those semi-disposable Made in Taiwan products, but how many aeroplanes, for example, are built in developing countries and would you fly on one if so?

And are you telling me Germany is a developing country with all its third-rate sweatshops knocking out disposable BMWs, Audis, Porsches, Opels and VWs? And thatís just boring old cars. Germanyís manufacturing industry is ginormous. You can still leave school at 16 and do an engineering apprenticeship there. Then you have massive companies like Siemens and Bosch. Granted, itís a bigger country, but the demographics of Germany are pretty damn similar to the UK, so why arenít they all doing sports science and poetry and becoming personal trainers?

I also disagree about people not wanting to work in manufacturing. They no longer have the option, as Britain like no other country on the planet has managed to decimate a once-thriving industrial base in favour of nondescript service industry jobs paying £20000 a year to sports science and polytechnic graduates.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 867

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:53 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hod wrote:
Iíll not shed too many tears if sports science students (and whilst weíre at it, arts students), whoíll never earn over £21000 anyway, have to in theory one day pay back what they owe for their studies.


I don't think you actually know what goes on in sports science departments.

There was a guy I studied with when we were doing our PhDs. His field was gait and balance. He was working at a traditional research lab attached to a prestigious research hospital. Eventually he moved to a sports science department because it's better funded, has better facilities and better students. He's won 2 research grants there, one continuing his work on vestibular control and one working on a railway engineering issue concerning stepping and balance.

He's also a lecturer as well of course, he teaches courses in neuroscience and anatomy. This is exactly the sort of stuff I want to see going on in universities in the UK. What would you prefer to see people doing?

10 years ago I'd have laughed at the idea of a 'proper' research being done under the banner of a sports science department. After seeing his experience, if I were looking to get back into research in the UK, it's the first place I'd be looking.


Hod wrote:

By the way, I wouldnít say the UKís manufacturing industry is dead. Fair enough for those semi-disposable Made in Taiwan products, but how many aeroplanes, for example, are built in developing countries and would you fly on one if so?


The Airbus is already being built in China, Boeing manufactures components there. Europeans will be flying on Chinese built aircraft, it's just a matter of when.


Hod wrote:

And are you telling me Germany is a developing country with all its third-rate sweatshops knocking out disposable BMWs, Audis, Porsches, Opels and VWs? And thatís just boring old cars. Germanyís manufacturing industry is ginormous. You can still leave school at 16 and do an engineering apprenticeship there. Then you have massive companies like Siemens and Bosch. Granted, itís a bigger country, but the demographics of Germany are pretty damn similar to the UK, so why arenít they all doing sports science and poetry and becoming personal trainers?



Would that be the same Germany that has free university education in almost every state? The one where the government not only pays for their own students' tuition, but also funds international students' studies as well?

Probably just a coincidence. It's not like funding tertiary education benefits a country.



Hod wrote:

I also disagree about people not wanting to work in manufacturing. They no longer have the option, as Britain like no other country on the planet has managed to decimate a once-thriving industrial base in favour of nondescript service industry jobs paying £20000 a year to sports science and polytechnic graduates.


Perhaps it varies across the country. The area where I grew up still has an automotive production plant. It's a constant source of resentment that they hardly ever employ locals anymore. The production lines used to be glorified labouring that anyone could go to straight from school. The jobs available there now are technical, they require IT or engineering backgrounds, people who can deal with the robotics. Education levels in the area are generally low, and the handful of locals who do have appropriate degree level qualifications don't want to work in a car plant. The work is relatively low paid with few opportunities for promotion. The oil refinery is a much better option and the car plant struggles to fill vacancies.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2603
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

If the student fees don't get repaid reasonably pronto, I guess the taxpayer picks up the tab? A tab that increased by 300% for some reason, perhaps to be nicely in line with the debts racked up by (limiting the) housing?
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 867

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 5:46 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well that's the question really Fluffy. The student loan company is owned by the government anyway, it's also supposedly not for profit. When the loans aren't repaid the taxpayers will have to foot the bill, many of those taxpayers will already be paying off their own loans, so effectively they will have to pay twice.


Under the current repayment schedule the debt gets wiped after 30 years. The average graduate starting salary is between £20,000-£29,000 (depending on whose figures you believe.)

A graduate would need to start on £45,000 a year with an annual pay rise of inflation+2% to repay the whole loan, and it will take them 24 years.

It's not sustainable, they will change the repayment schedule as soon as they can get away with it.
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Hod



Joined: 28 Apr 2003
Posts: 915
Location: Home

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
The Airbus is already being built in China, Boeing manufactures components there. Europeans will be flying on Chinese built aircraft, it's just a matter of when.

How many people do you think Airbus employ in China? Itís a handful assembling a tiny number of aircraft, just over a hundred in four years. One hundred aircraft from over 7000 Airbus aircraft already delivered. Airbus China only does final assembly like Airfix models of parts already made in Europe. The design, development and manufacture are all done in Europe. The engines, from design through to assembly and testing, are from Europe or America, and that wonít change anytime soon. The point is the UK still has a manufacturing industry, which despite being decimated by successions of clueless governments and greedy companies, still generates around 20% of the UKís GDP.

HLJHLJ wrote:
I don't think you actually know what goes on in sports science departments.

I picked sports science as itís a fun subject for someone with random A-levels and no idea what else to do. I could have chosen media studies, history of art or film. Any of these nonsense subjects will have the odd exceptional person, but the other 99.999% will end up selling life insurance and drifting from career to career. Going back to the original point, why should taxpayers support this type of graduate?
HLJHLJ wrote:
Would that be the same Germany that has free university education in almost every state? The one where the government not only pays for their own students' tuition, but also funds international students' studies as well?

Probably just a coincidence. It's not like funding tertiary education benefits a country.

How many graduates does it take to assemble a Porsche? None, because that sort of work is done by so-called blue collar people who completed apprenticeships. The design and planning will be done by graduates, but if these car companies wanted to further line their pockets by shifting production lines to developing countries, they could do so tomorrow. Maybe there is some sort of social and economic responsibility with the companies and governments not willing to offload jobs abroad. Itís good that Germany encourages tertiary education, but thatís no connection with the presence of a manufacturing industry there.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 867

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 2:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ignoring the rose-tinting, the world you are describing hasn't existed in the UK for decades and it's not coming back. Manufacturing and production have moved on and moved out. There are other industries out there making profits now, industries that need graduates. You dismiss them all because they don't fit 'your' idea of where money ought to be coming from, but it doesn't change anything, so we are going round in circles.
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1207

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 3:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Manufacturing and production have moved on and moved out


And along with them, the skills built up over generations.

Though I did hear something very interesting on Start the Week. Antony Gormley was talking about how they needed metal workers to create the sculpture. Of course, we're only talking a one-off project here, but I think the challenge is to find new applications for developed skills.

The point was also made that creative industries bring in much more income to the UK as a whole than the financial sector. Fashion, performing arts, traditional crafts - all highly-skilled, trained people involved.

The problem with disappearing manufacturing is that you also get disappearing educational providers. One of the stats I've only half-remembered from the programme was that there used to be around 200 design colleges around the Potteries - all specialising in ceramics. Now there are only a handful.

And where are design schools mushrooming now? China....
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Teacher in Rome



Joined: 09 Jul 2003
Posts: 1207

PostPosted: Tue Dec 11, 2012 4:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The England Census has just been published. Some interesting stats:

Quote:
In 2001, manufacturing was 15% of total workforce - now it is 8.9%
The Wholesale and retail trade was the largest employer of the 16 to 74 age group in 2011 with 16% (4.2 million) of employed people.


Source: http://www.guardian.co.uk/news/datablog/2012/dec/11/census-2011-religion-race-education?intcmp=122

More estate agents than farmers, more manufacturing jobs than public admin and defence.
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fluffyhamster



Joined: 13 Mar 2005
Posts: 2603
Location: UK > China > Japan > UK again

PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 6:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

HLJHLJ wrote:
Well that's the question really Fluffy. The student loan company is owned by the government anyway, it's also supposedly not for profit. When the loans aren't repaid the taxpayers will have to foot the bill, many of those taxpayers will already be paying off their own loans, so effectively they will have to pay twice.


Under the current repayment schedule the debt gets wiped after 30 years. The average graduate starting salary is between £20,000-£29,000 (depending on whose figures you believe.)

A graduate would need to start on £45,000 a year with an annual pay rise of inflation+2% to repay the whole loan, and it will take them 24 years.

It's not sustainable, they will change the repayment schedule as soon as they can get away with it.



And so it begins...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/money/2013/jun/13/raise-interest-rate-student-loans-secret-report

.
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HLJHLJ



Joined: 06 Oct 2009
Posts: 867

PostPosted: Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks for that Fluffy, depressing but not surprising, the numbers never did add up. I thought they might at least wait until the first cohort graduated though. :-\
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Ignatius Reilly



Joined: 30 Jun 2011
Posts: 29
Location: East of Suez

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 12:32 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I fear that Scot's feeling may be hurt. His first degree was certainly not in English (being a Hibernian he has always struggled with it) but was, I believe, in Etruscan philology. Mine, in early medieval Christianity with special reference to the life and works of St. Augustine of Hippo, has, of course, been invaluable to me, if not my students.
I am not sure a degree in English is of any great use. Isn't it about 'literary criticism', deconstructionism, postmodernism and whatever modern nonsense English departments dream up in order to justify their existence? How many ways are there of saying that 'Bleak House' is a good book? I would have thought a sound grasp of a foreign language, a knowledge of philology, and a teaching qualification should do the trick. I have rarely meet a student who has displayed any real interest in English literature. On the rare occasions this has happened I have been usually been able to rely on my own reading to be able to recommend 'The House at Pooh Corner' as as fine a work as they should wish to read.
I fear I may have missed a page of this discussion. I fear age, infirmity and the earliness of the hour may have dulled my already feeble senses.
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johnslat



Joined: 21 Jan 2003
Posts: 12304
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 1:39 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Dear Ignatius Reilly,

" . . . with special reference to the life and works of St. Augustine of Hippo . . . "

Huh? I thought Boethius was your main man. Very Happy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FWiyKgeGWx0


Regards,
John
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Sashadroogie



Joined: 17 Apr 2007
Posts: 8928
Location: Moskva, The Workers' Paradise

PostPosted: Sat Jun 15, 2013 3:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Ignatius Reilly wrote:
I fear that Scot's feeling may be hurt. His first degree was certainly not in English (being a Hibernian he has always struggled with it)


Eh? What's this? I always thought that the name Reilly was as much Hibernian as Scot...
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