26th May 2003
The government is putting tuition fees up for some universities. Ostensibly with the idea of increasing the quality of university education.
Say, do you remember when they said that universities would be able to charge up to £9k a year and gave all sorts of reassurances about how not every university would do so? And then every university - including the open University, which is a correspondence course in the UK - did in fact do so? I do.
Indeed, it is cheaper to get a university education in the United States than it is to get one in England when one accounts for the differences in the value of the relative currencies. The University of Washington, for example, charges around $11,000 a year, which is around £8000. Furthermore, it is not clear what possible justification there is for charging such outrageous fees. A lecture with 30 students in it would provide the University with in excess of a quarter million pounds a year. I don't honestly believe that the facilities cost for a lecture theatre, nor the wage for the lecturer, come to anywhere near a quarter million pounds a year. (And, let us be honest, most students will not get a full year's worth of teaching hours. So, it's probably closer to a half million a year if you account for the time that the students are not in lectures.)
There are concerns with the way that teaching is handled, but I don't see what positive bearing this is supposed to have on the solution.
The quality of teaching does not increase when you tie the financial security of an institution to the number of students that it retains, or to put it another way allows to pass exams. Now it is true enough that those things are at least linked on the surface. Teaching is, to a certain degree, about making people pass exams, or at least giving them the knowledge that the exam is supposed test. However, having a standard is about failing anyone who does not meet that standard.
There are consequently, two ways that one can increase one's income when that income is tied to student outcomes: one can improve the quality of teaching, or one can relax one's standards. I don't think anyone here would be particularly surprised to find that the latter choice is preferred. And on both sides, by and large. There's no incentive for students to take a number of extremely hard classes within the spread of their degree when they can take easier classes and get a more marketable degree at the end of the thing.
Unless the action that you take addresses that conflict in incentives, the result that you obtain seems unlikely to be to the benefit of the standard of education. Here you are making each individual student more valuable, from the perspective of the financial interests of the institution. And that is not something that is going to increase the quality of teaching.
So, what do you folks make of this? To me it seems like an attempt to further engage in a massive rip off.
11th November 2006
For a country that Americans consistently accuse of being a "nanny state", the UK has some of the least socialist policies in Europe. I'm actually baffled that the UK has tuition fees in the first place.
Is there any sort of subsidy from the state? If yes, how much is it? If no, does the state decide the curriculum still?
Do they genuinely think that throwing more money at something is equal to an increase in quality?
11th January 2008
This is purely anecdotal of course, but I can recall one of the British attendees (her name escapes me, unfortunately) of the last symposium in Celtic Studies complaining that some students ran around university with the impression that they're entitled to good grades, as if they, by paying their fees, had bought what they are supposed to work for. As someone living, studying and slowly beginning "teaching" in Germany, I frankly find this baffling. Students at my university pay between €200 and €250 per semester (varies) for public transport, supporting the student government, and so on. Beyond that, you pay a maximum extra €650 if you've successfully received a degree already and began a new one (consecutive bachelor-master studies excluded). This, contrary to some British universities, does not include accomodation, but even including that, it is by far lower. And those who cannot afford it because their parents do not own / earn enough or they had a falling-out with their parents can easily apply for "BAFöG", which is money the state "loans" to you (in the vast majority of cases with no interest) for semesters you complete within a certain timeframe (typically 6 semesters for a bachelor's and 4 semesters for a master's degree) and of which you only have to pay back half (or a maximum of €10,000) over a rather generous amount of time (normally 20 years, first payments to be made 5 years after the last "loan" or sooner if you like).
I find this to be much more sensible and I honestly believe that the UK is on a path towards more extreme class difference in education and that is, in my opinion, troubling. Then again - and I do not want to make a big deal of this, since it is mostly off-topic -, if the "social justice" movement continues to gain as much ground in the UK as it has in the US, the quality of tertiary education will be inevitably declining anyway.
[center] "I'm an amateur policeman and leisure time surgeon." Sounds insane? Welcome to the pain of historians and archaeolog
26th May 2003
SerioFor a country that Americans consistently accuse of being a "nanny state", the UK has some of the least socialist policies in Europe. I'm actually baffled that the UK has tuition fees in the first place.
Is there any sort of subsidy from the state? If yes, how much is it?[/quote]
You can take out a loan to cover the tuition fees from the state. You start repaying that at 9% of your income above £21,000. In terms of interest, those who started 2012 or later are looking at the retail prices index + 3%. So, their interest for this year would be, I believe, 3.9%. The loans, I believe get written off after 30 years. But - if RPI stays around .9% increase year on year - by my reckoning, that loan's never really getting paid off for anyone not making more than £33,000. I mean someone on £32,000 would still make £37,440 worth of payments over thirty years, but the interest on the debt would far outpace that. Meanwhile someone who goes on to make £40,000 would only pay £38,441 before their debt was paid off.Serio If no, does the state decide the curriculum still?
I don't think it does. Universities have to meet some requirements from the Quality Assurance Agency, but it's not clear to me what those are and students get significant freedom to choose their own modules outside of a set of core modules.
Honestly, one of the big problems is it's not clear why students would choose to study a hard aspect of a subject when they can choose to study an easy one and get the same degree at the other end.
[quote=Serio] Do they genuinely think that throwing more money at something is equal to an increase in quality?
It's questionable whether increasing quality is actually their aim at this point, I feel :/
Faktrl is Best Pony
10th September 2007
SerioIs there any sort of subsidy from the state? If yes, how much is it? If no, does the state decide the curriculum still?
AFAIK, the university board of regents decides, but they give some leeway to the individual schools. That determines what courses transfer between schools in different states. For example, some schools you might take ethics which would count as Philosophy 203 or something, but at another school it would be called Philosophy 2XX which would be counted as an elective as opposed to a required general ed course. Which when you get down to it means if you had to transfer because of x, y, and/or z, you essentially wasted $250 on a course that you can't use because now you have to take a different required course because of the different curriculae.
I don't remember if there is a minimum wage where they'll cut you some slack, but generally six months after graduation you start paying back in increments of $20-50 a month + interest or whatever extra you want to pay to square the debt sooner. But it's a strange concept to think you should have to pay an arm and a leg for something the government touts as an essential part of your adult education, and maybe they're right, but if so they should be willing to lend a hand. Of course, some people say join the military for 4 years to get money for 3 years worth of a 4-year degree. It's beyond cynical and it's not fair to ask such a thing of people who would have done well and gotten to use their degrees in the workplace after graduation, not to mention they can rescind your college money because the contract clearly states they have the authority to alter the conditions at any time for any reason.
There are of course scholarships, but those are EXTREMELY competitive. From what I remember there are lots of tiny scholarships that pay upwards of $100-500 for something like writing an essay about why you deserve the scholarship, or what you plan to do with your degree, and etc. The idea being to do lots of these scholarships to split the difference, but again there doesn't seem to me to be enough of a real effect nationwide.
Let's face it, university has by-and-large become just another corporation. You pay for a certification that will maybe get your foot in the door with some company because they don't like having to do the investigation into your qualifications. It's why there are so many scantron tests in classes, it's easier to grade a multiple-choice test than it is to have discussions and grade the quality of those discussions, so eventually it will become just another diploma mill with no real credible statement on your abilities other than to memorize information and choose the less-wrong circle.
"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.
26th May 2003
Faktrl is Best Pony
10th September 2007
The very nature of higher education varies hugely between disciplines, from intensive lab-based science projects to one-on-one tutoring for aspiring artists and musicians. This diversity cannot be captured by standardised metrics...
This sounds strangely familiar...
"I'd shush her zephyr." ~ Zephyr.