Thursday, 3 February 2011

Well, that about wraps it up for The Hegemon

Yesterday's news that university funding was being slashed by another billion, and research money being restricted to 'world-class' centres only was a massive kick in the teeth for institutions like mine which are trying hard to do original research, while providing a ladder for students via good teaching.

The coup de grâce was last night's BBC2 programme, Who Get The Best Jobs?, which actually used The Hegemon as a case study of the kind of university employers won't consider when looking through application forms - the back of my head can even be glimpsed in a shot taken at a graduation ceremony. They talk to several of my former students too (start around 48 minutes).

I really resent what's been done to education. There used to be universities and polytechnics. Universities did the 'classic' subjects and pumped out research, and polytechnics did some of those, plus all the more vocational ones, concentrating on teaching. The Hegemon, for instance, used to offer degrees in 13 languages, and was the country's first choice for linguistically-minded students. Then all HE institutions became universities and we were forced to compete on a supposedly level playing field, despite not having the billions, the land, the rich donors, the research background, the centuries of experience, the influence, the networks etc. etc. etc.

Now we're being punished for not having caught up. But being held up on TV as The Kind Of University You Should Avoid If You Ever Want A Job is horrifying: especially as it's so arbitrary - our degrees are genuinely good.


Ewarwoowar said...

So what they're saying is that all these years at The Hegemon have been a complete waste of time then?

*dumps all work in the bin, goes off skipping gaily through fields with some random Eco-warrior girl*

The Plashing Vole said...

That's exactly what they're saying. Good luck with Eco-Girl.

oldgirlatuni said...

I could not agree more.

The world of Universities and Polytechnics made a kind of sense - different institutions with different kinds of degree, all of which had real value to employers who knew what they were getting. And, let us not forget the other parts of the HE sector, such as Teacher Training Colleges, which concentrated on a specific teaching area. To sweep this away, and to expect all institutions to compete with each other is bonkers.

It's going to be interesting to see if anything can be learned by the fees that some organisations are going to choose to charge. Which institutions (apart from the usual suspects) are going to have a punt at the maximum fees?

The Plashing Vole said...

I gather from our outgoing VC that they're all going to have to charge near the maximum to cover the cut in the teaching grant. Then the Russell Group ones will shout for more. And get it.

ed said...

Is it counterproductive for me to base my career research on the premise that anything that requires you to wear a suit and tie simply isn't worth doing? Probably. But, meh.

The Plashing Vole said...

That's exactly how I feel. I'm completely unemployable outside university, which is going to be a problem. The idea of turning up in an office in restrictive clothing and spending the day being ordered to do dull things in the pursuit of profit horrifies me.

Benjamin. said...

Same here, Vole. Hence I left my Business Management course at Leeds Met and ironically would've had a job by now if I hadn't dissembled to carriage en route to capitalist greed. What concerns me is the output of all the Universities post-cuts & how the students will find work when all their peers refused to pay the high fees therefore trained for various positions.

Significantly, I have a placement now where I’m supposed to raise deaf awareness and offer helpful advice regarding UCAS etc but how can I persuade them to go down that route when I can see the bleakness ahead. Now, instead of confidently applying for my PGCE or Masters I’m thinking of taking a research position at the DCAL which interests me with their research into deaf matters and now more importantly they’ve acquired 5 year extension to funding.

Damn it all!

neal said...

Hmmm, I think I might take my Wolverhampton University qualification off my CV. That must be what's preventing me from getting a job.