Monday, 24 October 2011

Down goes students' average ages, down goes the learning

Statistics relating to university applications in the age of £9000 fees have been released. It's a complex figure, but it's clear that the groups who are under-represented in many subjects are the victims: women and mature students (down at least 25%). Applications are down 9% overall, with women's applications down more than men's: perhaps women are more debt-averse, given that they still earn less than men in comparable jobs.

This is a tragedy. Mature students represent those who - following the smug exhortations of politicians - take risks and change their whole lives in pursuit of betterment. It's also a pain for me: all teachers know that the mature students are wonderful to have in class. They don't waste time being shy, they've been round the block a couple of times and know a little more about life, and they ALWAYS do the reading, because they don't take being at university for granted. They've given a lot up to be here, and they put a lot in. They also expect more from us, which is great - most of the times when I've really been pushed in class, it's been mature students. Much as I enjoy teaching the kids, there's something special about mature students, and The Hegemon has been at the forefront of opening higher education to returning students. No more, from the look of it.

Sadly, applications for media-related subjects are down 40%. If you're a Mail reader, you're probably pleased about 'Mickey Mouse' degrees losing out. If so, I refer you to the News International scandals, your frequent moral panics about sex/violence/horror, your fear of The Internet and what your kids are up to on it, and suggest that in a world  of media immersion, perhaps it's a good idea to teach people how it works and what the actual effects are. You think?


oldgirlatuni said...

Totally agree - but then, as a mature student I would, wouldn't I?

Having spent the day ploughing through a number of essays, it seems that mature students have a better grounding in the use of good grammar and spelling. I'm despairing that law students, who have to get good A' Level results are incapable of discriminating between 'where' and 'were'.

I need chocolate, and I need it now.

Music for Deckchairs said...


Can I ask a quick outsider's question about the UCAS data?

How much change in indicators of demand do you typically see between the cut-off date for Oxbridge, vets, doctors and dentists, and the later cut-off?

I'm wondering if there might be some behavioural correlations between later applications and disciplines of attraction?

Or isn't there much shift?