Discussion:
A-levels : record high
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Pancho
2021-08-10 09:18:42 UTC
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So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year A-level
course has boosted learning, boosted student attainment.

The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school closure
policy after the pandemic.
Spike
2021-08-10 09:47:23 UTC
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Post by Pancho
So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year A-level
course has boosted learning, boosted student attainment.
The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school closure
policy after the pandemic.
The current system means in effect that teachers are marking their own
work, which considering they think they are god's gift to the planet,
accounts for the massive grade inflation.
--
Spike
Pancho
2021-08-10 10:06:06 UTC
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Post by Spike
Post by Pancho
So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year A-level
course has boosted learning, boosted student attainment.
The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school closure
policy after the pandemic.
The current system means in effect that teachers are marking their own
work, which considering they think they are god's gift to the planet,
accounts for the massive grade inflation.
The assessments could have been adjusted to give average overall results
similar to previous years. But last year many low graded students, quite
reasonably, complained of bias.

The question in my mind is how will they go back to normal grades after
the pandemic. The politicians took the easy route, but the problem
hasn't gone away, they just kicked the can down the road.
Andy Walker
2021-08-10 14:05:16 UTC
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Post by Pancho
Post by Spike
The current system means in effect that teachers are marking their own
work, which considering they think they are god's gift to the planet,
I suspect that's the PoV of a victim rather than of a friend or
relative. The [many] teachers I know, by one route or another, think no
such thing; but they do have to maintain discipline in front of a room
of youngsters and adolescents, with all the hormones they generate. It's
not an easy task.
Post by Pancho
Post by Spike
accounts for the massive grade inflation.
Very likely. But it's not so much "marking their own work" as
responding to pressures. It's unacceptable to produce any results lower
than the pupils' expectations or below last year's results ["unfair",
they all shout; "sack the failing teachers" and "put the school into
special measures" management is told], so the pressure is all one way.
Post by Pancho
The assessments could have been adjusted to give average overall
results similar to previous years.
De facto, they couldn't. Too many special cases, and you'd
need "an algorithm", which, for some reason [mostly ignorance] is
associated in the public mind with plagues of locusts or other such
disaster. "I came top, but The Algorithm marked me down, just
because Johnny did badly last year."
Post by Pancho
But last year many low graded
students, quite reasonably, complained of bias.
The question in my mind is how will they go back to normal grades
after the pandemic. The politicians took the easy route, but the
problem hasn't gone away, they just kicked the can down the road.
What they should do is learn the lesson that neither exams
nor teacher-marked assessments are a good way to find out how good
the students are. But they won't.

Answers on a postcard ....
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Haydn
abelard
2021-08-10 15:02:05 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
Post by Pancho
Post by Spike
The current system means in effect that teachers are marking their own
work, which considering they think they are god's gift to the planet,
I suspect that's the PoV of a victim rather than of a friend or
relative. The [many] teachers I know, by one route or another, think no
such thing; but they do have to maintain discipline in front of a room
of youngsters and adolescents, with all the hormones they generate. It's
not an easy task.
Post by Pancho
Post by Spike
accounts for the massive grade inflation.
Very likely. But it's not so much "marking their own work" as
responding to pressures. It's unacceptable to produce any results lower
than the pupils' expectations or below last year's results ["unfair",
they all shout; "sack the failing teachers" and "put the school into
special measures" management is told], so the pressure is all one way.
Post by Pancho
The assessments could have been adjusted to give average overall
results similar to previous years.
De facto, they couldn't. Too many special cases, and you'd
need "an algorithm", which, for some reason [mostly ignorance] is
associated in the public mind with plagues of locusts or other such
disaster. "I came top, but The Algorithm marked me down, just
because Johnny did badly last year."
Post by Pancho
But last year many low graded
students, quite reasonably, complained of bias.
The question in my mind is how will they go back to normal grades
after the pandemic. The politicians took the easy route, but the
problem hasn't gone away, they just kicked the can down the road.
What they should do is learn the lesson that neither exams
nor teacher-marked assessments are a good way to find out how good
the students are. But they won't.
just so

wend we slowly
https://www.abelard.org/asimov.php
Post by Andy Walker
Answers on a postcard ....
nice post
Pancho
2021-08-11 13:58:21 UTC
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    What they should do is learn the lesson that neither exams
nor teacher-marked assessments are a good way to find out how good
the students are.  But they won't.
"find out how good the students are"... good at what?

People are good at different things, often being good at one thing
causes people to be bad at another.

At work it was often the case that exceptionally gifted staff were
problematic, spoilt, hard to get to do stuff. A bit like a pretty
girlfriend you think you want them but then realise it would be better
to have someone more average who tried a bit harder.

The benefit of exams over teacher assessments is that they are more
standard. So even if flawed you can guess how they are flawed. Teacher
assessments are more dependent on the idiosyncrasies of the assessing
teacher. Something which is normally unknown.
Andy Walker
2021-08-11 23:15:12 UTC
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On 11/08/2021 14:58, Pancho wrote:
[I wrote:]
Post by Pancho
     What they should do is learn the lesson that neither exams
nor teacher-marked assessments are a good way to find out how good
the students are.  But they won't.
"find out how good the students are"... good at what?
??? At whatever is the topic of the assessment, of course.
What else? [There are several possible interpretations of "good"
(good at knowing the syllabus, good at learning new things, good
at regurgitation, ...), but that's just an extra complication.]

[...]> The benefit of exams over teacher assessments is that they are more
Post by Pancho
standard.
That's not particularly helpful if what you have standardised
is not what you want to measure. It does serious damage if the whole
of education is distorted by "teaching to the exam"; the result is
that students become really good at the things that are easy to
standardise and measure, at the expense of everything else. So real
education is squeezed out.
Post by Pancho
So even if flawed you can guess how they are flawed.
Yes. But that doesn't help individuals who are assessed [and
admitted to particular courses and careers] almost entirely on the
basis of flawed exam results.
Post by Pancho
Teacher assessments are more dependent on the idiosyncrasies of the
assessing teacher. Something which is normally unknown.
As above, I'm not a fan of TMAs either [nor, for that matter,
of the CMAs mentioned by JN with your apparent approval]. Assessment
has properly to be carried out by someone independent of the students
and their teachers. That gives you an assessment both of the students
and of their teachers. But it's very labour intensive; it needs to
synthesise teacher assessments, coursework and test results produced
by the students, together with interviews with the students. The
current exam system [both at school and at university] simply doesn't
have the resources to do this at scale.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Nevin
Pancho
2021-08-13 23:16:14 UTC
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    As above, I'm not a fan of TMAs either [nor, for that matter,
of the CMAs mentioned by JN with your apparent approval].  Assessment
has properly to be carried out by someone independent of the students
and their teachers.  That gives you an assessment both of the students
and of their teachers.  But it's very labour intensive;  it needs to
synthesise teacher assessments, coursework and test results produced
by the students, together with interviews with the students.  The
current exam system [both at school and at university] simply doesn't
have the resources to do this at scale.
You are making the argument why Computer Marked Assignments are attractive.

Almost everyone is reluctant to accept automation of their profession.
Many times I have heard people say things can't be automated and then
they are. Maybe automation doesn't exactly match current practice, but
it offers a viable alternative. In the end competition and economics
make the automated solution replace the old ways.

FWIW, when employing people we did have the resources to test them and
give full personal interviews. Even with all that time and effort it was
still a deeply unreliable process.
Andy Walker
2021-08-14 15:55:05 UTC
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Permalink
On 14/08/2021 00:16, Pancho wrote:
[I wrote:]
Post by Pancho
     As above, I'm not a fan of TMAs either [nor, for that matter,
of the CMAs mentioned by JN with your apparent approval].  Assessment
has properly to be carried out by someone independent of the students
and their teachers.  That gives you an assessment both of the students
and of their teachers.  But it's very labour intensive;  it needs to
synthesise teacher assessments, coursework and test results produced
by the students, together with interviews with the students.  The
current exam system [both at school and at university] simply doesn't
have the resources to do this at scale.
You are making the argument why Computer Marked Assignments are attractive.
Of course they are; and they're even appropriate in some
cases. I speak as something of a pioneer in this; in the early
'70s, I wrote a computer program that set and marked coursework
for the Numerical Analysis module I was giving. Each student got
an individual set of questions, not only chosen at random from a
large bank but with the numerical coefficients randomised, and
had to type in the answers to 5sf; the mark was the number of
sf achieved [compare "The SIAM 100-Digit Challenge" (qv), which
was ~30 years later, and less sophisticated, though on /much/
more challenging material]. But you would be hard pushed to
assess essays, logical arguments or projects that way [and yes,
I know there has been progress in that], let alone artistic
merit; so the usefulness is limited.
Post by Pancho
Almost everyone is reluctant to accept automation of their
profession. Many times I have heard people say things can't be
automated and then they are. Maybe automation doesn't exactly match
current practice, but it offers a viable alternative. In the end
competition and economics make the automated solution replace the old
ways.
Yes, but that's not necessarily an improvement. It means
that not only is the assessment driven that way, but also, and
much worse, the education. It gets harder and harder to teach
things that are merely interesting, or even useful, in favour of
things that are easy to assess. Yet education should be going
the other way. There's no point teaching things that can be done
by machines [inc the NA of my previous paragraph!]; much point,
instead, teaching the principles involved so that the students
understand the reasons for the answers given by the computer.
But that understanding is much harder to assess. [Without it,
we get disasters like the Post Office scandal -- "The computer
says ...", and no-one understands what has happened well enough
to correct the obvious mistakes.]

This process is not new; it's why things like music get
marginalised in schools. We judge our schools by the GCSEs and
the A-levels they get, not by how useful [or happy] their pupils
are. So we sell off the sports fields, close down the orchestra
and the chess club, and relegate the library to two shelves of
books in a cupboard because they are detracting from time spent
doing things that count, both for pupils and staff. It's no way
to educate people.
Post by Pancho
FWIW, when employing people we did have the resources to test them
and give full personal interviews. Even with all that time and effort
it was still a deeply unreliable process.
Well, quite. Which ought to convince you that all assessments
are "deeply unreliable". Yet we rely on them for so many things. From
that PoV, the advantage of CMAs is that we get the rubbish results with
as little effort as possible. Hands up if you think that's Good.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Richards
Pancho
2021-08-16 09:56:24 UTC
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Post by Pancho
Almost everyone is reluctant to accept automation of their
profession. Many times I have heard people say things can't be
automated and then they are. Maybe automation doesn't exactly match
current practice, but it offers a viable alternative. In the end
competition and economics make the automated solution replace the old
ways.
    Yes, but that's not necessarily an improvement.  It means
that not only is the assessment driven that way, but also, and
much worse, the education.  It gets harder and harder to teach
things that are merely interesting, or even useful, in favour of
things that are easy to assess.  Yet education should be going
the other way.  There's no point teaching things that can be done
by machines [inc the NA of my previous paragraph!];  much point,
instead, teaching the principles involved so that the students
understand the reasons for the answers given by the computer.
But that understanding is much harder to assess.  [Without it,
we get disasters like the Post Office scandal -- "The computer
says ...", and no-one understands what has happened well enough
to correct the obvious mistakes.]
    This process is not new;  it's why things like music get
marginalised in schools.  We judge our schools by the GCSEs and
the A-levels they get, not by how useful [or happy] their pupils
are.  So we sell off the sports fields, close down the orchestra
and the chess club, and relegate the library to two shelves of
books in a cupboard because they are detracting from time spent
doing things that count, both for pupils and staff.  It's no way
to educate people.
(FWIW libraries are dead, web resources are amazingly better)

The problem is that a university education has become a prerequisite for
entrance into many professions. You argue that university education
improves the work force in the UK, enables high value industry. You
promote an education model that requires high labour costs and is
effectively a cartel, charging high tuition costs. You appear to want
costs for simple to deliver, or in demand courses, to subside artistic
and social value courses.

I have a number of objections to this:

Firstly, I don't accept the idea that university education does, in
general, improve the work force. In IT, an intellectual subject, we
never really cared about degree teaching. We never sought to employ IT
graduates. Typically it was any "numerate" degree. I've interviewed
people with PHDs and HNDs for the same role, (It was unusual, but we did
it). We did generally employ university graduates, but that was more
because we believed clever people went to university, rather than
because we believed university improved them.

Secondly, the skills we actually wanted could have been taught very
cheaply, video lectures, online courses, and computer marked
assignments. These tests wouldn't be reliable indicators of the person
being a good employee, but they are generally a good indicator of some
of the basic skills required.

Thirdly, tuition costs. I would like to see a disruptive model
introduced that allowed students to obtain qualifications cheaply. Why
shouldn't students be allowed to pay for just what they and employers
want, rather than what you deem socially desirable. Something like the
Open University was intended to provide. The goal of the Open University
seems to have been perverted by the greed of high tuition fees.

It is worth noting that the Blair idea of lifelong learning, adult
retraining, seems to have disappeared. Something that disappoints me hugely.
Post by Pancho
FWIW, when employing people we did have the resources to test them
and give full personal interviews. Even with all that time and effort
it was still a deeply unreliable process.
    Well, quite.  Which ought to convince you that all assessments
are "deeply unreliable".  Yet we rely on them for so many things.  From
that PoV, the advantage of CMAs is that we get the rubbish results with
as little effort as possible.  Hands up if you think that's Good.
Assessments are better than nothing. The results are not perfect, but
they are not rubbish. Business is always about practicality, making the
best of things. "Don't let the perfect be the enemy of the good" and
what not.
Joe
2021-08-16 13:05:29 UTC
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Permalink
On Mon, 16 Aug 2021 10:56:24 +0100
Post by Pancho
It is worth noting that the Blair idea of lifelong learning, adult
retraining, seems to have disappeared. Something that disappoints me hugely.
You can't push on a piece of string. Anyone who wants to learn can do
so at any age. I've never stopped learning, and there are some people
who never started.

It's mostly about incentives: if the UK was a meritocracy, if
competence were to be valued and rewarded, we would see a lot more
interest in education.

But even today, in the bright new 21st century, by far the most
important qualification anyone can have is to have had parents rich
enough to send their children to private schools. You're either born
with that qualification or you're not, it's not something you can learn.
--
Joe
Pancho
2021-08-17 09:21:56 UTC
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Post by Joe
On Mon, 16 Aug 2021 10:56:24 +0100
Post by Pancho
It is worth noting that the Blair idea of lifelong learning, adult
retraining, seems to have disappeared. Something that disappoints me hugely.
You can't push on a piece of string. Anyone who wants to learn can do
so at any age. I've never stopped learning, and there are some people
who never started.
Yes, that is kind of my point. I believe people can learn on their own.
The problem is that universities are charging for qualification
certificates. I think 27,750 GBP is too much to charge for marking a few
course works and exams. This is an artificial barrier to employment.

If someone can learn on their own, they should be given a cheap path to
being assessed and gaining a qualification. That is why I approved of
Open University, as originally conceived, and why I am disgusted that
the fees were ramped up so much.

When I started working in IT it was very open to everyone. Gradually
over the years access tightened up to be more like being an accountant
or lawyer, reserved for the middle class.
Post by Joe
It's mostly about incentives: if the UK was a meritocracy, if
competence were to be valued and rewarded, we would see a lot more
interest in education.
But even today, in the bright new 21st century, by far the most
important qualification anyone can have is to have had parents rich
enough to send their children to private schools. You're either born
with that qualification or you're not, it's not something you can learn.
Comprehensives are fine as long as they are in a reasonable area and
middle class parents use them. In inner London it used to be the case
that the vast majority of middle class children didn't participate in
the comprehensive system. I don't know if it is still like that.

I think the main reason private schools do well in examinations is
because richer people, who value education, tend to be cleverer than
average and academic ability is significantly hereditary. It isn't
particularly in anyone's interest to point this out. Private school's
like to pretend they educate better, are value for money. Class warriors
don't like to admit many of the poor are poor because of genetics and
worse family nurture.

Top private schools are also good for networking, but that is a
different issue.
abelard
2021-08-18 12:30:02 UTC
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Permalink
On Tue, 17 Aug 2021 10:21:56 +0100, Pancho
Post by Pancho
Comprehensives are fine as long as they are in a reasonable area and
middle class parents use them. In inner London it used to be the case
that the vast majority of middle class children didn't participate in
the comprehensive system. I don't know if it is still like that.
I think the main reason private schools do well in examinations is
because richer people, who value education, tend to be cleverer than
average and academic ability is significantly hereditary. It isn't
particularly in anyone's interest to point this out. Private school's
like to pretend they educate better, are value for money. Class warriors
don't like to admit many of the poor are poor because of genetics and
worse family nurture.
Top private schools are also good for networking, but that is a
different issue.
there is no sound evidence that the generality of intelligence
has much hereditary element

to call a correlation measure 'heredity', is a misuse of language
and statistics
henrry franck
2021-08-18 13:46:50 UTC
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Pancho
2021-08-23 11:56:02 UTC
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Post by abelard
On Tue, 17 Aug 2021 10:21:56 +0100, Pancho
Post by Pancho
Comprehensives are fine as long as they are in a reasonable area and
middle class parents use them. In inner London it used to be the case
that the vast majority of middle class children didn't participate in
the comprehensive system. I don't know if it is still like that.
I think the main reason private schools do well in examinations is
because richer people, who value education, tend to be cleverer than
average and academic ability is significantly hereditary. It isn't
particularly in anyone's interest to point this out. Private school's
like to pretend they educate better, are value for money. Class warriors
don't like to admit many of the poor are poor because of genetics and
worse family nurture.
Top private schools are also good for networking, but that is a
different issue.
there is no sound evidence that the generality of intelligence
has much hereditary element
to call a correlation measure 'heredity', is a misuse of language
and statistics
I just meant passed from parent to child. I don't think an over
technical interpretation of hereditary to mean genetic is justified.

I think there is a lot of evidence that academic ability tends to be
passed from parents to child.
abelard
2021-08-23 12:04:49 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Mon, 23 Aug 2021 12:56:02 +0100, Pancho
Post by Pancho
Post by abelard
On Tue, 17 Aug 2021 10:21:56 +0100, Pancho
Post by Pancho
Comprehensives are fine as long as they are in a reasonable area and
middle class parents use them. In inner London it used to be the case
that the vast majority of middle class children didn't participate in
the comprehensive system. I don't know if it is still like that.
I think the main reason private schools do well in examinations is
because richer people, who value education, tend to be cleverer than
average and academic ability is significantly hereditary. It isn't
particularly in anyone's interest to point this out. Private school's
like to pretend they educate better, are value for money. Class warriors
don't like to admit many of the poor are poor because of genetics and
worse family nurture.
Top private schools are also good for networking, but that is a
different issue.
there is no sound evidence that the generality of intelligence
has much hereditary element
to call a correlation measure 'heredity', is a misuse of language
and statistics
I just meant passed from parent to child. I don't think an over
technical interpretation of hereditary to mean genetic is justified.
I think there is a lot of evidence that academic ability tends to be
passed from parents to child.
ok
Andy Walker
2021-08-18 18:39:05 UTC
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Permalink
Post by Joe
But even today, in the bright new 21st century, by far the most
important qualification anyone can have is to have had parents rich
enough to send their children to private schools.
Two footnotes to that:

-- In days of yore, there were substantial numbers of scholarships to
private schools. My parents weren't "rich enough", but 32 of my
year, one of them me, were at Nott'm HS on city/county/foundation
scholarships. That's more than the entire "A stream"; and most
of us went on to Oxbridge, having received a really excellent
education. Sadly, the Dave Spart tendency put an end to such
"elitism".

-- There is an assumption that parents of those educated privately
are rich. Of course, absent the scholarships, poor parents have
no choice. It is also the case that many wealthy parents can
afford private education without even blinking. But many parents
of private-school pupils are by no means rich; rather, they
choose education ahead of expensive holidays, flash cars, and
the other trappings of wealth.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Bizet
Pamela
2021-08-23 10:47:43 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Mon, 16 Aug 2021 10:56:24 +0100 Pancho
Post by Pancho
It is worth noting that the Blair idea of lifelong learning, adult
retraining, seems to have disappeared. Something that disappoints me hugely.
You can't push on a piece of string. Anyone who wants to learn can
do so at any age. I've never stopped learning, and there are some
people who never started.
It's mostly about incentives: if the UK was a meritocracy, if
competence were to be valued and rewarded, we would see a lot more
interest in education.
But even today, in the bright new 21st century, by far the most
important qualification anyone can have is to have had parents rich
enough to send their children to private schools. You're either born
with that qualification or you're not, it's not something you can learn.
Nowadays every candidate has a good degree, so what else can recruiters
do but reply on other attributes?

Maybe the emphasis will actually swing away from candidates who attended
higher education and go towards candidates who managed to advance their
lives in other matters instead of enjoying the "student experience".
Andy Walker
2021-08-18 00:30:35 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pancho
The problem is that a university education has become a prerequisite
for entrance into many professions.
That is a matter for those professions. But you can't be very
surprised if a profession, other things being equal, prefers someone
with a university education to someone without. If young people from
elsewhere in the world are "with", and those from the UK are "without",
that has consequences for our young people both in the UK and when they
try to get jobs elsewhere [eg, in the EU when there was free movement
of people].
Post by Pancho
You argue that university
education improves the work force in the UK, enables high value
industry.
Better education does that.
Post by Pancho
You promote an education model that requires high labour
costs and is effectively a cartel, charging high tuition costs.
I do no such thing. Again, it's up to the [world] market.
Post by Pancho
You
appear to want costs for simple to deliver, or in demand courses, to
subside artistic and social value courses.
I have said [and think] no such thing. Again, the market
decides such things. Again, it's not just the UK. You seem to be
over-reading my complaint that assessment is driving education.
Post by Pancho
Firstly, I don't accept the idea that university education does, in
general, improve the work force. In IT, an intellectual subject, we
never really cared about degree teaching.
IT is an unusual case. At the start of my career, there was
almost no undergraduate teaching of computing; I was employed to
start it in the Maths Dept at Nott'm. I had to fight to get access
to the computer for our undergraduates. In those days, anyone who
managed to get to use the computer rapidly became an expert, no
matter what their main subject or background. I thought then, and
still think today, that a degree in maths [or physics, engineering,
geography, ...] with computing as a joint or subsidiary component
was much more use than a single-honours CS degree for the great
majority of IT/computing jobs. But that battle was lost [and I
largely switched from teaching computing to "proper" maths].
Post by Pancho
We never sought to employ
IT graduates. Typically it was any "numerate" degree. I've
interviewed people with PHDs and HNDs for the same role, [...]
Quite so; BTDTGTTS [except that I never wear TSs].
Post by Pancho
Secondly, the skills we actually wanted could have been taught very
cheaply, video lectures, online courses, and computer marked
assignments. [...]
Very possibly. Again, with nods to the time-frame, I've
Been There [etc]. But again IT is unusual. Most STEM subjects
[inc "soft" sciences and medicine] include experiments, major
projects and hands-on experience that really can't be done on the
cheap; other subjects mostly include tutorials, essays, exercise
of judgement, etc., that really aren't amenable to CMA, nor to
merely watching videos and web pages.
Post by Pancho
Thirdly, tuition costs. I would like to see a disruptive model
introduced that allowed students to obtain qualifications cheaply.
Go for it!
Post by Pancho
Why shouldn't students be allowed to pay for just what they and
employers want, rather than what you deem socially desirable.
If "you" means me rather than society at large, then you
judge me incorrectly, tho' I would place much less emphasis than
you on employers [which I would, again, leave to the market].
I long ago advocated that schools should be more like department
stores; open all year, offering what people wanted, not stuffing
compulsory subjects into them. If we wanted young people to learn
[eg] maths, the school would have to make maths attractive to them
[as, indeed, is now happening in good schools], and would have to
pay competitive salaries to mathematicians to teach it.

Re employers -- we [Nott'm again] went to all sorts of
lengths to try to find out what employers wanted in our students,
so that we could, if appropriate, slant our courses to match.
Year in, year out, across a huge range of industries and
professions, the universal response was "We're quite happy with
what you're doing, just carry on chaps." Employability was not
a matter of "you need to know X" but of "we want to employ your
students because they are bright, interested and interesting,
adaptable and know a wide range of things".
Post by Pancho
[...]
[Snippage of things I mostly agree with.]
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Ravel
JNugent
2021-08-10 14:06:32 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pancho
Post by Spike
Post by Pancho
So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year A-level
course has boosted learning, boosted student attainment.
The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school closure
policy after the pandemic.
The current system means in effect that teachers are marking their own
work, which considering they think they are god's gift to the planet,
accounts for the massive grade inflation.
The assessments could have been adjusted to give average overall results
similar to previous years. But last year many low graded students, quite
reasonably, complained of bias.
Not "reasonably", but "understandably".
Post by Pancho
The question in my mind is how will they go back to normal grades after
the pandemic. The politicians took the easy route, but the problem
hasn't gone away, they just kicked the can down the road.
The Classes of 20 and 21 will be notorious down the decades.
Pamela
2021-08-11 11:00:04 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
Post by Spike
Post by Pancho
So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year
A-level course has boosted learning, boosted student attainment.
The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school
closure policy after the pandemic.
The current system means in effect that teachers are marking their
own work, which considering they think they are god's gift to the
planet, accounts for the massive grade inflation.
The assessments could have been adjusted to give average overall
results similar to previous years. But last year many low graded
students, quite reasonably, complained of bias.
Not "reasonably", but "understandably".
Post by Pancho
The question in my mind is how will they go back to normal grades
after the pandemic. The politicians took the easy route, but the
problem hasn't gone away, they just kicked the can down the road.
The Classes of 20 and 21 will be notorious down the decades.
This year university admissions by those clever UK students will
increase by 10%. The universities will get more money, whilst
swapping face-to-face teaching for online.

Luckily for weak students on endless useless courses, only 25% will
repay their loan in full and they can afford to spend merrily on "the
student experience". This consists of Ubers, Pizza Hut deliveries,
night clubs, meals out, Covid-spreading parties, Macbooks and iPhones,
etc. After their three year fling, the jobless duffers will go back
to live with their parents.

Many call this education.
Patrick Hearn
2021-08-12 04:37:58 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
Post by Spike
Post by Pancho
So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year
A-level course has boosted learning, boosted student attainment.
The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school
closure policy after the pandemic.
The current system means in effect that teachers are marking their
own work, which considering they think they are god's gift to the
planet, accounts for the massive grade inflation.
The assessments could have been adjusted to give average overall
results similar to previous years. But last year many low graded
students, quite reasonably, complained of bias.
Not "reasonably", but "understandably".
Post by Pancho
The question in my mind is how will they go back to normal grades
after the pandemic. The politicians took the easy route, but the
problem hasn't gone away, they just kicked the can down the road.
The Classes of 20 and 21 will be notorious down the decades.
This year university admissions by those clever UK students will
increase by 10%. The universities will get more money, whilst
swapping face-to-face teaching for online.
Luckily for weak students on endless useless courses, only 25% will
repay their loan in full and they can afford to spend merrily on "the
student experience". This consists of Ubers, Pizza Hut deliveries,
night clubs, meals out, Covid-spreading parties, Macbooks and iPhones,
etc. After their three year fling, the jobless duffers will go back
to live with their parents.
Many call this education.
FWIW I've quickly reviewed those I'm still in regular touch with (I graduated in '17). 80% didn't return to live with parents but instead most moved in with partners, and 10% are jobless though they were in work prior to Covid-19. I'm pleased to say that I successfully managed most of the things on your bucket list except Macbooks (I had a laptop) and had a wonderful time as a mature student, I used to say I'd recommend it but the Covid version sucks.

I'm also one of the ~75% who won't repay their loan in full. It's a financing model set up to fail.

Anecdotally, one now works at the university and spent last year organising the delivery of online teaching. I was surprised to hear it had cost the uni more than the face-to-face teaching, though some of that was start up cost.

Patrick
Pamela
2021-08-13 08:22:03 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Patrick Hearn
Post by Pamela
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
Post by Spike
Post by Pancho
So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year
A-level course has boosted learning, boosted student
attainment.
The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school
closure policy after the pandemic.
The current system means in effect that teachers are marking
their own work, which considering they think they are god's
gift to the planet, accounts for the massive grade inflation.
The assessments could have been adjusted to give average overall
results similar to previous years. But last year many low graded
students, quite reasonably, complained of bias.
Not "reasonably", but "understandably".
Post by Pancho
The question in my mind is how will they go back to normal
grades after the pandemic. The politicians took the easy route,
but the problem hasn't gone away, they just kicked the can down
the road.
The Classes of 20 and 21 will be notorious down the decades.
This year university admissions by those clever UK students will
increase by 10%. The universities will get more money, whilst
swapping face-to-face teaching for online.
Luckily for weak students on endless useless courses, only 25% will
repay their loan in full and they can afford to spend merrily on
"the student experience". This consists of Ubers, Pizza Hut
deliveries, night clubs, meals out, Covid-spreading parties,
Macbooks and iPhones, etc. After their three year fling, the
jobless duffers will go back to live with their parents.
Many call this education.
FWIW I've quickly reviewed those I'm still in regular touch with (I
graduated in '17). 80% didn't return to live with parents but
instead most moved in with partners, and 10% are jobless though they
were in work prior to Covid-19. I'm pleased to say that I
successfully managed most of the things on your bucket list except
Macbooks (I had a laptop) and had a wonderful time as a mature
student, I used to say I'd recommend it but the Covid version sucks.
I'm also one of the ~75% who won't repay their loan in full. It's a
financing model set up to fail.
Anecdotally, one now works at the university and spent last year
organising the delivery of online teaching. I was surprised to hear
it had cost the uni more than the face-to-face teaching, though some
of that was start up cost.
Patrick
Not only is the cost of faux-degrees eventually paid by the taxpayer
but many graduates can't get a job.

Apart from old-style academic courses, university education has turned
an unproductive and costly indulgence.

Well, I suppose it keeps those kids off the street.
Joe
2021-08-13 09:15:14 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Fri, 13 Aug 2021 09:22:03 +0100
Post by Pamela
Not only is the cost of faux-degrees eventually paid by the taxpayer
but many graduates can't get a job.
Apart from old-style academic courses, university education has
turned an unproductive and costly indulgence.
Well, I suppose it keeps those kids off the street.
I recall thinking at the time Blair made the statement that it was
crazy, we need fewer graduates rather than more. It seems to have been
all about international willy-waving.
--
Joe
JNugent
2021-08-13 13:40:08 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Joe
Post by Pamela
Not only is the cost of faux-degrees eventually paid by the taxpayer
but many graduates can't get a job.
Apart from old-style academic courses, university education has
turned an unproductive and costly indulgence.
Well, I suppose it keeps those kids off the street.
I recall thinking at the time Blair made the statement that it was
crazy, we need fewer graduates rather than more. It seems to have been
all about international willy-waving.
Exactly.

There are those who insist that it wasn't meant literally and that those
serving apprenticeships, OND / HND, etc, were also to be counted towards
the 50%.

Little sign of that, though.
Andy Walker
2021-08-13 23:31:12 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Post by Joe
I recall thinking at the time Blair made the statement that it was
crazy, we need fewer graduates rather than more. It seems to have been
all about international willy-waving.
"International willy-waving" is [perhaps sadly] important, esp
"at the time". Our young people are competing with graduates from the
EU and other civilised parts of the world, many of which have a much
better educated population than we do. We can try to wind back to the
period when ~7% [very largely male and middle-class] went to university
and watch all the decent jobs go to graduates from countries where >50%
do so, or we can join 'em. Young people are highly mobile these days,
and we surely want "ours" to be able to compete with "theirs", both
in the UK and abroad.

The disdain for education in [specifically] England goes back
a long way. When I was a student, lots of family friends said "Why
are you wasting your time doing Pure Maths?" [Which I wasn't!] "You
should be out getting a job and earning money." Long before that,
George Mikes pointed out that only in England is "clever" a term of
disapproval.
Post by JNugent
Exactly.
There are those who insist that it wasn't meant literally and that
those serving apprenticeships, OND / HND, etc, were also to be
counted towards the 50%.
No-one sensible ever insisted that. But it did include sub-
degree courses and young people other than school-leavers, so it was
nowhere near the huge change that was touted at the time. The more
important principle than numerical targets was the idea that HE should
be available to those who could benefit from it, not just an elite.
Of course, tuition fees and other infelicities of implementation went
a long way towards scuppering that notion; but hey!, they failed to
make me education tsar, so I disclaim all responsibility.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Schulz-Evler
Joe
2021-08-14 07:55:32 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Sat, 14 Aug 2021 00:31:12 +0100
Post by Andy Walker
The more
important principle than numerical targets was the idea that HE should
be available to those who could benefit from it, not just an elite.
Of course, tuition fees and other infelicities of implementation went
a long way towards scuppering that notion; but hey!, they failed to
make me education tsar, so I disclaim all responsibility.
Fees were an inevitable result of the policy. In the older days, a
graduate (just a Bxx) could expect to earn significantly more. Out of
curiosity, about thirty years ago I made a spreadsheet on the subject
of free tuition and a grant. Using reasonable assumptions, I reckoned
that the government got its money back and averaged about 10% interest
over the working life of the graduate, adjusted for inflation.

Clearly that only works if nearly all graduates will get that higher
salary. Today, a degree is looked upon as not much more than a basic
literacy certification, and many employers require a degree to do a job
which someone with a few O-levels would have been capable of thirty
years ago (and still would). A national computer operator certification
would be of much more economic and social use than many degrees.

And yes, I know that degrees were not created as employment
qualifications, that originally rich people went to universities to
study subjects that interested them. That only works for people who can
pay their own way, once taxpayers' money comes into the picture, going
to university can no longer be considered a leisure activity.
--
Joe
Andy Walker
2021-08-15 18:48:02 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Joe
Fees were an inevitable result of the policy.
Clearly someone has to pay universities for the education they
provide. Of the three principal sources [family, taxpayer, employer],
the one that has scarcely been mentioned at any stage has been the
employer. ISTM that an imaginative scheme which gave incentives to
employers to employ UK graduates could have gone a long way towards
helping employment while also funding HE. At one time there were a
lot of such schemes; but they usually tied new graduates to working
for the company [or, eg, the RAF] for a period, and I suspect they
fell foul of EU rules. There is also advantage to the country as a
whole in having a well-educated population, which should, in equity,
translate into students not having to pay full fees.
Post by Joe
In the older days, a
graduate (just a Bxx) could expect to earn significantly more. Out of
curiosity, about thirty years ago I made a spreadsheet on the subject
of free tuition and a grant. Using reasonable assumptions, I reckoned
that the government got its money back and averaged about 10% interest
over the working life of the graduate, adjusted for inflation.
ISTR that there were official figures to much the same effect.
Contrary to your next para, I don't think the outcome has changed as
much as you claim, and we still run HE at an enormous profit, both in
terms of benefit to the economy from overseas students [the back of my
envelope suggests that Chinese students /alone/ are bringing in some
£180Mpa to Nott'm, split roughly equally between the city and its two
universities (other cities are available)] and in terms of higher-
quality employment for our graduates bringing in more tax.
Post by Joe
Clearly that only works if nearly all graduates will get that higher
salary. Today, a degree is looked upon as not much more than a basic
literacy certification, and many employers require a degree to do a job
which someone with a few O-levels would have been capable of thirty
years ago (and still would).
The world has moved on. We expect [eg] nurses and the police
to do more than they did decades ago, so they need substantially more
training. What's more, the supply of people with just "a few O-levels"
is much reduced by the increase in HE, so non-graduate professions will
find it much harder to recruit a good intake. The solution for nursing
is to make the skilled part of the job a specialist graduate career and
separate off the unskilled parts.
Post by Joe
A national computer operator certification
would be of much more economic and social use than many degrees.
Possibly, though it must be open to question how many computer
operators are needed these days, and even more open how many will be
needed in, say, 20 years time [call it halfway through a career]. One
of the drivers of more general education is the expectation that a job
is no longer for life, that most of us will be doing something quite
different when we retire from when we started.
Post by Joe
And yes, I know that degrees were not created as employment
qualifications, that originally rich people went to universities to
study subjects that interested them. That only works for people who can
pay their own way, once taxpayers' money comes into the picture, going
to university can no longer be considered a leisure activity.
We're no longer in the 18thC! By my time [1960s], university
was for those who could get in, with the bill picked up largely by
LEA grants, state scholarships, and the sort of sponsorship mentioned
above, but also by means-tested family contributions. The limitation
through to quite recently was space available in HE; that's not really
where the boundary should be. How HE is divided up between engineering
and medicine at one end and English and [name your favourite Mickey
Mouse degree] at the other is another matter, but one that /ought/ to
be resolvable by market forces.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Ascher
JNugent
2021-08-14 09:52:22 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Post by Joe
I recall thinking at the time Blair made the statement that it was
crazy, we need fewer graduates rather than more. It seems to have been
all about international willy-waving.
    "International willy-waving" is [perhaps sadly] important, esp
"at the time".  Our young people are competing with graduates from the
EU and other civilised parts of the world, many of which have a much
better educated population than we do.  We can try to wind back to the
period when ~7% [very largely male and middle-class] went to university
and watch all the decent jobs go to graduates from countries where >50%
do so, or we can join 'em.  Young people are highly mobile these days,
and we surely want "ours" to be able to compete with "theirs", both
in the UK and abroad.
    The disdain for education in [specifically] England goes back
a long way.  When I was a student, lots of family friends said "Why
are you wasting your time doing Pure Maths?" [Which I wasn't!] "You
should be out getting a job and earning money."  Long before that,
George Mikes pointed out that only in England is "clever" a term of
disapproval.
Post by JNugent
Exactly.
There are those who insist that it wasn't meant literally and that
those serving apprenticeships, OND / HND, etc, were also to be
counted towards the 50%.
    No-one sensible ever insisted that.  But it did include sub-
degree courses and young people other than school-leavers, so it was
nowhere near the huge change that was touted at the time.  The more
important principle than numerical targets was the idea that HE should
be available to those who could benefit from it, not just an elite.
Of course, tuition fees and other infelicities of implementation went
a long way towards scuppering that notion;  but hey!, they failed to
make me education tsar, so I disclaim all responsibility.
I don't accept that it would be correct to label as an "elite" the 20% -
25% who used to be able to gain entry to the grammar schools.

I certainly never felt like a member of any elite.

The concept of "anyone who could benefit from [higher education]" is too
flexible and amorphous to be used as an unrefined debating tool. It
could mean almost anything and is too easily utilised as part of an
evasive debating point.
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2021-08-14 11:18:06 UTC
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Andy Walker
2021-08-15 19:26:15 UTC
Reply
Permalink
[...] The more
Post by Andy Walker
important principle than numerical targets was the idea that HE should
be available to those who could benefit from it, not just an elite.
[...]
I don't accept that it would be correct to label as an "elite" the
20% - 25% who used to be able to gain entry to the grammar schools.
[It actually varied by LEA from ~1/5 to ~1/3, call it 20%-33%,
for absolutely no discernible reason -- it correlated very poorly with
funding, with geography, with affluence, or anything else that one
might expect to correlate with the proportion going to grammar school.]

It's not those who went to grammar school who constituted an
elite, but those who went to university, which by my time had gone up
from ~3% to ~7%. Even Nott'm HS, as academic a school as anyone could
wish for [~25 Open Scholarships to Oxbridge per year], sent only ~40%
of its intake to university; for the local grammar schools, it was
perhaps 5%.
I certainly never felt like a member of any elite.
By your time, which I'm guessing was a decade+ later, HE had
expanded considerably; but it was still /way/ more elitist than most
comparable countries. There is still an English distaste for education
[not shared by either the Celtic fringe or immigrants, who broadly see
education as a way of advancement].
The concept of "anyone who could benefit from [higher education]" is
too flexible and amorphous to be used as an unrefined debating tool.
It could mean almost anything and is too easily utilised as part of
an evasive debating point.
Agreed. But it's still better than "In my day ..." and "How
can X% of the population deserve a degree?" arguments.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Ascher
JNugent
2021-08-16 11:21:23 UTC
Reply
Permalink
[...] The more
Post by Andy Walker
important principle than numerical targets was the idea that HE should
be available to those who could benefit from it, not just an elite.
[...]
I don't accept that it would be correct to label as an "elite" the
20% - 25% who used to be able to gain entry to the grammar schools.
    [It actually varied by LEA from ~1/5 to ~1/3, call it 20%-33%,
for absolutely no discernible reason -- it correlated very poorly with
funding, with geography, with affluence, or anything else that one
might expect to correlate with the proportion going to grammar school.]
    It's not those who went to grammar school who constituted an
elite, but those who went to university, which by my time had gone up
from ~3% to ~7%.  Even Nott'm HS, as academic a school as anyone could
wish for [~25 Open Scholarships to Oxbridge per year], sent only ~40%
of its intake to university;  for the local grammar schools, it was
perhaps 5%.
I certainly never felt like a member of any elite.
    By your time, which I'm guessing was a decade+ later, HE had
expanded considerably;  but it was still /way/ more elitist than most
comparable countries.  There is still an English distaste for education
[not shared by either the Celtic fringe or immigrants, who broadly see
education as a way of advancement].
The concept of "anyone who could benefit from [higher education]" is
too flexible and amorphous to be used as an unrefined debating tool.
It could mean almost anything and is too easily utilised as part of
an evasive debating point.
    Agreed.  But it's still better than "In my day ..." and "How
can X% of the population deserve a degree?" arguments.
One of the things I can remember coming up in my first year (in
statistics) was the Bell curve. I was already well aware of the normal
distribution of IQ (as well as many other human attributes and
characteristics).

The argument against 50% of the population being able to properly
benefit from a degree course is really very straightforward. The
dividing line between the left and right sides of the Bell curve for IQ
is the standard (western world) average IQ of 100. Those with that level
of IQ, for all their potential other merits, were never thought of as
university material. Properly applied, they possibly wouldn't have been
O-Level material, let alone A-Level.

If there were some way of ensuring that only those on the RHS of the
curve applied for university places, that would have been one thing.
Still unjustifiable, but it would be whatever it was. But there is no
way of ensuring even that. Given a target of 50% entering universities,
some people of lower than average intelligence will apply and
(eventually) be admitted, in order to make up the numbers (and the
revenue). That is a travesty of what university education was and is
supposed to be and completely changes the nature of the university
degree, post-hoc (as R Henderson never tires of pointing out).
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2021-08-16 12:27:47 UTC
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Andy Walker
2021-08-18 19:50:44 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
The argument against 50% of the population being able to properly
benefit from a degree course is really very straightforward. The
dividing line between the left and right sides of the Bell curve for
IQ is the standard (western world) average IQ of 100. Those with that
level of IQ, for all their potential other merits, were never thought
of as university material. Properly applied, they possibly wouldn't
have been O-Level material, let alone A-Level.
It isn't a "dividing line", it's merely the median of a measure
that has very little connexion with how much education people ought to
receive. It isn't even a measure that is commonly actually measured;
and although the "I" of "IQ" stands for "intelligence", it isn't a
sensible measure of intelligence -- at best, something that correlates
with it. See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a nearby group
but on a related topic you said:

" I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of it -
" by today's standards. "

yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past. Ho hum.
Post by JNugent
If there were some way of ensuring that only those on the RHS of the
curve applied for university places, that would have been one thing.
Still unjustifiable, but it would be whatever it was. But there is no
way of ensuring even that. Given a target of 50% entering
universities, some people of lower than average intelligence will
apply and (eventually) be admitted, in order to make up the numbers
(and the revenue).
Intelligence is not one-dimensional. Some very bright people
are utterly innumerate. Some highly numerate people are incapable of
stringing two sentences together. Some bright people never manage to
learn a foreign language, or cannot follow a logical argument. People
vary widely in their ability to remember facts, or in their dexterity
[both physical and mental]. Someone of "average intelligence" is very
likely to be well above average in some of these dimensions -- indeed,
very likely to be more than a "standard deviation" better in some.
Students tend to specialise in areas that interest them and in which
they are relatively successful, and to pursue careers in such areas,
and conversely to abandon areas that bore them, so "average" ability
is irrelevant.
Post by JNugent
That is a travesty of what university education
was and is supposed to be [...].
" I never make the mistake ... "

Yet here you are again. The question is not "should >50% of students
be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit from HE".
[Note in passing -- HE is not just universities, young people are not
just school-leavers, and a substantial fraction of HE qualifications
are not degrees.] The evidence from elsewhere is, and has been for
a long time, that they can. Last time I checked [2014], 32 other
countries took a higher percentage into HE than the UK, inc most
OECD countries. AFAIK, no-one says of, say, a New Zealander [or a
Finn or a Korean] "Ah, but his degree is only a NZ degree". AFAIK,
no other country is as dismissive of education as England.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Bizet
Pamela
2021-08-19 11:31:00 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
Post by JNugent
The argument against 50% of the population being able to properly
benefit from a degree course is really very straightforward. The
dividing line between the left and right sides of the Bell curve
for IQ is the standard (western world) average IQ of 100. Those
with that level of IQ, for all their potential other merits, were
never thought of as university material. Properly applied, they
possibly wouldn't have been O-Level material, let alone A-Level.
It isn't a "dividing line", it's merely the median of a measure
that has very little connexion with how much education people ought
to receive. It isn't even a measure that is commonly actually
measured; and although the "I" of "IQ" stands for "intelligence", it
isn't a sensible measure of intelligence -- at best, something that
correlates with it. See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a
" I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of it -
" by today's standards. "
yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past. Ho hum.
Post by JNugent
If there were some way of ensuring that only those on the RHS of
the curve applied for university places, that would have been one
thing. Still unjustifiable, but it would be whatever it was. But
there is no way of ensuring even that. Given a target of 50%
entering universities, some people of lower than average
intelligence will apply and (eventually) be admitted, in order to
make up the numbers (and the revenue).
Intelligence is not one-dimensional. Some very bright people
are utterly innumerate. Some highly numerate people are incapable
of stringing two sentences together. Some bright people never
manage to learn a foreign language, or cannot follow a logical
argument. People vary widely in their ability to remember facts, or
in their dexterity [both physical and mental]. Someone of "average
intelligence" is very likely to be well above average in some of
these dimensions -- indeed, very likely to be more than a "standard
deviation" better in some. Students tend to specialise in areas that
interest them and in which they are relatively successful, and to
pursue careers in such areas, and conversely to abandon areas that
bore them, so "average" ability is irrelevant.
Post by JNugent
That is a travesty of what university education
was and is supposed to be [...].
" I never make the mistake ... "
Yet here you are again. The question is not "should >50% of
students be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit
from HE". [Note in passing -- HE is not just universities, young
people are not just school-leavers, and a substantial fraction of HE
qualifications are not degrees.] The evidence from elsewhere is,
and has been for a long time, that they can. Last time I checked
[2014], 32 other countries took a higher percentage into HE than the
UK, inc most OECD countries. AFAIK, no-one says of, say, a New
Zealander [or a Finn or a Korean] "Ah, but his degree is only a NZ
degree". AFAIK, no other country is as dismissive of education as
England.
For all its drawbacks, the IQ test is the best measure of general
intelligence we have and it turns out to be a useful predictor. Of
course there are plenty of more specific tests of ability. Nitpicking
faults in it without offering a better alternative serves little
useful purpose.

Anglophone countries have a high level of tuition fees but well
developed student financial support systems which, sadly, get
exploited by weak students who never have to repay the full costs.
Overpaid university staff wallow in this income stream.

Furthermore the UK stands out in the number of university students who
do not live at or close to home, further increasing the potential
entertainment and comfy lifestyle of the British "University
experience".

Many British students today are being taken for an expensive ride
which may benefit them slightly -- but their presence benefits the
universities more as they cravenly hand out undeserved degree grades
in exchange for the student pound.
JNugent
2021-08-19 13:00:10 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Post by Andy Walker
Post by JNugent
The argument against 50% of the population being able to properly
benefit from a degree course is really very straightforward. The
dividing line between the left and right sides of the Bell curve
for IQ is the standard (western world) average IQ of 100. Those
with that level of IQ, for all their potential other merits, were
never thought of as university material. Properly applied, they
possibly wouldn't have been O-Level material, let alone A-Level.
It isn't a "dividing line", it's merely the median of a measure
that has very little connexion with how much education people ought
to receive. It isn't even a measure that is commonly actually
measured; and although the "I" of "IQ" stands for "intelligence", it
isn't a sensible measure of intelligence -- at best, something that
correlates with it. See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a
" I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of it -
" by today's standards. "
yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past. Ho hum.
Post by JNugent
If there were some way of ensuring that only those on the RHS of
the curve applied for university places, that would have been one
thing. Still unjustifiable, but it would be whatever it was. But
there is no way of ensuring even that. Given a target of 50%
entering universities, some people of lower than average
intelligence will apply and (eventually) be admitted, in order to
make up the numbers (and the revenue).
Intelligence is not one-dimensional. Some very bright people
are utterly innumerate. Some highly numerate people are incapable
of stringing two sentences together. Some bright people never
manage to learn a foreign language, or cannot follow a logical
argument. People vary widely in their ability to remember facts, or
in their dexterity [both physical and mental]. Someone of "average
intelligence" is very likely to be well above average in some of
these dimensions -- indeed, very likely to be more than a "standard
deviation" better in some. Students tend to specialise in areas that
interest them and in which they are relatively successful, and to
pursue careers in such areas, and conversely to abandon areas that
bore them, so "average" ability is irrelevant.
Post by JNugent
That is a travesty of what university education
was and is supposed to be [...].
" I never make the mistake ... "
Yet here you are again. The question is not "should >50% of
students be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit
from HE". [Note in passing -- HE is not just universities, young
people are not just school-leavers, and a substantial fraction of HE
qualifications are not degrees.] The evidence from elsewhere is,
and has been for a long time, that they can. Last time I checked
[2014], 32 other countries took a higher percentage into HE than the
UK, inc most OECD countries. AFAIK, no-one says of, say, a New
Zealander [or a Finn or a Korean] "Ah, but his degree is only a NZ
degree". AFAIK, no other country is as dismissive of education as
England.
For all its drawbacks, the IQ test is the best measure of general
intelligence we have and it turns out to be a useful predictor. Of
course there are plenty of more specific tests of ability. Nitpicking
faults in it without offering a better alternative serves little
useful purpose.
Anglophone countries have a high level of tuition fees but well
developed student financial support systems which, sadly, get
exploited by weak students who never have to repay the full costs.
Overpaid university staff wallow in this income stream.
Furthermore the UK stands out in the number of university students who
do not live at or close to home, further increasing the potential
entertainment and comfy lifestyle of the British "University
experience".
Many British students today are being taken for an expensive ride
which may benefit them slightly -- but their presence benefits the
universities more as they cravenly hand out undeserved degree grades
in exchange for the student pound.
There is, I feel, much in that to be agreed with.
Pamela
2021-08-22 08:49:17 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Post by Pamela
Post by Andy Walker
Post by JNugent
The argument against 50% of the population being able to properly
benefit from a degree course is really very straightforward. The
dividing line between the left and right sides of the Bell curve
for IQ is the standard (western world) average IQ of 100. Those
with that level of IQ, for all their potential other merits, were
never thought of as university material. Properly applied, they
possibly wouldn't have been O-Level material, let alone A-Level.
It isn't a "dividing line", it's merely the median of a measure
that has very little connexion with how much education people
ought to receive. It isn't even a measure that is commonly
actually measured; and although the "I" of "IQ" stands for
"intelligence", it isn't a sensible measure of intelligence -- at
best, something that correlates with it. See also below, but
meanwhile I note that in a nearby group but on a related topic you
" I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of
it - " by today's standards. "
yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past. Ho hum.
Post by JNugent
If there were some way of ensuring that only those on the RHS of
the curve applied for university places, that would have been one
thing. Still unjustifiable, but it would be whatever it was. But
there is no way of ensuring even that. Given a target of 50%
entering universities, some people of lower than average
intelligence will apply and (eventually) be admitted, in order to
make up the numbers (and the revenue).
Intelligence is not one-dimensional. Some very bright
people
are utterly innumerate. Some highly numerate people are incapable
of stringing two sentences together. Some bright people never
manage to learn a foreign language, or cannot follow a logical
argument. People vary widely in their ability to remember facts,
or in their dexterity [both physical and mental]. Someone of
"average intelligence" is very likely to be well above average in
some of these dimensions -- indeed, very likely to be more than a
"standard deviation" better in some. Students tend to specialise
in areas that interest them and in which they are relatively
successful, and to pursue careers in such areas, and conversely to
abandon areas that bore them, so "average" ability is irrelevant.
Post by JNugent
That is a travesty of what university education
was and is supposed to be [...].
" I never make the mistake ... "
Yet here you are again. The question is not "should >50% of
students be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people
benefit from HE". [Note in passing -- HE is not just universities,
young people are not just school-leavers, and a substantial
fraction of HE qualifications are not degrees.] The evidence from
elsewhere is, and has been for a long time, that they can. Last
time I checked [2014], 32 other countries took a higher percentage
into HE than the UK, inc most OECD countries. AFAIK, no-one says
of, say, a New Zealander [or a Finn or a Korean] "Ah, but his
degree is only a NZ degree". AFAIK, no other country is as
dismissive of education as England.
For all its drawbacks, the IQ test is the best measure of general
intelligence we have and it turns out to be a useful predictor. Of
course there are plenty of more specific tests of ability.
Nitpicking faults in it without offering a better alternative
serves little useful purpose.
Anglophone countries have a high level of tuition fees but well
developed student financial support systems which, sadly, get
exploited by weak students who never have to repay the full costs.
Overpaid university staff wallow in this income stream.
Furthermore the UK stands out in the number of university students
who do not live at or close to home, further increasing the
potential entertainment and comfy lifestyle of the British
"University experience".
Many British students today are being taken for an expensive ride
which may benefit them slightly -- but their presence benefits the
universities more as they cravenly hand out undeserved degree
grades in exchange for the student pound.
There is, I feel, much in that to be agreed with.
From time to time in recent years the government made noises about
reforming the dysfunctional and sometimes counterproductive funding of
the universities and Covid may now provide the excuse for some far
reaching reforms.

The strange thing is how self-important the staff feel they are. They
are mostly overpaid in unusually secure jobs in exchange for a
workload which is modest by commercial standards. Yet in their unreal
world they feel fully entitled to it all on account of their
"special" contribution which is never properly defined.

The situation reminds me of the duff professions in the "Hitchhiker's
Guide to the Galaxy" getting shipped off from Earth to form a self-
important colony on another planet, where advertising executives
debate the colour of the recently discovered "wheel thingy". Sigh.
Andy Walker
2021-08-21 20:40:37 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
For all its drawbacks, the IQ test is the best measure of general
intelligence we have and it turns out to be a useful predictor.
Useful predictor of what? It is irrelevant to university
entrance; it is not even measured routinely, and is not known to
admissions tutors. As a measure, it may be the "best", but it's
not /good/.
Post by Pamela
Of
course there are plenty of more specific tests of ability. Nitpicking
faults in it without offering a better alternative serves little
useful purpose.
We have a better alternative; eg, for admission to maths
courses we ask for high grades in maths. Even the weakest maths
students are much better at maths than the UK average; and maths
correlates much better with IQ than non-numerate disciplines.

[...]
Post by Pamela
Overpaid university staff wallow in this income stream.
You've peddled this troll before.
Post by Pamela
Furthermore the UK stands out in the number of university students who
do not live at or close to home, further increasing the potential
entertainment and comfy lifestyle of the British "University
experience".
I expect there's a good reason why paying for expensive
accommodation in a distant city, and for travel between there and
your home, results in the students having more entertainment. Of
course those who live furthest from home are the many Chinese and
other overseas students, whose sponsors are only too pleased to
waste their money, and who must therefore have the best lifestyle
of all. Or perhaps it's just your further troll.
Post by Pamela
Many British students today are being taken for an expensive ride
which may benefit them slightly -- but their presence benefits the
universities more as they cravenly hand out undeserved degree grades
in exchange for the student pound.
You clearly have the advantage over the rest of us; for
my part, over several hundred examiners' meetings, I never spotted
any "craven" behaviour, nor any clearly undeserved grades, though
some were [inevitably] a bit marginal, and even less any bribery.
How many examiners' meetings did you attend where these things
happened? Did you report them to the authorities?
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Widor
JNugent
2021-08-19 12:59:10 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
The argument against 50% of the population being able to properly
benefit from a degree course is really very straightforward. The
dividing line between the left and right sides of the Bell curve for
IQ is the standard (western world) average IQ of 100. Those with that
level of IQ, for all their potential other merits, were never thought
of as university material. Properly applied, they possibly wouldn't
have been O-Level material, let alone A-Level.
    It isn't a "dividing line", it's merely the median of a measure
that has very little connexion with how much education people ought to
receive.  It isn't even a measure that is commonly actually measured;
and although the "I" of "IQ" stands for "intelligence", it isn't a
sensible measure of intelligence -- at best, something that correlates
with it.  See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a nearby group
  " I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of it -
  " by today's standards. "
yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past.  Ho hum.
Again, two completely different things. We have the past to inform us
when judging the present.

In the past, we did not have the future to inform our views and decisions.

You've shocked me with that one.
Post by JNugent
If there were some way of ensuring that only those on the RHS of the
curve applied for university places, that would have been one thing.
Still unjustifiable, but it would be whatever it was. But there is no
way of ensuring even that. Given a target of 50% entering
universities, some people of lower than average intelligence will
apply and (eventually) be admitted, in order to make up the numbers
(and the revenue).
    Intelligence is not one-dimensional.  Some very bright people
are utterly innumerate.  Some highly numerate people are incapable of
stringing two sentences together.  Some bright people never manage to
learn a foreign language, or cannot follow a logical argument.  People
vary widely in their ability to remember facts, or in their dexterity
[both physical and mental].  Someone of "average intelligence" is very
likely to be well above average in some of these dimensions -- indeed,
very likely to be more than a "standard deviation" better in some.
Students tend to specialise in areas that interest them and in which
they are relatively successful, and to pursue careers in such areas,
and conversely to abandon areas that bore them, so "average" ability
is irrelevant.
Post by JNugent
             That is a travesty of what university education
was and is supposed to be [...].
  " I never make the mistake ... "
Judging the present is something we have to do. If we don't, there is no
point in gaining knowledge.
Yet here you are again.  The question is not "should >50% of students
be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit from HE".
"Benefit", as already stated (and apparently agreed by yourself) is far
too nebulous a concept, or string of concepts, to be convincing on its own.

I'd want to know what form the "benefit" took.
[Note in passing -- HE is not just universities, young people are not
just school-leavers, and a substantial fraction of HE qualifications
are not degrees.]  The evidence from elsewhere is, and has been for
a long time, that they can.  Last time I checked [2014], 32 other
countries took a higher percentage into HE than the UK, inc most
OECD countries.  AFAIK, no-one says of, say, a New Zealander [or a
Finn or a Korean] "Ah, but his degree is only a NZ degree".  AFAIK,
no other country is as dismissive of education as England.
What is the proportion of Blair's "50%" gaining entry to that cohort via
OND / HND, etc?
Andy Walker
2021-08-22 22:11:32 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 19/08/2021 13:59, JNugent wrote:
[I wrote:]
Post by JNugent
[...] See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a nearby group
   " I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of it -
   " by today's standards. "
yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past.  Ho hum.
Again, two completely different things. We have the past to inform us
when judging the present.
In the past, we did not have the future to inform our views and decisions.
You've shocked me with that one.
If you're about to take a decision, or about to take some
action, then an informed view of the past is useful. If you're
talking about some situation [such as the standard of education],
then judging the past by today is the same as judging today by the
past. "X is worse than it used to be" is the same as "X was better
than it is now". But in any case, it was only a passing comment,
Post by JNugent
[...] The question is not "should >50% of students
be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit from HE".
"Benefit", as already stated (and apparently agreed by yourself) is
far too nebulous a concept, or string of concepts, to be convincing
on its own.
I'd want to know what form the "benefit" took.
Isn't that up to the young people? It's not as though it's
a minor decision taken on a whim; it's a major expense in both time
and money for the students and their families. You and Pamela may
think those families [and prospective employers] unwise; ISTM that
we can let market forces take care of it. Indeed, it's the ideal
sort of activity for market forces; there are tens of thousands of
HE courses, all over the country, catering for a massive range of
interests of hundreds of thousands of young people, all with their
individual family circumstances, leading to qualifications of
interest to employers all over the world.

[...]
Post by JNugent
What is the proportion of Blair's "50%" gaining entry to that cohort
via OND / HND, etc?
Don't know, sorry; it's 14 years since I was an AT [and
on various "access" committees and such-like].
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Schumann
abelard
2021-08-23 01:22:19 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
Isn't that up to the young people? It's not as though it's
a minor decision taken on a whim; it's a major expense in both time
and money for the students and their families. You and Pamela may
think those families [and prospective employers] unwise; ISTM that
we can let market forces take care of it. Indeed, it's the ideal
sort of activity for market forces; there are tens of thousands of
HE courses, all over the country, catering for a massive range of
interests of hundreds of thousands of young people, all with their
individual family circumstances, leading to qualifications of
interest to employers all over the world.
the young are of course far from stupid....the children
of physicists are pouring into biosciences
similar changes can be generalized as you well appreciate

socialists are usually driven by envy and insecurity...thus
they strive to rationalize their own mental problems
their 'arguments' do not tend to originate in analysis
Pancho
2021-08-23 12:00:37 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by abelard
the young are of course far from stupid....the children
of physicists are pouring into biosciences
similar changes can be generalized as you well appreciate
I'm not up to date, but... As I heard it, bioscience careers didn't pay
well.

There is an idea in software development about being "close to the
money". You can have a brilliant idea, that is useful and popular but if
you can't monetise it, you are stuffed.

I think bioscience work is hard to generate cash from.
JNugent
2021-08-23 09:48:24 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
[I wrote:]
Post by JNugent
[...] See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a nearby group
   " I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of it -
   " by today's standards. "
yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past.  Ho hum.
Again, two completely different things. We have the past to inform us
when judging the present.
In the past, we did not have the future to inform our views and decisions.
You've shocked me with that one.
    If you're about to take a decision, or about to take some
action, then an informed view of the past is useful.  If you're
talking about some situation [such as the standard of education],
then judging the past by today is the same as judging today by the
past.
I cannot agree.

  "X is worse than it used to be" is the same as "X was better
Post by Andy Walker
than it is now".  But in any case, it was only a passing comment,
The cost is nowadays phenomenal (despite "tuition fees")
Post by Andy Walker
Post by JNugent
[...] The question is not "should >50% of students
be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit from HE".
"Benefit", as already stated (and apparently agreed by yourself) is
far too nebulous a concept, or string of concepts, to be convincing
on its own.
I'd want to know what form the "benefit" took.
    Isn't that up to the young people?
"He who pays the piper..." (and that's still the taxpayer for the most
part). The electorate has a legitimate interest in the matter.
Post by Andy Walker
It's not as though it's
a minor decision taken on a whim;  it's a major expense in both time
and money for the students and their families.  You and Pamela may
think those families [and prospective employers] unwise;  ISTM that
we can let market forces take care of it.
But we don't do that. The sector is heavily subvented by the taxpayer. I
don't even say it shouldn't be. But not for 50% of the population (in time).
Post by Andy Walker
  Indeed, it's the ideal
sort of activity for market forces;  there are tens of thousands of
HE courses, all over the country, catering for a massive range of
interests of hundreds of thousands of young people, all with their
individual family circumstances, leading to qualifications of
interest to employers all over the world.
[...]
Post by JNugent
What is the proportion of Blair's "50%" gaining entry to that cohort
via OND / HND, etc?
    Don't know, sorry;  it's 14 years since I was an AT [and
on various "access" committees and such-like].
It is safe to assume that the proportion is small and not growing.
Pamela
2021-08-23 11:02:06 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Post by Andy Walker
[I wrote:]
[...] See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a nearby group
"I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of
it - " by today's standards." yet here you are, judging today's
standards by the past. Ho hum.
Again, two completely different things. We have the past to inform
us when judging the present.
In the past, we did not have the future to inform our views and decisions.
You've shocked me with that one.
If you're about to take a decision, or about to take some action,
then an informed view of the past is useful. If you're talking
about some situation [such as the standard of education], then
judging the past by today is the same as judging today by the past.
I cannot agree.
The cost is nowadays phenomenal (despite "tuition fees")
Post by Andy Walker
[...] The question is not "should >50% of students be awarded
degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit from HE".
"Benefit", as already stated (and apparently agreed by yourself)
is far too nebulous a concept, or string of concepts, to be
convincing on its own. I'd want to know what form the "benefit"
took.
Isn't that up to the young people?
"He who pays the piper..." (and that's still the taxpayer for the
most part). The electorate has a legitimate interest in the matter.
It's not as though it's a minor decision taken on a whim; it's a
major expense in both time and money for the students and their
families. You and Pamela may think those families [and prospective
employers] unwise; ISTM that we can let market forces take care of
it.
But we don't do that. The sector is heavily subvented by the
taxpayer. I don't even say it shouldn't be. But not for 50% of the
population (in time).
If you have the stamina you might glance at this recent article in
"The Atlantic" magazine about the rise of the "Disneyfied" American
public university. It has echoes over here too.

<https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/public-universities-debt/619546/>
Pamela
2021-08-23 11:06:31 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Post by JNugent
Post by Andy Walker
[I wrote:]
[...] See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a nearby
"I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of
it - " by today's standards." yet here you are, judging today's
standards by the past. Ho hum.
Again, two completely different things. We have the past to
inform us when judging the present.
In the past, we did not have the future to inform our views and decisions.
You've shocked me with that one.
If you're about to take a decision, or about to take some action,
then an informed view of the past is useful. If you're talking
about some situation [such as the standard of education], then
judging the past by today is the same as judging today by the past.
I cannot agree.
The cost is nowadays phenomenal (despite "tuition fees")
Post by Andy Walker
[...] The question is not "should >50% of students be awarded
degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit from HE".
"Benefit", as already stated (and apparently agreed by yourself)
is far too nebulous a concept, or string of concepts, to be
convincing on its own. I'd want to know what form the "benefit"
took.
Isn't that up to the young people?
"He who pays the piper..." (and that's still the taxpayer for the
most part). The electorate has a legitimate interest in the matter.
It's not as though it's a minor decision taken on a whim; it's a
major expense in both time and money for the students and their
families. You and Pamela may think those families [and
prospective employers] unwise; ISTM that we can let market forces
take care of it.
But we don't do that. The sector is heavily subvented by the
taxpayer. I don't even say it shouldn't be. But not for 50% of the
population (in time).
If you have the stamina you might glance at this recent article in
"The Atlantic" magazine about the rise of the "Disneyfied" American
public university. It has echoes over here too.
<https://www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2021/08/public-
universities-debt/619546/>
I forgot to include a sample quotation:

"The idea, outlined in the early 1980s by a former college
president named Howard Bowen, is simple: Colleges will find a way
to spend money, no matter how much of it they have. Their appetite
is never sated.

The biggest cost for public colleges is their employees’ salaries.
Pressure from university faculty and administrators for raises
often leads college presidents to raise tuition. Student loans
enabled college presidents to extract more money from students to
pay professors more."
Pamela
2021-08-23 10:49:43 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Isn't that up to the young people? It's not as though it's a minor
decision taken on a whim; it's a major expense in both time and
money for the students and their families.
Too many students do "take it on a whim" to judge by the drop out
rate. Weak students with poor career prospects have learnt the
taxpayer will subsidise the cost of their student days and not need
repaying.
You and Pamela may think those families [and prospective employers]
unwise; ISTM that we can let market forces take care of it.
State-subsidised market forces are still a state subsidy.
Indeed, it's the ideal sort of activity for market forces; there
are tens of thousands of HE courses, all over the country, catering
for a massive range of interests of hundreds of thousands of young
people, all with their individual family circumstances, leading to
qualifications of interest to employers all over the world.
Many British universities have become "diploma mills" where staff and
students collude with one another in a charade of education. Obtain
three "D" grades at A-level and most universities will award you a
first or upper second degree; however it will cost £28,000.

With recent increases in tele-learning, students now turn up at their
universiites for a jolly social life away from their parental home
rather than lectures.

It's overdue for reform.
Andy Walker
2021-08-23 22:32:23 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Many British universities have become "diploma mills" where staff and
students collude with one another in a charade of education.
What form does this collusion take? After all, the whole idea
is that students learn their chosen discipline with the help of the
staff. That's more usually called "teaching". As whatever you have in
mind seems to be illegal, have you reported it? How many universities
are participating in this charade? You claim "many", so it can't be
[merely] a rogue lecturer somewhere trading favours. Is all this your
personal experience? It's certainly outside mine.
Post by Pamela
Obtain
three "D" grades at A-level and most universities will award you a
first or upper second degree; however it will cost Ł28,000.
We're up from "many" to "most". Again, you have the advantage
of me; in 39 years of examining, the boards I was on never knowingly
awarded a first or upper second to a student with DDD, though I dare
say it very occasionally happened [not in my department, for sure].
OTOH, A-levels are another of the measures of ability that correlate
only poorly with any other measure [inc IQ tests, GCSEs/O-levels,
first year exams, third year exams, coursework, projects, ...], so
it's quite likely that some DDD students [at some universities] did
sufficiently better in their finals to get a well-deserved 2.1; we
did have occasional students who failed their first year, narrowly
passed the resits, and stormed away with firsts -- but they had
entered with much better grades than DDD.
Post by Pamela
With recent increases in tele-learning, students now turn up at their
universiites for a jolly social life away from their parental home
rather than lectures.
Strange as it may seem to outsiders, "lectures" are only a
small part of either staff or student experiences. "Tele-learning"
is not a good way to carry out experiments, projects, tutorials or
many other aspects of university education. Meanwhile, paying
through the nose for student accommodation is a rather expensive
way to have "a jolly social life"; those who live cheaply with
their parents could surely afford something much jollier. But
students aren't monks; they are broadly entitled to the same
extent of social life as other normal people.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Bull
Pamela
2021-08-24 09:46:02 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
Post by Pamela
Many British universities have become "diploma mills" where staff
and students collude with one another in a charade of education.
What form does this collusion take? After all, the whole idea
is that students learn their chosen discipline with the help of the
staff. That's more usually called "teaching". As whatever you have
in mind seems to be illegal, have you reported it? How many
universities are participating in this charade? You claim "many",
so it can't be [merely] a rogue lecturer somewhere trading favours.
Is all this your personal experience? It's certainly outside mine.
Post by Pamela
Obtain
three "D" grades at A-level and most universities will award you a
first or upper second degree; however it will cost Ł28,000.
We're up from "many" to "most". Again, you have the advantage
of me; in 39 years of examining, the boards I was on never
knowingly awarded a first or upper second to a student with DDD,
though I dare say it very occasionally happened [not in my
department, for sure]. OTOH, A-levels are another of the measures of
ability that correlate only poorly with any other measure [inc IQ
tests, GCSEs/O-levels, first year exams, third year exams,
coursework, projects, ...], so it's quite likely that some DDD
students [at some universities] did sufficiently better in their
finals to get a well-deserved 2.1; we did have occasional students
who failed their first year, narrowly passed the resits, and stormed
away with firsts -- but they had entered with much better grades
than DDD.
Post by Pamela
With recent increases in tele-learning, students now turn up at
their universiites for a jolly social life away from their parental
home rather than lectures.
Strange as it may seem to outsiders, "lectures" are only a
small part of either staff or student experiences. "Tele-learning"
is not a good way to carry out experiments, projects, tutorials or
many other aspects of university education. Meanwhile, paying
through the nose for student accommodation is a rather expensive way
to have "a jolly social life"; those who live cheaply with their
parents could surely afford something much jollier. But students
aren't monks; they are broadly entitled to the same extent of
social life as other normal people.
(1) The "charade" is a metaphor for what is being played out. If you
can't see it then either you're not looking or you're being
disingenuous.

(2) Why didn't you Google for the "three DDD" A-level student and the
degree grades they get? Your skewed personal experience is irrelevant.

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/07/11/seven-ten-students-get-
less-ddd-a-level-leave-university-top/

(3) My point about tele-lectures concerns the excessive charges made
for them, not their effectiveness.

Your nit-picking questions demonstrate how academics are quick to find
something is less than perfect but completely hopeless at proposing
anything better. You demonstrate that academics are not exactly
famous for their real-world practicality.
Andy Walker
2021-08-24 23:45:19 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
(1) The "charade" is a metaphor for what is being played out. If you
can't see it then either you're not looking or you're being
disingenuous.
I didn't ask what a "charade" is; I asked what form your
alleged collusion took, and how many universities you are claiming
participate in the charade. If you're going to spew your bile all
over HE, we surely have a right to know what you're claiming and
what evidence you have.
Post by Pamela
(2) Why didn't you Google for the "three DDD" A-level student and the
degree grades they get? Your skewed personal experience is irrelevant.
I did. The results don't back up your claims. The "Telegraph"
article is, like a similar "Times" article, behind a pay wall, but what
was visible says something quite different, though it was [in both cases]
somewhat incoherent. You wouldn't want me to nit-pick however. What
was not visible was the analysis, esp of /why/ some apparently weak
students get good grades. This was much better, though incomplete, in
the OfS report on which the articles seem to have been based.

As for my "personal experience", it's a lot wider than that
of most people, through spending a lot of time dealing with issues
of "access", esp with NEMAP [qv], through having family members and
friends at a variety of universities, and through conferences.
Post by Pamela
(3) My point about tele-lectures concerns the excessive charges made
for them, not their effectiveness.
You talked about "tele-learning", which is rather wider than
"tele-lectures", and has of course been forced upon both schools and
universities by the pandemic. AFAIK, it is provided as a substitute
[however unsatisfactory] for the real thing at no extra cost.
Post by Pamela
Your nit-picking questions [...].
If you produce claims with so many holes, perhaps you should
not be surprised when they get pulled apart. You see nits; I see a
completely unjustified attack on UK HE, which is a huge success story,
witness the number of UK universities in high places in the world
rankings, and the number of overseas students who come here. It's
not perfect, and of course things sometimes go wrong. But given its
shoe-string budget until very recently, it works amazingly well.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Dvorak
Pamela
2021-08-25 10:56:00 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
(1) The "charade" is a metaphor for what is being played out. If
you can't see it then either you're not looking or you're being
disingenuous.
I didn't ask what a "charade" is; I asked what form your alleged
collusion took, and how many universities you are claiming
participate in the charade. If you're going to spew your bile all
over HE, we surely have a right to know what you're claiming and
what evidence you have.
Post by Pamela
(2) Why didn't you Google for the "three DDD" A-level student and
the degree grades they get? Your skewed personal experience is
irrelevant.
I did. The results don't back up your claims. The "Telegraph"
article is, like a similar "Times" article, behind a pay wall, but
what was visible says something quite different, though it was [in
both cases] somewhat incoherent. You wouldn't want me to nit-pick
however. What was not visible was the analysis, esp of /why/ some
apparently weak students get good grades. This was much better,
though incomplete, in the OfS report on which the articles seem to
have been based.
As for my "personal experience", it's a lot wider than that of most
people, through spending a lot of time dealing with issues of
"access", esp with NEMAP [qv], through having family members and
friends at a variety of universities, and through conferences.
Post by Pamela
(3) My point about tele-lectures concerns the excessive charges
made for them, not their effectiveness.
You talked about "tele-learning", which is rather wider than
"tele-lectures", and has of course been forced upon both schools and
universities by the pandemic. AFAIK, it is provided as a substitute
[however unsatisfactory] for the real thing at no extra cost.
Post by Pamela
Your nit-picking questions [...].
If you produce claims with so many holes, perhaps you should not be
surprised when they get pulled apart. You see nits; I see a
completely unjustified attack on UK HE, which is a huge success
story, witness the number of UK universities in high places in the
world rankings, and the number of overseas students who come here.
It's not perfect, and of course things sometimes go wrong. But
given its shoe-string budget until very recently, it works amazingly
well.
Re "charade". You provide more nit-picking nonsense. No doubt you see
your endless pedantry as an expression of a rapier-like incisive mind,
whereas most listeners will hear point-scoring pettifoggery with no
purpose.

Your out of date personal experience has no bearing on widespread
current practice. If you think entry standards and degree standards
are unchanged in the last 30 years (since polys became universities)
then you need your head examined.

I'm pleased you concur that tele-learning is unsatisfactory and
produced at no extra cost and yet charged to students as if delivered
in person. Students are unhappy at being gouged in this way and now
wonder why they are paying so much.

The "huge success" you describe of British higher education is being
achieved by trading on former reputation while providing a substandard
product. If this carries on it's only a matter of time before British
degrees (once much sought after) have debased their own reputation.

Look at Imperial College where 54.7% of graduates now get "top
grades". See here.

<https://www.theguardian.com/education/2020/nov/19/students-england-awarded-first-class-degrees-grade-inflation>

It also reports ... "the OfS analysis also showed that students
entering university with A-level grades below DDD were almost four
times as likely to receive a first-class degree in 2018-19 as their
peers in 2010-11." Sigh.

What a junket for the staff. What a racket for the institutions.
JNugent
2021-08-25 15:54:35 UTC
Reply
Permalink
This is only a slight diversion from the topic (but is closely related
in any case).

<https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/aug/25/im-lost-poorer-pupils-lose-university-places-after-a-level-grade-surge>

An A-level pupil who was awarded BBC (but claims to have been predicted
A*AA) fears that he might not be able to gain entry to the prestigious
law course he was hoping for (and to which he may well feel entitled).

The assessing authority says: "...its process for awarding grades was
“fair and consistent” and reflected students’ achievement, but it takes
the concerns “very seriously” and is conducting a review of grades,
which it says will be completed this week...".

We can almost certainly take that as meaning that if he waits another
week, he'll get what he demands.

In both 2020 and 2021, it's hard to see why the responsible authorities
didn't take a pragmatic view and simply award everyone A*A*A*. Even if
they mis-spelled their name at the top of the paper and didn't write
another word.

Then they'd *all* get into Oxbridge.

Or something.
Pamela
2021-08-25 17:17:13 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
This is only a slight diversion from the topic (but is closely
related in any case).
<https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/aug/25/im-lost-poorer-pup
ils-lose-university-places-after-a-level-grade-surge>
An A-level pupil who was awarded BBC (but claims to have been
predicted A*AA) fears that he might not be able to gain entry to the
prestigious law course he was hoping for (and to which he may well
feel entitled).
The assessing authority says: "...its process for awarding grades
was “fair and consistent” and reflected students’ achievement, but
it takes the concerns “very seriously” and is conducting a review of
grades, which it says will be completed this week...".
We can almost certainly take that as meaning that if he waits
another week, he'll get what he demands.
In both 2020 and 2021, it's hard to see why the responsible
authorities didn't take a pragmatic view and simply award everyone
A*A*A*. Even if they mis-spelled their name at the top of the paper
and didn't write another word.
Then they'd *all* get into Oxbridge.
Or something.
I don't know how teachers and headmasters keep a straight face when
declaring on tv how their hard working students got the grades they
deserved.

"Everybody has won and all must have prizes" said the Dodo.

What a shame this is for the genuinely bright student whose excellence
is drowned out by bucketloads of easy grades for weak students.
JNugent
2021-08-26 11:20:48 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Post by JNugent
This is only a slight diversion from the topic (but is closely
related in any case).
<https://www.theguardian.com/education/2021/aug/25/im-lost-poorer-pup
ils-lose-university-places-after-a-level-grade-surge>
An A-level pupil who was awarded BBC (but claims to have been
predicted A*AA) fears that he might not be able to gain entry to the
prestigious law course he was hoping for (and to which he may well
feel entitled).
The assessing authority says: "...its process for awarding grades
was “fair and consistent” and reflected students’ achievement, but
it takes the concerns “very seriously” and is conducting a review of
grades, which it says will be completed this week...".
We can almost certainly take that as meaning that if he waits
another week, he'll get what he demands.
In both 2020 and 2021, it's hard to see why the responsible
authorities didn't take a pragmatic view and simply award everyone
A*A*A*. Even if they mis-spelled their name at the top of the paper
and didn't write another word.
Then they'd *all* get into Oxbridge.
Or something.
I don't know how teachers and headmasters keep a straight face when
declaring on tv how their hard working students got the grades they
deserved.
"Everybody has won and all must have prizes" said the Dodo.
That much-quoted sentence had occurred to me, but I resisted the temptation!
Post by Pamela
What a shame this is for the genuinely bright student whose excellence
is drowned out by bucketloads of easy grades for weak students.
Exactly.
Andy Walker
2021-08-27 23:22:58 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Re "charade". You provide more nit-picking nonsense. No doubt you see
your endless pedantry as an expression of a rapier-like incisive mind,
whereas most listeners will hear point-scoring pettifoggery with no
purpose.
Obviously we differ on what is a "nit", what is "nonsense"
and what is "pedantry". But if you persist in throwing around wild
accusations, with no evidence at all to back them up, of collusion
[ie fraud] perpetrated by people whose entire reputation depends on
scrupulous honesty, then you must expect to be called out on it.
Post by Pamela
Your out of date personal experience has no bearing on widespread
current practice.
So, what is /your/ experience as an AT, as a professional in
standards in education, as an examiner, and so on? What is /your/
source of "current practice", and why is it more relevant than mine?
Post by Pamela
If you think entry standards and degree standards
are unchanged in the last 30 years (since polys became universities)
then you need your head examined.
Charmed, I'm sure. Luckily, or otherwise, I have not said
anything to indicate that I do think that. I merely point out to
you that there are at least a dozen confounding factors in trying
to analyse what has happened, a mere two of which are entry and
examination standards. See if you can think of some of the others;
it's not that hard. How important any and all of them are is not
easy to ascertain, and in the absence of evidence, it is wiser not
to draw conclusions. But fools rush in. The OfS is more cautious.

[...]
Post by Pamela
It also reports ... "the OfS analysis also showed that students
entering university with A-level grades below DDD were almost four
times as likely to receive a first-class degree in 2018-19 as their
peers in 2010-11."
And? To which of the dozen+ factors do you ascribe this
statistic, and in what proportion? Evidence? Or do you find it
sufficient to assume that it must be collusion? Before being too
dogmatic, you should perhaps note that it's a statistic about
rare events in the tail of the distribution, and therefore changes
a lot in response to small changes in other factors. Or even
purely by chance.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Belliss
Pamela
2021-08-31 07:48:34 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Re "charade". You provide more nit-picking nonsense. No doubt you
see your endless pedantry as an expression of a rapier-like
incisive mind, whereas most listeners will hear point-scoring
pettifoggery with no purpose.
Obviously we differ on what is a "nit", what is "nonsense" and what
is "pedantry". But if you persist in throwing around wild
accusations, with no evidence at all to back them up, of collusion
[ie fraud] perpetrated by people whose entire reputation depends on
scrupulous honesty, then you must expect to be called out on it.
Post by Pamela
Your out of date personal experience has no bearing on widespread
current practice.
So, what is /your/ experience as an AT, as a professional in
standards in education, as an examiner, and so on? What is /your/
source of "current practice", and why is it more relevant than mine?
Post by Pamela
If you think entry standards and degree standards are unchanged in
the last 30 years (since polys became universities) then you need
your head examined.
Charmed, I'm sure. Luckily, or otherwise, I have not said anything
to indicate that I do think that. I merely point out to you that
there are at least a dozen confounding factors in trying to analyse
what has happened, a mere two of which are entry and examination
standards. See if you can think of some of the others; it's not
that hard. How important any and all of them are is not easy to
ascertain, and in the absence of evidence, it is wiser not to draw
conclusions. But fools rush in. The OfS is more cautious.
[...]
Post by Pamela
It also reports ... "the OfS analysis also showed that students
entering university with A-level grades below DDD were almost four
times as likely to receive a first-class degree in 2018-19 as their
peers in 2010-11."
And? To which of the dozen+ factors do you ascribe this statistic,
and in what proportion? Evidence? Or do you find it sufficient to
assume that it must be collusion? Before being too dogmatic, you
should perhaps note that it's a statistic about rare events in the
tail of the distribution, and therefore changes a lot in response to
small changes in other factors. Or even purely by chance.
Confounding a debate with nit-picking is what you love doing most.
Nevertheless the outcome is still the same: the standard of university
degrees has declined significantly since decades ago.
abelard
2021-08-31 14:06:09 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Tue, 31 Aug 2021 08:48:34 +0100, Pamela
Post by Pamela
Post by Pamela
Re "charade". You provide more nit-picking nonsense. No doubt you
see your endless pedantry as an expression of a rapier-like
incisive mind, whereas most listeners will hear point-scoring
pettifoggery with no purpose.
Obviously we differ on what is a "nit", what is "nonsense" and what
is "pedantry". But if you persist in throwing around wild
accusations, with no evidence at all to back them up, of collusion
[ie fraud] perpetrated by people whose entire reputation depends on
scrupulous honesty, then you must expect to be called out on it.
Post by Pamela
Your out of date personal experience has no bearing on widespread
current practice.
So, what is /your/ experience as an AT, as a professional in
standards in education, as an examiner, and so on? What is /your/
source of "current practice", and why is it more relevant than mine?
Post by Pamela
If you think entry standards and degree standards are unchanged in
the last 30 years (since polys became universities) then you need
your head examined.
Charmed, I'm sure. Luckily, or otherwise, I have not said anything
to indicate that I do think that. I merely point out to you that
there are at least a dozen confounding factors in trying to analyse
what has happened, a mere two of which are entry and examination
standards. See if you can think of some of the others; it's not
that hard. How important any and all of them are is not easy to
ascertain, and in the absence of evidence, it is wiser not to draw
conclusions. But fools rush in. The OfS is more cautious.
[...]
Post by Pamela
It also reports ... "the OfS analysis also showed that students
entering university with A-level grades below DDD were almost four
times as likely to receive a first-class degree in 2018-19 as their
peers in 2010-11."
And? To which of the dozen+ factors do you ascribe this statistic,
and in what proportion? Evidence? Or do you find it sufficient to
assume that it must be collusion? Before being too dogmatic, you
should perhaps note that it's a statistic about rare events in the
tail of the distribution, and therefore changes a lot in response to
small changes in other factors. Or even purely by chance.
Confounding a debate with nit-picking is what you love doing most.
Nevertheless the outcome is still the same: the standard of university
degrees has declined significantly since decades ago.
i'm sure they had the same concerns in the 12th century

not enough theology at oxford...the shame of it
Pancho
2021-08-23 11:51:09 UTC
Reply
Permalink
    Isn't that up to the young people?  It's not as though it's
a minor decision taken on a whim;  it's a major expense in both time
and money for the students and their families.  You and Pamela may
think those families [and prospective employers] unwise;  ISTM that
we can let market forces take care of it.  Indeed, it's the ideal
sort of activity for market forces;  there are tens of thousands of
HE courses, all over the country, catering for a massive range of
interests of hundreds of thousands of young people, all with their
individual family circumstances, leading to qualifications of
interest to employers all over the world.
I don't see how these market forces would be effective. Prospective
students often know little of the world or work and little of
universities. Prospective employers know little of the universities or
courses. i.e. It is very hard to put a value on a university course.

Without wishing to sound rude, I suspect people who work in a public
sector roles have more confidence in market forces than people who have
spent their careers in under regulated industry trying to
exploit/subvert/trick market forces. i.e. you assume the grass is greener.
JNugent
2021-08-23 14:26:19 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pancho
     Isn't that up to the young people?  It's not as though it's
a minor decision taken on a whim;  it's a major expense in both time
and money for the students and their families.  You and Pamela may
think those families [and prospective employers] unwise;  ISTM that
we can let market forces take care of it.  Indeed, it's the ideal
sort of activity for market forces;  there are tens of thousands of
HE courses, all over the country, catering for a massive range of
interests of hundreds of thousands of young people, all with their
individual family circumstances, leading to qualifications of
interest to employers all over the world.
I don't see how these market forces would be effective. Prospective
students often know little of the world or work and little of
universities. Prospective employers know little of the universities or
courses. i.e. It is very hard to put a value on a university course.
Without wishing to sound rude, I suspect people who work in a public
sector roles have more confidence in market forces than people who have
spent their careers in under regulated industry trying to
exploit/subvert/trick market forces. i.e. you assume the grass is greener.
There's nothing wrong with the concept of market forces, even as applied
to education.

But the theory of the competitive market contains several accepted
assumptions, which are:

(a) perfect awareness of what is on offer (in different places at
different prices),

(b) perfect mobility (ie, there being no theoretical extra cost in
buying one offer rather than another) and

(c) self-interest (the buyer is concerned to maximise utility at minimum
cost).

I would stress that these characteristics of a market are theoretical
(and that all three are subject to further definition - the above is
just the executive summary).

They are never all perfectly satisfied. They are posited only as an
analytical tool.

But even so, in the case of British higher education, (a) is seriously
undermined by the fiction that everyone knows what is on offer. In
particular, anyone who believes that there are, or ever will be,
sufficient graduate-level jobs for an eventual 50% of the adult
population is being deceived, whether that is self-deceit or deceit by a
third party. Because 50% of jobs being careers for graduates is a
pipe-dream that intelligent people should be able to see through within
a split second.
abelard
2021-08-23 15:03:05 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
     Isn't that up to the young people?  It's not as though it's
a minor decision taken on a whim;  it's a major expense in both time
and money for the students and their families.  You and Pamela may
think those families [and prospective employers] unwise;  ISTM that
we can let market forces take care of it.  Indeed, it's the ideal
sort of activity for market forces;  there are tens of thousands of
HE courses, all over the country, catering for a massive range of
interests of hundreds of thousands of young people, all with their
individual family circumstances, leading to qualifications of
interest to employers all over the world.
I don't see how these market forces would be effective. Prospective
students often know little of the world or work and little of
universities. Prospective employers know little of the universities or
courses. i.e. It is very hard to put a value on a university course.
Without wishing to sound rude, I suspect people who work in a public
sector roles have more confidence in market forces than people who have
spent their careers in under regulated industry trying to
exploit/subvert/trick market forces. i.e. you assume the grass is greener.
There's nothing wrong with the concept of market forces, even as applied
to education.
But the theory of the competitive market contains several accepted
(a) perfect awareness of what is on offer (in different places at
different prices),
(b) perfect mobility (ie, there being no theoretical extra cost in
buying one offer rather than another) and
(c) self-interest (the buyer is concerned to maximise utility at minimum
cost).
I would stress that these characteristics of a market are theoretical
(and that all three are subject to further definition - the above is
just the executive summary).
They are never all perfectly satisfied. They are posited only as an
analytical tool.
But even so, in the case of British higher education, (a) is seriously
undermined by the fiction that everyone knows what is on offer. In
particular, anyone who believes that there are, or ever will be,
sufficient graduate-level jobs for an eventual 50% of the adult
population is being deceived, whether that is self-deceit or deceit by a
third party. Because 50% of jobs being careers for graduates is a
pipe-dream that intelligent people should be able to see through within
a split second.
like :-)
Andy Walker
2021-08-23 23:26:59 UTC
Reply
Permalink
[I wrote:]
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
     Isn't that up to the young people?  It's not as though it's
a minor decision taken on a whim;  it's a major expense in both time
and money for the students and their families.  You and Pamela may
think those families [and prospective employers] unwise;  ISTM that
we can let market forces take care of it. [...]
I don't see how these market forces would be effective. Prospective
students often know little of the world or work and little of
universities.
They know more, in general, than those who leave school at the
first opportunity and go straight into employment. They usually visit
any university they are thinking of applying to, and there is a vast
amount of information from universities, from UCAS and from impartial
guides about courses, as well as guidance in many cases from family,
friends and/or teachers. They are better informed about HE than most
of us are about a car, a house or a toaster we think of buying.
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
Prospective employers know little of the universities
or courses.
Not so. Prospective employers, esp recruiters, are commonly
themselves graduates, and in big companies have extensive experience
of what to expect from their employees. HE courses regularly liaise
with employers [it's part of what each course is required to do] and
seek advice on course structure and content. New courses are usually
set up directly in response to requests from employers, who are
often on the committees that draw up syllabuses and regulations.
Practical courses such as engineering and medicine often include
secondments or projects directly supervised by employers.
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
i.e. It is very hard to put a value on a university
course.
Yes; best left to market forces!
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
Without wishing to sound rude, I suspect people who work in a
public sector roles have more confidence in market forces than
people who have spent their careers in under regulated industry
trying to exploit/subvert/trick market forces. i.e. you assume the
grass is greener.
My experience is somewhat the opposite. Most [not, by any
means, all] people in the public sector [plus, for this purpose,
HE] are rather left-leaning [though rarely to the extent of "Dave
Spart" or "The History Man"], and deeply suspicious of markets.
But market forces will out, whatever people think of them.
Post by JNugent
There's nothing wrong with the concept of market forces, even as
applied to education.
But the theory of the competitive market contains several accepted
[... various perfections snipped ...]
Post by JNugent
I would stress that these characteristics of a market are theoretical
(and that all three are subject to further definition - the above is
just the executive summary).
They are never all perfectly satisfied. They are posited only as an
analytical tool.
As above, ISTM that they work as well in relation to HE
/today/ as they do in other areas. I stress "today" because for
many decades gov'ts tried to micro-manage universities; we were
told to take, say, 105 maths students, 13 joint maths/econ, ...
through each course offered, and woe-betide any admissions tutor
who got the numbers wrong [even though they stemmed from offers
made months earlier in ignorance of how many students would
accept them and of how many of those would achieve the grades
asked for]. Eventually the dam burst.
Post by JNugent
But even so, in the case of British higher education, (a) is
seriously undermined by the fiction that everyone knows what is on
offer. In particular, anyone who believes that there are, or ever
will be, sufficient graduate-level jobs for an eventual 50% of the
adult population is being deceived, whether that is self-deceit or
deceit by a third party. Because 50% of jobs being careers for
graduates is a pipe-dream that intelligent people should be able to
see through within a split second.
You will have to explain again why 50% is such a magic
number. To remind you again, the "average" person is much better
than that at the things he/she is best at, so we aren't talking
about people who are bad, or even average, in ability at their
chosen discipline. Is there a reason why, eg, nurses, policemen,
the armed forces, lab assistants, computer operators, chefs,
carers, ... should /not/ be graduates [or at least have had a
year+ of HE]? Why young people should not aspire to education
and employment comparable with [preferably better than] that
offered in other countries? Is 48% fine but 52% terrible? On
what factual basis, beyond your feeling that we are all being
deceived? References to "IQ" and to "averages" don't cut the
mustard. Yes, it's different from the past; so is the world
we live in.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Bull
Pamela
2021-08-24 09:51:02 UTC
Reply
Permalink
You will have to explain again why 50% is such a magic number. To
remind you again, the "average" person is much better than that at
the things he/she is best at, so we aren't talking about people who
are bad, or even average, in ability at their chosen discipline. Is
there a reason why, eg, nurses, policemen, the armed forces, lab
assistants, computer operators, chefs, carers, ... should /not/ be
graduates [or at least have had a year+ of HE]? Why young people
should not aspire to education and employment comparable with
[preferably better than] that offered in other countries? Is 48%
fine but 52% terrible? On what factual basis, beyond your feeling
that we are all being deceived? References to "IQ" and to
"averages" don't cut the mustard. Yes, it's different from the
past; so is the world we live in.
Read that again, Andy, and see if you can spot the sillines of your
nit-picking. Any normal person can.

Fifty percent is a symbolic target and it is one set by Blair in his
goals for the Millenium speech. Next time try Google before posting
more silliness. See here.

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-49841620
Andy Walker
2021-08-25 00:19:31 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Read that again, Andy, and see if you can spot the sillines of your
nit-picking. Any normal person can.
If you thought my reply to Pancho and JN was nit-picking, then
you didn't read it properly.
Post by Pamela
Fifty percent is a symbolic target and it is one set by Blair in his
goals for the Millenium speech. Next time try Google before posting
more silliness.
I didn't ask what Mr Blair's target was [and symbolic or not,
it was actually attained some years ago -- more years ago in the case
of females]. I asked for the evidence that there would not be jobs
for young people when they leave HE. Our whole economy is shifting
from manual labour towards intelligence and high-tech. Professions,
including the ones I mentioned, are shifting in the same direction,
and even more towards individuals having to be prepared to change
careers. If there are limits to how many graduates the UK needs,
there are surely much more severe limits on how many miners, farm
labourers and the like we need.

So try again. What is it that makes you, and Pancho and JN,
believe that having less than 50% of young people educated in HE is
better, for them and for the UK economy, than having more than 50%?
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Dussek
Pamela
2021-08-25 11:01:58 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
Post by Pamela
Read that again, Andy, and see if you can spot the sillines of your
nit-picking. Any normal person can.
If you thought my reply to Pancho and JN was nit-picking, then
you didn't read it properly.
Post by Pamela
Fifty percent is a symbolic target and it is one set by Blair in
his goals for the Millenium speech. Next time try Google before
posting more silliness.
I didn't ask what Mr Blair's target was [and symbolic or not,
it was actually attained some years ago -- more years ago in the
case of females]. I asked for the evidence that there would not be
jobs for young people when they leave HE. Our whole economy is
shifting from manual labour towards intelligence and high-tech.
Professions, including the ones I mentioned, are shifting in the
same direction, and even more towards individuals having to be
prepared to change careers. If there are limits to how many
graduates the UK needs, there are surely much more severe limits on
how many miners, farm labourers and the like we need.
So try again. What is it that makes you, and Pancho and JN,
believe that having less than 50% of young people educated in HE is
better, for them and for the UK economy, than having more than 50%?
If you get off your pedantic pedestal you will notice the symbolic 50%
is a symbolic half. Asking if something like 49.9% is good enough
shows you have missed the point of the target completely.

Such blindness only serves to prove that "those who can do, those who
can't teach". Your unworldliness is all too typical.
Andy Walker
2021-08-27 23:47:50 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 25/08/2021 12:01, Pamela wrote:
[I wrote:]
Post by Pamela
Post by Andy Walker
So try again. What is it that makes you, and Pancho and JN,
believe that having less than 50% of young people educated in HE is
better, for them and for the UK economy, than having more than 50%?
If you get off your pedantic pedestal you will notice the symbolic 50%
is a symbolic half. Asking if something like 49.9% is good enough
shows you have missed the point of the target completely.
For someone who accuses others of nit-picking, you have a
remarkable ability to miss the big picture. Care to try again?
Given that you clearly believe that having 50% of young people in
HE is bad for them and for the UK economy, what proportion /should/
the target be? A ball-park figure will be quite adequate [49.9%
is your invention]. We've had responses from JN and Pancho, and
while I disagree with them, I respect their opinions [which they
manage to express coherently without being aggressively rude].

You could include in your response reasons why you think
that young people here are less deserving of HE than those in many
other developed countries. Also, what should, in your opinion, be
done with the [presumably] large numbers who want HE but in your
scheme would be unable to get it.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Hause
Pamela
2021-08-31 07:48:15 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 25/08/2021 12:01, Pamela wrote: [I wrote:]
Post by Pamela
Post by Andy Walker
So try again. What is it that makes you, and Pancho and JN,
believe that having less than 50% of young people educated in HE
is better, for them and for the UK economy, than having more than
50%?
If you get off your pedantic pedestal you will notice the symbolic
50% is a symbolic half. Asking if something like 49.9% is good
enough shows you have missed the point of the target completely.
For someone who accuses others of nit-picking, you have a remarkable
ability to miss the big picture. Care to try again?
Given that you clearly believe that having 50% of young people in
HE is bad for them and for the UK economy, what proportion /should/
the target be?
A ball-park figure will be quite adequate [49.9% is your invention].
We've had responses from JN and Pancho, and while I disagree with
them, I respect their opinions [which they manage to express
coherently without being aggressively rude].
You could include in your response reasons why you think that young
people here are less deserving of HE than those in many other
developed countries. Also, what should, in your opinion, be done
with the [presumably] large numbers who want HE but in your scheme
would be unable to get it.
Decisons about higher education should be based on the greater good,
not on what weak students believe is good for themselves.

Nor what self-interested parties, such as university staff, think is
good.
abelard
2021-08-31 13:52:17 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Tue, 31 Aug 2021 08:48:15 +0100, Pamela
Post by Pamela
Decisons about higher education should be based on the greater good,
not on what weak students believe is good for themselves.
Nor what self-interested parties, such as university staff, think is
good.
and there rants the collectivist

or as the national socialists put it complete with caps

'COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD'
Joe
2021-08-31 17:15:39 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Tue, 31 Aug 2021 15:52:17 +0200
Post by abelard
On Tue, 31 Aug 2021 08:48:15 +0100, Pamela
Post by Pamela
Decisons about higher education should be based on the greater good,
not on what weak students believe is good for themselves.
Nor what self-interested parties, such as university staff, think is
good.
and there rants the collectivist
or as the national socialists put it complete with caps
'COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD'
If it's paid out of taxes, yes.
--
Joe
abelard
2021-08-31 22:54:09 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Joe
On Tue, 31 Aug 2021 15:52:17 +0200
Post by abelard
On Tue, 31 Aug 2021 08:48:15 +0100, Pamela
Post by Pamela
Decisons about higher education should be based on the greater good,
not on what weak students believe is good for themselves.
Nor what self-interested parties, such as university staff, think is
good.
and there rants the collectivist
or as the national socialists put it complete with caps
'COMMON GOOD BEFORE INDIVIDUAL GOOD'
If it's paid out of taxes, yes.
then the questions become

would you like taxes` abolished?

or would you suggest a tax ratio that would please you more?

or would you like more/less spent on other desires?

where do sit on 'public goods'?

http://www.econ.yale.edu/smith/econ116a/keynes1.pdf
since when our work week has plummeted while the
real standard of living has risen
Andy Walker
2021-08-31 22:36:17 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 31/08/2021 08:48, Pamela wrote:
[I wrote:]
Post by Pamela
Post by Andy Walker
Given that you clearly believe that having 50% of young people in
HE is bad for them and for the UK economy, what proportion /should/
the target be?
A ball-park figure will be quite adequate [49.9% is your invention]
Your only answer to this seems to be that it should be based
on "the greater good". What does that actually mean? Do you not
actually have an opinion?
Post by Pamela
Post by Andy Walker
You could include in your response reasons why you think that young
people here are less deserving of HE than those in many other
developed countries. Also, what should, in your opinion, be done
with the [presumably] large numbers who want HE but in your scheme
would be unable to get it.
No answer at all to this?
Post by Pamela
Decisons about higher education should be based on the greater good,
not on what weak students believe is good for themselves.
Successive governments have subscribed to the view that HE
should be available to those who can benefit from it. That seems
to be an expression of "the greater good", as perceived by our
elected representatives. You're entitled, like the rest of us, to
a contrary view, but it would help your case if it was a principled
view rather than an unsubstantiated moan about modern students.
Post by Pamela
Nor what self-interested parties, such as university staff, think is
good.
Are you supposing that university staff want to have to do
more and more teaching/admin, to the detriment of their research?
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Herold
Pamela
2021-09-01 14:04:32 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 31/08/2021 08:48, Pamela wrote: [I wrote:]
Post by Pamela
Post by Andy Walker
Given that you clearly believe that having 50% of young people in
HE is bad for them and for the UK economy, what proportion
/should/ the target be? A ball-park figure will be quite adequate
[49.9% is your invention]
Your only answer to this seems to be that it should be based on "the
greater good". What does that actually mean? Do you not actually
have an opinion?
"Greater good" means the public in the country at large. Try Google.
It is in contrast to the good of a specific non-representative group.
Post by Pamela
Post by Andy Walker
You could include in your response reasons why you think that
young people here are less deserving of HE than those in many
other developed countries. Also, what should, in your opinion, be
done with the [presumably] large numbers who want HE but in your
scheme would be unable to get it.
No answer at all to this?
Your first question relies on a premise I don't agree with.
Post by Pamela
Decisons about higher education should be based on the greater
good, not on what weak students believe is good for themselves.
Successive governments have subscribed to the view that HE
should be available to those who can benefit from it. That seems
to be an expression of "the greater good", as perceived by our
elected representatives. You're entitled, like the rest of us, to
a contrary view, but it would help your case if it was a principled
view rather than an unsubstantiated moan about modern students.
Post by Pamela
Nor what self-interested parties, such as university staff, think
is good.
Are you supposing that university staff want to have to do
more and more teaching/admin, to the detriment of their research?
Nope. Try again or read what I wrote.
JNugent
2021-08-25 15:40:17 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
Read that again, Andy, and see if you can spot the sillines of your
nit-picking. Any normal person can.
    If you thought my reply to Pancho and JN was nit-picking, then
you didn't read it properly.
Post by Pamela
Fifty percent is a symbolic target and it is one set by Blair in his
goals for the Millenium speech. Next time try Google before posting
more silliness.
    I didn't ask what Mr Blair's target was [and symbolic or not,
it was actually attained some years ago -- more years ago in the case
of females].  I asked for the evidence that there would not be jobs
for young people when they leave HE.  Our whole economy is shifting
from manual labour towards intelligence and high-tech.  Professions,
including the ones I mentioned, are shifting in the same direction,
and even more towards individuals having to be prepared to change
careers.  If there are limits to how many graduates the UK needs,
there are surely much more severe limits on how many miners, farm
labourers and the like we need.
    So try again.  What is it that makes you, and Pancho and JN,
believe that having less than 50% of young people educated in HE is
better, for them and for the UK economy, than having more than 50%?
Others must answer for themselves, but I have never suggested that
anything like 50% is a proper target for the proportion of graduates*
within the population. Quite the reverse.

The correct number, it seems to me, is not only significantly lower than
that, but is likely to be somewhere between the 10% and 15% figures
which were the results of the 1950s / 1960s expansion via the "plate
glass" expansions.

To attribute to me a view that (say) 49.5% is "better" than Blair's
ludicrous 50% is totally without any foundational basis and just as
ridiculous as Blair's view on the matter.

[* That's "graduates" as they were traditionally understood, very
unlikely to have an IQ as low as anywhere near the peak of the bell curve.]
Andy Walker
2021-08-26 18:30:17 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
The correct number, it seems to me, is not only significantly lower
than that, but is likely to be somewhere between the 10% and 15%
figures which were the results of the 1950s / 1960s expansion via
the "plate glass" expansions.
That's admirably clear, but raises a question. You are proposing
that ~70-80% of current students should not be on degree courses. Do you
intend (a) that they should not enter tertiary education at all, or (b)
that their courses should not have the title "degree"?

If (a), then a lot of young people who want more education after
school won't get it, and the UK will have the lowest level of tertiary
education among developed countries. ISTM that the inevitable consequence
is one of (i) high-tech jobs moving overseas to where a better-educated
workforce is available, or (ii) better-educated foreigners taking UK
high-tech jobs, or (iii) intelligent young people moving abroad to further
their education, and being lost to the UK [or combinations thereof].

If (b), then you're just renaming qualifications, leading to a
confusing international situation, as there is broad agreement on what
terms such as "Certificate", "Diploma", "Bachelor's Degree" and so on
should mean, to the benefit of people [inc employers] who need to know
what such terms signify. The situation is likely to be similar to (a)
in that UK students with a [whatever] will be disadvantaged relative to
foreigners who have undertaken the same amount of tertiary education at
much the same level but have been awarded degrees.
Post by JNugent
[* That's "graduates" as they were traditionally understood, very
unlikely to have an IQ as low as anywhere near the peak of the bell curve.]
As discussed elsewhere, I think your belief in IQ is misplaced.
Students in the UK have since WW2 been assessed for entry by A-levels
or similar that have only a modest correlation with IQ. A lot of
students with good grades, esp in "cultural" subjects such as French
or music, will have relatively low IQs.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Handel
JNugent
2021-08-27 10:17:25 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
The correct number, it seems to me, is not only significantly lower
than that, but is likely to be somewhere between the 10% and 15%
figures which were the results of the 1950s / 1960s expansion via
the "plate glass" expansions.
    That's admirably clear, but raises a question.  You are proposing
that ~70-80% of current students should not be on degree courses.
Not 100% correct.

They should never have been on degree courses in the first place.
Do you
intend (a) that they should not enter tertiary education at all, or (b)
that their courses should not have the title "degree"?
That's not an easy question to answer without an amount of data so large
that I am unlikely to ever have it or have anything like enough time to
analyse it, but I suppose it depends on how one defines "tertiary".

There used to a a split between further education and higher education.
I have qualifications in both of them.I expect that that applies to a
lot of people who became mature students.
    If (a), then a lot of young people who want more education after
school won't get it, and the UK will have the lowest level of tertiary
education among developed countries.
C&G? OND? HND (and equivalents)?
  ISTM that the inevitable consequence
is one of (i) high-tech jobs moving overseas to where a better-educated
workforce is available, or (ii) better-educated foreigners taking UK
high-tech jobs, or (iii) intelligent young people moving abroad to further
their education, and being lost to the UK [or combinations thereof].
Well-educated foreigners filling such jobs in the UK is hardly a new
phenomenon.
    If (b), then you're just renaming qualifications, leading to a
confusing international situation, as there is broad agreement on what
terms such as "Certificate", "Diploma", "Bachelor's Degree" and so on
should mean, to the benefit of people [inc employers] who need to know
what such terms signify.  The situation is likely to be similar to (a)
in that UK students with a [whatever] will be disadvantaged relative to
foreigners who have undertaken the same amount of tertiary education at
much the same level but have been awarded degrees.
We had no difficulty with these terms (and the differences between what
they signify / signified) as late as the time when I became a degree
student. I suggest that we still don't.
Post by JNugent
[* That's "graduates" as they were traditionally understood, very
unlikely to have an IQ as low as anywhere near the peak of the bell curve.]
    As discussed elsewhere, I think your belief in IQ is misplaced.
I don't accept that.
Students in the UK have since WW2 been assessed for entry by A-levels
or similar that have only a modest correlation with IQ.
Hmmm... I got in with no A-Levels (I had left school and gone into
industry, hence my further education qualifications). Since my C&Gs were
not officially a university-entrance gateway, it must have been my
essays and interview which swung it.
A lot of
students with good grades, esp in "cultural" subjects such as French
or music, will have relatively low IQs.
That's counter-intuitive. I accept that they may (or may not) have
little interest in areas of human activity which seem essential to some.
Andy Walker
2021-08-27 19:12:44 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 27/08/2021 11:17, JNugent wrote:
[I wrote:]
Post by JNugent
Post by Andy Walker
Do you
intend (a) that they should not enter tertiary education at all, or (b)
that their courses should not have the title "degree"?
That's not an easy question to answer without an amount of data so
large that I am unlikely to ever have it or have anything like enough
time to analyse it, but I suppose it depends on how one defines
"tertiary".
Tertiary education is post-secondary education, inc FE and
vocational training. I'm not quite clear on why you don't have your
own views on what, broadly, you would expect to happen to the hundreds
of thousands of young people no longer allowed to enter HE without
gathering huge amounts of data. Broad picture, not Pamela's nits.
I was just asking whether what you are complaining about is that
young people get lots of post-school education and you want to zap
three quarters of it, or that when they do three years of it they
get something called a degree [which seems to you to be different
from the degrees of (say) 1970].

[...]
Post by JNugent
Post by Andy Walker
Students in the UK have since WW2 been assessed for entry by A-levels
or similar that have only a modest correlation with IQ.
Hmmm... I got in with no A-Levels (I had left school and gone into
industry, hence my further education qualifications). Since my C&Gs
were not officially a university-entrance gateway, it must have been
my essays and interview which swung it.
Mature students have "always" been outside the formal routes.
[So to some extent have "disadvantaged" applicants, of various types.]
ATs will look at your school record plus whatever experiences you have
after school, be that FE or "university of life", and assess whether
you are likely to succeed. For maths it was a bit of a lottery; some
other departments, esp those where experience was an advantage, found
that mature students did significantly better and actively went out to
recruit them. Some universities likewise; the average of around 25%
covers a lot of variation, some of which very likely accounts for some
of the anomalous statistics of performance vs entry grade.
Post by JNugent
Post by Andy Walker
A lot of
students with good grades, esp in "cultural" subjects such as French
or music, will have relatively low IQs.
That's counter-intuitive. I accept that they may (or may not) have
little interest in areas of human activity which seem essential to some.
IQ tests basically test puzzle-solving ability. They do very
little to assess lots of other abilities. As elsewhere noted, there
is a correlation with other measures of ability, but it's nowhere near
as strong as you might expect/hope.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Belliss
JNugent
2021-08-28 11:11:10 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
[I wrote:]
Post by JNugent
Post by Andy Walker
Do you
intend (a) that they should not enter tertiary education at all, or (b)
that their courses should not have the title "degree"?
That's not an easy question to answer without an amount of data so
large that I am unlikely to ever have it or have anything like enough
time to analyse it, but I suppose it depends on how one defines
"tertiary".
    Tertiary education is post-secondary education, inc FE and
vocational training.  I'm not quite clear on why you don't have your
own views on what, broadly, you would expect to happen to the hundreds
of thousands of young people no longer allowed to enter HE without
gathering huge amounts of data.
Vocational training. Further Education.
Post by Andy Walker
Broad picture, not Pamela's nits.
I was just asking whether what you are complaining about is that
young people get lots of post-school education and you want to zap
three quarters of it,
No. But see below.
Post by Andy Walker
or that when they do three years of it they
get something called a degree [which seems to you to be different
from the degrees of (say) 1970].
Three years' (or more) full time? That sounds like a degree course.

Three years' (or less) part-time? Sounds more like OND or maybe one of
the NVQs

Oh, as I am sure has been made clear on numerous occasions, it is the
watering down of the (Bachelor's) degree to which I am opposed. The idea
that 50% of the population are intellectually worthy of it is utterly
ridiculous and the concept rubbishes the achievements of previous
generations

FE (from C&G to HND) is another matter. Most skilled jobs / trades now
require certain vocational, but academic, qualifications. That's how I
found myself in a technical college one day a week in the 1960s. That is
where the majority should be located.
Post by Andy Walker
[...]
Post by JNugent
Post by Andy Walker
Students in the UK have since WW2 been assessed for entry by A-levels
or similar that have only a modest correlation with IQ.
Hmmm...  I got in with no A-Levels (I had left school and gone into
industry, hence my further education qualifications). Since my C&Gs
were not officially a university-entrance gateway, it must have been
my essays and interview which swung it.
    Mature students have "always" been outside the formal routes.
[So to some extent have "disadvantaged" applicants, of various types.]
ATs will look at your school record plus whatever experiences you have
after school, be that FE or "university of life", and assess whether
you are likely to succeed.  For maths it was a bit of a lottery;  some
other departments, esp those where experience was an advantage, found
that mature students did significantly better and actively went out to
recruit them.  Some universities likewise;  the average of around 25%
covers a lot of variation, some of which very likely accounts for some
of the anomalous statistics of performance vs entry grade.
Post by JNugent
Post by Andy Walker
A lot of
students with good grades, esp in "cultural" subjects such as French
or music, will have relatively low IQs.
That's counter-intuitive. I accept that they may (or may not) have
little interest in areas of human activity which seem essential to some.
It's not only counter-intuitive. It's also unproven.
Post by Andy Walker
    IQ tests basically test puzzle-solving ability.  They do very
little to assess lots of other abilities.  As elsewhere noted, there
is a correlation with other measures of ability, but it's nowhere near
as strong as you might expect/hope.
I can't remember the last time I checked my mid-1970s copy of "Test Your
Own IQ" (Eysenck). Perhaps I can yet find it. I seem to remember that it
contained tests of language skills and number skills (I hesitate to use
the word "mathematics").
Pamela
2021-08-31 07:50:21 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Oh, as I am sure has been made clear on numerous occasions, it is
the watering down of the (Bachelor's) degree to which I am opposed.
The idea that 50% of the population are intellectually worthy of it
is utterly ridiculous and the concept rubbishes the achievements of
previous generations
It is a fundamental error to relate today to previous generations
in this way. Too much has changed. Virtually all measures of
ability have improved dramatically since "our" day. It's not just
IQ [improving by around 2 per decade, so by around 12 -- call it a
standard deviation -- since 1960], but also related measures such as
memory. So someone who is an "average" 18yo today would, if
time-travelled back, be well above average "then", and that's
without counting things like knowing how to use a computer or even a
calculator that weren't around then [not for 18yos]. [IQ tests have
been re-scaled several times, to keep the average at 100; each such
re-scaling has knocked two or three off the average person's score.
But beware taking this too far; we should not deduce that everyone
in the 17thC was an idiot, any more that we should deduce that
no-one then could run a mile in less than 10 minutes or that no-one
lived past 20.]
Separately, the "50%" that you and others talk about is somewhat
misleading. For a start, it's "only" ~43% of males, as ~57% of
students are female. That's a reversal of the 1960s, when males far
outnumbered females; in those days, the "15-22% of 18yos entering
HE" that you suggested would have been more like 20-30% of males,
and a much higher percentage of middle-class males. From there to
43% is a much less "alarming" change. The increasing
middle-classification of the UK population since then would, with no
other change, account for most if not all of the increase in male
HE.
[There is scope for several essays on the detail, but that's
enough to be going on with.]
You are conflating an increase in intelligence in the general
population with the intelligence of the average university student.

Furthermore, the Flynn effect may have gone into reverse. It is
foolish to extrapolate indefinitely as you do.

Your point about gender is irrelevant to the ability of students going
to university. It is a nit-picking distraction.
Andy Walker
2021-08-31 22:59:59 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
You are conflating an increase in intelligence in the general
population with the intelligence of the average university student.
No, I'm not. It is well-known that the increase is skewed
towards those with lower IQ. But you can see very directly the
effect on those within a SD or so of the mean by the successive
re-scalings of IQs over recent decades. [Not, as I have written
now several times recently, that anyone should take IQ seriously
as proxy for more focussed assessments of ability.]
Post by Pamela
Furthermore, the Flynn effect may have gone into reverse. It is
foolish to extrapolate indefinitely as you do.
Perhaps you didn't read what I actually wrote:

" But beware taking this too far; we should not deduce that everyone
" in the 17thC was an idiot, [...]. "

But even if the Flynn effect has slowed down or stopped in the UK in
the past few years, that has not negated the effects since 1960-odd.
Post by Pamela
Your point about gender is irrelevant to the ability of students going
to university.
No, it isn't. Unless you have the rather weird view that most
females in 1960-odd were of substantially lower intelligence than males
[a view that would be contradicted by exam results]. Social changes
made it possible for hugely increased numbers of females to enter HE
instead of becoming housewives or secretaries with no detriment at all
either to male entrants or to the overall standards.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Herold
JNugent
2021-09-01 00:29:37 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pamela
You are conflating an increase in intelligence in the general
population with the intelligence of the average university student.
    No, I'm not.  It is well-known that the increase is skewed
towards those with lower IQ.  But you can see very directly the
effect on those within a SD or so of the mean by the successive
re-scalings of IQs over recent decades.  [Not, as I have written
now several times recently, that anyone should take IQ seriously
as proxy for more focussed assessments of ability.]
Post by Pamela
Furthermore, the Flynn effect may have gone into reverse. It is
foolish to extrapolate indefinitely as you do.
  " But beware taking this too far;  we should not deduce that everyone
  " in the 17thC was an idiot, [...]. "
But even if the Flynn effect has slowed down or stopped in the UK in
the past few years, that has not negated the effects since 1960-odd.
Post by Pamela
Your point about gender is irrelevant to the ability of students going
to university.
    No, it isn't.  Unless you have the rather weird view that most
females in 1960-odd were of substantially lower intelligence than males
[a view that would be contradicted by exam results].  Social changes
made it possible for hugely increased numbers of females to enter HE
instead of becoming housewives or secretaries with no detriment at all
either to male entrants or to the overall standards.
No detriment at all?

Not even when competing after graduation for real graduate-level jobs?

[And no, I'm not saying it shouldn't be allowed.]
Andy Walker
2021-09-01 12:43:52 UTC
Reply
Permalink
[...]
Post by JNugent
Post by Pamela
Your point about gender is irrelevant to the ability of students going
to university.
     No, it isn't. [...] Social changes
made it possible for hugely increased numbers of females to enter HE
instead of becoming housewives or secretaries with no detriment at all
either to male entrants or to the overall standards.
No detriment at all?
You've omitted my qualification of that. Pamela was making claims
about the ability of entrants; but there was a large pool of equally-
talented females who were being denied entrance by social conventions.
No doubt admitting that pool to university has been to the detriment of
housewives and secretaries, and so indirectly to husbands who no longer
come home to meals on the table and to executives who now type their
own e-mails and reports [and therefore even more indirectly to the
benefit of those who sell ready meals and WP software], but it didn't
mean that males were thereby kept out or that standards dropped; it
was catered for by expansion. [Similar comments apply to the pool of
working-class applicants, but that's another matter.]
Post by JNugent
Not even when competing after graduation for real graduate-level jobs?
[And no, I'm not saying it shouldn't be allowed.]
Not /yet/ [Covid permitting]. But it is a mistake to look only
at the UK market [esp now that we've learned how easy it is to work from
home in ways that were almost impossible only a couple of years ago; an
"office" and a meeting can be anywhere in the world].
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Bizet
JNugent
2021-09-01 13:21:57 UTC
Reply
Permalink
[...]
Post by JNugent
Post by Pamela
Your point about gender is irrelevant to the ability of students going
to university.
     No, it isn't. [...] Social changes
made it possible for hugely increased numbers of females to enter HE
instead of becoming housewives or secretaries with no detriment at all
either to male entrants or to the overall standards.
No detriment at all?
    You've omitted my qualification of that.  Pamela was making claims
about the ability of entrants;  but there was a large pool of equally-
talented females who were being denied entrance by social conventions.
Social conventions don't develop for nothing or just on their own. They
reflect widely-held beliefs (right or wrong, though in the matter of
social convention, majorities cannot be wrong by definition).
No doubt admitting that pool to university has been to the detriment of
housewives and secretaries, and so indirectly to husbands who no longer
come home to meals on the table and to executives who now type their
own e-mails and reports [and therefore even more indirectly to the
benefit of those who sell ready meals and WP software], but it didn't
mean that males were thereby kept out or that standards dropped;  it
was catered for by expansion.  [Similar comments apply to the pool of
working-class applicants, but that's another matter.]
All that was necessary was that with the best claim on places - as such
things are defined, by educational qualifications or something similar -
were the ones to be admitted.
Post by JNugent
Not even when competing after graduation for real graduate-level jobs?
[And no, I'm not saying it shouldn't be allowed.]
    Not /yet/ [Covid permitting].  But it is a mistake to look only
at the UK market [esp now that we've learned how easy it is to work from
home in ways that were almost impossible only a couple of years ago;  an
"office" and a meeting can be anywhere in the world].
Did you look at the Excel file I linked to, showing something like 30% -
35% of UK graduates (it varies by alma mater, of course) working in what
are plainly non-graduate jobs?
Pamela
2021-09-01 14:06:06 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
Post by Pamela
You are conflating an increase in intelligence in the general
population with the intelligence of the average university student.
No, I'm not. It is well-known that the increase is skewed
towards those with lower IQ. But you can see very directly the
effect on those within a SD or so of the mean by the successive
re-scalings of IQs over recent decades. [Not, as I have written
now several times recently, that anyone should take IQ seriously
as proxy for more focussed assessments of ability.]
You are considering an increase in intelligence the general population
at large but university students are a non-random selection drawn from
that pool.
Post by Andy Walker
Post by Pamela
Furthermore, the Flynn effect may have gone into reverse. It is
foolish to extrapolate indefinitely as you do.
" But beware taking this too far; we should not deduce that
everyone " in the 17thC was an idiot, [...]. "
But even if the Flynn effect has slowed down or stopped in the UK in
the past few years, that has not negated the effects since 1960-odd.
The Flynn effect has been observed going into reverse (sic). As this
makes for unknown territory, no amount of extrapolation is going to
accurately predict what will happen.
Post by Andy Walker
Post by Pamela
Your point about gender is irrelevant to the ability of students
going to university.
No, it isn't. Unless you have the rather weird view that most
females in 1960-odd were of substantially lower intelligence than
males [a view that would be contradicted by exam results]. Social
changes made it possible for hugely increased numbers of females to
enter HE instead of becoming housewives or secretaries with no
detriment at all either to male entrants or to the overall
standards.
Nugent's original point did not specify gender. If there has been a
change in the mix of gender at university then that may be a causal
factor but it doesn't negate Nugent's accurate observation that the
average ability of university students has declined.

Using "Yes, but" repeatedly does not change the core truth.
JNugent
2021-08-31 15:28:30 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Oh, as I am sure has been made clear on numerous occasions, it is the
watering down of the (Bachelor's) degree to which I am opposed. The
idea that 50% of the population are intellectually worthy of it is
utterly ridiculous and the concept rubbishes the achievements of
previous generations
    It is a fundamental error to relate today to previous generations
in this way.  Too much has changed.  Virtually all measures of ability
have improved dramatically since "our" day.  It's not just IQ [improving
by around 2 per decade, so by around 12 -- call it a standard deviation
-- since 1960], but also related measures such as memory.  So someone
who is an "average" 18yo today would, if time-travelled back, be well
above average "then", and that's without counting things like knowing
how to use a computer or even a calculator that weren't around then
[not for 18yos].  [IQ tests have been re-scaled several times, to keep
the average at 100;  each such re-scaling has knocked two or three off
the average person's score.  But beware taking this too far;  we should
not deduce that everyone in the 17thC was an idiot, any more that we
should deduce that no-one then could run a mile in less than 10 minutes
or that no-one lived past 20.]
Unless there has been something pretty spectacular happening to the
planet over the last sixty years (widespread Strontium 90? Pesticides?
Fox News?) which has caused this claimed increase of 12 in human
population IQ (raising the average from 100 in old money to 112 when
measured in the same currency), it is not possible to conclude that
people back in Shakespeare's time were all as intelligent (or nearly as
intelligent) as the current global population.

If it were the case that IQ had recently seen that order of increase,
people just 200 years ago must have been near-idiots.

Or perhaps something different happened between the Bard's time (when
average Londoners could easily understand plays spoken in verse and
didn't complain about the language being impenetrable) and about 1960,
reducing general IQ by 12 or more points on the scale. Perhaps it has
now started to get us a bit nearer in intelligence to the original
groundlings.

No doubt there have been stranger things in Heaven and earth.
    Separately, the "50%" that you and others talk about is somewhat
misleading.
As you know, it is not my figure. I merely quote it.
For a start, it's "only" ~43% of males, as ~57% of students
are female.  That's a reversal of the 1960s, when males far outnumbered
females;  in those days, the "15-22% of 18yos entering HE" that you
suggested would have been more like 20-30% of males, and a much higher
percentage of middle-class males.  From there to 43% is a much less
"alarming" change.
What is the relevance of that? No-one is complaining about females being
in the majority on some courses (or vice-versa), are they? I certainly
am not.
The increasing middle-classification of the UK
population since then would, with no other change, account for most if
not all of the increase in male HE.
Er... no. The explanation for that is that more HE is available.
    [There is scope for several essays on the detail, but that's
enough to be going on with.]
Post by JNugent
FE (from C&G to HND) is another matter. Most skilled jobs / trades
now require certain vocational, but academic, qualifications. That's
how I found myself in a technical college one day a week in the
1960s. That is where the majority should be located.
    The "majority"?  /Most/ people don't see themselves pursuing
that sort of career.
What sort of career?

There are graduates working in Starbucks, etc.

<https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=3524439>

<https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/employmentandemployeetypes/adhocs/12501employedgraduatesinnongraduaterolespartsoftheuk2015to2019>
Certainly a lot more could [and should] be
done, esp with 16-18yos;  but 18yos have been voting with their feet
and their [or parental!] wallets to go to university.
They (or some of them, at least) are under the illusion that there are
graduate level jobs for (something like) 50% of the UK's population.
Whether they
should spend three years there on a full degree course is another
matter;  there are many possible models [and Mr Blair's target was,
after all, not for 50% of school leavers taking degrees].
So it is said. How would we go about dissuading those nearer to the peak
of the bell curve from applying?

Whilst the supply (of places) is there, and whilst so many people
mistakenly believe that going to the University of Tamworth* and getting
a third is going to get them an exciting and prestigious job in the
media at a six-figure salary, the default will be that the 50% keep
trying for a degree.

[* Believed to be fictitious. Any resemblance or reference to any
existing college of HE in the South Staffordshire area is inadvertent.]
The big
question is the extent to which it should be left to the market.
But the lower-rated universities are doing quite innovative things
to attract and retain students, well away from traditional academic
degree courses, and towards vocational courses.
The government (meaning the taxpayer) has a major part to play in the
offering of first-degree courses to potential students. In this market,
supply really does call forth the demand.
Pamela
2021-09-01 20:52:12 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
[...]
The "majority"?  /Most/ people don't see themselves pursuing that
sort of career.
What sort of career?
There are graduates working in Starbucks, etc.
<https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=3524439>
<https://www.ons.gov.uk/employmentandlabourmarket/peopleinwork/
employmentandemployeetypes/adhocs/12501employedgraduatesinno
ngraduaterolespartsoftheuk2015to2019>
That's a staggering difference between recent graduates and non-recent
ones (more than 5 years ago). Most paid approx £60K for their degree
and found it was worthless in the job market.

The Student Room forum also has this thread dishearteningly called:
"Do non Russell Group graduates get employment?"

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/showthread.php?t=2574792
JNugent
2021-08-27 10:18:44 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
The correct number, it seems to me, is not only significantly lower
than that, but is likely to be somewhere between the 10% and 15%
figures which were the results of the 1950s / 1960s expansion via
the "plate glass" expansions.
    That's admirably clear, but raises a question.  You are proposing
that ~70-80% of current students should not be on degree courses.  Do you
intend (a) that they should not enter tertiary education at all, or (b)
that their courses should not have the title "degree"?
Let me add that 10% - 15% can be more easily afforded by the taxpayer
without having to charge "tuition fees" and with maintenance grants
being paid to most students. That could never be true for 50%.
Pancho
2021-08-27 11:08:57 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
[I wrote:]
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
     Isn't that up to the young people?  It's not as though it's
a minor decision taken on a whim;  it's a major expense in both time
and money for the students and their families.  You and Pamela may
think those families [and prospective employers] unwise;  ISTM that
we can let market forces take care of it. [...]
I don't see how these market forces would be effective. Prospective
students often know little of the world or work and little of
universities.
    They know more, in general, than those who leave school at the
first opportunity and go straight into employment.  They usually visit
any university they are thinking of applying to, and there is a vast
amount of information from universities, from UCAS and from impartial
guides about courses, as well as guidance in many cases from family,
friends and/or teachers.  They are better informed about HE than most
of us are about a car, a house or a toaster we think of buying.
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
         Prospective employers know little of the universities
or courses.
    Not so.  Prospective employers, esp recruiters, are commonly
themselves graduates, and in big companies have extensive experience
of what to expect from their employees.  HE courses regularly liaise
with employers [it's part of what each course is required to do] and
seek advice on course structure and content.  New courses are usually
set up directly in response to requests from employers, who are
often on the committees that draw up syllabuses and regulations.
Practical courses such as engineering and medicine often include
secondments or projects directly supervised by employers.
I worked for companies that recruited graduates. I only have a slight
idea of the courses at most 1 or 2 universities. Computer science
degrees seem to be more pseudo academic than practical. They are not
theoretically interesting and offer little practical training in
software development. They do not teach debugging, they don't appear to
teach source control, etc. They set group projects, but offer no
instruction on how to work in a group. They teach bizarre, dogmatic,
nonsense about commenting code. They don't give students a good idea how
to break down a problem into smaller components, although to be fair I'm
not sure how difficult that is to teach.

I have dealt with placements, a lot of their interaction was with HR...
I remember one of my placements being given a lecture by some senior old
duffer that HR had dug up, telling how in his day they used calligraphy
to judge candidates. That was an indicator of the level of competence in
recruitment.

The bottom line was that I knew very little about universities and what
was taught. University lecturers did sometimes try to talk to us, as
opposed to HR, but there was nothing in it for us personally so we
avoided it.

Mainly we employed people who had a few years experience after
university, broken in so to speak. We tested them rather than relied
upon academic qualifications.
Post by Andy Walker
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
           i.e. It is very hard to put a value on a university
course.
    Yes;  best left to market forces!
Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
Without wishing to sound rude, I suspect people who work in a
public sector roles have more confidence in market forces than
people who have spent their careers in under regulated industry
trying to exploit/subvert/trick market forces. i.e. you assume the
grass is greener.
    My experience is somewhat the opposite.  Most [not, by any
means, all] people in the public sector [plus, for this purpose,
HE] are rather left-leaning [though rarely to the extent of "Dave
Spart" or "The History Man"], and deeply suspicious of markets.
But market forces will out, whatever people think of them.
You are missing the point. I get that you were surrounded by idealistic
leftie nonsense. I was suggesting your were over-reacting against it.
Perhaps, if you had worked in a room with people who were worried that
their free market hi-jinks was about to collapse the global economy, you
would be less convinced of the benefits of market forces.
Post by Andy Walker
Post by JNugent
There's nothing wrong with the concept of market forces, even as
applied to education.
But the theory of the competitive market contains several accepted
[... various perfections snipped ...]
Post by JNugent
I would stress that these characteristics of a market are theoretical
(and that all three are subject to further definition - the above is
just the executive summary).
They are never all perfectly satisfied. They are posited only as an
analytical tool.
    As above, ISTM that they work as well in relation to HE
/today/ as they do in other areas.  I stress "today" because for
many decades gov'ts tried to micro-manage universities;  we were
told to take, say, 105 maths students, 13 joint maths/econ, ...
through each course offered, and woe-betide any admissions tutor
who got the numbers wrong [even though they stemmed from offers
made months earlier in ignorance of how many students would
accept them and of how many of those would achieve the grades
asked for].  Eventually the dam burst.
You are thinking about the minutiae of university admin. I accept that a
thriving university research sector is good for the economy. I do not
accept that abstract university education for 50% of the population is
required to achieve this.

I do not accept mass random education for 18-21 year olds is the benefit
you purport it to be. I do not accept university education is a
prerequisite for tech success. FWIW, my partner in crime at secondary
school, left school at 16 with a few, poor, o'levels and went on to
found a software company which now employs 800 people.
Andy Walker
2021-08-27 20:11:09 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 27/08/2021 12:08, Pancho wrote:
[... diatribe about university CS courses snipped ...]

FWIW, I agree with you. But the world doesn't. Nott'm held
out for many years, but eventually decided that we were missing out
on too many good applicants. We had perfectly good CS modules as a
quite small part of our maths degrees [and other CS modules in Elec
Eng, Psychology, ...], but the university decided that it needed a
full honours CS course. I thought then and think now that it was a
mistake, and we could have done better by exploiting our differences,
but it wasn't my choice.
Post by Pancho
The bottom line was that I knew very little about universities and
what was taught. University lecturers did sometimes try to talk to
us, as opposed to HR, but there was nothing in it for us personally
so we avoided it.
Well, there could have been something in it for you; it's
very hard, but essential, to find out [esp from HR!] what employers
want in our graduates. But CS is not typical, and also is not a
stable-enough subject [educating for today's job is different from
educating for a career]. Most of HE is better connected with
employers, in a variety of ways.

[...]
Post by Pancho
You are thinking about the minutiae of university admin.
It wasn't "minutiae". I was talking about the whole basis
of HE finance. But I accept that this is not the article to talk
about that in detail, apart from observing [again] that gov'ts
are constitutionally incapable of micro-managing universities, but
that is what we got until recently.
Post by Pancho
I accept
that a thriving university research sector is good for the economy. I
do not accept that abstract university education for 50% of the
population is required to achieve this.
"Abstract" is your word, and it doesn't apply to STEM or
several other major disciplines [inc medicine, nursing and others].
See above for my views on CS, however! To the extent to which it
applies to other subjects, that /could/ be resolved by the market.
16yos and 18yos aren't stupid; they can see where the jobs are,
where the rewards are, and the way their careers depend on what
they do in the 6th form and at university. If we have too many
young people going into marketing, management, photography,
hospitality, ... and too few into maths, engineering, chemistry,
..., just look at how those careers present to 16yos who are
choosing their A-levels.
Post by Pancho
I do not accept mass random education for 18-21 year olds is the
benefit you purport it to be. I do not accept university education is
a prerequisite for tech success. FWIW, my partner in crime at
secondary school, left school at 16 with a few, poor, o'levels and
went on to found a software company which now employs 800 people.
What you've actually pointed out is that O-levels are not
a good guide to future success and that computing is, yet again, an
exception. CS will have come of age when its practitioners are
regulated in much the same way as doctors and engineers.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Belliss
Pancho
2021-08-30 22:49:02 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
[... diatribe about university CS courses snipped ...]
    FWIW, I agree with you.  But the world doesn't.  Nott'm held
out for many years, but eventually decided that we were missing out
on too many good applicants.  We had perfectly good CS modules as a
quite small part of our maths degrees [and other CS modules in Elec
Eng, Psychology, ...], but the university decided that it needed a
full honours CS course.  I thought then and think now that it was a
mistake, and we could have done better by exploiting our differences,
but it wasn't my choice.
It was a diatribe against the university degree system as it exists. I
actually believe CS is a prime example of something that should be
taught and yet even that is done poorly.

[snip]
Post by Andy Walker
  But CS is not typical, and also is not a
stable-enough subject [educating for today's job is different from
educating for a career].  Most of HE is better connected with
employers, in a variety of ways.
University CS courses seem to be very stable, still teaching the same
nonsense as 30 to 40 years ago. I believe CS could be taught well, but I
think that online course are pointing the way to go, rather than
traditional universities. Due to audience size, scale, online courses
can invest a lot more resources in keeping up to date.

I also don't know which employers are stable. In my career there seemed
to be a strong sense that employment roles were changing for many
professional people, mainly due to IT. Although I guess me being
involved in the first place showed a strong selective bias.
Post by Andy Walker
[...]
Post by Pancho
You are thinking about the minutiae of university admin.
    It wasn't "minutiae".  I was talking about the whole basis
of HE finance.  But I accept that this is not the article to talk
about that in detail, apart from observing [again] that gov'ts
are constitutionally incapable of micro-managing universities, but
that is what we got until recently.
Post by Pancho
                               I accept
that a thriving university research sector is good for the economy. I
do not accept that abstract university education for 50% of the
population is required to achieve this.
    "Abstract" is your word, and it doesn't apply to STEM or
several other major disciplines [inc medicine, nursing and others].
See above for my views on CS, however!  To the extent to which it
applies to other subjects, that /could/ be resolved by the market.
16yos and 18yos aren't stupid;  they can see where the jobs are,
where the rewards are, and the way their careers depend on what
they do in the 6th form and at university.  If we have too many
young people going into marketing, management, photography,
hospitality, ... and too few into maths, engineering, chemistry,
..., just look at how those careers present to 16yos who are
choosing their A-levels.
I don't really know. I know amongst my children, nephews and nieces only
two used their degrees in business, those degrees being maths and CS.
Degrees are "abstract" because a significant proportion, if not most,
are not relevant to the the careers subsequently pursued.
Post by Andy Walker
Post by Pancho
I do not accept mass random education for 18-21 year olds is the
benefit you purport it to be. I do not accept university education is
a prerequisite for tech success. FWIW, my partner in crime at
secondary school, left school at 16 with a few, poor, o'levels and
went on to found a software company which now employs 800 people.
    What you've actually pointed out is that O-levels are not
a good guide to future success and that computing is, yet again, an
exception.  CS will have come of age when its practitioners are
regulated in much the same way as doctors and engineers.
CS will never be regulated like doctors and engineers. It would probably
be wise to totally stop development now, but it ain't going to happen.
abelard
2021-08-31 13:55:06 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On Mon, 30 Aug 2021 23:49:02 +0100, Pancho
Post by Pancho
Post by Andy Walker
    What you've actually pointed out is that O-levels are not
a good guide to future success and that computing is, yet again, an
exception.  CS will have come of age when its practitioners are
regulated in much the same way as doctors and engineers.
are you hoping for another closed shop?
Post by Pancho
CS will never be regulated like doctors and engineers. It would probably
be wise to totally stop development now, but it ain't going to happen.
Andy Walker
2021-09-01 22:46:34 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 31/08/2021 14:55, abelard wrote:
[I wrote:]
Post by abelard
Post by Andy Walker
CS will have come of age when its practitioners are
regulated in much the same way as doctors and engineers.
are you hoping for another closed shop?
Not closed, regulated.

The present system is not perfect, but it works tolerably
well for things like medicine, engineering, and other professions
where the man on the Clapham omnibus can't be expected to know the
quality of someone offering a service, esp where the outcome could
quite likely be fatal. I'm not allowed to perform brain surgery,
dispense prescriptions, build bridges, repair gas pipes, .... But
I am allowed to put plasters on grazes, build sheds, ..., so these
areas are not entirely closed shops.

But I am allowed to write whatever computer programs I
choose [and have a CITP to prove it], inc ones to control nuclear
power stations, autonomous vehicles, and other potential death
traps. One might hope that in such a case I would be a little
more careful than when writing a program for noughts-and-crosses,
and that those responsible for the power station would exercise
"due diligence". But it would be nice if such diligence was
backed up by a better regulatory framework.

Serendipitously, I see a report today that Boots have
become an organisational member of the BCS. Your guess may be
nearly as good as mine as to the value of this, but at least
they're making the right noises:

" Boots’ CIO for UK and Ireland, Rich Corbridge, says he
" is “striving for the professionalisation of IT”. "

[For the /what/? Well, I expect we know what he means, but my
recent experiences of Boots' professionalisationnessitude have
not been entirely happy. The director directly concerned has
left "to seek new challenges", which may help Mr Corbridge.]
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Bizet
Pancho
2021-09-02 08:48:55 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
[I wrote:]
Post by abelard
Post by Andy Walker
CS will have come of age when its practitioners are
regulated in much the same way as doctors and engineers.
are you hoping for another closed shop?
    Not closed, regulated.
I'm with Abelard on this one. Professionalism seems often to be little
more than an excuse to restrict supply and boost earnings, whilst at the
same time using it as an excuse to stifle innovation.

<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guild>

The legal profession would be a prime example, but the medical
profession also feature strongly.

I've never been involved with any competitive software development team
that paid any attention to BCS, CITP.

I did once have a program formerly audited, but my guess is that the
auditor didn't understand what I was saying and missed a huge omission
in the scope of the software. In my role as dev bitch I decided it was
not my place to point it out. Boxes were ticked..., the rest, as they
say, is history :-).

(Only joking, the disaster didn't happen until nearly a decade
afterwards and I'm sure my contribution was insignificant.)
Andy Walker
2021-09-02 22:01:56 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Pancho
I've never been involved with any competitive software development
team that paid any attention to BCS, CITP.
That's more-or-less the point, and is what the Boots CIO
seems to be trying to address. Such "qualifications" as there are
are essentially worthless, so no-one pays any attention to them,
which is why they are worthless, and round we go. That's quite
different from the situation in medicine, law, civil engineering,
accountancy, pharmacy, gas fitting, .... As I said, the situation
in such areas is not perfect, but it's surely better than having
no idea at all whether your doctor, lawyer, plumber, ... is fit
to advise you on your problems, or to attempt to deal with them.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Forbes
Andy Walker
2021-09-02 22:51:25 UTC
Reply
Permalink
On 30/08/2021 23:49, Pancho wrote:
[I wrote:]
Post by Pancho
Post by Andy Walker
  But CS is not typical, and also is not a
stable-enough subject [educating for today's job is different from
educating for a career].  Most of HE is better connected with
employers, in a variety of ways.
University CS courses seem to be very stable, still teaching the same
nonsense as 30 to 40 years ago.
No, they're teaching different "nonsense". But they're not
really trying to teach students how to get jobs with "you". That
would be aiming at a moving target; and therein lies one problem.
The whole subject is "turning over" on a time-scale of perhaps five
years at most.

The other main problem, IMO, is that you can't divorce CS
from the computing problems that motivate computing in the first
place. But that requires either CS people who understand the
problems well enough [unlikely with merely A-levels], or problem-
area specialists who understand enough computing [but then why
would they need CS specialists]. Either way, the need for CS
specialists in minimal. Youngsters are seduced into it. That's
different from other disciplines.
Post by Pancho
I believe CS could be taught well,
but I think that online course are pointing the way to go, rather
than traditional universities. Due to audience size, scale, online
courses can invest a lot more resources in keeping up to date.
Very possibly. But universities can't be seen to be so
out of touch as not to have a CS department. As above and below,
this is different from other subjects; you can't extrapolate
from CS to the entire university system.
Post by Pancho
Post by Andy Walker
[...] CS will have come of age when its practitioners are
regulated in much the same way as doctors and engineers.
CS will never be regulated like doctors and engineers. It would
probably be wise to totally stop development now, but it ain't going
to happen.
If you're right, and I fear you may be, it just means
that CS will never come of age. It will remain a "boy's toys"
sort of subject; "Gee whiz, look at the pretty pictures I can
draw on my computer" and an alphabet soup of acronyms to keep
out the outsiders. Meanwhile, the astrophysicists, engineers
and others who want real computing doing are left to their own
devices.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Forbes
Patrick Hearn
2021-08-19 20:12:13 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Andy Walker
Post by JNugent
The argument against 50% of the population being able to properly
benefit from a degree course is really very straightforward. The
dividing line between the left and right sides of the Bell curve for
IQ is the standard (western world) average IQ of 100. Those with that
level of IQ, for all their potential other merits, were never thought
of as university material. Properly applied, they possibly wouldn't
have been O-Level material, let alone A-Level.
It isn't a "dividing line", it's merely the median of a measure
that has very little connexion with how much education people ought to
receive. It isn't even a measure that is commonly actually measured;
and although the "I" of "IQ" stands for "intelligence", it isn't a
sensible measure of intelligence -- at best, something that correlates
with it. See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a nearby group
" I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of it -
" by today's standards. "
yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past. Ho hum.
Post by JNugent
If there were some way of ensuring that only those on the RHS of the
curve applied for university places, that would have been one thing.
Still unjustifiable, but it would be whatever it was. But there is no
way of ensuring even that. Given a target of 50% entering
universities, some people of lower than average intelligence will
apply and (eventually) be admitted, in order to make up the numbers
(and the revenue).
Intelligence is not one-dimensional. Some very bright people
are utterly innumerate. Some highly numerate people are incapable of
stringing two sentences together. Some bright people never manage to
learn a foreign language, or cannot follow a logical argument. People
vary widely in their ability to remember facts, or in their dexterity
[both physical and mental]. Someone of "average intelligence" is very
likely to be well above average in some of these dimensions -- indeed,
very likely to be more than a "standard deviation" better in some.
Students tend to specialise in areas that interest them and in which
they are relatively successful, and to pursue careers in such areas,
and conversely to abandon areas that bore them, so "average" ability
is irrelevant.
Post by JNugent
That is a travesty of what university education
was and is supposed to be [...].
" I never make the mistake ... "
Yet here you are again. The question is not "should >50% of students
be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit from HE".
[Note in passing -- HE is not just universities, young people are not
just school-leavers, and a substantial fraction of HE qualifications
are not degrees.] The evidence from elsewhere is, and has been for
a long time, that they can. Last time I checked [2014], 32 other
countries took a higher percentage into HE than the UK, inc most
OECD countries. AFAIK, no-one says of, say, a New Zealander [or a
Finn or a Korean] "Ah, but his degree is only a NZ degree". AFAIK,
no other country is as dismissive of education as England.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Bizet
25-34 year olds who had attained any postsecondary degree, by OECD country in 2019 can be found at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cac#4 (the OECD itself publishes bachelors' degrees by gender but not overall figures, from what I can see). The UK is a respectable 9th with 52% and, whatever one’s views, it doesn’t suggest the 50% target for young people in further education set in 1999 was unreasonable in comparison to other countries.

Patrick
JNugent
2021-08-20 00:50:11 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Patrick Hearn
Post by Andy Walker
Post by JNugent
The argument against 50% of the population being able to properly
benefit from a degree course is really very straightforward. The
dividing line between the left and right sides of the Bell curve for
IQ is the standard (western world) average IQ of 100. Those with that
level of IQ, for all their potential other merits, were never thought
of as university material. Properly applied, they possibly wouldn't
have been O-Level material, let alone A-Level.
It isn't a "dividing line", it's merely the median of a measure
that has very little connexion with how much education people ought to
receive. It isn't even a measure that is commonly actually measured;
and although the "I" of "IQ" stands for "intelligence", it isn't a
sensible measure of intelligence -- at best, something that correlates
with it. See also below, but meanwhile I note that in a nearby group
" I never make the mistake of judging the past - any part of it -
" by today's standards. "
yet here you are, judging today's standards by the past. Ho hum.
Post by JNugent
If there were some way of ensuring that only those on the RHS of the
curve applied for university places, that would have been one thing.
Still unjustifiable, but it would be whatever it was. But there is no
way of ensuring even that. Given a target of 50% entering
universities, some people of lower than average intelligence will
apply and (eventually) be admitted, in order to make up the numbers
(and the revenue).
Intelligence is not one-dimensional. Some very bright people
are utterly innumerate. Some highly numerate people are incapable of
stringing two sentences together. Some bright people never manage to
learn a foreign language, or cannot follow a logical argument. People
vary widely in their ability to remember facts, or in their dexterity
[both physical and mental]. Someone of "average intelligence" is very
likely to be well above average in some of these dimensions -- indeed,
very likely to be more than a "standard deviation" better in some.
Students tend to specialise in areas that interest them and in which
they are relatively successful, and to pursue careers in such areas,
and conversely to abandon areas that bore them, so "average" ability
is irrelevant.
Post by JNugent
That is a travesty of what university education
was and is supposed to be [...].
" I never make the mistake ... "
Yet here you are again. The question is not "should >50% of students
be awarded degrees", but "can >50% of young people benefit from HE".
[Note in passing -- HE is not just universities, young people are not
just school-leavers, and a substantial fraction of HE qualifications
are not degrees.] The evidence from elsewhere is, and has been for
a long time, that they can. Last time I checked [2014], 32 other
countries took a higher percentage into HE than the UK, inc most
OECD countries. AFAIK, no-one says of, say, a New Zealander [or a
Finn or a Korean] "Ah, but his degree is only a NZ degree". AFAIK,
no other country is as dismissive of education as England.
--
Andy Walker, Nottingham.
Andy's music pages: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music
Composer of the day: www.cuboid.me.uk/andy/Music/Composers/Bizet
25-34 year olds who had attained any postsecondary degree, by OECD country in 2019 can be found at http://nces.ed.gov/programs/coe/indicator/cac#4 (the OECD itself publishes bachelors' degrees by gender but not overall figures, from what I can see). The UK is a respectable 9th with 52% and, whatever one’s views, it doesn’t suggest the 50% target for young people in further education set in 1999 was unreasonable in comparison to other countries.
Further education is not higher education (it's things like City &
Guilds, NVQ, OND, etc).

A target of 50% for "young people" attaining either a qualification in
*either* further education *or* a qualification in higher education
doesn't sound unreasonable.

A target of 50% for "young people" attaining a qualification in higher
education doesn't sound, and is not, reasonable. It cannot be
implemented without changing the nature of (debasing) the university degree.
Patrick Hearn
2021-08-17 19:56:42 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Post by Joe
Post by Pamela
Not only is the cost of faux-degrees eventually paid by the taxpayer
but many graduates can't get a job.
Apart from old-style academic courses, university education has
turned an unproductive and costly indulgence.
Well, I suppose it keeps those kids off the street.
I recall thinking at the time Blair made the statement that it was
crazy, we need fewer graduates rather than more. It seems to have been
all about international willy-waving.
Exactly.
There are those who insist that it wasn't meant literally and that those
serving apprenticeships, OND / HND, etc, were also to be counted towards
the 50%.
Little sign of that, though.
Not just wasn't meant literally, but not what he said. "Today I set a target of 50% of young adults going into higher education in the next century", September 1999. Note: higher education, not necessarily degrees.

Here's the NI version for guidance https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/what-higher-education. It includes qualifications to levels 4 - 8 (certificates are level 4, diplomas 5 and undergrad degrees 6). It includes Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND), foundation degrees, certificates and other academic awards granted by a university or higher education college.

Patrick
JNugent
2021-08-17 22:12:09 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Patrick Hearn
Post by JNugent
Post by Joe
Post by Pamela
Not only is the cost of faux-degrees eventually paid by the taxpayer
but many graduates can't get a job.
Apart from old-style academic courses, university education has
turned an unproductive and costly indulgence.
Well, I suppose it keeps those kids off the street.
I recall thinking at the time Blair made the statement that it was
crazy, we need fewer graduates rather than more. It seems to have been
all about international willy-waving.
Exactly.
There are those who insist that it wasn't meant literally and that those
serving apprenticeships, OND / HND, etc, were also to be counted towards
the 50%.
Little sign of that, though.
Not just wasn't meant literally, but not what he said. "Today I set a target of 50% of young adults going into higher education in the next century", September 1999. Note: higher education, not necessarily degrees.
Here's the NI version for guidance https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/what-higher-education. It includes qualifications to levels 4 - 8 (certificates are level 4, diplomas 5 and undergrad degrees 6). It includes Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND), foundation degrees, certificates and other academic awards granted by a university or higher education college.
Where's the GB version, and what's the link to Blair's preposterous target?
Patrick Hearn
2021-08-18 07:14:16 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by JNugent
Post by JNugent
Post by Joe
Post by Pamela
Not only is the cost of faux-degrees eventually paid by the taxpayer
but many graduates can't get a job.
Apart from old-style academic courses, university education has
turned an unproductive and costly indulgence.
Well, I suppose it keeps those kids off the street.
I recall thinking at the time Blair made the statement that it was
crazy, we need fewer graduates rather than more. It seems to have been
all about international willy-waving.
Exactly.
There are those who insist that it wasn't meant literally and that those
serving apprenticeships, OND / HND, etc, were also to be counted towards
the 50%.
Little sign of that, though.
Not just wasn't meant literally, but not what he said. "Today I set a target of 50% of young adults going into higher education in the next century", September 1999. Note: higher education, not necessarily degrees.
Here's the NI version for guidance https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/what-higher-education. It includes qualifications to levels 4 - 8 (certificates are level 4, diplomas 5 and undergrad degrees 6). It includes Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND), foundation degrees, certificates and other academic awards granted by a university or higher education college.
Where's the GB version, and what's the link to Blair's preposterous target?
1999 speech text http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/460009.stm

I haven't looked for a GB version, feel free

Patrick
JNugent
2021-08-18 09:10:38 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Patrick Hearn
Post by JNugent
Post by JNugent
Post by Joe
Post by Pamela
Not only is the cost of faux-degrees eventually paid by the taxpayer
but many graduates can't get a job.
Apart from old-style academic courses, university education has
turned an unproductive and costly indulgence.
Well, I suppose it keeps those kids off the street.
I recall thinking at the time Blair made the statement that it was
crazy, we need fewer graduates rather than more. It seems to have been
all about international willy-waving.
Exactly.
There are those who insist that it wasn't meant literally and that those
serving apprenticeships, OND / HND, etc, were also to be counted towards
the 50%.
Little sign of that, though.
Not just wasn't meant literally, but not what he said. "Today I set a target of 50% of young adults going into higher education in the next century", September 1999. Note: higher education, not necessarily degrees.
Here's the NI version for guidance https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/what-higher-education. It includes qualifications to levels 4 - 8 (certificates are level 4, diplomas 5 and undergrad degrees 6). It includes Higher National Certificates (HNC) and Higher National Diplomas (HND), foundation degrees, certificates and other academic awards granted by a university or higher education college.
Where's the GB version, and what's the link to Blair's preposterous target?
1999 speech text http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/460009.stm
I haven't looked for a GB version, feel free
There ether is or is not a GB version of a definition of "higher
education". The one for Northern Ireland (or, for that matter, the one
for Scotland) won't do.

An interesting speech, by the way. It contains a "target" of 50% of
"young adults" going into higher education. That, more than anything
else, devalued and undermined the work and achievements of then-extant
graduates. It was and remains an insult to suggest that "young adults"
of less than average intelligence are university material. That could
only be true in a world where the university degree has been downgraded
and abased.

[And there is little sign of dramatic growth in the number of HND
diplomats, just in case the definition of "higher education" has been
stretched that far.]

But Blair did have a little accurate insight into the future.

He says: "...I've been compared to Hitler, Mussolini and Milosevic.
Maybe they think I should be indicted for war crimes...

Prophetic or what?
JNugent
2021-08-10 14:05:27 UTC
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Post by Pancho
So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year A-level
course has boosted learning, boosted student attainment.
The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school closure
policy after the pandemic.
Indeed. The obvious conclusion. Perhaps one school's worth of teachers
could teach the whole of the country's children, too, with work assessed
by OU-style CMAs (computer-marked assignments).
Pancho
2021-08-11 13:57:26 UTC
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Post by JNugent
Post by Pancho
So closing schools for a sizeable proportion of the two year A-level
course has boosted learning, boosted student attainment.
The obvious conclusion is that we should continue this school closure
policy after the pandemic.
Indeed. The obvious conclusion. Perhaps one school's worth of teachers
could teach the whole of the country's children, too, with work assessed
by OU-style CMAs (computer-marked assignments).
I agree totally. Expecting a teacher to develop and present their own
lessons, when children across the country need to be given an identical
lesson, is insane. It would be much better to produce standard video
lessons and just have the teacher step in when specific children needed
specific help.

It seems to me a bit like the difference between evening entertainment
being a local puppet show, with hand made puppets, as opposed to
watching an episode of Game Of Thrones on the TV.
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