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Is your degree value for money?

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Although university is meant to be a time when we think for ourselves, emulating buzz words like "self motivation" and "self study", are we actually getting enough teaching for our money?

Many current students are beginning to say that we are paying over £3000 for a reading list, and if they had to pay £9000 fees, knowing what they know, they wouldn't have come to university.

Of course, the university experience is one of personal growth and development, one which many students feel is essential. However, the fact is in many cases students feel they are paying several thousand pounds a year to go to class for a few hours a week and listen to a lecturer paraphrase a textbook.

Although university is meant to make you self sufficient, would the quality of graduates not would be higher if they taught you more rather than leaving you to work it out for yourself? Of course contact time varies from course to course, and I’m sure on a course such as Medicine or Dentistry the teachers do explain and demonstrate most of the course, however in subjects like Law it seems as though students are just told to read several hundred pages a week and turn up to hear a summary of them in class.

Furthermore, after spending 3 or 4 years teaching yourself a degree’s worth of material, you are no better off than any other person in the job market because everyone has a degree nowadays. There has been a sheer increase in graduates; from 600,000 in 1990 to just under two million in 2010 -no wonder the job market is so competitive. Nowadays going to university is a given for most students, as it is simply a pre-requisite for even the most menial of jobs.

A perfect example is a scene from the film ‘Good Will Hunting’. In this scene a ‘janitor’ (played by Matt Damon) outsmarts a smart-ass Harvard graduate in a bar. Although this guy has a university degree and paid $150,000 for it, the janitor gained a better understanding of it the same topic from reading books in a library. However, as the guy (rudely) points out, the janitor may know the topic better, but he’ll be “be servin' my kids fries at a drive-thru on our way to a skiing trip”, because at the end of the day he has no fancy piece of paper. This begs the question, is university more about the pursuit of a fancy certificate rather than the pursuit of knowledge? It’s not hard to think of several examples of inspirational and successful people who don’t have a university degree: Sir Richard Branson, Mark Zuckerberg, Walt Disney and Lord Alan Sugar.

It is absurd that young people have to get a university degree to be considered for a job such as accounting or hotel management, something they have to get on the job training for in addition to (and regardless of) their 3 year degree. It seems inefficient as it not only wastes a lot of money; it potentially leaves people at a real disadvantage as they would be good at the job but they can’t go to university. In society the close connection between university degrees and economic success is unquestioned; will we still think this in the future?

Does university offer anything more than your local library or is it purely a pre-requisite for a graduate job? Does it teach you the necessary skills to be a good employee or is the university system just churning out more and more students without a deep understanding of the subject, but a fancy piece of paper?

What do you think? Is your degree worth the money?

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