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Value of higher education

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ali
1245216.  Wed Aug 09, 2017 6:25 pm Reply with quote

Hmm. Justin Chatwin, probably.

 
dr.bob
1245235.  Thu Aug 10, 2017 4:23 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
Can an incumbent PM be forced to stay in office if they don't want to? I really don't know the answer to that, and I doubt whether anyone else does.


I don't think anyone can be forced to do a job they don't want to, still less the PM. All he'd have to do is start proposing insane laws and causing diplomatic incidents before people realise it's a good idea to just get rid of them.

Hmmm, maybe The Donald really doesn't want to be President :)

 
PDR
1245241.  Thu Aug 10, 2017 5:00 am Reply with quote

It depends what you mean by "forced", of course. I don't think anyone would be getting out the whips & thumbscrews, but from a legal standpoint it could be argued that a PM (or indeed any other minister) can't leave office until released from the oaths they swore when they accepted the post. There's the Official Oath:

"I, (name), do swear that I will well and truly serve Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth in the office of (office). So help me God."


...and then their oath as a privvy counsellor (where appropriate)

"You do swear by Almighty God to be a true and faithful Servant unto the Queen's Majesty, as one of Her Majesty's Privy Council. You will not know or understand of any manner of thing to be attempted, done, or spoken against Her Majesty's Person, Honour, Crown, or Dignity Royal, but you will lett and withstand the same to the uttermost of your Power, and either cause it to be revealed to Her Majesty Herself, or to such of Her Privy Council as shall advertise Her Majesty of the same. You will, in all things to be moved, treated, and debated in Council, faithfully and truly declare your Mind and Opinion, according to your Heart and Conscience; and will keep secret all Matters committed and revealed unto you, or that shall be treated of secretly in Council. And if any of the said Treaties or Counsels shall touch any of the Counsellors, you will not reveal it unto him, but will keep the same until such time as, by the Consent of Her Majesty, or of the Council, Publication shall be made thereof. You will to your uttermost bear Faith and Allegiance unto the Queen's Majesty; and will assist and defend all Jurisdictions, Pre-eminences, and Authorities, granted to Her Majesty, and annexed to the Crown by Acts of Parliament, or otherwise, against all Foreign Princes, Persons, Prelates, States, or Potentates. And generally in all things you will do as a faithful and true Servant ought to do to Her Majesty.

So help you God."


[affirmation versions of both are available for those who would prefer them to the religious ones]

In fact you can't resign from the privvy council at all - appointments are for life unless you are expelled by the monarch. But you can stop going to the meetings if you aren't explicitly summoned by name.

PDR

 
cornixt
1245271.  Thu Aug 10, 2017 10:04 am Reply with quote

dr.bob wrote:
GuyBarry wrote:
Can an incumbent PM be forced to stay in office if they don't want to? I really don't know the answer to that, and I doubt whether anyone else does.


I don't think anyone can be forced to do a job they don't want to, still less the PM.

The armed forces have an opinion on that.

 
GuyBarry
1246253.  Mon Aug 21, 2017 11:47 am Reply with quote

OK, I'm going to have one more go on the topic of the value of higher education. I realize that, as the original poster, I've probably been responsible for dragging the thread off-topic more than anyone else; but there's a point I was trying to make.

The issue was debated on Radio 4's Any Questions on Friday night, in response to comments by one of the PM's former advisers that the current system of higher education funding was like "a gigantic Ponzi scheme". And it was significant that Jess Phillips, the Labour MP, said that she would not recommend that a child of hers should go through higher education.

The tide is clearly starting to turn. Graduates are coming out with something like 56,000 of debt, and nothing concrete to show for it. Meanwhile, university vice-chancellors are creaming in six-figure salaries. This simply cannot last.

My prediction is that the whole bubble is going to burst within five years, as prospective students realize they'll be far better off by not attending. There are already apprenticeship schemes run by the more enlightened employers that allow people to get in without studying for a degree. As soon as a substantial proportion of employers cotton on to this idea, there'll be an exodus from higher education.

The comments earlier in this thread that "a degree indicates an ability to study" are frankly nonsense. You do not need to attend university for three years and get into 56,000 of debt in order to demonstrate an ability to study. You could do the same thing by writing a three-month dissertation.

Let's face it, it's purely culture - and specifically middle-class culture - that has promoted the benefits of having a degree. The working classes have never expected people to have a degree. The rot set in with Tony Blair and his "education, education, education" mantra, because he thought that education had somehow set him above other people. Rubbish. According to this Scotsman article, he was described by one of his schoolmasters at Fettes as the most difficult boy I ever had to deal with". And it's significant that his Tory predecessor, John Major, ruled out the introduction of tuition fees.

But once the Labour government had brought in the principle, the Tory-Lib Dem coalition had no qualms about increasing the fees massively - even though the Lib Dems had ruled out an increase at the 2010 general election (and paid the price for it in 2015). And look where we are now, with the Labour party in disarray about the issue. No one seems to know what to do about it.

This must be one of the biggest cons carried out on the British people during my lifetime. And as a triple graduate, I'm ashamed of it.

 
suze
1246284.  Mon Aug 21, 2017 3:54 pm Reply with quote

Your thesis is not in itself a silly one, but there are a couple of issues with it.

GuyBarry wrote:
There are already apprenticeship schemes run by the more enlightened employers that allow people to get in without studying for a degree. As soon as a substantial proportion of employers cotton on to this idea, there'll be an exodus from higher education.


There are indeed a number of "apprenticeship schemes run by the more enlightened employers". But as you say, it would need to be a substantial proportion of employers before that exodus from higher education happens - and it's never going to be a substantial proportion of employers because they're not willing to pay for it.

Michael Gove's attitude to vocational education both in schools and colleges and in the workplace hardly encouraged employers to change their thinking. Now OK, he is no longer in Cabinet, and his successors have retreated from that position.

But while Leroy Jethro Hammond did announce (Mar 2017) a complete revamp of the system of vocational training, he was forced to admit that the tax raise which he had intended would pay for that was in breach of a manifesto commitment, and so it was abandoned. It's all gone rather quiet, and we probably won't hear any more on the subject until the budget expected in November.

GuyBarry wrote:
But once the Labour government had brought in the principle, the Tory-Lib Dem coalition had no qualms about increasing the fees massively - even though the Lib Dems had ruled out an increase at the 2010 general election (and paid the price for it in 2015). And look where we are now, with the Labour party in disarray about the issue. No one seems to know what to do about it.


No one does, and all of the major parties have told untruths about the matter. But the pledge to work towards 50% of the population going to university still stands, which probably means that it is considered politically impossible to abandon it.

 
GuyBarry
1246319.  Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:22 am Reply with quote

suze wrote:

There are indeed a number of "apprenticeship schemes run by the more enlightened employers". But as you say, it would need to be a substantial proportion of employers before that exodus from higher education happens - and it's never going to be a substantial proportion of employers because they're not willing to pay for it.


How much would it cost them? For those employers already running graduate trainee schemes there'd be virtually no additional cost - you would simply open them to anyone with the appropriate skills and experience. I suppose there might be some additional costs in recruitment, but the costs of running the schemes wouldn't change.

When I joined the Civil Service "fast-track" scheme back in 1986, external candidates had to have a degree with at least second-class honours. However, if you were an internal candidate and you were recommended for the scheme by your line manager, you could join it without a degree (I think you only needed two A-levels to join the executive grades in those days).

So if they were able to do this for internal candidates, why couldn't they do it for external candidates with suitable references? Why insist on a degree?

Quote:
But while Leroy Jethro Hammond did announce (Mar 2017) a complete revamp of the system of vocational training, he was forced to admit that the tax raise which he had intended would pay for that was in breach of a manifesto commitment, and so it was abandoned. It's all gone rather quiet, and we probably won't hear any more on the subject until the budget expected in November.


That's a good point.

Quote:

No one does, and all of the major parties have told untruths about the matter. But the pledge to work towards 50% of the population going to university still stands, which probably means that it is considered politically impossible to abandon it.


I don't think the pledge was ever that 50% of the population should go to university, but that 50% should have "some experience of participation in higher education". According to this BBC report, the statement issued by the Department for Education and Skills in 2002 included

Quote:
"all courses of one year or more, above A-level and its equivalents, that lead to a qualification awarded by higher education institutions or widely recognised national awarding bodies (such as the Institute of Management)", [plus] a "small number of professional qualifications of less than one year's duration, for example in nursing, law, business and management".


I think the definition may be even looser now - in fact I'm not sure if it's even a requirement to complete the course.

The trouble is that it's almost impossible to find anyone in public life who's prepared to argue against higher education, because nearly all of them have been through it themselves, and there's a tendency to attribute one's success in life to one's education, at least to some extent. There's absolutely no way of knowing whether those people would have got where they were without that education system in place, because you can't run a controlled experiment. As I said previously, John Major became PM without any higher education at all, but that didn't stop his successor from boasting that he would never have got where he did without it.

 
PDR
1246329.  Tue Aug 22, 2017 8:30 am Reply with quote

OK, so now we've switched from challenging the view that all jobs require a degree to claiming that NO jobs require a degree. Personally I disagree with both views.

There are ways into engineering with no degree, but they are harder and take longer to no real benefit. A 4-year engineering degree teaches you about engineering, and then two to five years of professional experience teaches you how to be an engineer after which an engineering masters degree (1 year full time or up to 5 years part time) teaches you how to be a professional engineer. You could achieve this without doing a degree, but it would take 20-25 years instead of 7-14 years, and it's harder work to get to the same standard. So as a rule we take the graduate engineers because they become effective at a younger age.

Supermarket managers probably don't need to be graduates, but if someone like Sainsburys or M&S is recruiting people who they intend to go into the SENIOR management (ie people who aren't just managing the staff and retail throughput of a particular store but who would be managing and growing the whole business) they want people of with a certain minimum intellectual capability. You could look to find that with a raft of expensive psychometric testing, or you could choose people with a 2:1 or above in a real subject (not media studies or sociology) and select from that group.

Such a person could easily, after a couple of years' basic experience as an assistant store manager, find themselves tasked with conducting a review of the company's logistics processes, or its accounting system, or its resource-planning system, or its new-product selection processes with a view to recommending an improvement (complete with a costed and risk-analysed business case) to implement their conclusions. It's quite likely that the individual had no particular knowledge of the subject, but they would need to be able to research it, identify and employ specialists where necessary, with speed and accuracy. Experience shows that the better non-vocational grads are likely to have these capabilities, so the senior track selects from those people. Where necessary they can be given domain-specific education with either company schemes or post-grad courses in business subjects, but that's only the finish not the core competence. General Managers need General Competences.

Now 30 years ago there was a backlash, with people saying that these "instant seniors" were useless and they should promote people who had "worked their way up and so knew the business". One of the louder voices in this regard was M&S, who started doing everything with internal trainers who were all "M&S Old Hands".n One of the consequences of thsi was that M&S came within inches of oblivion in the late 90s, so they abandonned the idea...

PDR

 
PDR
1246334.  Tue Aug 22, 2017 9:57 am Reply with quote

Realised I forgot to expand on my opening statement:

PDR wrote:
OK, so now we've switched from challenging the view that all jobs require a degree to claiming that NO jobs require a degree. Personally I disagree with both views.


As I have said many times before, I think encouraging so many kids to go to uni is misguided for several reasons. For 95% of them I don't think they'll get much out of it, I don't think future employers will get any benefit from it, and I don't think society as a whole can afford to have so many people delay becoming "productive" for another 3-5 years. So I feel that university education is really only of value for 5% of the population. If really pressed with a gun to my head I might accept 10%, but I'd be unhappy about it.

And if we stuck to those sorts of numbers the country would be able to afford to return to making the whole thing free again, which would remove one of the major social barriers. If required the costs could be recovered with a graduate tax, but hopefully these grads would be mainly highyer earners so the costs would be inherently recovered from the higher taxes they'd pay.

And of course the reduced availability of graduates would soon see the end of employers seeking grads where they don't really need them (there being no BA in burger-flipping).

PDR

 
suze
1246346.  Tue Aug 22, 2017 11:18 am Reply with quote

GuyBarry wrote:
So if they were able to do this for internal candidates, why couldn't they do it for external candidates with suitable references? Why insist on a degree?


In many cases they could, but they won't.

For a start, it tends to be larger companies which have graduate training schemes at all. The Guardian published an estimate in 2008 that 85% of companies don't offer any formal training, and the figure is probably higher by now.

Most of those are smaller companies which will say that they can't afford it. Whether they can afford not do do it is another question, but they seem unlikely to change their positions.

But even some very large companies don't really do it. Capita requires graduates who want to work for it to attend sixteen weeks' unpaid training at their own expense. It asserts that "most" (but it will be not more specific) who complete that training are then given a job. Anyone who withdraws during the training period, or who is given a job but then leaves within two years, is retrospectively charged 13,000 for the training (which is reported as all but worthless in any case). (The Guardian, 28 Jul 2017)

If that is how Britain's 102nd largest company (it was "relegated" from the FTSE in March) feels it appropriate to work, why would any smaller company offer proper training if it was not being forced to? (Which it won't ever be, because the CBI wouldn't stand for it. A Conservative government does not go out of its way to upset the CBI.)

 
GuyBarry
1246566.  Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:45 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:
OK, so now we've switched from challenging the view that all jobs require a degree to claiming that NO jobs require a degree.


Well, I don't think I've ever made that claim - although it's probably far fewer jobs than most people generally suppose.

Take the example of my mother, for instance. She left school in the 1950s and joined the scientific grades of the Civil Service at a time when a degree wasn't a general requirement. This didn't stop her from doing original research and getting it published in refereed academic journals, as well as co-editing two volumes of academic conference papers. I think pretty much everyone nowadays would insist on a degree for that sort of thing, but her hands-on scientific experience was deemed perfectly adequate at the time.

Quote:
Supermarket managers probably don't need to be graduates, but if someone like Sainsburys or M&S is recruiting people who they intend to go into the SENIOR management (ie people who aren't just managing the staff and retail throughput of a particular store but who would be managing and growing the whole business) they want people of with a certain minimum intellectual capability. You could look to find that with a raft of expensive psychometric testing,


But they carry out expensive psychometric testing anyway. Is there any graduate recruiter that doesn't? I've never applied for a job in senior retail management, so I don't know if they work differently, but I was certainly put through loads of psychometric tests when I applied for the "fast-track" scheme in the Civil Service, and that was 30 years ago. There were three separate stages to the recruitment procedure, starting with a half-day of tests, then a two-day selection board that put candidates through a variety of exercises, interviews and further tests, and then a final board where I was grilled by a panel of about six people. I was even filmed by the BBC (although that wasn't a regular feature of the selection procedure!).

Quote:
you could choose people with a 2:1 or above in a real subject (not media studies or sociology) and select from that group.


Right, so you've now switched from "2:1 in any subject" to "2:1 in a 'real subject' ", whatever that may be. Either all degrees are equally valid, or they aren't. You can't pick and choose the subjects that you personally consider to be "real". How is the person going through the recruitment procedure going to know which subjects pass your requirement?

This is starting to sound increasingly like social snobbery, I'm afraid.

Quote:
Such a person could easily, after a couple of years' basic experience as an assistant store manager, find themselves tasked with conducting a review of the company's logistics processes, or its accounting system, or its resource-planning system, or its new-product selection processes with a view to recommending an improvement (complete with a costed and risk-analysed business case) to implement their conclusions.


Even if they had no experience of doing so previously? Seems like rather a step up.

Quote:
It's quite likely that the individual had no particular knowledge of the subject, but they would need to be able to research it, identify and employ specialists where necessary, with speed and accuracy. Experience shows that the better non-vocational grads are likely to have these capabilities, so the senior track selects from those people.


Great. So the choice of who to appoint to such roles rests not on their experience of having done anything similar before, or on any proven aptitude for the job, but just on the fact that they happen to have a qualification in an unrelated subject.

OK, maybe some of those people are highly suited to the role. And I expect quite a few of them aren't. But what about all the people who never get a chance to prove themselves, because they don't get recruited in the first place? You say "experience shows that the better non-vocational grads are likely to have these capabilities", but if no one else is ever given the opportunity to do the job, then how is the employer going to know what skills non-graduates could potentially bring?

Quote:
Now 30 years ago there was a backlash, with people saying that these "instant seniors" were useless and they should promote people who had "worked their way up and so knew the business". One of the louder voices in this regard was M&S, who started doing everything with internal trainers who were all "M&S Old Hands".n One of the consequences of thsi was that M&S came within inches of oblivion in the late 90s, so they abandonned the idea


Well, my last job was on the shop floor with a well-known chain of high-street bookmakers. One of the complaints made by my duty manager was that there was no opportunity to progress through the company, because the senior management were all people who'd come in from outside.

I was quite happy working with my duty managers and immediate line manager, but I didn't like the attitude of the area manager at all. She seemed to be entirely concerned with implementing a set of standards set down by head office and seemed to have almost no knowledge or understanding of how the operation ran on the ground. Part of the reason I left was that I thought we were being given a ridiculous list of requirements to fulfil without the proper staffing. I won't go into too much detail here but they wanted every customer to be greeted within 30 seconds of entering the shop, for one thing. Which would have been fine if we'd had a member of staff permanently on the door, but most of the time there was only one member of staff in the entire shop. We were being asked to do the impossible.

Maybe the company wouldn't have imposed such silly restrictions if the management had all risen up through the ranks.

 
GuyBarry
1246572.  Thu Aug 24, 2017 2:17 pm Reply with quote

PDR wrote:

As I have said many times before, I think encouraging so many kids to go to uni is misguided for several reasons. For 95% of them I don't think they'll get much out of it, I don't think future employers will get any benefit from it, and I don't think society as a whole can afford to have so many people delay becoming "productive" for another 3-5 years. So I feel that university education is really only of value for 5% of the population.


Yes, but which 5%? You seem to want to create an "officer class" from whom senior managers are recruited (which I thought was the sort of thing we were trying to move away from).

But universities don't, as a whole, select students on the basis of their capacity to move into management roles. They select them on their academic ability, and specifically on exam grades. And exam grades have very little to do with management capability; they're to do with knowledge of a subject.

So even if you think it's a good idea to have a special education system for senior managers, why expect publicly-funded academics to be in charge of it? Why not get businesses to run it, and preferably fund it themselves?

 
Strawberry
1248365.  Fri Sep 08, 2017 4:26 am Reply with quote

I perhaps don't have much to contribute to this thread * but here's a link anyroad.

Gypsy women breaking education barriers with uni degrees

* Because I'm someone who tends to dislike talking about university.

 
Jenny
1248410.  Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:26 am Reply with quote

Thanks for that, Strawberry - a great perspective.

 
GuyBarry
1303888.  Mon Nov 19, 2018 9:15 am Reply with quote

Just heard this provocative little 15-minute programme on Radio 4 which reminded me of this discussion:

https://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/m00017qm

 

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