We tend to think of University as the ultimate educational experience. So finding out that it’s not is becoming a massive and national disappointment.
According to a recent BBC article students are increasingly questioning whether they are getting ‘value for money’ on their university courses. Many are disillusioned and wondering is it worth it?
What they are certainly getting is an enormous debt and many are now challenging the quality of what they’re receiving in return. Now that such huge fees are involved students are far more discerning and are right to voice an opinion on the courses and teaching – why should they not? They are, after all, the consumers. And for far too long the higher education system has been able to rest on its elitism and the vulnerability of students’ position.
But online opportunities to share opinions, reviews, ideas and alternative successes are giving youngsters the chance to talk about their experiences and be heard.
And they now have a comparison; because with the growing support, information and opportunity online, students are more able to learn independently, sometimes while earning, and bypass a crippling debt.
Our own daughter is among those on the borderline of changing.
Having been home educated she has already had a taste of independent learning. She’s also had a taste of a learning life that inspired, motivated, supported and enabled her to achieve. She was passionate about extending that at Uni, looking forward to professional support and inspiration. But so far that experience has been poor and she is now questioning what she’s getting in return for the extortionate fees.
She’s not the only student questioning. Another young man from a completely opposite educational background at a private school in London, leaving with A* grades, has also given up on Uni because of the poor quality of his experience there. And according to the notgoingtouni website there are now as many as one in four students unhappy at Uni. Some of this is personal, but some is due to the poor experience and tuition.
And why should students not challenge it? Why should these institutions get away with tempting students in with the wonderful display of goods as per their websites, when the reality is quite different? And how much of their failure to deliver is due to institutional and political restrictions or a fundamental lack on the part of the staff to understand the basics of inspirational teaching? Is that not what you’d expect at Uni; to be inspired?
Whatever, students are right to raise concerns.
They are also right to expect to get a good deal for their fees; there appear to be increasing numbers who are not. Increasing numbers who are feeling incredibly let down and that they are being sold short.
And increasing numbers who, because they’ve had a good quality alternative like those using home education, will consider other independent ways of learning and gaining a degree without the huge university machine. One student on the NUS website, who successfully switched to Open University, found that employers recognise and value the dedication of youngsters who educate themselves independently.
So I’m glad to hear of students gaining the confidence to choose independent alternatives, to break out rather than drop out, of the convention of an age old system that is simply not delivering the education we would expect.