Wednesday, November 13, 2013

The Importance of Tertiary Education

I'm watching one of my favourite films - Accepted - and came across this line:
Society has rules. And the first rule is, you go to college. You want to have a happy and successful life, you go to college. If you want to be somebody, you go to college. If you want to fit in, you go to college.
Renedox was saying something the other day about seeing degrees as currency. The basic premise is this. Value is judged based upon scarcity. This is why we can't just print money to pay off our national debt. If you double the amount of currency in the country, then the value of that currency halves.

So if everyone has a degree, then the degree doesn't have any value except perhaps as an absolute minimum. Uh-oh. There lies another problem. This is called Academic Inflation.

It's a basic premise. I worked in a factory where we had a whole bunch of guys who had low intelligence - enough not to get themselves hurt for the most part. One day the boss pulled me into his office and got me involved with the hiring process. Basically - here are a pile of CV's. Pick out the ones that you would follow up on.

I think I've said previously that there was nothing to distinguish them out for me. What we needed was an attitude - which was never going to come through in a CV. So the boss came up with an idea. What if we got them to sit an aptitude test? The idea wasn't so much to pick the one who got most answers right, but rather, try and pick out those with some level of problem solving skills. So the workings, scribbles etc. were more important than the answer.

After a few months though, the intent kind of got lost and it was about the answer. In a years time I can imagine that there'd be another requirement that didn't previously exist... and so on and so forth.

Why do more and more people have degrees? It turns out it's incredibly bad business to have people fail. I mean, sure, you may think that you could make more money from having people resit papers, but what if no one takes the course because the pass rate is so low?

If you're printing money and the printers are being paid in gold, does the printer really care about how much money gets out there and the effect that has on the value of money?

So it's in tertiary education's best interest to keep pumping out the degrees. How do you do this? You make the assessment criteria easier. Remember, they're a business. Which would mean that the commercialisation of education has been a negative thing (Shock horror!).

If the value of a degree is so low (over saturation, less meaning), then does it really matter if you do tertiary education? Is it really the end of it all? Can you not have a happy and successful life without it?

Well... if I were to use myself as an example... then no. :/

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