Value a degree 2

July 12, 2002

Mike Hill, head of the Careers Services Unit, like the government, equates training with education. Vocational courses should be partnerships between universities and employers. The university teaches the student to question, investigate, evaluate and participate in the generation of knowledge related to their chosen profession. The employer trains the student in the practical skills needed to turn what they have learned into reality.

If our sole aim is to "teach students the practical skills they will need to secure jobs after graduation", we are selling them short.

There should be a place in higher education for non-vocational degrees studied for the love of the subject. If a university is not the forum for intellectual inquiry, what is? If there are core skills missing when students arrive at university (such as the ability to construct a grammatical sentence, plot a graph or use email), perhaps we should be looking at providing a foundation year to address these issues rather than subverting the nature of a university education.

Lynn Martinez
Department of medical engineering and physics, King's College London

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