The Snow In The Summer or So-So

The Snow In The Summer or So-So

Tue 16 May 2006

Playing catch-up

We've been flooded with comments these last days. Here's a couple of matters arising.

From my point yesterday about the government (acting through their puppet vice-chancellors) refusing to fund the expansion in universities, Mr Chicken Feet writes,

If, in fact, 50% of school leavers become university graduates (for some value of university) it's reasonable to expect that the number choosing to go on to study for a PhD will also increase significantly. It's a safe bet that the increase in both categories will be in "academic disciplines" of dubious merit.

I'm not entirely convinced of the former point. It seems to me that the government is pushing for a degree in 2015 to have the same currency as an A-level circa 1965 - a metric to divide the sheep from the goats, to distinguish the best from the even better. On the one hand, this may lead to more bachelor-degree holders pressing on to academic masters, and more masters to aim for a doctorate.

On the other hand, an awful lot of first-degree holders will need the paper qualification to get into a decent job, and they'll leave the academic treadmill as soon as is practically possible. And they'll leave saddled with 20 grand in debts that their grandparents never had to suffer.

Overall, I suspect that the absolute numbers of masters and doctorate candidates will increase, but the percentage of those eligible will slowly decrease.

M'learned friend is correct about the growth in paper qualifications, mostly awarded by institutions that lack the academic rigour traditionally associated with a degree. The aim of a degree is to teach people to think for themselves, something that used to happen at O and A-level.

Elsewhere, one of m'learned friends mentions the 1991 McLaren musical piece The Ghosts of Oxford Street, in which various Manchester music stars of the era performed a Victorian ghost story set to music. There was nothing new in BBC3's Manchester Passion last month, and it didn't even feature a riff from Beethoven's 7th.

Max Hastings writes on the systemic failure of the Blair administration.

The Underground Accessibility Guide - TFL's list of exactly how many steps there are at every station on their network, and how to get from line A to line B for all stations where transfers are possible. Also of use to those planning to visit lots of stations in a short period of time - it tells you where you're running uphill, where you're running downhill.

And the annual Metafilter tries to get Eurovision, Metafilter fails to get Eurovision thread. Lordi, Lordi, Lordi, as Lauren Laverne says.

posted 16 May 2006, 18.12 +0100

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