Have we too many third level students?

Discussion in 'The great financial debates' started by Brendan Burgess, Aug 31, 2015.

  1. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    No, we have very low standards of training; it is almost impossible to fail you exams. We have very little technical training along with the practical element and generally do not create a culture of quality.
    My experience is mainly in engineering trades where the training element outside the place of employment is just about useless. Eastern European trade training is vastly superior to ours. I have no expectation that an Irish qualified tradesperson will be competent. It's a pity as 20 or 30 years ago the training was excellent but it has not changed with the requirements of the industry; we still teach skills which are no longer relevant and select people without the brains for the job and won't be able to succeed in a much more technical sector.

    My experience in building trades is mainly as a consumer and I now have a policy of not hiring Irish trained tradespeople.
     
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  2. Leper

    Leper Frequent Poster

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    I haven't read all the posts on this subject yet, but what I have read is an eye-opener. I looked at the 3rd Level Yearly Table and am surprised that since 1990, double the amount of students started 3rd Level Courses. I wonder how many of them use 3rd Level as an extension of 2nd Level? How many are working in the field of courses taken? What is the percentage drop-out? What is the failure rate? Are education vested interests screaming necessity to attend 3rd Level? How genuine is the 3rd Level Grants Scheme? It is a Sunday Times well worded piece.
     
  3. dub_nerd

    dub_nerd Frequent Poster

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    I don't know about SAT tests but from talking to a teacher friend the standards sound pretty lamentable. He said he attended a maths refresher course with other teachers recently, and not one of them could say what integral calculus was, or was used for, even though they could solve simple problems by rote. Having made up for my own lack of honours Leaving Cert maths by doing an honours degree in physics and associated maths thirty years later, it's hard to imagine a topic more central to any science than calculus. Yet it seems many of our educators barely understand it themselves.
     
  4. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    I think that’s a critically important point; if you don’t fully understand something, where is fits in to the broader subject, what it is used for and what problems it solves then you cannot teach it properly. You don’t just have to know your subject, you have to know what’s around it.

    The same applies to History, Art History and the evolution of science and industry. For example we can teach kids about the Spinning Jenny and their eyes will glaze over but if we tell them how advances in spinning technology in the 1760’s had a large influence on cottage industry in Ireland and contributed in no small way to the Famine then they might remember it better. We could also use it as an example of how things work in the modern world. Suddenly history is alive and science and engineering matter. Connect the dots and they will see the big picture; science, engineering, economics, politics, history etc. are all connected.
     
  5. daheff

    daheff Frequent Poster

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    My 5 c on this is the following:

    Our entire education system is designed to send people to 3rd level colleges through the CAO. In the past we had electricians, plumbers, tradesmen etc get their qualification from apprenticeships. Now pretty much all those apprenticeships are via the CAO rather than people applying to companies and gaining their experience that way.

    Compare Ireland to Germany:

    Germany has apprenticeships for most trades (even for things like travel agents & tourism )- people gain on the job experience and serve an apprenticeship to get a qualification. These qualifications are of a set standard and recognised across the country.
    In Ireland qualifications are via colleges- people study travel and tourism in college for a diploma/degree.

    So while Ireland may have a higher number of people in college than other countries, the figures have to be taken in context (something that statistics generally arent).

    If you were to ask me which is a better approach...i'd say the German one is. It allows people to get actual job experience while getting a qualification. It allows the company to have a lower cost base (as they pay trainees less than qualified people) and ultimately a lower cost to the consumer.
     
  6. DrMoriarty

    DrMoriarty Moderator

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    I've been teaching at third level in this country for over 25 years and, regretfully, find increasingly that some of the rapidly-growing numbers of students being enrolled on (now near-worthless) primary degree courses by our 'bums-on-seats' policy-makers (managers and administrators, mainly, not academics) are astoundingly ignorant, illiterate, lazy and 'entitled'. Or, as an American colleague puts it — and Lord knows, he knows of what he speaks — they suffer from delusions of adequacy. Apart from lecturing and supervising postgrads, I have regular contact with employers across a wide range of sectors and they are increasingly dismayed and baffled at the decline in standards. From all institutions, I hasten to add. When I hear commentators calling for the reintroduction of fees, I might not share their logic but I do have to wonder whether certain of my undergrad students might take their studies a little bit more seriously, if it was costing Mom and Dad €9K or €10K a year instead of 'just' the €3K 'administration charge'...

    (Incidentally, in response to an earlier poster's question, the capitation grant per student, paid directly to the institution by the State, is essentially the equivalent full fee for that course if the student were not eligible for a fees waiver (e.g. repeat students who fail the year first time around, or mature students funding themselves). About €6K and rising for a typical Arts degree, if you're an EU citizen).

    Admittedly, this is a very old trope*.

    The children now love luxury; they have bad manners, contempt for authority; they show disrespect for elders and love chatter in place of exercise. Children are now tyrants, not the servants of their households. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, chatter before company, gobble up dainties at the table, cross their legs, and tyrannize their teachers.​

    Attributed to Plato, The Republic, Book IV (c.432 BC)​

    (* Not quite that old, in fact, because this frequently misattributed passage was in fact crafted by a student, Kenneth John Freeman, for his Cambridge dissertation published in 1907 :D.)

    I have to agree with those who suggest that something closer to the German (or Scandinavian) model would be of far greater usefulness to society. Not that that should be the primary concern of education, at any level but especially at "higher" level. Universities can never be simply the handmaidens of industry. But in Germany (for example), if you buy a cup of coffee, it will be prepared by a trained barista and probably served by an experienced waiter. Both of them well-paid. If you go to buy a pair of shoes, you'll have your foot size measured properly by someone who actually knows something about the shoes they're selling. And so on. Here the snobbery around degree courses, perpetuated by parents in the main, drives us to believe that 70-something per cent of school-leavers should go on to do a degree. In a proper Collidge, y'know? And to make sure they get there in satisfactory numbers, we'll now give everyone CAO points for failing an exam at their Leaving Cert.

    When of course we should be flogging them in public. :cool:

    Edit: some relevant stats and observations here.
     
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  7. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    Interesting link Dr.M.
    I think that as long as we have that level of snobbery around 3rd level qualifications universities will continue to move towards being mere training grounds for industry instead of what they should be; places were knowledge is values for its own sake and where concepts and ideas originate, with their commercial value not mattering a whit when assessing their worth.
    We now have universities populated by people who do not understand what a university is. They are merely seeking to be trained for a particular job. In essence the institutions are simply places where industry outsources its training needs.
    I say this as a tradesman.
     
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  8. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    20 or 30 year ago nurses didn't have to go to college; they learned the same skills while working and being paid.
    20 or 30 years ago accountants didn't have to go to college; they learned the same skills while working and being paid.
    Are nurses and accountants much better at their job now than their counterparts 20-30 years ago?
     
  9. Sophrosyne

    Sophrosyne Frequent Poster

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    In addition by working in these areas and experiencing the practicalities at first hand, people quickly discovered whether nursing or accountancy was for them, rather then waiting years to find out.
     
  10. T McGibney

    T McGibney Frequent Poster

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    Not true. And I was that (graduate) soldier.
     
  11. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    You need one to become a CPA now but I have two friends (who qualified in the 80's) who didn't have a degree before they were accountants. From what I remember from talking to one of them he had to complete a certain number of credit hours (or something) before he could do his CPA exams.
     
  12. cremeegg

    cremeegg Frequent Poster

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    Medicine has advanced greatly in the last 30 years. The work nurses are expected to do today requires a much higher level of education than the work required 30 years ago. Health Care assistants have taken on much of the manual work formerly done by nurses.

    Accountancy however has gone backwards. In the past an accountant needed to set up every individual chart of accounts, that required a real understanding of both accounts and business. Almost every business needed a proper accountant. Today you simply unwrap the COA supplied by Sage and follow the instructions on the box.

    Revenue have recently launched a scheme where transaction files are uploaded directly. Removing the need for accountants completely from most businesses. Mr. McGibney may be the last of his kind.
     
  13. RETIRED2017

    RETIRED2017 Frequent Poster

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    And what about your good self I suspect you are in the same
    You better start looking after the people who pay your wages the people who do direct work ,
     
  14. joe sod

    joe sod Frequent Poster

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    I suppose that really makes the point about automation coming after white collar jobs, whereas skilled tradesmen cant really be replaced by technology as it is too difficult to create a robot that can crawl through an attic to repair damaged pipes , robots can only do tasks that are predictable and repeatable.
     
  15. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    Yea kinda, just like every other job and, just like every other job, those skills can be learned as part of continuing professional development.
    I say kinda because machines do most of the diagnostic stuff like pulse, blood pressure, blood-oxygen levels etc. The first time a line is put in a cannula is inserted so administering drugs etc intravenously is much easier. Technology makes our lives easier and de-skills much of the labour involved. Everything from shaving to heart surgery is much easier than it was in the past. So, I'm not sure what work nurses are ding now that requires a much higher level of education. That's not to say that they are not skilled, but most of the skills they need and use are learned on the job. I suspect the same is true for many jobs.
     
  16. T McGibney

    T McGibney Frequent Poster

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    So do I but each of them spent 2 years in college getting a diploma or something of that order before they could start the accountancy exams. And even then, these people were in a minority.
     
  17. T McGibney

    T McGibney Frequent Poster

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    Perhaps, but during my career the apparent simplification of accountancy work has been accompanied by an exponential increase in demand for accountants.
     
  18. Purple

    Purple Frequent Poster

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    So the jobs got simpler as demand has increased? Nice one! :p;)
     
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  19. RETIRED2017

    RETIRED2017 Frequent Poster

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    Things may have got simpler but the advice got more important ,
    In creemmg example about revenue uploading
    But what about the exemptions and other valuable advice you need to take form an Accountant who knows how to go about getting the most out of your tax returns
     
  20. T McGibney

    T McGibney Frequent Poster

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    I did say "apparent" :D