Sunday, August 21, 2011

The real education debate?

Matt Withers Wales on Sunday column today also touches on the subject of students failing to find a place at University, and refers to Blair’s target of 50% of young people going on to higher education.  He says
there was always that nagging question of what would happen when there wasn’t any money left to pay for it. Now we know.”
But it is not just a question of money.  It should be about equipping people for the workplace, and about matching skills and knowledge to jobs, to what is actually needed.  It should be about valuing vocational qualifications equally rather than aiming for an arbitrary number of people with degrees and no hope of getting a job.
Yes education is important, but education comes in many forms.  Should we be encouraging quite so many to go to University to study degrees in subjects which have very little application in the real world?
Recent figures from UCAS show that of 88,000 potential university students enquiring about courses for 2012, only 900 asked about physics and considerably less about engineering.  The CBI has warned about the shortage of science and maths based skills.
We turn out more Primary school teachers than we know what to do with, whilst Secondary schools struggle to find quality science teachers across the spectrum.
We have a shortage of medical staff which results in services being cut – such as at the Special Care Baby Unit at the Royal Glamorgan.
Despite soothing words from then Health minister Edwina Hart the service has not been reinstated.
There is surely some serious debate to be had regarding education in general and Higher education in particular that goes beyond the tuition fees issue.  If only the Minister can get his head out of his backside long enough to realise there are problems.

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