Posted by pennybridged
The Sunday Times have produced their annual University Guide with todays edition of the paper. It makes for interesting reading.
The ranking order of Universities and Institute of Technology in the country is given. NUI Galway are top. As usual, people are likely to quibble about the components of this ranking and how they are measured. For example, one element concerns the number of first and 2:1 honours given to graduates. The idea being that the more of these there are, the better. The dumbing-down argument is never far away. I have a previous post related to this so I won’t go into it here. Suffice to say, that I consider the rankings to be an indicator only and recognise that an open mind needs to be kept.
What really grabbed my attention was the profiles of the various universities / colleges. Each institution profile asks a student therein to suggest a “Worst Feature” and a “Deal Clincher” for their institution. The student comments for each institution can be found in the file box on the right (I knew that box would be useful sooner or later).
Did you notice what I noticed?
Very very few of the comments concern academia. With only a small number of exceptions, practicalities like parking and social life dominate the list. I’m reminded of the episode of Friends where Rachel says she switched her major from psychology because “there was never any parking beside the psychology building”. Cue audience laughter based on Rachel not being a serious college student.
Should we as lecturers be worried? Are learning, skills acquisition or knowledge enhancement not as important to our students as we think they are? Or are these things simply not at the top or bottom of the list for most of the student representatives here?
Whatever the answer, it’s a cause of worry. If student and lecturer priorities have drifted so far apart we have a problem. We have to fundamentally question what is the purpose of a third level education and we need to do so with our students.