JOHN CHUCKMAN COMMENT: UK REPORT ON “DISADVANTAGED” AND UNIVERSITIES – WHAT AMERICA DOES IS HOW NOT TO DO THINGS   Leave a comment

John Chuckman

COMMENT POSTED TO AN ARTICLE IN THE GUARDIAN

“England’s leading universities have made “incredibly slow” progress in widening access to students from disadvantaged backgrounds’

I frankly don’t know the meaning of that.

Seems to me that university applications focus of grades, achievements, and fit to the desired course of study.

Do we really want them to do something else?

“Disadvantaged backgrounds” is an extremely vague phrase.

While being poor can sometimes reflect a transition period for people – as during migration – it also in many cases reflects lack of the basic skills required to better yourself.

Really talented people generally overcome transition period poverty quickly. Lifetime poverty is not generally an indicator of unrecognized talent.

Are people in that category good university prospects?

This generation and the previous one in the Western world have seen a tremendous decline in standards in many things, but especially in education.

In North America, grade inflation is rampant with some Millennial types complaining to administrators or, in good old America, actually suing them over too low a grade.

There are actually public schools in America where the overwhelming majority of students are on “the honor roll,” of course making the distinction meaningless.

Pretty much, North American public schools practice “social promotion.” meaning students do not fail but pass regardless of achievement.

This rot has grown up into post-secondary

In graduate school programs, often acceptance translates into graduation, with there being a huge reluctance to fail any non-performer.

In America, a large number of pupils get through college or university by playing a sport with teachers not daring to give a poor grade to a good athlete who brings attention and money to the school. Indeed, in most such cases they were recruited and given admission for just that purpose.

Again in America, we have an entire tier of not just second-rate, but third-rate, institutions who will take and graduate almost anyone, just as long as the fees are paid by someone. These are often government-created institutions, but they also include private, pretty much for-profit operations and cannot be viewed seriously for their academics. There is also an entire tier of religious-affiliated colleges, which, while including some good schools, include many truly ridiculous ones.

The American armed forces, a very large body of people, also have long used paid post-secondary educations as an incentive to join. And it works, offering so many tens of thousands of dollars in tuition per year for each year of service. In general, army leavers are not high-potential academic candidates but they fill a good many seats especially at the lesser institutions.

The respectable American class of universities protect themselves on admissions against inflated academic school records by using standardized test batteries to control admissions. But even the better universities suffer to some extent by today’s expectations and demands.

They, too, use sports stars to make money from alumni who attend events. They, too, admit some students who do not really qualify under normal admission rules. And they, too, feel obligated to graduate low performers who have been admitted.

It is very easy to confuse high standards for ability and achievement with reluctance to accept deprived students. In America, this has gone a very long way. It is not a good model to copy.

Posted September 6, 2017 by JOHN CHUCKMAN in Uncategorized

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