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Calling HE staff: is my DS about to make an expensive mistake?(51 Posts)
DS is off to University next month to study a Humanities subject. It is RG and well-respected, as an Institution and for his subject. He will not be using laboratories or any other expensive equipment apart from the library.
A few years from now will he be looking back and cursing himself for spending £9000pa on tuition and £3500pa on accommodation when he could have gained his knowledge for free on a MOOC. What will he gain from a bricks & mortar University that he could not gain from a cutting-edge employer combined with several MOOCs?
The main thing is face-to-face contact with lecturers, other students, visiting speakers and people in the area where the University is.Opportunities to discuss, question, analyse, digest and build relationships-educational and other- over a period of time. In my experience (teaching/research in HE for over 20 years ) you cannot replace human contract with a MOOC.
MOOC = massive open online course.
It's a sort of Open University on the internet. Current providers (Coursera etc) are going beyond YouTube-like, passive lectures to provide interactive, assessed courses.
Well, although I don't like tuition fees, the way they are clawed back through the tax system is relatively painless. I don't know anyone who regrets going to university - it's a unique three year space to explore your values, relationships, priorities, meet people from different backgrounds etc.. A humanities degree will teach him how to communicate effectively in writing and verbally, construct a coherent argument, assess the value of different forms of evidence and critique. All of these are excellent transferable skills in a range of workplaces - general management, civil service, academia etc. And of course, with a decent degree he can always do a one-year conversion course for a number of different professions (e.g. law, teaching). That's my view anyway - I did languages and politics at a (non-Russell group) uni, followed by a Masters, followed by years of teaching social science abroad, a PhD, then employment in universities and then thrid sector and civil service research (in NZ and UK). I've loved every job I've ever had and am really really grateful to my (ostensible non-vocational) degree for opening up opportunities I would never otherwise have had. (Will say though, that I am so old I didn't have to pay fees, and was the lucky recipient of an almost full grant).
IDK - thanks! I do think MOOCs are great for people already in the workplace, or with other obligations. (Am actually considering doing an MBA this way), but it's not the same as the 'traditional' university experience.
That's why I said a cutting-edge employer campocaro. They will also have that face-to-face contact.
A humanities degree will teach him how to communicate effectively in writing and verbally, construct a coherent argument, assess the value of different forms of evidence and critique.
The new MOOC seem to say that they will do this too. It is not watching a YouTube video in your PJs; it involves assignments, feedback and exams.
If he already has a job offer (and a place at an RG uni), then I guess he had a number of characteristics and skills which make him pretty employable. Any chance he could negotiate vacation work/internships with the employer in question? That would soften the fees blow, and give him a cracking advantage with his cv. (My employer takes on a number of summer student interns every year).
BBC article here
Will it also lead to accreditation? Will he get a degree (or NVQ 5/6) level qualification at the end of it?
It doesn't look at the moment like you would get an actual degree certificate at the end which could be a problem if you want to transfer employers. I'm old enough to have done my degree and PhD before fees and loans existed and I can see the cost these days are daunting .
There is nothing else like going to uni. Some things try to approximate it (those MOOCs), but uni isn't just about the lectures and seminars. It's living away from home, managing your own money, being in contact with lecturers and tutors and behaving like an adult...
It's the only time you can do what you want - go out all the time, travel during holidays, meet different people from everywhere in the world, really think about who you want to be and what's important for you.
IMO online courses (even with everything that encompasses now) don't come close to encompassing all of this and are better suited for people who have already been in employment for a while.
Also, sorry to say, a 'real' in-person uni degree probably looks much better on a cv, especially for someone his age.
Hedgepig - yes that would be my concern too. Could entail a lot of work, but end up without recognition (which would be important if he wanted to transfer employers, take a Masters, work overseas, do a conversion course). I think there are some that are accredited though?
Has a cutting-edge employer offered him a job, then, or is this just a hypothetical cutting-edge employer?
He did some work experience for a cutting-edge employer and approached them about employment. They wanted a graduate so it was either the traditional route or do p/t at a local University.
He opted for the traditional because he fancied the "It's the only time you can do what you want - go out all the time, travel during holidays, meet different people from everywhere in the world, really think about who you want to be and what's important for you" aspect and we are in the favourable position that he can afford ponce about for a few years.
I'd never heard of MOOCs and just googled now. I'm impressed and am going to have another look later as I think I'd like to try one myself just for fun. I have also spotted one which I think DD might be interested in. She is off to university in September. The course I've seen isn't a replacement for that but could be a useful supplement.
With regard to the original question. Although the fees are huge and I'm angry about their introduction , I do believe that the university experience, provided it's a good course at a good university, will be something that can only benefit your DS.
It doesn't look at the moment like you would get an actual degree certificate at the end which could be a problem if you want to transfer employers.
MOOC are establishing themselves. I believe that they will be free for a few years until the model is established and then they will start charging for a proper accreditation. The impartial accreditation is the only Ace that bricks&mortar hold at the moment IMO. If DS held off for a few years then that could soon change - he could be the last of a dying breed.
either the traditional route or do p/t at a local University.
Sorry, not clear. Either three year traditional or p/t whilst working, day-release sort of thing.
Well, there is the "It's the only time you can do what you want - go out all the time, travel during holidays, meet different people from everywhere in the world, really think about who you want to be and what's important for you" aspect too (getting misty-eyed and nostalgic now...) ....
So even a cutting-edge employer who liked him and rated his work didn't want to employ him without a traditional degree (full- or part-time)? That more-or-less answers your question, doesn't it?
Maybe in future this will be a viable option; maybe if your son were a few years younger it would be one he'd take advantage of. But he needs to be in employment or education now, and right now it's not an option employers take seriously.
In the short to medium term, MOOCs will not have sufficient accreditation to replace a traditional degree on a CV.
Longer term who knows.....
Agree with creamteas. If, and it's a big if, we get to a stage where MOOCs are a credible alternative it won't be for a long time yet.
if my DC hadn't chosen to do medicine I might have tried to persuade them either to apply to an American needs blind university or to do an open university degree while working part-time. Yes a traditional degree has some advantages but quite a few students now go to the nearest university and live at home so lose part of the advantages anyway. I'm not convinced the benefits are now worth the 9K fees plus living costs, plus - often forgotten - loss of earnings/ pension contributions for 3 years. They had a job offer from their summer job, finding work would not have been a problem and they could probably move on to a better paid job in a year.
For the student applying to a non Russell Group university to do a humanities subject it probably isn't worth it if they could get a job above minimum wage.
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