Students aren’t what they used to be - and never were. David Watson HEPI Conference 6 May 2009. Centre for Higher Education Studies (CHES). Talking about the “student experience:” four pathologies. Nostalgia and selective memory Condescension and disappointment
HEPI Conference 6 May 2009
Centre for Higher
Nearly half of a recent class could not name a single country that bordered Israel. In an introductory journalism class, 11 of 18 students could not name what country Kabul was in, although we have been at war there for half a decade. Last fall only one in 21 students could name the U.S. secretary of defense. Given a list of four countries – China, Cuba, India and Japan - not one of those same 21 students could identify India and Japan as democracies. Their grasp of history was little better. The question of when the Civil War was fought invited an array of responses – half a dozen were off by a decade or more. Some students thought that Islam was the principal religion of South America, that Roe vs. Wade was about slavery, that 50 judges sit on the U.S. Supreme Court, that the atom bomb was dropped on Hiroshima in 1975. You get the picture, and it isn’t pretty. (Gup, 2008).
We had to work it out for ourselves. It was an environment of fear: a fear of failure. At the very time that capitalism was benevolent, the university system was preparing us for the ruthless inequalities we would confront upon leaving a leafy campus.
Now that there are wars on terror, casualized workplaces, little union protection for workers and an economy based on credit card debt, universities are soft but cuddly institutions, shielding our students from the dire reality of life (Brabazon, 2007: 125)
I'm told that university students tell tales about their ballooning student loans with rueful grins rather than with floods of despairing tears. Everyone's in debt - so what? That's the way it is, and how else are they supposed to get through school? As for paying it all off, they'll think about that later (Atwood, 2008: 131).
The age of the recruiter came through as a key factor. Younger respondents were more prepared to employ school or college leavers and therefore had much less difficulty in filling job vacancies. Older recruiters found it much more difficult to buy into what school or college leavers had to offer (Lanning et al., 2008: 1-2).
Enrolment of students from social groups 4,5, and 6, by “gangs”
2005)The views of students about what additional funding from differential tuition fees should be spent on.What should the new fee income be spent on (Unite, 2005)?
The qualities of British life - the notion of civic duty binding people to one another and the sense of fair play which underpins the idea of a proper social order - come together in the ethic of public service [leading to] the great British public institutions admired throughout the world [among them] our universities, including the Open University (Brown, 2004).