Tuition Fees

Dan

Member
wewizrobbed said:
It used to be that you sat an exam at eleven or something and that determined the further education you got...maybe I'm wrong. So the pupils that scored highly were at a different school from the pupils that didn't score so high. The former sat more exams and went to uni (and didn't have to pay stupid amounts of money) to study worthwhile courses. The latter were taught skills and trades. That makes sense to me. Making everybody sit all the same exams and learn all the same subjects is pointless when people are good at different things. Also, it has no relevance to background, wealth or any of that, just the qualities of the individual which is really what equal opportunities means :?.

The Eleven+ Exam.

So are you saying that at 11 years old a child should take one exam that will determine whether he/she is given the opportunity for either a better education following on to a free university education, whilst the others have a lower quality education and then are forced into skills and trades???
 

wewizrobbed

Member
dunno if it was the eleven +, I thought that was an English thing.

But that's not what I meant, sorry. I was just saying it's pointless telling every child that they are suited for university when it's obviously not the case. There is no attempt made to encourage people to learn trades anymore, so we have very few tradesmen. OK let everyone sit all the exams they want to, but don't tell people that anything less than university is a failure and waste of time and then create so many pointless crappy degrees so nobody feels left out.

For example, when the English A level results came out last year, I saw a girl on the news who got CDE or something very similar. She was over the moon because she got into uni to study law. What's the point there? I think you need something like AAABB to study law at Glasgow (ABB/BBB in a levels mibbe? I don't know) She's going to end up with a degree that won't get her any lawyers job in the land. So maybe she isn't suited to studying at university afterall?! It's nothing bad, it's not discrimination, it's just saving her 4 years where she could be gaining experience in something more suited to her skills.

If it was me, I'd rather have the opportunity to learn something I could be really good at and probably end up earning more doing, and not just be stuck with a second rate degree that means bugger all.
 

Dan

Member
wewizrobbed said:
But that's not what I meant, sorry. I was just saying it's pointless telling every child that they are suited for university when it's obviously not the case. There is no attempt made to encourage people to learn trades anymore, so we have very few tradesmen.

If it was me, I'd rather have the opportunity to learn something I could be really good at and probably end up earning more doing, and not just be stuck with a second rate degree that means *beep* all.

Yes I totally agree. I think Universities need to sort out the amount of students they are letting in with EEE FFF GGG grades etc. Really the whole situation has undervalued the degree. I don't feel that my degree has done anything for increasing my earning power and nor will it do in the future. Maybe the problem stems from around 1991/2 when Polytecnics started appyling for university status. Perhaps there should be some distinction between HE qualifications of students that get in with high grades and those with lower grades.

Incidentally, if I had had a crystal ball 10-15 years ago I would have definately trained to be a carpenter or plumber. From what I can see now these people are earning a fortune. All because there is now a shortage of skilled workers. :)
 

bigmamabadger

Active Member
<rant> Having dropped standards so low for further education that any plank can qualify, the government is now desperately searching for ways to cut down on university applications.
We mustn't discriminate on grounds of suitability (and face it, some people are not up to a full academic degree, although they all have their strenghts and abilities blah blah PC blah), so how about we discriminate on grounds of wealth, that'll really make sure we get the best candidates and but Britain at the top of the international league tables. Wrong.

Student loans came in in my final year, at which point my (full) grant covered my rent leaving me about £500 to live on for a whole year. During that year there were cases of actual malnutrition reported by the medical centre. Politicians claimed it was possible to live on a grant, but only if you never bought a course book, never went out, never went home or anywhere else, and all those things are a major part of student life. You don't leave home and Mummy and Daddy to sit in your room like a nun all term...
BMB feels very strongly about this. Access to further education should be about ability, not about how much money Daddy earned last year. More vocational and blue-collar on-the-job training should also be available, and the elitist notion of a 3rd in Media Studies from Ex-Tech University of Region being better than 3 years hands-on training in carpentry should be taken to the wall and shot.</rant>
Shalom,
BMB
 

Pythagoras

Active Member
How am I supposed to convince my pupils of the value of gaining a good education, when the chances are that they could earn as much if not more (after debts are taken into account) by dossing about and leaving school with hardly any qualifications.

Also agree with the points made about increasing the academic standards of entry. I know of lots of pupils who are applying for uni, and who will probably get in, who are nowhere near good enough really.
 

lynchie

Active Member
in the case of the girl off to study law... wouldn't she have been better finding a job as a legal secretary or similar and working her way through the ranks? rather than wasting 4 years at uni, and coming out the other end wanting the same job as hundreds of other graduates...
 

NeilW

Member
Politicians claimed it was possible to live on a grant, but only if you never bought a course book, never went out, never went home or anywhere else, and all those things are a major part of student life.

My brother worked out that it was cheaper to sit in a pub and drink a pint an hour than to heat his room when he was a (mature) student.

I'm certain A-Levels are easier than in "my day". My wife decided to do a law A-level a couple of years ago as an evening class (something to do on band rehearsal night :?) ... She did one evening a week and they only covered 1/3 of the sylabus' at all (there's Criminal, Civil and Taut and they only covered Criminal). At the end of it she got an A grade. There's NO WAY we could have done that when we did our other A-Levels at school :eek:

Like some others we're concerned about how we're going to fund our son's potential to go to Uni - he'll be going about the time they "review" the fees limit again...

As has also been pointed out: if you want to earn loadsamoney, become a plumber (I thought about it when I couldn't find any work in the Computer industry in 2002!)

NeilW
(who should really be working on my OU assignment, not posting on tMp, oh, and my "distance learning" courses are ~£800 a time and it'll take 7 or 8 of them + a discertation to get my degree)
 

jameshowell

Active Member
i have to disagree about the A-Levels getting easier.

i am currently in my A2 year, and it is far from a "doss". for example in music tech we have had to go in most days of the skool holidays and after/before skool just to stand a chance of keeping up with the massive courseload.

and on the topic of top up fees, i would love to go to uni and study music, but with the new fees it wouldnt be possible, at least not yet. im prob gonna have to get a job for a few years to get some money behind me and then go. :cry:
 

MoominDave

Well-Known Member
It's a few years since I did my school exams now (GCSEs 1995, A levels 1997), but the debate about the standards of school exams is still the same as it was then. Maths is the school academic area I'm most familiar with, and a comparison of my 1995 GCSE Higher Tier Maths paper and my father's 1968 O level Maths paper revealed that several topics on his paper, most notably simple calculus, were not treated in my education until a term or two into the A level course. The impression I've gained from my own experiences and talking to teachers is that the volume of material in the A level courses in the Sciences hasn't changed much, but the level of it has been steadily dropping backwards over the years, due to a slower rate of learning earlier in the school curriculum - I know that my Primary School years were characterised by the complete failure of any teacher to attempt to push us academically; we were still (re-)learning times tables in year 6, when we could easily have mastered basic algebra, for example.

So A-levels have surely been getting easier to pass, speaking conceptually (just look at the proportion of A-grades rising year on year; people are no brighter than they were 30 years ago), but there is still as much (maybe more, making up for lost time) work involved in passing them as before.

Is this right, teachers?

Dave

p.s. I had no idea you played for City, Neil!
 

jameshowell

Active Member
I don't agree they are gettin easier, but i do agree the workload is more than it needs to be because of making up for lost time.

for example i personally thought GCSE music was a complete waste of time, since those of us who were any good at music sat there and did nothing but help those who had no musical training. we couldve easily have started our A level courses and who knows what we could have achieved.
 

Pythagoras

Active Member
MoominDave said:
It's a few years since I did my school exams now (GCSEs 1995, A levels 1997), but the debate about the standards of school exams is still the same as it was then. Maths is the school academic area I'm most familiar with, and a comparison of my 1995 GCSE Higher Tier Maths paper and my father's 1968 O level Maths paper revealed that several topics on his paper, most notably simple calculus, were not treated in my education until a term or two into the A level course. The impression I've gained from my own experiences and talking to teachers is that the volume of material in the A level courses in the Sciences hasn't changed much, but the level of it has been steadily dropping backwards over the years, due to a slower rate of learning earlier in the school curriculum - I know that my Primary School years were characterised by the complete failure of any teacher to attempt to push us academically; we were still (re-)learning times tables in year 6, when we could easily have mastered basic algebra, for example.

So A-levels have surely been getting easier to pass, speaking conceptually (just look at the proportion of A-grades rising year on year; people are no brighter than they were 30 years ago), but there is still as much (maybe more, making up for lost time) work involved in passing them as before.

Is this right, teachers?

Dave

p.s. I had no idea you played for City, Neil!

Pretty much. Can pretty much only speak for Maths, you only have to look at the papers from a few years ago to see that the course is getting easier, but they have to be because GHCSE has done as well, so topics need to be put in A-Level that should be in GCSE then topics get taken out from the end of the A-Level.
 

jameshowell

Active Member
I think this is an issue which will arise time and and time again.

But one thing that I don't think anyone can argue with is the news etc being flooded with such opinions on results days, when students have spent 2 years working hard for whatever results they do get, is wrong.

Maybe the exams are easier than the year before or whatever. But taking away the pride of these students on the day they should be left to enjoy themselves, in my opinion, is a little unfair.

Yes, have these views and arguments, because no-one - not even the students - want the srtandards to drop. Just don't have these debates on exam results days!

What do you teachers think? Because I'm sure the news people won't let us have our pride this year...
 

Old Hornblower

New Member
Uni fees

This is so complex that I am very reluctant to join in.

I left school with absolutely zilch - no qualifications whatsover - not even one "z" at GCE as it was then. I came from a very poor background.

But opportunities were available in those days to enter Customs and Excise through a national competitive examination. I passed, and set out.
When I was 37, with my wife's agreement, I took three years out to read politics. Got a 2:1 and that opened the doors to different and better jobs and promotions.

Not only were all my fees paid but I had a grant for myself and for each of my then very young four children.

Without that assistance my life would have been financially and "intellectually" [sorry cannot think of the exact word] poorer. I just could not have gone to uni. Later I read part-time for a Masters at Birkbeck, I paid the first year, by then I could afford to, and my employers picked up the tab for the second.

All four of my children are graduates, but we had to begin to pay for them, and despite both of us working we had to resort to taking in students to help pay the bills. But they got through with minimun debt. Running into low hundreds.

Now my grand-daughter is at uni, working during the vacs to help pay off her debts and we are trying to help too - so in some way we are repaying, albeit within the family.

The point of this, is that I came from a very, financially, poor background, and there is absolutely no way that I could have gone to uni at 18. And it was only the grants and fee payments from the taxpayer that made it possible.

So I start from a position of great sympathy for everyone struggling to get through university.

But public policy has been to attempt to get 40-50% of young people through university. [It was about 15% in my day].And government policy has been to attempt to hold down taxes - not very successfully given all the increases in stealth taxes. So where can the money come from?

I am also worried by reports of huge drop-out rates in some of the unis that were formally polys and it does seem to me that they are taking in people who have no hope of making it through.

I am inclined to the view that there should be full support for students, relating to their success. i.e fees will be paid in return for starting out with, say the equivalent of thre "D"s at A level and so on.

I could go on and on for ever - I am really sympathetic to all of you struggling to get through uni at the present time.
 

sparkling_quavers

Active Member
MoominDave said:
The impression I've gained from my own experiences and talking to teachers is that the volume of material in the A level courses in the Sciences hasn't changed much, but the level of it has been steadily dropping backwards over the years, due to a slower rate of learning earlier in the school curriculum -

I would say it is more to do with the different speeds the 2 levels of education are evolving.

In Science, the majority if students study combined Sciences rather that separate. This change happened say 10 years ago-ish. The course now spends alot more time testing 'scientific-thinking' so how they can solve scientific problems and apply science facts, interpret experiments etc. I think this is a good thing- how many of you (the ones that would say science wasn't there strongest subject at school) can't say that you found biology easier than physics and chemistry? because you could perhaps do better in that subject by learning alot of facts whilst not neccessarily understanding the science behind them!!

The beginning of the 'A' course is full of pumping kids with the facts that are not covered in GCSE bringing them to the level where they can cope with the syllabus. This is turn is going to mean that some stuff does get cut out because of time constraints.

The more recent changes in the A level system... AS and A2 (and pre-this the modular systems) puts such a pressure on the pupils as they are permanently doing exams. It can lead to a system of 'learn this for the exam, forget it and move onto the next section' and, in my opinion, often distracts from them actually learning about Science!! It becomes a system of teaching kids to get through exams!!!!


I know that my Primary School years were characterised by the complete failure of any teacher to attempt to push us academically; we were still (re-)learning times tables in year 6, when we could easily have mastered basic algebra, for example.

yeah i definately agree on this one too.... but this is slowly changing....I think the primary education system are doing a very good job of pulling together something which was a very poor system. On average (with the extra numeracy) year 7 pupils now have a much better grasp of basic maths then I remember at that age! We were in the calculator generation :wink:
 

lynchie

Active Member
It really annoys me when people tell me a-levels have been getting easier. I've compared 20 year old papers with today, and the only change is today's papers are more accesible. The questions are structured better to help people understand what it is that's being asked of them, and more often they are related to practical situations so students see the worth of what they are learning.

I worked really hard to complete my a-levels and came out with good results, and the day I got my results I went to the shops and the first newspaper i saw said "A-level's Too Easy" so I threw every copy of it on the floor. What's the point in us working for something if the rest of the country is going to try and diminish out achievement?
 

Pythagoras

Active Member
lynchie said:
It really annoys me when people tell me a-levels have been getting easier. I've compared 20 year old papers with today, and the only change is today's papers are more accesible. The questions are structured better to help people understand what it is that's being asked of them, and more often they are related to practical situations so students see the worth of what they are learning.

I worked really hard to complete my a-levels and came out with good results, and the day I got my results I went to the shops and the first newspaper i saw said "A-level's Too Easy" so I threw every copy of it on the floor. What's the point in us working for something if the rest of the country is going to try and diminish out achievement?

What subjects were these if you don't mind me asking? because certainly in Maths the A-Level papers have got easier in the last 20 years. Agree about your point that they have improved the way the papers are written though, and also about not having the debate on the day results come out.
 

lynchie

Active Member
physics and mechanics papers. we were given them, precisely because of this debate, to discuss whether things had actually got easier!
 
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