Pyramid Comment

This journal takes an alternative view on current affairs and other subjects. The approach is likely to be contentious and is arguably speculative. The content of any article is also a reminder of the status of those affairs at that date. All comments have been disabled. Any and all unsolicited or unauthorised links are absolutely disavowed.

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Universities: Income Source

The easier entry access to university (tertiary) education is a source of income paid for by those being educated. The future of a country is in the maturing generations. This is a realistic forward-looking projection for 'growth', but the future generation is cynically being financially charged for its own advancement. Everything and anything has value... to someone else. But that value must be realised... now. This is a similar principle to buying a property and paying in full before a single brick has been placed.

The need for poor students arises from the presupposition that a poor student will require a student loan to cover tuition fees and living costs. It's predictable that any rise in tuition fees will see the inevitable profiteering from accommodation rents being raised. A student from a wealthy background is less likely to need money by way of loans. The debt for the poor begins right up at the front and will ultimately benefit the wealthy through the cost subsidy. The more students (many undertaking degree courses that possibly lead nowhere), the more revenue gained and all at the future expense of the new graduate. The minimum realistic grade that will sustain the entry-exit with a government financial gain is probably the 2.2. The cynical truth is revealed by virtue of the non-degree. This is an appalling betrayal. It's greed and social engineering at its worst.

Currently, a pass at 'A' level is an expectation of A* to be regarded as anything worthwhile. That's ridiculous and pass numbers are expected to reach almost 100%. This strongly suggests 'dumbing-down' and the reason can only be to enlarge the student population eligible for university entrance. Should a large number decide it is not a sensible choice to buy-into a massive future debt, the increased possibles should offset the actual number dis-interested in a now doubtful quality university education and NOT going onto tertiary education. The general (average) university will be charging the highest fees (£9000 a year for 3-years = £27,000 excluding a possible 30 years' interest) for possibly a second-rate degree from an appropriate university.

  • The term 'dumbing-down' is not intended to mean 'making the 'A'-level easier' simply by way of a less demanding content, but the manipulated method of modular work. Aggregation of module marks that go forward to the overall result. Historically, an 'A'-level course would have been 2 years at the end of which there was a final exam. The entire workload of those 2 years was examined in one exam, probably a 3-hour single exam. Maybe even two 3-hour papers. ('O'-levels were over 5-years.) The modular method has many parts of the course examined close to the time of learning during the 2 years. This means that retention/revision is less demanding at the end of the 2 years.
  • Another very important difference is that the pass-mark was not established until all the papers had been marked and recorded. The reason for this was that it is not easy to judge the difficulty of a question when being devised and written. Should it have been a difficult question then the marks would generally be lower. If easier then more papers would have received high marks. To ensure balance and fairness across the entire set of papers (nationally) the passmark for all grades (A -> E) may be raised or lowered accordingly. The issue with modules is that unless the same procedure is employed, the mark is recorded at the time of marking (ahead of the 2 year course completion) and left unchanged. The result is a distortion of the balance across the whole set of national papers.
    • What happens when the number of successful candidates reaches 100% with A** grades? Perhaps it will escalate to ++++A****? Employers are NOT fools. The degree may simply be the ticket for an interview. The graduate then needs to sell him/her self. An interview for a professional position would certainly involve a real situation test: the Technical Interview. This tests true ability to do the job and not just acquire good 'grades'. These do not necessarily mean much. If everyone obtains several A*s, what differentiates any one pupil from any other? The university that confers the degree will also count for a great deal.
    • The manipulation can be introduced by NOT making allowance for easy/difficult questions. A slightly less difficult/demanding question can have a much larger positive effect on the students' chances of success. The intention in any exam should be to stretch and challenge the pupil to test whether any course work is actually understood. It can be easy to simply calculate an answer using a known procedure, but questions should be worded to determine if the student understands the reasoning behind the question. One well-constructed 'deeper' question is much more testing than several simply factual questions.

    Regurgitation of facts by themselves
    can never be enough

    Tuition Fees in the UK have escalated by 900% since September 1998 when they were introduced (£1000) to £3290 ( = x3.29 in 2010/2011) and then in 2012/2013 up to a £9000 ( = a further escalation of x2.73) maximum (for now - DA). Like any interest rate on any loan this can be increased at any time in the future and any number of times. A 30-year repayment term may see (will see - DA) many increases over the term. If you're English and wish to study abroad, the fees can be less (a great deal less - DA) than in the UK. But being English in a UK country, but not England, means being penalised. The system traps everyone and there is no escape and the system seems to work on the assumption that students expect a good-time with their friends (very expensively) and are not guided by their head to target the BEST option.


    The low-paid graduate will subsidise the high-earner. The top-earner is more able to pay off a student loan than a low-earning graduate.

    • Nicholas Barr, professor of public economics at the London School of Economics, told a National Union of Students debate last week (24th March 2009) that the current university funding system benefited high-earning City workers able to pay off their loans quickly, while those on low incomes were saddled with debt for many years.
    • This has not improved (18th August 2011) and is similar, but now actually potentially worse.
    Clearing houses (UCAS) will attempt to marry-up an eligible student with any placement should the university of choice be oversubscribed (it will be, of course as there will be too many successful A-level students - DA). To imagine that pass-rates can increase towards 100% is absolutely unbelievable unless the exam pass requirements are severely lowered. The obvious objective is to simply increase the number caught in the trap to then be eligible for grotesque debt.

    Note added: 20.08.2011

    • The number of students seeking a place through clearing rose to 195,415 according to UCAS. Apparently, 18,000 calls chased after just 40 places (unspecified) in Salford University (ranked at 97 out of 116) and, although not in the clearing process, 10,500 calls were enquiring about 100 vacancies from its waiting list. Confirmed placements reached 401,957 (an increase of 7721), despite the grotesque hike in fees.

    • It remains to be seen how many are careful to ensure that the course is appropriate and not just an opportunity to experience university life. This will prove to be very, very expensive experience. The need to go and the need for the right place to go are crucial in any objective decision.

    Student Tuition Fee Trap

    The more students, the greater the financial yield. It's so obvious it's nauseating. The betrayal of a generation (just to begin with - DA). The wealthy will have a clear run at the best places, and the web-like connections network, will just about guarantee career placements. The less rewarding jobs will distill down to everybody who's left. The poor will be less likely to be able to pay off a loan. The interest on the debt will just continue to grow. The older graduate will probably buy property (mortgage with interest) and increase any personal debt MASSIVELY.

    David Willets (Minister for Universities and Science) claims that a loan/debt for tuition fees is not like a mortgage? Fascinating. Unconscionable. Debt could remain up to 30 years, but Willets will be gone (NOT - DA) soon enough. Who truly believes that everybody will obtain a well-paid job - £30,000 -> +£50,000? Businesses don't exist to pay good wages. They pay wages sufficient to attract suitable staff.
    Any company only needs enough staff to make profits for (increase share prices) the business.

    Cynically, the purchase (a mortgage is just ANOTHER loan) comes AFTER the purchase of an education. Debt -> interest -> profit for doing nothing. The illusion is that a 'quality' university education is open to all (a growing number).

    Of course, it isn't

    It never was and it never will be

    A government (especially Tory-controlled) could never sanction any motive that isn't driven by greed and control and the benefit of the already wealthy.

    • Don't be surprised: it's the exclusive group that the Tories have always championed. Themselves - DA

    Student Loans: Elitism And Hypocrisy

    Be aware that interest begins at day-1 of the 1st installment (of 'just' £9000) and interest will accrue every day after that. Interest due on the maximum amount before any repayment can be repaid (before 3-years assuming that a job is required to pay back any 'loan'). Undergraduates don't repay loans. Graduates repay loans and begin after a minimum of three years later. And all that accrued interest from day-1. Of course, any undergraduate who does not stay the entire course and successfully graduates, will still have to repay the loan so far advanced. Completely tied up. And trapped.

    The important move is to get a student onto the university's books so that charging the student can begin well before a degree is conferred. A degree is not a right and has to be worked for, but employment still has to be found after the event. That is of no further concern to the university or the government, but the debt must be serviced. The jobs market is in a terrible decline and made worse by the unstoppable growth of the global population. More and more graduates chase fewer and fewer jobs. The scenario must simply get worse and there is no change viewable on the horizon.