Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Graduate gloom

The Telegraph reports that 83 students apply for every vacancy:

The number of university leavers vying for relatively well-paid jobs has almost trebled in just three years, it has emerged.

Among investment banks, some 232 candidates are applying for each position, while an average 188 graduates are competing for positions in energy or utilities companies.

The disclosure – in data published by the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) – underlines the extent to which the jobs market has failed to keep pace with the expansion of university places in recent years.

Okay, so the economy isn't doing so well at the moment, but did anyone really think that the jobs market would "keep pace with the expansion of university places in recent years"?

Meanwhile, BBC News reports

A planned shake-up of higher education in England is being set out later, with the aim of creating more competition and giving students greater powers.

Universities could compete for places, including with the private sector, and be held accountable for the quality of their teaching.

Competition? Private sector? Unthinkable!

If you are of a statist disposition, fear not: these reforms won't introduce anything resembling a free market in higher education.
  • More places for students with AAB A-level grades
  • Universities will have to publish information about students' employment chances and salaries
  • Inspections triggered if concerns raised about teaching standards
  • Student charter setting out consumer rights
  • Universities compete for proportion of places
Why should the government decide how many places universities offer?

Why stipulate what information universities should publish to attract students?

Why are government inspections required to uphold teaching standards?

Do students really need more rights?

If the government didn't interfere at all, competition would occur naturally. The various degrees from various institutions would settle on prices reflecting their value. Top universities would compete for the brightest students. Fewer students would pursue worthless degrees.

Personally, I think private sector scholarships would be sufficient to ensure that the gifted poor found places at Oxbridge, but even a system of taxpayer-funded scholarships (say, to the top 10 or even 20%) would be preferable to the system we have today.

The government should know nothing about the background of the students (race, sex, religion, family income). The only thing that should matter is achievement.

Having granted the scholarships, the government need do nothing further. Students would naturally go to where they get the best education, and universities would offer as many places as they see fit. They should be free to set whatever admissions criteria they like, and to teach whatever subjects they choose to whatever standard the market demands.

No comments:

Post a Comment