Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Students Left One Degree Under

Overseas students are being used to prop up our cash-strapped universities and offered 'rotten' degrees for their efforts, according to the university quality watchdog. Students are paying a high price for years of study and a worthless bit of paper to take back home with them.

The universities' Quality Assurance Agency (QAA) has warned the current degree classification system is "arbitrary and unreliable", universities have become "financially dependent on the higher fees of overseas students" and "the way that degrees are classified is a rotten system."

Universities used to get funding from big research grants and student numbers. Now with every education establishment rebranded a 'university', they are all chasing the same dwindling pot for research and of course there are only so many students who want to study Media Studies and Computer Games at Anytown Met.

The result is a dumbing down of degrees which is being exposed regularly by whistleblowers on the BBC's  web-site.

But this funding is just a transfer of paper money. The real money comes from overseas students. That's hard cash. Numbers have shot up over the years - not because it's good to attract students from overseas but because of the cash.

The signs are that things are changing. Parents and overseas students are now questioning the standards at UK universities and whether it's worth all the money. 

After all, what do they get in return? A photograph of their son or daughter in a cap and gown, a bit of paper wrapped up in pretty ribbon and a huge bill.

The QAA concludes: "There is a belief from some overseas students that if they pay their fees, they will get a degree."

It's great fun for students travelling to different countries. But the same can't be said for their parents, who have had to scrape together the money to pay for them.

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