Sunday, 20 February 2011

Grade F for common sense

For sometime now I have been of the opinion that certain courses offered by Universities are totally pointless and outdated. A fine example of this is History of Art, which guarantees you exactly two career options: an Art Historian (unlikely), or selling the Big Issue. However, a few months ago, it came to my attention via a good friend that Northampton University was offering a joint honours course in Waste Management and Dance. Initially, I thought he was joking, but after I'd picked myself up off the floor and turned on my computer, I have the misery of reporting that he is indeed correct. Furthermore, Northampton also offer Dance with with Equine Studies and (rather ironically) World Development with Pop Music, while Glyndwr University in Wrexham offers an unusual course in Equestrian Psychology which "investigates the unique partnership between horse and rider."

This is absolutely ridiculous. Especially since Universities have had the bare-faced cheek to charge students over TRIPLE what they were previously paying in tuition fees. It seems to me that the government has gone about saving money in tertiary education completely the wrong way. Rather than asking for more money to sustain all the courses currently offered by Universities, what they should have done was to weed out all these Mickey-Mouse subjects and withdraw funding, leaving more money left for the subjects that really matter and will further the development of the country in the future. The majority of students should certainly NOT have to pay to keep these subjects in the prospectus. Therefore, I propose the following: If you really are that concerned about the "unique partnership" between you and your horse and wish to study it in an academic environment, pay for it yourself. If you would like to study how the world benefits from effective waste management through the medium of dance, pay for it yourself. And if you absolutely must study how Bono will save the third world through his music, pay for it yourself! What you should not do, is ask students or tax payers to fund you.

This horrible approach of trying to turn hobbies into academic subjects  permeates every aspect of education in this country. How can a school fund Intermediate 2 Cake Decorating but not find the money to buy the latest textbooks for its English Students? How can a school afford to buy new costumes for the drama club, while giving Musicians old, out-dated instruments?  How can a school plough resources into Media Studies, but not offer decent scientific apparatus to its students? Its a totally wasteful approach that at its core promotes mediocrity.

In many ways I do hope that this financial "belt-tightening" results in these subjects being banished from every curriculum and that we can return to giving proper financial backing to the potential Nobel prize-winners of the future.