Undergraduates Need to Know

There are a few really smart people in academia.

Then there are some who fall back into academia after they “fail” in the big bad world. That’s not to say that they are necessarily incompetent at what they do in academia, it’s just that they don’t fit well into the “real world”. That is not infrequently the case if they’ve specialised in some esoteric area and they can’t find a private industry employer who can see a profit in exploiting that niche and support them in research to yield commercial products.

The academic world has its own horrors of operations. It’s competitive and in many schools, highly political. This makes proper research in academic institutions very much a minefield as all publications have to meet with the political approval of the institution and their co-workers.

There are some academics who are truly miserable people; unhappy with their own lot and compelled to mess with the minds of their students so that they also won’t have a happy and productive life.

So instead of universities giving flight to free thinking, they shackle it to political ideologies.

(Originally published on Facebook 2010-02-06)

Update 2014-07-06

John Brignell writes at NumberWatch on the parlous state of industrialised, higher education:

There are rumbles from the new generation of adults in Western society. In the UK, for example, university complaints top 20,000. The National Union of Students have complained that they had been lied to. They have not been lied to; they have been marketed at… . It is a personal tragedy, and one multiplied by thousands, to begin adult life buried under a suffocating mound of debt, with no hope of getting on the professional and housing ladders.

Let’s face it – most British universities are rubbish; and all the indications are that the same applies throughout the Anglophone world. To say this is to break one of the firmest of taboos in modern politicised life. The phenomenon is certainly not limited ot the UK: …

The purpose of a university used to be the preserving, recording, extending and passing on to the next generation of the culture; this abstraction including the whole gamut of scholarship, from classics to micro-electronics. It was apodictic that this function required the pursuit and maintenance of excellence. Now the main function seems to be to cover up the extent of youth unemployment. Getting the mugs to pay for it themselves from a mountain of debt is just an added political bonus. Much of the rest of British education policy seems to be concerned with concealing the calamity of demolishing the grammar schools, which were the classless route to the universities and professions.

Read the rest at John’s blog.