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think the evidence that would support this is: 1. More people attend university and the standards have necessarily dropped to accommodate this.
2. The finances for the universities are heavily supported by paying students from overseas who, given that they pay a substantial amount, expect to get a degree at the end. It is bad marketing if they don't.
3. Examinations are often carried out over a period of time on specific topics which can be learnt for the exam then forgotten.
4. Some Universities allow failed papers (although not in the Finals as far as I know) to be retaken by students at home and handed in later. Southampton 2nd year Physics for example. This could be acceptable in special circumstances but it seems commonplace.
. I have found that A-level grades are a better representation of ability than degree (with exceptions previously noted). I have interviewed people whose knowledge in all areas was very poor but who, amazingly, had a good degree.
6. MSc courses are even more variable. There are some Universities who award an MSc for just attending!
Now, this is not to say that it isn't great that more people have the opportunity to go to university. Also, there was not any golden age where people were perfectly selected to attend a university. People attain different abilities at different times in their lives so there were, and are, many people who excel at their jobs or even at academic work, who did not get opportunity to go to university. Also there are people who fail at university who can also blossom later. However, it seems to me that we have degraded the ability of the degree to be any sort of indicator to an employer. It is all down to the interview now, and that is not a good measure given the time pressure and the difficulty in assessment in such a short time.
I agree. However my gripe is the dilution of degree status, as in terms of employment indicator by the introduction of lots of non-job degrees, and degrees in just about anything. I admire anyone who wants to go to university to expand their knowledge, no matter what it is in. However when those degrees do not lead directly into related jobs, it dilutes down the value of a degree. I maybe biased as I am a science UG, and I get heartily fed up of the media portrayal of degree students all end up in HR or working in Tesco!I have long said there needs to be a reclassification of degrees according to their economic usefulness, with the most useful professions being more heavily funded in terms of teaching grants etc.
would argue the opposite - getting a degree should be divorced from the idea of getting a job. This would shift the balance of people doing degrees that they feel will land them in employment (and then being depressed when they don't) and more on to getting a degree as part of personal improvement.
I also suspect that undergrad degrees are actually useless for getting a skilled job anyway (you don't really learn enough lab skills to go straight into research, for example), so should be more about the ability to learn, to research, to comprehend and communicate your understanding. It shouldn't matter if this is done as part of a degree in chemistry, history, media studies, classics, genetics...
(Slightly off topic...) I get frustrated by people discounting media studies. Understanding how facts and arguments are presented through the media, and the impact that media has on people, is vitally important. It should guard you against media bias and political spin, and as such make you better able to understand the world we live in.