Stop falling for the university con job

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Stop falling for the university con job



Wage gap between high school grads and degree holders narrows

Post-secondary grads more likely to be employed, but high school grads see greater wage gains


....have a decent life, instead of a bullshit life, and get yourself a trade.


Universities are about the creation, preservation and distribution of knowledge. There are many routes to an enjoyable, worthwhile remunerative livelihood.


Universities are big business, scamming billions of dollars from unsuspecting students who often end up with insurmountable debt. Just a hunch but many, many people could probably do quite well without that kind of personal experience knowledge.

Perhaps educational institutions are the biggest rip-off of all.


Your "argument" is a heaping, steaming pile, NorthReport. It wasn't worth creating, preserving or distributing. Wink What is it with your hate on about universities?


I think there's a danger in the erosion of the liberal arts education, for one. I've been in too many workplaces where critical or original thinking are met with ignorance or suspicion. Even good communication skills seem to be on the wane, and not that highly valued. This doesn't make for a healthy, educated society that is self-determining. I think it also contributes to the general dumbing down of public, esp. political discourse in our society.

Still, a balancing out and away from the ivory tower model of social and economic mobility is a good thing, and I think young people today are much more willing to embrace a technical or manual-oriented education. No doubt primary and secondary school education can be optimized away from the 12-year warehousing model and towards more practical as well as critical thinking content that is available in higher liberal arts education. This would probably be more interesting for kids than the garbage they have to sit through now, and would help them make more informed choices as they enter the adult world.


The truth hurts I suppose eh Caissa.

Those who are part of the university system should be ashamed for ripping off so many young people, and putting them into massive debt , and destroying their lives forever.

University profressor's comments about all this probably would be: "but I'm all right Jack"


Sigh! Students pay tuition fees to enrol in credit courses. I suppose one could say they were ripped off if the courses weren't taught.

 I believe tuition fees should be abolished and our post-secondary education system funded exclusively though tax dollars.

Your hyperbole  has no substance and empty rhetoric as it stands NortReport. Do you want to try to turn it into an argument? I promise to be gentle with my marking. Of course, at this rate you might still feel ripped off. Wink


Did a university administrator shoot your dog, NorthReport? :)

More seriously, though, your dismissal of university in favour of college (I think) is really simplistic, and well, downright bitter. Post-secondary institutions are becoming increasingly fused together, with colleges able to grant degrees or advanced standing in related university programmes. Credentialism and commodification of education, combined with continual undermining of employment conditions for those who aren't administrators (upper-tier managers, not office staff) are very real, unfunny characteristics of post-secondary education in general today.

Your tweed-clad professor stereotype has been replaced in many places by stressed out sessional or limited-term contract instructors who still must show an active research record and perform academic "service" (sitting on committees, supervising grad students) in order to keep the treadmill spinning. And those with tenure are finding themselves squeezed even more to teach larger classes, supervise more graduate students, take on more administrative tasks, bring in more grant money, etc. The real problems are related to neoliberal restructuring, not navel-gazing elitism. The systems are unstable and exploitative -- to staff and to students, who often take on the language of administrators, looking for a return on investment.

I went to college and university (and the only debt I accrued was when I studied journalism at community college). I used to write about technical and technological training, back when the private sector was clamoring for more public money to train software developers, network technicians, etc. In the late 1990s we saw efforts to realign public education to industry needs, right on down to secondary and middle schools (Cisco sponsored one school, if I remember correctly).

I think Caissa has been very patient and heck, Socratic, too. You would do well to reflect on all those questions.



Written by leading historians of higher education from around the world,
these nine essays identify “key moments” in the internationalization of
higher education: moments when universities and university leaders
responded to new historical circumstances by reorienting their
relationship with the broader world. Covering more than a century of
change—from the late nineteenth century to the early twenty-first—they
explore different approaches to internationalization across Europe,
Asia, Australia, North America, and South America. Notably, while the
choice of historical eras was left entirely open, the essays converged
around four periods: the 1880s and the international extension of the
“modern research university” model; the 1930s and universities’ attempts
to cope with international financial and political crises; the 1960s
and universities’ role in an emerging postcolonial international
development apparatus; and the 2000s and the rise of neoliberal efforts
to reform universities in the name of international economic
Read more:

Inside Higher Ed


Today's Coal Miners - Students

Because UC pledges 100% of tuition to maintain its bond rating, it has also implicitly assured bond financiers that it will raise your tuition so that it can borrow more. Since 2004, UC has based its financial planning on the growing confidence of bond markets that your tuition will increase. (Why? Because you’ve put up with this so far, and because UC has no other plan. Its capacity to raise tuition is advertised in every bond prospectus.)”

What students everywhere should know now is that something quite demoralizing has come to be. A college education, for many, will no longer actually be worth it, in monetary terms. A four year degree won’t in fact allow many graduates to have a job that pays enough to pay off their student loan debts, and at the same time live the happy consumer life they’ve been raised to desire. It’s not their personal failing or individual problem. Rather, it’s a structural fact of the new economy and its income distribution.


mersh wrote:
Post-secondary institutions are becoming increasingly fused together, with colleges able to grant degrees or advanced standing in related university programmes.

Exactly, way back when I was a university student there were exactly two degree granting non-universities in Canada.  The situation is very different today.


Although I have spent the last 33 years around universities, I have never escaped the feeling of being the imposter working class kid.


Call me naive, but I think universities do more good than harm. There are people who want to advance human knowledge, and people who just want to get a credential, and people that are in between. All these people can collaborate to some extent, although they will surely not agree on everything.


Indeed. Let's leave law, medicine, business administration and all other professional fields to the rich.

I actually get your argument NR, in the sense that people tend to look down on the trades, even though they are just as important, and people taking them will often wind up in a beter situation than some university grads.

That doesn't mean I think universities should be given over to corporations, or that they should only be accessible to the rich.


Pogo Pogo's picture

I think that history, literature and philosophy are necessary for a healthy society.  But I don't know if a liberal arts degree is the proper method anymore.  We need to recognize that a lot of what people attend post secondary education for is related to what they plan to do for a living.  Not all of them can go on to teach their favorite discipline, but even aside from that why should this education be reserved for university track individuals.  Surely plumbers can benefit from understanding history just as much as lawyers.


Pogo wrote:

I think that history, literature and philosophy are necessary for a healthy society.  But I don't know if a liberal arts degree is the proper method anymore.

Certainly there are other ways, but it is still vital to maintain those institutions. It should never just become a job factory.

Besides, I think the notion that the liberal arts are somehow less economically viable (if that is the only measure) is a lie. Just one example:

Haven't got time to look it up right now, but I remember a study by the Alliance for Arts and Culture which pointed out that dollar for dollar investment in the arts had a far better return than things like resource development.




Come on parents, use your brains.

Get your kids into a trade.

Then if she or he wants go on to university.

For 90% of the students involved university is a huge ripoff.

I know, I know, you are not in that 90%, you say.  Laughing

It is time for parents to smarten up and give their kids a real shot at a positive future.


Once again, you are spewing nonsense, NorthReport. You have given absolutely no evidence nor a reasoned argument "university is a ripoff."


As a parent, I hope I won't be choosing  my children's post-secondary paths, but I assume you aren't advocating an increase in helicopter parent behaviour.

You are correct Smith. Ms. C. and I are doing quite fine financially with our liberal arts degrees.


The funny thing is, undergraduate degrees (and MAs increasingly) have become seen as a gateway to employment -- universities do indeed act as job factories, just in different ways. Liberal arts programmes also help fund other, smaller, programmes, so eliminating them would undermine emerging revenue streams (like specialized or professionalized degrees or certificates).


But there is this tension, right? Knowledge can indeed be empowering and productive, and can also help build skills that are useful outside the university. But the outright commercialization of post-secondary education has by and large subordinated that potential to much more neoliberal thinking: return on investment, learning as banking, etc. With rising fees and greater barriers to employment, students often get caught worrying about the usefulness of what they're doing, as well as the financial costs of failing or receiving less-than-desired grades (which may prevent them from getting into law of business school, or (more common) teachers' college).


So NorthReport, I can't really make sense of your argument here. Yes, debt for university (or college!) education stinks. It certainly doesn't come with any guarantees, and for many, can be a miserable experience. But you seem to want to separate out universities from the greater political economy for extra scorn. I don't get it.



I couldn't agree more.

Get a trade and you'll have a decent job, a family, a home, group benefits, and a pension for life.

College is ripping you off: Students are cash cows, and schools the predators

Higher ed is sold as the key to an affluent life. It's really a big business designed to leave you buried in debt


NorthReport wrote:

I couldn't agree more.

Get a trade and you'll have a decent job, a family, a home, group benefits, and a pension for life.

You also run the risk of being just another part of the non-questioning, non-critical thinking masses who fall for political and economic propaganda such as: environment vs. prosperity; development vs. "living in caves"; socialism vs. "free enterprise"; pipelines = schools; austerity = fiscal responsibility; terrorists vs. rational western diplomacy, and so on.

Yes, a university education won't necessarily immunize you from this kind of thinking but you won't have any excuse for ignoring rational argument.


The acquisition of knowledge is good in and unto itself.