Saturday, 5 August 2017

Alma Mater

In May 2017, my wife and I are going back (and by the time you read this will have been back) to our old university - Surrey - for a weekend visit when it celebrates its 50th anniversary. In one form or another, the University of Surrey has been in existence for 125 years but it is choosing to celebrate just 50 years as a fully fledged university. That is in stark contrast to another I will not name that recently celebrated 175 years in existence even though it had only been a university for 10 years!
I'm sure that we will enjoy the ocassion very much but I notice, not least from its website, how much things have changed. All UK universities have changed, although to varying degrees. I nearly didn't type 'degree' then because it sounded too much of a pun but I leave it in because the degrees on offer are now very varied in their depth and value. Many, I feel, are not worth the time, effort or debt - nor the heartache because no university education is devoid of this in some form or another. When we went to university, it was a formative experience that many no longer receive or even want! Many are at university to pick up a degree because they have been told that it is a ticket to a good job (which is becoming increasingly debatable).
This degree-ticket mentality is not helped by the modular approach to higher education that has now been widely adopted. Rack up the modules; get a degree. My undergraduate degree in Human Biology seemed very intricately woven. So much so that, given the subject matter, I feel that I am still unpicking it.

The following seems particularly relevant:

"...bits of knowledge laid end to end [do not] lead to wisdom."
Altered and attributed to Melvin Konner. I hope I have got his sentiment right - it is certainly mine.

As I write (and schedule) this, I notice that it is about this time of year that the exam results come out. Good luck.