Universities are expensive to run, so can’t be available for free. They also should not be paid for by the taxpayer as not all taxpayers use Universities. Most people who attend Universities are not taxpayers.
Universities are not value for money as the terms are short and the holidays and breaks long. Even with short terms most courses do not require student attendance every day, or even work more than 4 hours on any day. This is inefficient and gives student more time to be distracted or loose focus or interest in their courses. It is also not realistic preparation for the real world.
Covid has also shown that a lot of learning can be done remotely. Unless the University system is rationalised it will collapse and only Universities like the Open University will survive or the other surviving Universities will be full of foreign students and rich students, which is not to the advantage of the great UK young Intellectual talent. UK Universities should be moulding UK grown talent regardless of their social or financial status.
Universities also offer courses that are not beneficial for a career or are too niche to add good value to students or their chance of entry into a long-term career. Many courses are there because of historic reasons or educational politics and have not been modernised to keep pace with evolving technologies or the modern global society. Also, often the entry level into a degree course is based more on financing considerations rather than thecalibre of students. The University system is currently broken, ineffective and inefficient. Many students leave University disillusioned and often pursue a career that is not in the field of their degree. Unless it is fixed many Universities will go under and the UK will lose its reputation as an innovative and progressive nation. This is how NONPOL would optimise the University system.
- The University term shall run from 01 September to 15 August, with the annual two weeks break used by the University and lecturers for onboarding of new students. There will be one week holiday at Christmas and around Easter.
- Students will study, with more than 50% as face-to-face attendance, for 40 hours per week.
- Degrees will be achieved in one year, rather than three. This is more efficient and much cheaper for the student.
- More than 50% of degree places MUST be underwritten by industry. For example, a degree in Chemistry will be underwritten by pharmaceutical and chemical companies and ensure the curriculum was current for the industry. These places will be free to the student’s, as the courses will be paid by a sponsoring company. In return the student will sign a 3-year employment contract with the company. This gives the student a guaranteed job at the end of their degree and gives a company an appropriately trained employee. If the student leaves before 3 years, they will need to pay for the cost of the degree. This approach also allows the industry to define what the course content should include. Furthermore degrees that have no industry investment have no real-life value and will stop.
- The remaining places on the course can be filled by foreign students, but at a higher premium price and other student that want to pay for the course. We would ensure foreign students would not be allowed to take courses in evolving technologies, such as AI or industries where Intellectual Property and new ideas can be stolen, such as in the field of engineering. We need to stop training foreign students in leading-edge technology for them to go back home and be in competition with our companies.
- It is critical that the calibre of University students are consistently high. Each student, UK or foreign, must take a University entrance test, like a driving test before they can even apply for a University place. Furthermore, any non-native English-speaking students will have to pass an English oral exam. Bright students should not be held back by students struggling with the English language.
- Student attendance, both local and virtual,who be verified via biometrics and attendance would form part of the graduation criteria.
We suspect that a number of the lesser Universities will fail due to their inability to attract industry sponsors or students of sufficient calibre. This will take us back to the days when University attendance was an achievement and an honour and only those with the skills and commitment achieve a degree. We suspect that there will be fewer University students per year but with a degree being achieved in one year, itwould mean more degrees will be achieved in the long run, but with the knowledge that the level of the degree being higher and the majority of the graduating students walking straight into a job.
Besides improving the Universities for the benefit of the UK students of the future, the Universities would follow a similar strategy of our Fix Education strategy in that the University would be strongly incentivised to run 24/7 and become a revenue stream by running its facilities for the local community and local businesses. In particular Universities shall be encouraged to run evening training for previous generations that were not fortunate to get a good education or learn a trade. Universities would be encouraged to put UK first.