Sometimes when I listen to the debates about the future of higher education I think I’m going mad…
… I’ve tried to condense what I have gleaned from my investigations into one short blog post. And now I’m going to lie down in the dark. I may be some time...
It would appear that thousands of students are walking around universities that are teaching them nothing that is relevant to them. And that many students are taught by lecturers who know nothing about the real world. This means that they teach subjects like English, History and Philosophy instead of telling their students how to get jobs.
Some lecturers don’t even provide their students with extensive lecture notes and insist that their students use outdated technology like books, libraries and their imaginations. How are contemporary students supposed to know the answer to anything if it isn’t provided for them on the internet?
The fact is that more students learn on Facebook and Wikipedia these days than anywhere else. There is no actual evidence to support this claim, but it’s a fact all the same, just ask anyone.
What research does show is that the world is changing and as time goes on the rate of change accelerates. So much so, that if you were to draw a graph with time along the bottom and change up the side, after a while you would see that change happens so fast that it doubles back on itself, eventually doing a loop-the-loop.
For example, change has accelerated to such an extent that these days we cannot even anticipate the sort of jobs graduates will do in the future or the skillsets they’ll need. That’s why it’s a waste of time (and money) to teach people anything other than something called ’employability’.
Employability is important because if there is one thing we can say for sure it is that people will have to make themselves ’employable’ over and over again in the future. This is because people will chop and change careers a lot. They will also work longer hours; they will never retire and they won’t have to be any good at anything in particular, except a few basic generic skills, such as how to be ’employable’. This is called ‘flexibility’.
In short, HE has got to accept that there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns – the ones we don’t know we don’t know
So what will universities do in the future? Well, they will dedicated themselves to helping people adjust to the real world of ‘flexible’ employment. They will not teach students anything that students don’t want to learn or that isn’t relevant to them. No stuffy lectures or lecturers. No stupid old books. Students won’t even have to attend. For just £9000 a year they can do fuck all but sit at home on Facebook.