Letters: Degrees of disservice to Scots graduates
IN RESPONSE to your article that quotes Lena Wilson [chief excecutive of Scottish Enterprise] as saying Scotland has the best graduates in the world (10 April), it is only relatively recently that having a degree has been seen as a “passport to a job”.
Before the Second World War, university education was reserved for those who could afford it, and were spending a few years studying fairly obscure subjects, and/or hanging out with like-minded people.
Even after the war, when access to educational opportunities was expanded, having a degree was not seen entirely as an entry into a prestigious job, but was supposed to expand students’ minds, and create a “fully rounded person”.
However, I suspect that many employers restricted access to management trainee positions to graduates because they assumed, rightly or wrongly, that graduates would possess certain required abilities, or, more cynically, because it would enable them to restrict numbers on shortlists.
Now there are many more university graduates, as access to higher education becomes easier for non- traditional applicants – although, sadly, the costs may at some point start once again to restrict university education to the better off.
But with larger numbers of graduates, it’s natural that employers will have to look for other ways of cutting down the numbers of those they wish to employ, so it’s less likely that a degree, especially of the non-vocational type, will automatically guarantee an interview.
It is doing students a disservice to sell them the benefits of a degree simply as an entry into highly-paid work.
Instead, universities should promote the other benefits of higher education, both of the vocational type, or in the social sciences, as an opportunity to develop their minds and personalities.
Well-educated individuals ought to enhance the workplace at any level, and many will have developed entrepreneurial talents which will enable them to become the employers of the future.
(Dr) Mary Brown
I love the enthusiasm of Lena Wilson, the civil servant paid more than the Prime Minister to head Scottish Enterprise – our famously free-spending quango.
In spite of her assurances, I find it difficult to believe any industrialist could possibly have told her that he rates Scotland’s engineering graduates as “the best in the world”.
Better than graduates from Cal Tech, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Berkeley, Imperial, Freiburg, Lausanne, Paris, Hong Kong, Peking, Tokyo or Singapore?
OK, “wha’s like us”, but let’s get real.
Her “huge frustration” about parents giving children sensible advice is misplaced and her demand that planning laws be binned to allow even more wind farms is outrageous.
As for her plan to open two Brazilian offices to flog what Ms Wilson calls “Scottish luxury goods” and most of us call “Scotch”, it is hardly cutting-edge technology.
(Dr) John Cameron
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