Ripping off Students?
I've just finished marking my post-graduate Macroeconomics for Managers course assignments. It can be a trying experience at times, when you come up with a paper with rubbish English, or one with incoherent arguments, or worse, both!! But it can also be a real pleasure when you see a great effort or a huge improvement from a student who was initially struggling.
It is a class almost UN in character, and I get very interesting questions, so I posed an open ended assignment question for them to search and wander in the dark. These are people with undergraduate degrees; they are not wet behind the ears when it comes to assignments and the like. But some of them are clearly way off the pace, and is that their fault or those who accepted their applications?
I always took the view that universities can be under too much pressure to raise revenues due to governmental budget cuts and thus accept students who might ultimately struggle but still pay the fees. I'm glad to report to myself that at least as far as my university is concerned I am fairly certain that is not the case (after 1 year lecturing experience). Most have shown great aptitude to learn a subject quite alien to them, and showed that their analytical skills (hopefully sharpened during their first degree) is well formed. Some struggle somewhat due to their level of English competency, and here I feel my university can take a second look at English proficiency entry requirements. It is painful to see a bright student not get the marks they deserve because they don't quite fully understand the question or express themselves well enough. If their answer is somewhat obscure, what can I do? It's not my job to simplify the English in the course just for them. I already try hard to use simpler terms, but if they cannot even understand the word 'endeavour' perhaps they should have spent a bit more time studying English before being allowed to do such a course.
A few are meandering along, and should do better. Perhaps they need time to adjust to the Australian system, or perhaps they need to try harder. I don't know, but to be fair one semester is not enough to make judgements. They seem quite bright too, but maybe their expectations of what they need to do at this level is too low. One or two look like failing, not because the university has taken them in when they should not have, but because they are just not trying. Father's $$$ I assume.
So, no I don't think students are being ripped off, in terms of being taken into courses they cannot do for the sake of university income, and that I am pleased to find out for myself. Whether fees are too high is another matter entirely, and again hardly the fault of the universities-Little Johnny and his short-sighted views can take the blame for that!