We really are coming to a crossroads in higher ed. A few decades ago, the possibility that a whole department, based on an entire academic subject, would be tossed as “not useful knowledge” would be considered inconceivable.
But today, in the United States, this sort of thing is common. Shakespeare is being tossed in exchange for a lesbian author. Computer science departments are being shut down, leading to a shortage of computer scientists where the world really needs people who understand computers. Even mathematics is turning into a boiler room operation on many campuses, focusing on passing students over academics.
With all the academics being removed from campus, what to replace it with? Many campuses are throwing in ever more Education courses, knowing they are frauds any student can ace without effort. We know they are frauds because they’re not quite politically protected: we can inspect what goes on in their classes, and since their graduates often go off to teach, we can judge the quality of the coursework by the quality of the graduates, for the most part.
Another new branch of “academic” courses has been affecting our campuses, Gender Studies, and unlike Education, these courses are becoming mandatory. Now, the graduates of these fields aren’t nearly so vulnerable as in Education, and so it’s not so easy to criticize their uselessness by examining how they succeed in the (non-existent) job market. Across the country, these courses, despite their clear lack of educational value, are springing up, detracting from the education our students receive.
Well, across THIS country, yes, but it’s clear not every country is subjecting itself to this madness:
I grant Hungary isn’t the higher educational capitol of the world, but at least, finally, some place is fighting back.
To be fair, just two universities in the country even offer the program at the graduate level, and only 13 students total enrolled in them this year.
While, yes it’s fair to say the above, it’s also fair to say the Gender Studies blighting our campuses were small programs too, years ago…kudos to Hungary for nipping this abomination in the bud. Did they have more specific reasons beyond the perfectly justifiable “this is not an academic subject”?
“There is no economic rationale for studies such as these,” he said, as the degree does not “furnish students with skills that can be readily and directly converted on the labour market.” He added that the programs aren’t sustainable and “take away valuable resources from other programs, deteriorating the economic stability of universities.”
That’s a pretty thorough takedown. While “economically useless” is all a state school can really understand, the fact that these courses are taking away from the time students can spend learning real academics is all the justification necessary for elimination of these wasteful and irrelevant courses.
It’s a shame America is far too arrogant to take advice and learn from other countries, but if that posture should ever change, I hope it takes a peek at Hungary which clearly has something to say we should heed.