Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Wrong Again - "No-show students missing a life lesson" (via @IrishTimes)

The "To Be Honest" (TBH) column in the Irish Times from the 5th March last blasts that our "third-level system is a bubble that is divorced from reality" and that students seem "to have no interest in what industrial leaders want from them". This moan is in response to a low turnout to an event organised by a "professional institution that works to further the sharing of engineering knowledge". Furthermore, the article goes on to bitch and moan that "third-level institutions do not seem to be too bothered about trying to give our graduates the type of insight needed to get gainful employment". Strong stuff indeed, and followed by what Louse Phelan of PayPal thundered last week about our graduates having a "sense of entitlement", it has so far been a month when our third-level sector is taking a battering.

Employers view of our graduates.
Image Source: WordWatch.com.
In my response to Louise Phelan: Why PayPal boss is wrong about our graduates, I pointed out that students of very mixed variety and ability arrive through our doors in first year and leave four years later a much different person than when they arrived. The TBH column moans further that the "private sector finance third-level education in Ireland" - of course this is only partially true as both public and private sectors fund education through taxes with a large dollop of help from the good people of Germany and the UK.

I'd first question how attractive the event organised by the TBH writer was to students in the first place. 70 registered and only 10 "bothered" to show up - this can't all be due to lack of interest by the students. Promoting events to third-level students is a very competitive space where there are lots of other attractions. So please, don't think that just because you organise an event that students will be packing your talks so that your ego does not get hurt. It is a tough task to get people to any type of event - try the following three tips: Promotion, Promotion, and Promotion.

To Be Honest, I am feed up of people bashing the third-level system and moaning that our graduates are not fit for purpose. The Sunday Times University Guide (2013) reports that the National College of Ireland with a rate of 96% is "best for employment" of all our Colleges (read more about this here). If our graduates are so bad, why are they being hired? We must be doing something right?

Finally, I'd really like to know what kind of activity did the Louise Phelans and the TBHs of this world do while they were at College. Were they model students? How easy/hard was it for them to find a job when they graduated? Did they go to all the employer events? Did they study all the skills necessary to succeed in the workplace? Were they 100% productive in their first day on the job?

"Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone" (John 8:7).

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