I suppose one thing Jackie Lavin has a clue about is how to gain headlines while at the same time annoy the hell out of those who work and study in Ireland's third level colleges. This morning she is the most read item in the Irish Independent where Brian O'Reilly writes that she "stands by ‘Prime Time’ comments after online uproar". She is quoted in the article as having said:
"Realistically you could cut a year off most college courses"
"Our academics and colleges need to look at the way they do business"
"A lot of graduates haven’t a clue about the business they’re going into, they’ve only approached things from an academic and theory point of view"
"It’s time academics and colleges take a look at the real world"
Image source: FinanciallyPoor.com.
Hard hitting stuff! Brian Lucey of Trinity College in his excellent blog takes her to task in a fair and balanced article "Jackie Lavin – A Meme Girl for Irish Higher Education" - he writes that "Education is a complex matter while reducing it to simple soundbites is easy" and that "Trotting out tired, ignorant, tropes on TV is easy. Education is hard".
Clearly, Jackie Lavin just didn't wake up one morning and decide to make headlines by slagging off students and academics. Perhaps she has reasons from her experience that all our graduates that we do produce actually do not "have a clue"? She even defended her comments by saying (quoted in above article) "I absolutely stand by everything I said". Fair play to her for sticking to her guns.
Needless to say, while she is entitled to her opinion, I disagree with her bullshit. Following on from comments by the likes of Web Summit's Paddy Cosgrave (see my blog post on this here), and Paypal's Louise Phelan (see my blog post about her here), it seems that students and academics are fair game for some "expert" comments by pundits and celebrities. It seems that Jackie Lavin and others like her are expecting perfect graduates who are experienced in everything she wants, know it all before they start, hit the ground running without any training, and of course make money straight away.
Students arrive at our Colleges from schools with mixed abilities, and leave three or four years later with mixed abilities. I will not claim that all our graduates are perfect, but I'm proud to say that I and my colleagues had a role in transforming our students' lives through education in the short time that we have them. Most go on to be productive members of our society, picking up "clues" along the way. Many have overcome huge difficulties to to be able to go to College in the first place. Some have struggled to juggle life, family, work, study, and overcome disability. Nevertheless, at graduation day - a proud day for both the College and its students, we see pride in their efforts as they accept their degrees, diplomas, and certificates. I challenge Jackie Lavin to repeat the insults to our students she has said at any Graduation Ceremony in the country.
Jackie Lavin hasn't got a clue.