About Me

I have done a lot of things in my life and have also worked in many different jobs to make a living and to experience life. This blog is just some of my musings, sometimes funny, sometimes inspirational, sometimes sad, sometimes angry, sometimes simple but all the time, it's just me.

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Higher education - worthwhile or worthless?

Professor Andrew Hacker says that higher education in the US is broken. I think it is broken everywhere, not just in the US.

He argues that too many undergraduate courses are taught by graduate assistants or professors who have no interest in teaching.

With the mushrooming of many private higher education institutions here, I am even aware of degree level courses being taught by people with degrees only as well rather than people with Master's or PhD or professors.

Hacker proposes numerous changes, including an end to the tenure system, in his book, Higher Education?

"Tenure is lifetime employment security, in fact, into the grave" Hacker tells NPR's Tony Cox.

The problem, as he sees it, is that the system "works havoc on young people," who must be incredibly cautious throughout their years in school as graduate students and young professors, "if they hope to get that gold ring."

That's too high a cost, Hacker and his co-author, Claudia Dreifus, conclude.

"Regretfully," Hacker says, "tenure is more of a liability than an asset."

In Malaysia, we do not have a tenure system, not one that I am aware of anyways.

So, in terms of lecturing, there are more universities and colleges in Malaysia than there are lecturers.

This inevitably results in colleges hiring inexperienced and under qualified to do the lecturing.

These people who just themselves may have finished their bachelor's degrees or master's degrees and may have no working experience get jobs as lecturers because there is a lack of other jobs available.

Someone recently informed me that in Malaysia, it seems like in 4-5 years, we will have a glut of doctors and more doctors than we require.

These trend has happened for IT graduates, then Engineers and inevitably doctors.

Unfortunately, having been a part time lecturer myself, many younger people do not consider being a lecturer or professor as a permanent career choice.

We are a nation that lacks good teachers at all levels, primary, secondary and higher education.

We are a nation where most of our ministers including prime minister has not even been educated locally because local education "sucks" and they belonged in an elite that could afford overseas education.

We are a nation where only Jho Low's and such can become billionaires because of their overseas connections through his overseas education.

If my statistics are correct, none of our prime ministers nor deputies were locally educated.

None of the top ten richest in Malaysia were locally educated. Some of our richest in fact have received no education at all.

Higher education now has little value now, not much more than the paper the degree is printed on.

What counts is your network, who you know, how much you know them, how you know them, where you know them from.

If you want to become rich, start mixing with people who are currently richer than you.

If you want to become more spiritual, start mixing with people who are more spiritual.

If you want to become a good cook, mix with chefs.

Apart from that, knowledge is all available on the Internet.

Most of my colleagues, even doctors, tend to tell me they use less than 20% if what they studied in their day to day life.

So, apart from having a piece of paper that says you are a graduate - that in itself will not get you anyway.

To move, move with the right crowd.

Take care and be well.

1 comment:

Claudia Dreifus said...

Hello Nil: We're glad you are interested in some of the issues we raise in our book and hope that you will take a look at it and tell us what you think.

Of course, we mostly deal with issues relating to domestic American higher education. But many international students come to the US and study here and we think they will be interested.

Let us know what you think of it, if you get to read it.

Best, Claudia Dreifus