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Tariffs, education and leagues..

Posted By tom On June 18, 2012 @ 10:21 am In teaching | No Comments

A peculiar post.

For [1] Alistair Horne, and anyone who’s interested.

[2] Sam Missingham posted on [3] Futurebook this morning regarding male/female bias in publishing, and I responded by asking about the ex-Public School ratio in the same industry. Alistair Horne picked me up on this and asked about Oxbridge.

As I mentioned – I’m not trying to be chippy (if I say this one more time I’m going to get ‘doth protest’ tweets), but I’m interested in how the perspective within an industry (publishing, in this instance) is shaped by the educational training it’s constituent members received.

My reasons for this are many, and bear further inquiry, but the point Alistair and I started to discuss was regarding entry tariffs for university, and needs a little explanation.

There’s an assumption running through a number of institutions that adopting a higher tariff for students entering courses results in a better quality of graduate. That’s almost certainly true in rigorously academic programmes, but I don’t accept that it’s true in a creative environment. I’m obviously pleading special circumstances, but I can’t see the relationship between success at A-Level and success three years down the line in a Filmmaking and Creative Media degree. Or Illustration, or Graphics, or Fashion or Fine Art. Those subjects aren’t the basis of an A-Level (of course, early training and exposure to ideas helps – in many cases my decision on whether to accept an applicant is guided by their response to ‘what do you read?’ – if I can see potential in their portfolio, then they have a shoo-in, the clincher is often their ability and/or desire to expand their horizons), and as such I don’t buy the over-simplification that better A-Level results = better graduate. Especially when some of the basis for that is bound up in the calculation of League Table results being influenced by that self-same tariff. The Times and the Guardian base part of the League Table calculation on the tariff the Faculty sets.

You have to start somewhere (although in the case of League Tables it seems to me that starting anywhere is a bad idea and we should trust a student’s ability to do some basic research about their chosen institution), and maybe tariff is as good a starting point as any, but it seems reflective of cutting corners and not being able or having time to speak to applicants to determine their potential, and then work with them to achieve it. I’ve mentioned before that the courses I work on and run always interview applicants, and we’ve fought for the right to make a decision regardless of A-Level results.

It’s a battle, though, that I’m never entirely sure we’re going to go on winning.

Article printed from other things: http://www.tomabba.com/otherthings

URL to article: http://www.tomabba.com/otherthings/?p=778

URLs in this post:
[1] Alistair Horne: http://twitter.com/#!/pressfuturist
[2] Sam Missingham: http://twitter.com/#!/samatlounge
[3] Futurebook: http://futurebook.net/content/women-digital-publishing

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