Image by Mary Gober

After spending a solid decade in the university system (both as a student and a teacher), I couldn’t help but feel a strong sense of unease about its underlying problems.

These underlying problems became more and more apparent to me as I discussed them with other like-minded students, staff, and other people who cared about what was happening. And these problems could be summed up in one sentence …

Education has become a “commodity”.

Education has become a “product” to be consumed, rather than a learning process to engage with.

The typical student expects to sign up to their degree, attend, do the bare minimum, and get a job from it.

How on EARTH did this end up getting confused with “learning”?

This isn’t learning – this is complying.

I sincerely believe that “compliance” is one of the main things our university system is teaching students nowadays.

Universities have become big factories solely dedicated to pumping out “graduates” who have learned little and developed even less.

Instead, students have been further indoctrinated to comply – even if it’s complying to irrational and ineffective ideas.

And if you start questioning too many things (either as a student or teacher), you start unravelling the absurdity of the place.

An “accreditation” institution

In a sense, universities have become an “accreditation” institution, rubber stamping unprepared graduates, and delivering them into ordinary, entry-level bureaucratic jobs.

Society isn’t helping this trend. We are now reaching the stage where almost EVERYONE is encouraged to go and “get a degree”. And governments are leading the drive.

As a result of this, educational standards continue to drop. Pretty soon (and we might already be at this point), degrees will hold very little value if everyone has one.

Pretty soon (again, we’re almost there now), you will need several PhDs before you can differentiate yourself from the millions of other people with degrees. And you’ll need this even if you’re applying for some REALLY basic jobs – jobs that end up being vacated by people who never needed a degree to begin with.

This isn’t education. This has NOTHING to do with learning or attaining knowledge.

The “business” of education

As a result of all this, universities are dropping their game to the lowest common denominator to continue to survive. After all, the more students they can brainwash to attend, the more money they ultimately make. It’s almost like a corporation.

And then, upon the inevitable graduation, many students lose their way.

Not only have they not been prepared for their post-university “careers”, they often find that they’re in the wrong area altogether (and they’ve accumulated a big fat debt along with it).

So what happens next?

Universities encourage graduates to come back for some “further study” (either an Honours, Masters, PhD, or even just a different degree altogether). They reassure them that this will be the key to the life they want.

Obviously, it rarely is.

The answers most people are looking for aren’t going to be found in this kind of environment, no matter what the brochure says…

The solution

Education as a whole needs to be less about complying, accreditation, and “business” – and more about enabling people to think independently and critically.

Having an “educated” society means having people who are able to use these qualities to make the world a better place. And you can’t do that by training everyone to become the next generation of worker ants.