The Funding Hole part two – Education

I know that it is now de rigeur for the government to promote re-training in order to preoccupy us for the next four years and buy them time to sort the jobs situation out, but I have a quick caveat for students. If you are applying to an MA or PhD programme bear in-mind that should you already have an MA or PhD in any other field you do not merit funding. Say you have an MA in Design but now wish to move over to Sculpture or wish to bolster your CV with an Art History qualification; you will be unable to get a grant. This is also a problem should you sign on for a PhD programme – now I know in the Arts its unlikely that you will attempt two PhDs, but say you come from a completely different academic discipline such as Science and feel you wish to move into the Arts – as is all the rage, you will soon discover that your PhD in Genetics excludes you from ever studying anything else unless you have the money to pay the fees and maintenance yourself. If we had a Liberal Arts option, as in American Universities where students take a Liberal Arts basic the first year and then move into a chosen field, you would see a wealth of career options unfold. Also funding in the US is an application meritocracy – regardless of your past qualifications you can, on the merit of your application alone, receive a fully funded grant. In this situation your primary degree is a failsafe – in other words its a base upon which you build, it is not designed to be your entire career choice. What we need in Ireland is an education system that espouses learning for the sake of interest rather than endgame. As there is little hope of many University courses ending in a career, one should simply do a course that is of interest. It is now looking like if you want a placement you must attend a DIT, some courses here will place you directly into industry – they at least forgo the chagrin of Universities that they are trying to produce academic higher thinkers. Universities have become businesses and students the moneymakers. The more money they make the more buildings they can build to pack more students in. The hiring ban (that bit of Governmental genius) has meant that student to teacher ratio has dropped disastrously, precipitously plunging us down the league tables. Standards have fallen and lecturers that should have retired years ago remain, others are teaching courses they know little about. For example the Government pushed and pushed for kids to go into Science; there was not just a push toward undergraduates but also PhDs, all in you are there for 8-10 years. Even better, do a few postgrads – more money from the Health Boards go to the University and they have a student locked in for 15 years or more; then what happens – “we are not hiring.” The one and only time the University has to pay you, you overly qualified chump, they tell you to go away. And so you and decide OK, I will start over and do an MA in something I actually love like Art Theory and you all know what happens now don’t you? The Government tells you,”sod off, we have paid for you to do a BSc in Genetics and a PhD in Lobotomy, now magic a job for one of those out of your arse.”


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