Students and their University
A few weeks ago, I was in a meeting with some PGT students. Specifically, students studying for a Masters in Managing the Creative Economy. I had assisted with a project they were working on. Afterwards we sat down to chat.
I asked the questions I usually do, why did you choose KU? And has it met your expectations so far?
I found that for most, they had received offers from other universities, Goldsmith, UCL etc and they chose KU above these. So of course, I inquired why KU? To which unanimously the response was that the KU programme was the most practical. And to date they’ve not been disappointed. There have of course, been hiccups but, still no regrets. They love their lecturers and they enjoy their programme of study very much.
After querying how the programme could be improved, someone said it would help if embedded in the programme was an individual SWOT analysis for each student, as this is something that is needed in management as well as personal development. A lack of a measurable PDP was bemoaned. The discussion then swayed towards asking the question, whether it’s up to the university to do this or the individual.
So of course, the question was posed to the group, is it the responsibility of a PG degree to do this or a UG degree? While working in student politics, we once had over eighty people apply for one position and I remember the process of elimination. We live in an age where companies can have as many as sixty individuals applying for one position. Individuals can no longer wait until they are employed before a PDP is begun. And if one is going into business, it is absolutely essential that the business as a whole is continually aware of these things. So, where do individuals gain the skills necessary for it?
People no longer seem to go to university simply for the sake of learning. We go so that we can get a better job or climb the social ladder. It has been known for a while now that Higher Education is a key component to Social Mobility. So we go to university for a better social status, better income and to improve our own self worth. Universities are aware of this, so it behoves an institution to provide students with what they need. The changing role of the academic means that an academic can no longer state that his/her role is simply to teach, but to prepare individuals for what is to come.
What can the universities themselves do? One of the students said something very clearly “stop all the consultancy exercises and get on with the job of improving the university.” I found that quite interesting, as I think consulting those who will be affected by any changes made to or by the university is essential. But I do agree that at some point the consulting must stop and the work must begin. The perception to this particular student was that there is too much consulting and not enough action.
And probably more importantly, what can students do. What can we do once we’re at university? I think this is where involvement in things other than the academia side of university comes in very handy. Some courses lend themselves to such things, while many do not. So activities such as running societies or getting involved in sports clubs. Or even creating your own initiatives, these become exceptionally important as institutions like Kingston and many other “new” universities are well placed to provide excellent support for these students.
Personally, I found the biggest benefits I got out of my university were when I got myself involved in things. When I got involved with UNAKU (United Nations Association Kingston University) and began organising their charity music events and when I started my own Gospel Choir. These things got me introduced to a whole network of people, the very same people who in the end convinced me to run for Students’ Union President and were instrumental in my victory in both elections. And my experience in that post is absolutely invaluable.
While there is a great responsibility on the university to do “exactly what it says on the tin” a greater responsibility lies with the student that made the choice in the first place, to work towards gaining the skills they will need. After all, it is their future at stake.
Until my next blog, have a grand time. 😉