An interesting post from Lars here on disruptive innovation of higher education. An interesting read and makes a strong case for the two year undergraduate degree. Especially as the traditional academic year structure is based on pre-industrial labour requirements (see Simon Jenkins in The Guardian), the argument for the two year degree appears stronger.
Structurally, higher education appears financially unsustainable and systematically inefficient. Highly paid academics develop the product as in course content, deliver the content and are responsible for a high proportion of administrative support for the course. At the same time, career development in many Universities is largely based on research activities and outputs. So a major barrier for implementing the two year degree would be academic staff as their careers are based on research, which requires time…. the long holidays have a purpose…
So there would appear to be two clear solutions. To change the link between research and career development, which is the case with many newer Universities – arguably they have a stronger record in teaching quality. Or employ a smaller number of well paid academics employed in research and course development and less well paid teaching staff responsible for delivery (as I understand it, the Open University is broadly based on this structure). Yet would this be acceptable for the average student with expectations of University involving being directly taught by the ‘famous’ professors and engaging in intellectual debate at the cutting edge (the fact that a degree is still engaging in the building blocks of knowledge far from the cutting edge doesn’t feature in this fiction)? So Universities are caught between efficiency/ effectiveness drivers versus meeting customer expectations …

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