Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Other models for Tertiary education

With University funding headline news let me tell you how I got my degree. In the mid-1960s I was recruited by Shell-Mex and BP, the UK marketing arm of Shell and BP, straight from school with a couple of moderate A levels (Two A levels was much more the norm in those days). After a couple of years of learning a bit about the business I was selected along with a handful of others to do a BA Hons degree course at Ealing Technical College (now Thames Valley University). The standard was academically quite high and it was a genuine Honours Degree in Business Studies guaranteed and monitored by the Council for National Academic Awards. I graduated in 1970 with a 2.1.

The incidence of corporations/private sector employers offering young employees the chance to do vocational tertiary education is I suspect low these days. But why not? On a “Sandwich Course” you learn about the business of your employer as well as doing proper vocational education. And when you graduate you go into a job with already an inbuilt loyalty to your employer. I stayed with Shell for the rest of my 37 year career.

There are other funding models for Tertiary education and other ways of getting there than traditional University courses. My Business Studies degree was almost entirely relevant to my subsequent business life. It cost me nothing and Shell got me – for better or worse!

Why doesn’t the Government encourage Private Sector employers to offer appropriate vocational Tertiary education to school leavers in return for these students’ commitment to that employer? Tax incentives could apply so that the net cost to both the employer and the taxpayer were kept low. Everyone would benefit.


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