Friday, 2 September 2011

Universities' crisis of image - how journalism impacts on the value of higher education

Here is a small piece of research that I carried out for the Chartered Institute of Public Relations on the relationship between HE organisations and the print media.

Comments and thoughts, as ever, are welcome:

NB: This paper is intended to stir debate around this topic rather than be scrutinised for academic rigour - so be gentle!


Community College Jobs said...

Hi Friends,

Higher education is worth every penny of its price, even at the most expensive and elite institutions in our country. Its value cannot be summarized on a spreadsheet or in the tables and charts of an annual report. Thanks you very much for your information...

nhj said...'s pretty!

Seriously, a good piece of work there. You were obviously restricted by the time and voluntary nature of the study, but got some excellent results and I think the crux of your study was very interesting.

If you had infinite resources, I'd probably like to see more analysis of the articles in various publications that you began here. I found that most interesting.

So when do we get the academic version?

christhegoth said...

From what I can see your conclusion is that Higher Education needs to work on better selling itself.

I would dispute this.

The thing about HE is that you can really be exposed to some great stuff. It inspires and takes you to whole new levels and places. But... In our growing multicultural town centres this can also happen. And it's free.

That's a very big deal. You can become extremely well cultured just by hanging out in places where many cultures mix. It may not be in a literary sense, but if Local Libraries, Buddhist Centres, etc etc carry on doing a great job it can be.

So, basically, it again bubbles down to the business decision. Is the degree worth it? Is it worth the now truly ridiculous price?

If I am right more and more people will say no. But then I genuinely hope to see this Govt Policy of trebling tuition fees actually leading to a collapse in the sector. It would be a total embarrassment for a crowd I see to be utter idiots. And would also set a benchmark that fees must never be this high again.

Obviously, I'm against the trebling of Tuition Fees.

It will be harder and harder for Universities to sell their wares, as more and more people wake up to the wealth of culture around them and question the value of degrees now. And I see this as a good thing.

Much as I value Higher Education a great deal I cannot at present recommend in good conscience doing a degree. At the price of a mortgage they are genuinely not worth the stress and head-ache. I believe graduates with this new debt burden will find it nigh on impossible to get on the property ladder, due to how this repayment figure effects disposable income. With the need for deposits so high now this is critical stuff. You study to earn more so you can live better after all. Including job-satisfaction. You don't live to work.

I genuinely feel people should wait and work on getting work experience at present. Avoid the debt, and become a mature student later. Mature students do well as they leave with a degree AND work experience.

I am also confident that if a Labour Govt return they will restore Tuition Fees back to an affordable level. Which is why I see waiting as an option. And with that reduction in Tuition Fees I will be able to recommend Uni again.

But I cannot recommend it now. It will be a disaster for so many.

Tom said...

Provides an interesting snap-shot of the perception of HE at a time of huge change and controversey in and around the sector. And it looks good :)

Certainly got me thinking. I do wonder if other media (tv, radio etc) analysis of the same period would yield similar results; equally would analysis of print media from a different time (e.g. pre-Browne or once the new fee regime has had time to bed it) would see HE portrayed in a more positive light...

Clearly the coverage during the period you have looked at has had an impact on public perception of HE, contributing to misunderstandings like "graduates with this new debt burden will find it nigh on impossible to get on the property ladder, due to how this repayment figure effects disposable income" posted here.

There is much for universities and government to do to redress the balance.

christhegoth said...

@Tom: My source:

And 4 year courses could leave you 50-60 grand under. So could see you repaying close to 100 grand. And we have a graduate surplus as well, so it's harder to get the high paying jobs.

Financially it simply does not add up in my eyes. That is not a mis-understanding. You have to repay, and you have to repay a lot more. And wages HAVE NOT gone up by that much.

Only the broke get out of it.

Tom said...


Try this for a much better explanation of what it will actually mean for graduates. And don't forget this is for England only - Welsh domiciled students WILL be better off under the new system than the current.

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