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Universities that *don't* like Access to HE applicants?

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Got a question about Student Finance? Ask the experts this week on TSR! 14-09-2014
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    (Original post by LewisH)
    Not sure that my own story helps but I'll chip in fwiw.

    I'm not special by any means. Part of the revelation of UCL is realising just how bright the people around me really are. Their insight and company is driving me on things I never thought I could achieve whenI signed to Access all that time ago
    That was wonderful to read, thank you! I'm hoping I still get a shot with UCL and I love to read real life accounts of mature students studying there!

    I think with Access, people really need to do their research and see what exactly they will get out of it and whether that is enough on completion to get people where they want to go. I was told at the start that it was the equivalent to 3 A grade A-levels (if full distinctions were achieved) and that it was very intensive. In reality that's not what I got. I don't find it very intensive at all and don't find the level of work very challenging. I won't have the same depth of knowledge on completion as the A-level student who had studied the same subjects for a full two years. I'm doing an awful lot of wider reading too and still don't believe I have the depth of knowledge that I think a certain few universities would require. Whether that's an over expectation from them or an under achievement from me, I don't know.

    It definitely does have its benefits though, my essay writing skills are improving and I'm now a pro at the Harvard Referencing system. If that helps me out in the first year then I will be incredibly grateful, then I understand that we're on more of a level playing field in the second year. Some of my classmates are starting to get back their university offers now and are doing very well applying for the ex-poly's and 92's etc. The most prestigious university that anyone else has applied for has been Uni of Manchester and so far they've all been rejected, which is maybe a little telling of what we can hope to achieve from an Access course :confused: I've said before that I know that is not set in stone and a few exceptional students will break the mould, but I guess for the majority, that's not the case.
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    Maybe people are happy going to 'mediocre' or ex-poly universities hence applying for them?

    Not just directed at you Elle but I think people need to get off their high horses regarding which university they are attending or hoping to attend. My first choice is Leeds Metropolitan..an ex-poly lowly ranked university I hear you say...well in the subject area I am applying for it is a top 10 and none of the 'Russell Group' uni's even offer this degree or similar. The thought of being surrounded by rich kids who have had everything handed to them on a plate their entire life doesn't appeal to all.
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    And there lies the irony.

    It's insulting to people who are applying to ex-poly universities or other 'mediocre' ranked universities when people come on here disregarding them because they aren't part of the RG.

    How is applying for a RG university aiming high? Please elaborate. The majority of RG universities offer degrees in traditional more academic qualifications eg. History, English etc.

    The reason many apply for ex-poly's is not down to aiming 'low' or a lack of intelligence it is simply the fact they offer more vocational qualifications which is what many want to study.

    The ex-poly I am applying for is a top 10 university in it's subject area...can you please elaborate on how that isn't aiming 'high'?

    Thanks.
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    My last point where I pointed out the university was top 10 in it's area was to show that not all ex-poly's etc are 'mediocre' or 'bad'. I agree though regarding your statement about it mainly being the younger students who take a strange view of ex-poly's. Guess I just find it frustrating reading it all the time and the post above was the last one I could read before posting my thoughts lol.

    In all honesty I think it's great people are aiming high and wanting to better themselves I just find it offensive or disrespectful when you read comments like "The most prestigious university that anyone else has applied for has been Uni of Manchester and so far they've all been rejected, which is maybe a little telling of what we can hope to achieve from an Access course."
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    Where and what do you study out of interest? What post graduate are you hoping to do...end goal?
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    (Original post by irdan)
    Maybe people are happy going to 'mediocre' or ex-poly universities hence applying for them?

    Not just directed at you Elle but I think people need to get off their high horses regarding which university they are attending or hoping to attend. My first choice is Leeds Metropolitan..an ex-poly lowly ranked university I hear you say...well in the subject area I am applying for it is a top 10 and none of the 'Russell Group' uni's even offer this degree or similar. The thought of being surrounded by rich kids who have had everything handed to them on a plate their entire life doesn't appeal to all.

    Sorry to have got your back up so much, but my entire point has been that we are discriminated against by 'prestigious' universities because of Access, I have never thought negatively towards anyone who has applied to an ex-poly and would never do so, but have merely pointed out that I am looked upon negatively by the RG universities because of the course that I am doing which I don't appreciate. I also don't want to go to a prestigious university to be surrounded by rich kids, I want to go because unfortunately for Law, and particularly the central London law firms (where i'd like to end up) the companies are looking for a degree from one of the top tens. And in regards to the top ten for Law, they are all RG's or Oxbridge etc.

    (Original post by irdan)
    My last point where I pointed out the university was top 10 in it's area was to show that not all ex-poly's etc are 'mediocre' or 'bad'. I agree though regarding your statement about it mainly being the younger students who take a strange view of ex-poly's. Guess I just find it frustrating reading it all the time and the post above was the last one I could read before posting my thoughts lol.

    In all honesty I think it's great people are aiming high and wanting to better themselves I just find it offensive or disrespectful when you read comments like "The most prestigious university that anyone else has applied for has been Uni of Manchester and so far they've all been rejected, which is maybe a little telling of what we can hope to achieve from an Access course."
    I don't believe that anybody has spouted any elitist crap and I don't see a high horse around either, I do believe it's been an informed and topical discussion on what you can and can't expect from an Access course. The consensus seems to be that if you want to apply to an ex-poly, you're quid's in. If you want to aim higher (which it undoubtedly is, as 45 distinctions is often not good enough) then you need to rethink your strategy or be the exception to the rule.
    I don't see why we can't expect more if we so wish? I've had an incredible career but have reached the ceiling of what I can do without a degree, I'm trying to rectify that and don't see why I can't at least expect to go to one of the top ten universities, but that is wholly my decision and I don't appreciate being looked upon negatively by those who are perfectly happy to go to an ex-poly. It is ultimately all of our own decisions, I don't look down on you so don't do the reverse, it's not fair.
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    Thank you for explaining Elle, and as I said in my first it wasn't aimed solely at you or even this thread. It's mainly the younger students who tend to look down on ex-polys or other similar universities and it does annoy me when they really are clueless in life.

    diablo: I finish my Access in January and start uni in Sep (so far only have one offer from Man Met), Leeds Met is my first choice. I want to study Physical Education and do a PGCE to be a secondary school PE teacher.
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    (Original post by Elle408)
    We had a Psychology lecturer from Man Met come in the other day and she said that they were very pro mature student. But then stated that they would only accept 45 Distinctions and A*- B in English and Maths GCSE's. That didn't seem at all inclusive to me and it discounted everyone in my class who wanted to study Psychology..
    This reminds of my mate who is doing an access course and the college arranged an open day for the law students at a MC circle company. Kudos! But during the presentation the firm told them they will need 320+UCAS points to even be considered which discounted almost everyone in the room as their course is worth nil points.
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    (Original post by Elle408)
    We had a Psychology lecturer from Man Met come in the other day and she said that they were very pro mature student. But then stated that they would only accept 45 Distinctions and A*- B in English and Maths GCSE's. That didn't seem at all inclusive to me and it discounted everyone in my class who wanted to study Psychology.

    She seemed to have a bit of a chip on her shoulder about University of Manchester, because when I said that their admissions tutor had stated that they take on average 10 access students per subject, per year, she said that that was ridiculously low (I don't believe that it is) and she didn't seem to think that the 45 distinctions was a lot to ask for.

    Can I just say, this thread is incredibly interesting to read, it may have veered off the point occasionally but I think it's a good representation of the limitations of Access and is probably a lot more reflective of what you can do with an Access course, as opposed to what your college says. It's all very subjective; because on the whole one university may generally not take Access but then makes the odd exception for outstanding students, meaning that we can't make complete assumptions, but at least we can generalise a little.

    I do think that the course is geared more towards those who want to go in to public sector professions, which would be perfectly acceptable if local colleges offered alternatives for those who want to study Law or sciences, but in my case they didn't and i'm trying to make the most of what is offered.
    45 credits at Distinction for Manchester Metropolitan with certain gcse grades as well sounds vaguly familar to me Elle408 as i had a similar experience with Manchester University.I phoned up Manchester a few weeks before starting my graded Access course and they more or less said the same that i need to get all my modules at Distinction as well as a GCSE grade C or above in Maths,Science and English even to be considered for the health degree i wanted to do.
    So i decided when i was applying not to apply to Manchester because i just didnt feel i could possiable gain all those distinctions in all the subjects i was going to study and also i had left it too late to re-enrol on a science gcse course that when i did further research into it.I would have to pay to do the GCSE Science course and it was only offered at a different college to the one i was going to be studying my access course at so more money being spent on traveling etc.I also came to decision to only apply to those universities who a) would consider or accept the quals i already obtained b) would also consider the quals i was going to do lol.

    Gaining so many distinctions in one year Elle408 is a lot to ask a Access student who might have family commitments or could even be a single parent for example.I am not saying it isnt achieveble but after gaining my first distinction a few weeks ago I now know how much work goes into gaining them.
    I would like to gain a few more distinctions if i can next year as the degree courses i applied for do want rather distinctions or Merits.
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    Four pages. Glad it's done so well!


    (Original post by maturestudy)
    Totally unrealistic expectations, especially from a '92 university. 45 credits at distinction requires a student to hit the ground running, getting distinction grades from day one. That is not how the Access course is designed. Some colleges will not award distinctions for the first assignment as a matter of principle. Access courses are supposed to take students who aren't used to studying and give them a learning curve from where they are all the way up to university level.

    The fact that you can study psychology at Uni. of Manchester, much more prestigious, Russell group and way higher up the league tables, with only 27 credits at distinction shows how far up their own ass the Man Met people are.
    That might be Manchester Met trying to be better than what it actually is. Now I know what I'm about to say will offend someone (or a few people, who will no doubt just neg me and not explain why I'm wrong :rolleyes:), but I know a couple of people who are going there from my old secondary school including an ex, and I haven't really heard anything good about it from an organisational/academic point of view. For example one of them is taking maths there and he's always out partying and rarely attends lectures (which seem to get cancelled quite a bit) yet he's still doing really well in his exams and he finds his work quite easy, now he's only a first year, so that could in part explain it and everyone knows at most unis the first year is fairly dossy anyway, but it doesn't sound that great if this same person only managed to achieve a C in A-level Maths which was part of the offer conditions.

    I dunno how it is for other subjects, but the general gist I hear about there is that it's great if you want to spend 3/4 years partying since it's a Manchester uni and Manchester is great for nightlife, but it's not good for what you actually want to go to uni for, the academics.

    (Original post by irdan)
    Maybe people are happy going to 'mediocre' or ex-poly universities hence applying for them?

    Not just directed at you Elle but I think people need to get off their high horses regarding which university they are attending or hoping to attend. My first choice is Leeds Metropolitan..an ex-poly lowly ranked university I hear you say...well in the subject area I am applying for it is a top 10 and none of the 'Russell Group' uni's even offer this degree or similar. The thought of being surrounded by rich kids who have had everything handed to them on a plate their entire life doesn't appeal to all.
    The reason there is snobbery over the issue is partly founded in truth, to be honest. All universities have their own curriculums and as a result some universities have better curriculums for certain subjects than others, especially if they have been teaching the subject for many years and have been involved in the research of such a subject for many years and as a result have a list of famous alumni to their name, which of course refers to Oxbridge and the other Russell Group unis. It is also well known that certain prestigious employers/graduate schemes prefer to recruit people from certain unis above others, which is why they mainly run their career fairs at at universities which are either prestigious or prestigious for a certain subject such as Economics and Law.

    All this being said I'm not saying ex-poly unis are bad at all, they do afterall produce many of our nurses, veterinary nurses, optometrists, physiotherapists, social workers, engineers, biomedical scientists, and so on and for many of these courses there are actually fairly high entrance requirements (I've heard it's common for ex poly unis to ask for ABB-AAB for Physiotherapy) and they also offer unique/niche subjects and have high employability in some areas, but most of them aren't good for purely academic subjects such as Law and because they have low entry requirements on many courses they attract a lot of riff-raff that just want to party their way through uni.

    As for your stereotype about rich/middle class kids.. that's just reverse snobbery, and I have no idea why that is considered acceptable. I would go on, but others have already made the point. You would be offended if it was the other way around, though.

    (Original post by irdan)
    My last point where I pointed out the university was top 10 in it's area was to show that not all ex-poly's etc are 'mediocre' or 'bad'. I agree though regarding your statement about it mainly being the younger students who take a strange view of ex-poly's. Guess I just find it frustrating reading it all the time and the post above was the last one I could read before posting my thoughts lol.

    In all honesty I think it's great people are aiming high and wanting to better themselves I just find it offensive or disrespectful when you read comments like "The most prestigious university that anyone else has applied for has been Uni of Manchester and so far they've all been rejected, which is maybe a little telling of what we can hope to achieve from an Access course."
    Tbh, my thread is about all/any unis which aren't friendly to Access to HE applicants, but I figured most of the posts would be about RG/1994 group unis rather than ex-poly unis which is why I mentioned it in the OP.

    There are lots of unis out there which seem to have an unclear stance on the course which is confusing for some people so I thought this thread might prove of some sort of guidance for people doing an Access course, which unis are warm to Access and which unis that would basically be a waste of a choice (Imperial College London) and also which subjects which Access to HE doesn't provide a lot of founding for, such as physical/mathematical sciences and engineering.
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    (Original post by Wahala)
    This reminds of my mate who is doing an access course and the college arranged an open day for the law students at a MC circle company. Kudos! But during the presentation the firm told them they will need 320+UCAS points to even be considered which discounted almost everyone in the room as their course is worth nil points.
    I was told by Slaughter & May, Allen Overy and Clifford Chance that as a mature student, not having A-Levels wasn't an automatic disqualification, and that they look at each application based on its individual merits.
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    (Original post by irdan)
    Maybe people are happy going to 'mediocre' or ex-poly universities hence applying for them?

    Not just directed at you Elle but I think people need to get off their high horses regarding which university they are attending or hoping to attend. My first choice is Leeds Metropolitan..an ex-poly lowly ranked university I hear you say...well in the subject area I am applying for it is a top 10 and none of the 'Russell Group' uni's even offer this degree or similar. The thought of being surrounded by rich kids who have had everything handed to them on a plate their entire life doesn't appeal to all.
    I think it is ironic that you tell people aiming for 'top' universities to "get off their high horse", but then tell us (in three posts!) how your chosen uni is top 10 for your course..... plus my guess is you are doing either a vocational subject or some weird combined honours subject, so probably a case of leeds met being the biggest fish in a small pond.

    I'm at Loughborough, I'm not sure what the ranking is, but there are a lot of 'rich kids' here and I can say that they are just as friendly and hard working as anyone else - from what I can see they do not expect anything handed to them on a plate and coming from a privileged background is no more of a choice than coming from a poor one. So I'm not buying that reverse snobbery thing either.

    Now maybe it is just because I am a university snob, however I think it does matter where you study and that it is naive to believe that all degrees are equal. Clearly if someone is studying a vocational degree such as nursing or radiography then it doesn't make as much (if any) difference, but for those doing more traditional academic subjects I think the choice of uni is important. Lots of people have a degree these days and one way employers can filter through applicants is by being picky about which universities graduates they want.

    Obviously league tables do not tell the whole truth, but I think it is fair to say that a uni ranked 25 is generally going to be doing better and be a better place to study than one ranked 95. Stats available and various review sites tend to back up this feeling as well.

    I'll probably get completely slated and negged to hell for this post, but I don't really care, I think people need to be realistic.... uni takes up 3-5 years of your life and costs 9k a year, you need to maximise the return on your investment and part of doing that is picking a good subject & uni combination.
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    Interesting comments but it seems to me that a number of things are being run together.

    1 Universities recruit by department and course. Therefore looking for a university-wide attitude may be looking for something that does not exist. The problems may well be in individual departments

    2 Is the prejudice about Access students or mature students? A level grade inflation has often insulated universities from mature candidates with old A levels. Mature students pose different challenges to young undergraduates. For example mature students are less likely to be tolerant of poor administrative arrangements. Young undergraduates are used to being powerless in structures.

    3 There seem to be two types of Access students. One group have been operating in the work environment at an academic level equal to university entrance but have no pieces of paper to prove it. The other have made no academic progress since leaving school.
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    I really wish people would read my post properly before posting.

    The 'rich kids' insult was a direct retaliation to show that students from both universities can stereotype and as the replies have shown you don't appreciate it either which is fair enough.

    And my entire point regarding ex-poly universities was how they offer niche degrees and more vocational qualifications and they are usually quite highly ranked in them sort of courses. Understandably if you wish to study a more 'academic' qualification its obvious you would aim for the best you can achieve - usually an RG university (top 10 in the subject) - the same as if you are studying a more vocational qualification. And as Big V and many others have missed, my point regarding the uni I selected was, like many who have applied for RG for their subject, mine is top 10 in the subject I have chosen yet is just a 'mediocre ex poly uni'.

    Please read before you post.
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    (Original post by irdan)
    I really wish people would read my post properly before posting.

    The 'rich kids' insult was a direct retaliation to show that students from both universities can stereotype and as the replies have shown you don't appreciate it either which is fair enough.

    And my entire point regarding ex-poly universities was how they offer niche degrees and more vocational qualifications and they are usually quite highly ranked in them sort of courses. Understandably if you wish to study a more 'academic' qualification its obvious you would aim for the best you can achieve - usually an RG university (top 10 in the subject) - the same as if you are studying a more vocational qualification. And as Big V and many others have missed, my point regarding the uni I selected was, like many who have applied for RG for their subject, mine is top 10 in the subject I have chosen yet is just a 'mediocre ex poly uni'.

    Please read before you post.
    I'm not really sure what you were retaliating against though, I can't see that anyone else was really talking about class issues prior to your post about 'rich kids'.

    Also, I haven't missed your point at all, your uni is top ten for the subject and you appear to feel that is more important the general ranking/reputation of the uni. A niche degree is by definition not offered by many providers - IMO being ranked in the top 10 if the subject is only offered by 20 universities is a lot less impressive than being top 10 with 70 other places offering the subject.

    I just had a look at the tables and my course is #1 but only 11 others offer the subject! I don't know if that means my course is amazing or simply that it is the best of a mediocre offering, but I would argue that even if employers don't know what the course is about (niche subject after all), the general reputation of the Uni will be a reassurance.

    If we really wanted to light the touch paper here we could have a discussion about whether or not vocational subjects should even be offered as degrees at all, universities were always traditionally about academic study. Those going to modern (92+) unis always claim that a degree is a degree, prestige/rankings don't matter, etc - basically feeling they have to make jusitifications for gaining a second tier degree. Perhaps separating the subjects out and going back to the old Uni / Poly system is the way to go...

    ps. which league table are you looking at and how do you classify the subject? - I can see from previous posts you are doing Physical Education, but I can't see that defined in CUG, going by Education alone it is nowhere near top ten?
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    I'll try to find the link for you mate but I only had a quick look due to being made an offer from MMU and checking where it was in relation to Leeds Met. If I remember rightly the course is offered by 30 or so universities so whilst agreeing not a huge range of choices it still shows ex-polys can rank well.

    I do actually think the rankings for the subject you are studying directly is more important than where the overall university ranks but that is solely down to opinion on the matter - same as you will have your own opinion.

    Regarding if unis should offer vocational subjects - I personally feel vocational qualifications should be learnt on the job with release to college, similar to that of a trademans apprenticeship. Again, my opinion though. Would save me a lot of debt too ;-). If I had the option of a teaching 'apprenticeship' of university for 4 years I know what I would choose but unfortunately for my chosen career I have to attending university - rightly or wrongly. I'm not here to claim where you study may not make a difference to your prospects post degree (in the private sector) however, like you said, public sector professions IMO are just as likely to hire you regardless of where you graduate from.
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    (Original post by Wahala)
    This reminds of my mate who is doing an access course and the college arranged an open day for the law students at a MC circle company. Kudos! But during the presentation the firm told them they will need 320+UCAS points to even be considered which discounted almost everyone in the room as their course is worth nil points.
    I don't know how I missed this post, but if I'm not wrong, since they've brought in the Pass - Merit - Distinction system, haven't they started adding UCAS points for it?

    And whatever the case, did anybody not think to point this out? I'm sure a Magic Circle company would not waste their time doing a presentation for Access students if they knew none of them would qualify for it since they supposedly have no UCAS points.
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    (Original post by gtfo)
    I was told by Slaughter & May, Allen Overy and Clifford Chance that as a mature student, not having A-Levels wasn't an automatic disqualification, and that they look at each application based on its individual merits.
    All firms say this, some true some not so. Even those that use filters tend not to admit it or that they have jumps for applicants from certain elite unis. No they'd never admit that. I do know that S&M & Freshfields don't and do as you say above. The open day I referred to was at CC.

    (Original post by Threxy)
    I don't know how I missed this post, but if I'm not wrong, since they've brought in the Pass - Merit - Distinction system, haven't they started adding UCAS points for it?

    And whatever the case, did anybody not think to point this out? I'm sure a Magic Circle company would not waste their time doing a presentation for Access students if they knew none of them would qualify for it since they supposedly have no UCAS points.
    As far as I know the course isn't awarded any UCAS points & yes my friend said this was pointed out very clearly & questioned the CC official how they deal with such applications. The recruitment rep didn’t even really seem to know what an access was & just insisted that xxx UCAS points & 2:1 is required for UK applicants & and then seemed perplexed as to why she was holding the presentation in the first place... as was my mate and a few others who realised what she'd implied. My friend persisted but was hushed down by another CC rep who quickly changed the topic. Apparently the open day was initially scheduled for LLB students but for some reason was opened up to access students at the last minute.
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    (Original post by BigV)
    If we really wanted to light the touch paper here we could have a discussion about whether or not vocational subjects should even be offered as degrees at all, universities were always traditionally about academic study. Those going to modern (92+) unis always claim that a degree is a degree, prestige/rankings don't matter, etc - basically feeling they have to make jusitifications for gaining a second tier degree. Perhaps separating the subjects out and going back to the old Uni / Poly system is the way to go...
    Over the years i've worked with some truly fantastic engineers (proper engineers, not the grossly overused term that’s more often than not associated with the person that comes to fix your washing machine), and most of them were ex Polytechnic guys. The interesting thing is that Polys that were renowned for engineering back in the day are now known as new universities that inhabit the bottom 1/6th of the league tables - and a lot of them now have bugger all to do with teaching engineering.
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    (Original post by Heinz the German)
    Over the years i've worked with some truly fantastic engineers (proper engineers, not the grossly overused term that’s more often than not associated with the person that comes to fix your washing machine), and most of them were ex Polytechnic guys. The interesting thing is that Polys that were renowned for engineering back in the day are now known as new universities that inhabit the bottom 1/6th of the league tables - and a lot of them now have bugger all to do with teaching engineering.
    Surely this is because those ex-poly institutions are now forced to compete with the 'traditional' universities and offer a similar range of subjects to match. Basically they have been forced into being jack of all trades and because of this they have lost their way on a some of the good things they used to do.

    It is partly an issue around class/perception too.... becasue as you state, the term 'engineer' is widely associated with wiring plugs, fixing cars or washing machines and as such is seen as a lower class of job. Parents don't want their kids going to a poly and doing engineering, they want them to get a degree from university......

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