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Why do people still subscribe to anachronistic notions of university prestige? watch

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    No of course not, although I suppose it can be argued that if a large number of people have similar views about the prestige of an institution that is a more likely to be an opinion worth taking notice of. However at least there are league tables these days which give a very vague justification to subjective opinion. I was taking issue with the OP for saying totally subjective things such as the reputation of a former teacher training college is declining, which is even more nonsensical.
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    if employers didn't employ people on the basis of the universities prestige (which they do) then maybe things would be different.

    everyone wants to get the best possible job, no?
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    It is hard to say that one university is better than another. It really differes for each individual. It´s more useful to compare university departments (e.g. Geography at uni X is better taught, funded, etc. than at uni Y).

    However, this image of prestigedoes attract more studious, dedicated students, whether or not that image is true So being around (on average) a higher number of motivated, harder-working students will make you more likley to have those qualities yourself.
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    (Original post by notanumber)
    I was taking issue with the OP for saying totally subjective things such as the reputation of a former teacher training college is declining, which is even more nonsensical.

    Why is it nonsensical? You might disagree and it is subjective, of course, but so is claiming that Oxford and Cambridge are the best or most presitigious universities in England.

    However at least there are league tables these days which give a very vague justification to subjective opinion
    Since when has subjective opinion required ranking tables to justify it? These tables merely give a spurious air of credibility to subjective opinion.

    There is only one university ranking table that is worthwhile: http://duckdensity.org.uk/uni_index?...ty&reverse=yes
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    For want of any other decent method of differentiating things that are nigh on impossible to distinguish between in a learned, objective fashion in light of the information and experience at the hands of those that make such judgements.
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    (Original post by Good bloke)
    You don't really think that any expression of university prestige is anything other than subjective opinion, do you? :eek:
    If prestige is measured as an objective metric, such as mass, then this expression is not subjective.
    The only refutation of this would be to say that everything is then subjective. Do you think the mass of an electron is subjective?

    The prestige of an electron is 9.10938215(45)×10^-31 kg
    Electrons have less prestige than protons.
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    In terms of university, it's a sort of vicious cycle; being prestigious leads to being prestigious.

    Let's say Oxford and Cambridge are considered to be prestigious. This means that lots of the most academically capable people (both staff and students) will want to go there. The university's selection of candidates will then be more academically capable in general, and so they will only need to make offers to the very best people. Those people are then likely to accept those offers above offers from other universities, because of the prestige. By attracting the most academically capable people, Oxford and Cambridge go from being prestigious to being even more prestigious.

    Because of this, I don't think the notion of university prestige is all that anachronistic, because it is in general something that universities will be very good at maintaining.

    Plus, people don't necessarily just want to go to a university which is academically stronger; many just want to go to a university which is considered to be very academically strong. The average employer isn't going to say "Well the teaching standards of Oxford are down by two points this year, which means this candidate might be a bit less suitable for the job", he's going to think "This guy went to Oxford, so he must be pretty good to beat all that competition to get in. You're hired!". And the same goes for the way the average person on the street will perceive you when you tell them which university you go to.

    True academic rigour and research quality may vary from year to year. If you went to some average university, nobody's going to remember that "The year this guy graduated, the teaching quality was a bit better than most other universities". The only thing that will really carry weight is the name, brand, and reputation of the university.
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    It's just an inferiority complex. Unis that get a better reputation over many years simply are better. People should stop trying to equalise life.
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    (Original post by kat2pult)
    Older unis have had their courses tried and tested by hundreds/thousands of students beforehand. Even if the course layout or content is different, it's more foolproof. Ditto goes for the social life, accommodation, investment in the university/library etc over the years and years it's been in existence etc. Newer universities don't have these safety guards, and it's kind of like jumping in the deep end. I don't think it's all to do with prestige.
    If by newer universities you mean post-1992s then they didn't just jump out of nowhere overnight. They were established decades, sometimes a century or two, thus making them older than the pre-1992 universities. Although many were historically geared more towards vocation courses some academic courses were taught.
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    (Original post by Aexis)
    In my view, "prestige" is an anachronistic term that refers largely to social and historical status, rather than quality and merit. It's a static concept, compared with quality which is largely fluid depending on how much is invested into it.

    Why do people still inadvertently subscribe to the notion that certain universities, due to their location and age are sealed in terms of their reputation and prestige? Even if they falter in academic quality or are overtaken by newer, less well-known institutions - they will still remain more "prestigious".

    How is this concept logical? Why should arbitrary factors such as age and location trump quality and academic rigour?

    Granted, a lot of older institutions based in large cities do have levels of prestigiousness that correspond with their academic quality. However, some have lagged behind newer institutions in terms of quality, yet still remain more prestigious in the eyes of society.
    Because the quality of universities is by and large a self-fulfilling prophecy. If a university has an excellent reputation it will be able to recruit the best academics and have the highest entry requirements meaning the best undergraduates (in general). While there is room for movement it's self-evident that it's going to be quite hard for less "prestigious" universities to become better when their best staff would gladly move to the more "prestigious" universities given the opportunity because of the other universities quality.
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    Lets face it very few people can make an informed comparison between institutions and courses because they don't know much about the curriculum, quality of research, quality of teaching etc. The newspaper league tables don't shed much light either because institutions jump around from one year to the next and in any case people tend to just have their preconceived ideas and if a league table comes out which doesn't agree with it, they say it's a load of rubbish.

    Everybody knows some universities have got a long standing high reputation and are hard to get in and that if you want to work in IB, or a magic circle law firm etc its best to have gone to Oxbridge or one of the big name London ones. But I have to laugh at TSR when you get all the threads - especially common on the Economics forum, along the lines of "which will get me a better starting salary/job prospects, Manchester or Nottingham" and then you will have furious debate amongst people who have never had a job in their lives.

    Its a bit like posting on a forum of virgins saying "which sex technique goes down best with da ladies" and watching all the virgins argue about it.
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    (Original post by Est.)
    If prestige is measured as an objective metric, such as mass, then this expression is not subjective.
    If. University prestige is not based on objective metrics though, is it?
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    (Original post by notanumber)
    What a load of rubbish. How on earth have you come up with this list, apart from subjective opinion?
    First of all I agree with you that this is a subjective opinion but it is not an uninformed opinion.

    There were no league tables as such
    Actually this isn't true. The great wise man of university admissions in the 1970s and 1980s, Brian Heap used to publish a league table each year. Like all league tables it only told a part of the story and by today's standards it was very crude but it existed.

    so reputation wasn't as significant as it is now.

    That is a non-sequitur. Reputation doesn't depend on the existence of league tables.

    Certain universities like Oxford, Cambridge Durham etc were world -renowned and generally redbricks were considered better than others, but to say all these others have declined in reputation is absolute nonsense.
    I can provide you with reasons for my opinion in respect of each of the institutions, I have mentioned. Can you provide me with reasons why they are nonsense?
    30 years ago, Buckingham had only just been founded,
    Buckingham is 1973. Due to powerful political patronage, particularly in the early years of the Thatcher government, it was seen as a favoured child. At that point it looked as though it could have become a major private research university in the humanities, but it never happened. It never grew beyond a tiny institution catering mostly for overseas students. Essentially it never became a proper university.

    Kent, Surrey and Sussex were only about 15 years old
    And they were at the time amongst the leading plate glass universities, significantly ahead of Lancaster and probably Warwick (saving Warwick's reputation in politics). Certainly no-one in the right mind would have turned down a place at Kent to read law at Warwick. The head of the law school at Kent at this time, Brian Simpson, died a couple of months ago. You might care to read some of his obituaries. You might find them an eye opener.

    Bishop Grossteste was a teacher training college.
    But what a teacher training college. The four best teaching courses in England were Homerton, the Institute of Education, Oxford's Department of Education and Bishop Grotty.


    and Thames Poly (now TVU) never had a good reputation.
    Unfortunately you are mistaken in thinking that Thames Poly is Thames Valley University. Thames Poly is now the University of Greenwich. Undoubtedly Greenwich's present reputation is the highest it has been since at least the 1950s.

    TVU was formerly the Ealing Institute of Higher Education which had a very good reputation in doing degrees, particularly in professional subjects, at night school. You will find quite a number of successful senior lawyers and accountants in their 40s, 50s and 60s with Ealing degrees

    Exeter and Nottingham have hardly got declining reputations either!!!
    Brian Heap ranked Exeter 10th in 1982. Would you rank Exeter 10th today?

    Essentially applications to Nottingham. not quite the same as prestige, peaked in 2003. You will note that I referred to Nottingham's position 10 years ago rather than 30 years ago. Their offers today, for a number of courses are lower than they would have been in 2003.
 
 
 
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