Different tariffs for a degree Watch

Arran90
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If a university offered the following tariffs:

1. Free tuition. Students are required to attend 90% of lectures and other timetabled sessions and will graduate with an unclassified degree. They also won't attend the degree ceremony.

2. £9000 a year. Students will take exams resulting in grades from a 1st to a 3rd according to their performance.

3. £20,000 a year. Students will take exams and providing they pass them they will graduate with a 2.1.

will anybody pick (1) or (3)?
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ltsmith
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3 will cause the value of a 2.1 to decline and it will become the new 2.2/3rd. it will also put people in american levels of student debt and a life time of financial misery.

2 is ok.

1 where will the money come from ?
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JohanGRK
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No one would take 1, 3 sounds idiotic and would never be allowed on policy grounds.

Arran90 Is this just a thought experiment or are you looking for implications in our answers?
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Arran90
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(Original post by JohanGRK)
Arran90 Is this just a thought experiment or are you looking for implications in our answers?

The question shines light onto the true purpose of university degrees. Option (1) is for students who believe that the purpose of university is about learning and knowledge (or possibly the social side) but they are only given an attendance grade as a result. Option (3) is for students who believe that the purpose of university is about qualifications to impress employers and it enables them to pay extra for a guaranteed 2.1 providing they do well enough in exams to be awarded a 3rd.

If a scenario is reached where very few students pick option (1) and a sizeable fraction pick option (3) then it will reinforce the theory of Bryan Caplan that (institutionalised) education is about signalling rather than learning and knowledge.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Case-agains.../dp/0691174652

If the converse is true then it will diminish the theory of Bryan Caplan and highlight that there are still many young people who believe that university is about learning and knowledge (or possibly the social side) rather than qualifications to impress employers.

It will also be interesting to compare the proportions of students who pick options (1) and (3) over different degree courses or between universities.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by Arran90)
The question shines light onto the true purpose of university degrees. Option (1) is for students who believe that the purpose of university is about learning and knowledge (or possibly the social side) but they are only given an attendance grade as a result. Option (3) is for students who believe that the purpose of university is about qualifications to impress employers and it enables them to pay extra for a guaranteed 2.1 providing they do well enough in exams to be awarded a 3rd.

If a scenario is reached where very few students pick option (1) and a sizeable fraction pick option (3) then it will reinforce the theory of Bryan Caplan that (institutionalised) education is about signalling rather than learning and knowledge.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/Case-agains.../dp/0691174652

If the converse is true then it will diminish the theory of Bryan Caplan and highlight that there are still many young people who believe that university is about learning and knowledge (or possibly the social side) rather than qualifications to impress employers.

It will also be interesting to compare the proportions of students who pick options (1) and (3) over different degree courses or between universities.
A lot of individuals will pick (3) over (1) even if they're academic nerds who love their course and care deeply about it. This is because a £60k 2:1 degree, which will allow you to make a lot more than that over the course of a lifetime, offers all the educational benefits of Option 1 plus additional signalling/employment benefits. "Genuine education" and "money-making" are not mutually exclusive in this example.
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Arran90
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(Original post by JohanGRK)
A lot of individuals will pick (3) over (1) even if they're academic nerds who love their course and care deeply about it. This is because a £60k 2:1 degree, which will allow you to make a lot more than that over the course of a lifetime, offers all the educational benefits of Option 1 plus additional signalling/employment benefits. "Genuine education" and "money-making" are not mutually exclusive in this example.
You may well be right. However it raises questions whether young people really want tuition fees abolished (or drastically reduced) or whether they are happy to pay a high price for a guaranteed grade.

If large numbers of students pick option (3) then could it devalue a 2.1 or even result in some employers preferring an unclassfied degree from option (1) because they see anybody who has picked it as having courage and honesty?

I'm tempted to think that academic nerds are more likely to pick option (2) because it's the only way to get a 1st. Option (3) is clearly for people who don't feel confident that they will get a 2.1 under option (2) but want it for employment purposes.
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JohanGRK
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(Original post by Arran90)
You may well be right. However it raises questions whether young people really want tuition fees abolished (or drastically reduced) or whether they are happy to pay a high price for a guaranteed grade.
I think that people want to have their cake and eat it. However, at the end of the day, if you have a degree that only provides education, and another degree that provides education + that dream high-flying graduate job you wanted, you're always going to go for the second option.

I think that the issue here is that student choices are going to be conditioned by the environment in which they're in. In our current system, where good grades + a good university name matters for the top jobs, a lot of students will go for (3) precisely because they know that that's how the game is played. However, should we go back to a system of limited HE where school leavers are the norm, God knows how students are going to react. Will someone them still go onto uni in the hope of benefiting from the signalling benefits? Will others go there for networking or for the social life? Will some choose subjects in which they're genuinely interested? Will others enrol in shorter, more focused courses? Who knows.

The point I'm trying to make is that what students think now is a product of the current system. You can't separate their intentions from the incentives created by the current system. You can ask them whether the status quo makes them happy, which is a different question.
Last edited by JohanGRK; 4 weeks ago
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J-SP
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If these were options, I wouldn’t be surprised if employers starting targeting group 1 more than group 2 or group 3
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Arran90
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I have read The Case against Education: Why the Education System Is a Waste of Time and Money by Bryan Caplan. The book is American so not everything is applicable for Britain and I disagree with certain things he says but otherwise there is much truth to his theory that higher education is about signalling more than knowledge.

In bygone years, universities were centres for learning and knowledge rather than qualifications. A degree was required for a few careers such as medicine and dentistry, and it was beneficial for science and engineering, but otherwise university was more about creating intellectual types rather than preparation for the job market. Students studying academic subjects also tended to come from well to do backgrounds or have connections with employers so not many were studying the subject for a piece of paper to get a high paying job from somebody they didn't already know. A significant number of students also wanted to become teachers or lecturers.

I previously mentioned a discussion where it was argued that a degree nowadays is either a financial investment or an expensive hobby as tuition fees has killed the concept of a liberal education by studying for a degree.

https://www.thestudentroom.co.uk/sho...&postcount=227

One could extend this argument and say that degrees in medicine, dentistry, law, engineering, and certain sciences primarily exist as tools to access these specific careers so they are a financial investment. The situation with arts and humanities degrees is less clear as there are far fewer careers where employers ask for specific arts and humanities degrees. This then raises the question as to whether the value of such degrees in employment is not knowledge but signalling.

What exactly are these dream high-flying graduate jobs?

The truth of the matter is that a career where the job spec asks for any degree; or any degree from a good or Russell Group university; or any degree that is a 1st, does not require a degree in anything. Degrees are not interchangeable between different subjects when it comes to knowledge.

In the case of a career like medicine or engineering where a degree in medicine or engineering is requested then the interviewers will have knowledge of the degree subject in question so they will be able to assess applicants on their knowledge. In the case of a career that asks for any degree then the chances are that the interviewers will not have the knowledge of the degree subjects of the applicants so will be unable to query or assess their knowledge. Therefore a degree is rendered down to pure credentialism and signalling.

Some argue that all degrees provide transferable skills but these are so mysterious and mythical that they probably do not actually exist. It can be confidently argued that basic English and maths, general knowledge, common sense, and soft and social skills are the only true transferable skills. These are not learned at university.
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