With mounting pressure on younger generations to excel academically, it is unsurprising that the number of student applications far outweigh an adequate number of places at University. According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), 47% of people from the UK enter into University at ‘some stage in their life’. This percentage is marginally better than some of its European counterparts.
However, the increasing interest to pursue a path into higher education can only mean one thing; fierce competition. More than ever before, students have to stand up to the mark and prove that they have the ‘edge’ to fit into a particular department within their chosen University. A higher percentage of people within the UK may boast a long list of impressive qualifications; but this only serves to diminish the availability of graduate jobs for university leavers. The intensity for competition amongst graduates is transparent within the job markets today. More than three-quarters of employers require at least a 2:1 degree, rendering lower classifications less desirable and harder to get noticed.
Is it possible that pressure to succeed and be the best has conformed students to fit into the same mould? As it becomes increasingly difficult to add a bit of spark to cvs, personal statements etc., it begs the question as to whether an education could be any different. Over the past couple of decades, the national curriculum for students aged from 11-16 has changed considerably. Learning a second language has gradually faded out of fashion. Since the government decision to allow languages at GCSE level to become optional, learning a foreign language has dramatically declined in popularity. Alternatively, despite the technological growth within society and the steady religious decline, it is still compulsory to study R.E where I.T is an optional subject. I am not suggesting that we eradicate certain subjects from the syllabus, but it is clear that the bulk of what we learn in school is either forgotten or serves no practical purpose. For example, the last time I solved an algebraic equation I was fifteen. Although entirely relevant to a maths student, I have little use for it.
I’m no scientist, but what I do acknowledge is that our brains function in different ways. Individually, we lean towards different strengths and weaknesses. An education should be no more or less than a reflection of our individual requirements. We don’t have to strive to be different from one another, because we are. History has proven that some students excel academically, whilst others achieve their merits through determination, perseverance and a resilient nature. There are few subjects that cater for students who think more creatively than analytically. A student may be able to solve a rubrics cube in less than 40 seconds, but not string a grammatically well-written sentence together for their English language exam. Society is based upon varying levels of talents, skills and intelligence. This should be embraced, and not squashed into a national curriculum.
Taking into consideration our many differences, why is there so much emphasis on students to follow a path into high education? Why is the government promoting further education when there is a shortage of university placements? Surely, it would be more reasonable to determine a student’s aptitude and interests before resigning their fate to academic study. As is demonstrated by public figures such as Sir Richard Branson and Amstrad entrepreneur Lord Alan Sugar, success is not always measured by the level of education you may have received. Education should equip students with the tools necessary to gain employment, fulfilment and exercise their unique strengths.