4 Years for a Bachelor’s? Who’s Got the Time? – The Chronicle of Higher Education

The tension between service provider universities keen to keep students paying fees longer, and students keen to get out sooner has seen many changes to the old 5 year degrees. Architecture dodged the bullet and remade itself into a 3+2, but all other creative arts programs were cut to 4.

Years ago, I spent 5 years to get my bachelors in mechanical engineering. Possibly better spent doing other stuff. I then spent 2 and a half years doing a design degree. If you add to that the 5 years it took me to get my PhD – I have been a fee paying student for a glorious 12 years. If I start from school that’s a total of 23 years of academia. At a moderate contemporary fee of 30,000 AUD a year I have paid fees totalling 690,000 AUD. If I compute this in terms of a US private college like RISD or Art Center that figure will double to a hefty 1.5 million.

Does education have to cost this much? (or will Corbyn ever be able to deliver on his promise of free university education?)

I am teacher in an Industrial Design program training people to produce visualization for material artefacts. You can do a course in a ‘design school’ (Japanese terminology) and be a graduate in 2 years. That will be with a diploma. If you want a degree you will need to spend 4 years – and potentially function alongside the 2 year graduate. The 3+2 Bologna model potentially changed this first degree in the UK where the 3 year program is now the norm. With a sandwich year in Industry after year 2.

Schools generally insist that for quality graduates, or to have schools with status, you need to spend 4 years in a design program. Probing further, it is possible you will see a ‘contamination of the content’ with the introduction of more theory in these longer degrees. More engineering? More digression? More writing, more reading is always an option. The rationale to produce “more” diverse capability so as to train for resilience is another oft touted rationale. While different kinds of rationale abound, the reality is that the production of such rationale can be convenient.

The norm in post graduate qualification is 18 months in the majority of institutions around the globe. So a 3 year undergraduate tacked on behind it produces college terms of just 4 and a half years. With the advantage of having two independent programs or course areas journeyed through. That is more than the four years in one program with limited resilience.

Then of course there is the rationale of, possibility of/ opportunity to add a further one year between school and university. Variously referred to as the foiundation program, this course is to bridge the gap between capability in school leavers and that required in university. Studies on what capabilities school leavers have though are hard to come by.

So what are all these different pronouncements of the “right way”?

Or are they as Kurt Vonnegut said, “all lies”.

For now have a read, and make up your own mind. Or just fume.

Colleges are increasingly offering three-year B.A.s and other accelerated programs in response to a growing market of money-conscious go-getters and career changers.

Source: 4 Years for a Bachelor’s? Who’s Got the Time? – The Chronicle of Higher Education

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