to ask if DC shouldn't bother with university if they can't get into a Russell Group one?

(663 Posts)
TuTuTilly Fri 14-Jun-13 18:31:36

I'd never heard of the ruddy things before I joined MN. Didn't even realise I'd been to one. I do recall when I had a tedious summer job in Human Resources which included "sifting" job applications for an international firm of accountants, being told to dump any that weren't from a handful of universities.

So my question is; if your child can't get into an RG university - should they accept that they will be unemployable oiks upon graduation and resign themselves to a life working in call centres?

lljkk Sat 22-Jun-13 19:36:20

See, I don't like the American model, where they have to continue to 18 or they get nothing. One of the few things I vastly prefer in England is how they can target 16 to get something and for those who aren't academic they can then take a different direction. Compulsory school leave age has changed so much hard to make comparisons, but I suspect the "drop out" rate here is lower.

2007 data: about 31% of American kids don't get HS diploma when they should (almost 2/3 will get it back with night school).
2011 data (apologies if link fails): Only 14-24% of British 16-17yos don't have GCSEs or other qualifications.

mathanxiety Sun 23-Jun-13 00:28:42

No I don't. I think it is perfectly fine as methods go though. I also know enough about science to understand that it is constantly being refined by its very nature, and I have confidence that the refinement takes us in general in the direction of improvement. I am opposed to throwing out the baby with the bathwater and remaking it in the name of some very dubious theory of 'knowing'.

'...the Scientists who teach my DD at the university that has produced the largest number of Nobel Prize winning Scientists are training her to understand that Science cannot eliminate bias, objectivity in scientific method should never be taken for granted, that a Scientist has to be conscious of every possible source of bias, and that implicit social cognition, unconscious thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control is something they should be aware of and consider, including those tied up with gender.'

That is the way my DCs were taught science, beginning in fourth grade. It's what I was taught, way back in the late Jurassic.
There is nothing new in any of this.

GCSEs are getting more useless by the day in a world where the children of Korea and China are the competition. Even in Ireland, the old Intermediate Cert and Group Cert (now the Junior Cert) are no longer considered sufficient evidence of preparation for work in the real world.

When I was in school my year went from 6 homerooms to 4 after the Inter Cert. My old school has got a lot rougher in the interim but students are staying and doing the Leaving Cert in huge numbers. Ireland has a retention rate in secondary education to age 18 of 90% with even schools in deprived areas showing gains and boys showing signs of approaching parity with girls outside of deprived areas. However, it is still only 7th in the EU for proportion of people aged 20 to 24 who have at least completed the full secondary cycle (87%). Apart from Irish and maths, the majority of students doing the Established Leaving Cert take higher level papers (from a choice of higher, ordinary and foundation). Awarding bonus points for grades in higher level maths has resulted in about a 30% increase in the numbers taking it.

In addition there are three avenues available to suit a student's needs - Established (traditional academic track), Vocational (similar to academic track, 5 core subjects taken, plus a modern language plus 'preparation for the world of work' and 'enterprise education') and Applied (students take General Education, Vocational Education and Vocational Preparation over two years It is non academic but includes maths and communication skills as well as a modern language alongside vocational training. Something for everyone, and designed to make staying until 18 perceived as useful and eventually it is hoped, the norm.

I don't think the UK should be happy about students dropping maths or leaving school at 16. The international trend seems to be in the opposite direction. 97% of Korean teens complete high school.

wordfactory Sun 23-Jun-13 08:19:28

DS school take the view that no one in it should be allowed (except in very unusual circumstances) to give up maths post GCSE.

They do the exam in year 10 and then continue in year 11, taking it further.

It seems to work very well. Though I would have hated it. Couldn't wait to give up maths at 16, me!

Copthallresident Sun 23-Jun-13 08:39:57

GCSEs are for another thread. However the point about the Chinese and Korean education systems is relevant. Our universities are filled with Asian students, not just our RG ones, and not just STEM courses. They clearly think a non RG degree is worth bothering with in terms of the global marketplace. Their rigid exam focused education systems are under pressure to change so that pupils emerge with the transferrable skills, thinking and team working, that have been highlighted on this thread as important to success in the world of work.

I was on a uni visit yesterday, actually RG but also looking at a course that was very differentiated from any other unis including the RG ones, it reflected the unique thinking of it's leading academic, rather than being a RG commodity. The fact that my DD seems now likely to put it at the top of her preferences is linked to that, not it's RG status (and our list of those unis we are visiting was based on the subject tables and includes ine non RG)

Whilst the academic approach was unique there was an emphasis on the skills that students would emerge equipped with for the world of work. The academics were actively involving alumni in developing their courses to better prepare students for employment. However that leading academic also focused on how important it was that students emerged with value not just in terms of their potential to contribute to the economy but as thinking people who would make a vital contribution to a democratic liberal society. I was with someone educated in Asia who had originally had a blue fit when her DD had presented her with a list of unis to visit that went beyond the very top of the RG (but were top for her chosen course) but a tour of unis had opened her eyes to the huge variation in what was on offer, and completely changed her perceptions. They particularly responded to the importance of the latter skills.

Copthallresident Sun 23-Jun-13 09:02:56

However I would add that my Maths O level and study to the age of 16 has been a very adequate base for me to gain the further Maths skills I needed for work and to cope with degree level Maths on my MBA. I remember when faced with having to calculate the equation to find the values on a demand curve I just sat down with an A level text book and worked my way through the more advanced Calculus, and ended up getting much closer to the answer than a lot of economics graduates. Likewise in my work I have had to develop a far more sophisticated knowledge of statistics and modelling than my daughter has for her Maths A level and now, for use in experimental Science . Unless you are going to study pure Maths the range of ways in which you may want to apply it would be very hard to cover in a post 16 syllabus.

I think that probably has an awful lot to do with the amazing teaching I had, a teacher who was really able to equip us with a thorough grounding in the basic logic on which I have since built, educated us rather than taught to the exam. And I do think the GCSE syllabus could develop to cover more of the trigonometry and calculus we did cover (without hopefully requiring as much rote learnt regurgitation) and of course the exam system could be improved to ensure it is a fair test and avoid this sort of outrageous balls up which had the majority of DDs peers in tears and fearing for their university places www.independent.co.uk/incoming/edexcel-maths-alevel-mixup-leaves-students-concerned-for-university-places-8659284.html

lljkk Sun 23-Jun-13 10:19:24

Most of the vocational schools in South Korea are private, some of which are really supportive of misfits, I wouldn't compare to what you can expect from UK state education. I read the on-time-graduation rate from high school was still as low as 93%.

SK also gets criticised for over-education, parents miring themselves in debt for it.

grumpyoldbat Sun 23-Jun-13 17:53:46

The Scottish system allows you to study more subjects to a higher level. However I admit that due to the number of changes I have vowed not to pay too much attention to the current exam system until dd gets nearer to that age group.

Before I'm flamed she has a while before school even starts for her so she has a lot more basic stuff to learn before considering exams. Although as it has been pointed out on this and other threads I have set such a bad example with my abject failure she is perhaps already doomed to fail anyway sad. Having said that if any teacher tries to write her off while still a child this idiot will have something to say about it.

exoticfruits Wed 26-Jun-13 19:15:06

My graduate son has a job!! He heard today! It took 13months. That is the reality of graduate employment today. He didn't go to a RG, but then they didn't do his course. (Even Xenia would be impressed by the company smile ) it has been a long, hard 13 months - especially worrying as another batch of students have just graduated.
They jump through all the right educational hoops and then they meet real life and it is tough- far worse than it was even 10 yrs ago.
Good luck to anyone else- but RG isn't the answer - find the best place for your subject.

Southeastdweller Wed 26-Jun-13 19:18:01

27 pages in less than two weeks!

I'm happy for you exotic. The graduate landscape is so tough at the moment isn't it. Yep, there's so much more to getting on than going to the 'right' uni.

exoticfruits Wed 26-Jun-13 19:20:39

Thanks Southeastdweller- I can't tell you how many sleepless nights it has given me! Far my toughest part of being a parent. ( same problem with his older brothers as they met 'the real world'. )

jacks365 Wed 26-Jun-13 19:30:50

Congratulations to your son exotic. That'll be me in 4 years ( 4 year masters plus industry year) I'm hoping things will have improved but who knows, any advantage helps

exoticfruits Wed 26-Jun-13 19:41:45

Good luck jacks- it just means keep plugging on and keep faith it will all work out in the end. But in answer to OP you should certainly bother if you don't get RG. DS only applied to 3 universities and he withdrew from one before the interview- they were the only ones he wanted to go to and none of them were RG.

Copthallresident Wed 26-Jun-13 19:44:40

Congratulations to your DS Exotic.

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