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1. "What's the point of university?"

Is University there to get you a well-paid job, to turn you into a civilised citizen or to give you three years of fun? With NUS President Gemma Tumelty, businessman Dougal Paver, Gerald Pillay,Vice-Chancellor of Liverpool Hope University, and Kelvin Everest, Public Orator for the University of Liverpool.

Responses from festival-goers

Vox pops

Watch in Windows/Real Media


Free Thinking 07 event poll 01

Would you go to university if there was no degree at the end of it?

  1. Yes
    47 votes
  2. No
    22 votes
  3. Don't know
    8 votes

Total votes: 77

Results are indicative and may not reflect public opinion

Your thoughts

Mary, St Andrews
Now that I am in my final year of university, I have discovered quite a lot. I know stuff about what I am doing that I didn't know before, which is obviosuly the point. The main reason I believe of going to univsersity is to become slightly more specialised in one field. However, I think you learn so much more. I have done things I could have never imagined and become more confident in myself, and had I not come here, I don't think this would have happened. I realise now that life is about more than exams and pieces of paper saying how clever you are. I have learnt whilst studying that you can learn more about life by just living, you can teach yourself about areas of interest simply by reading and questioning things. Although I would say a degree does get in the way of a good education, as your knowledge of other fields lessens, which are equally important in becoming a well rounded person. As for the idea of encouraging more people to go to university, I think it is just wrong. It is not for everyone, and it will devalue any form of degree people have, and now more than ever it is about where you degree came from, rather than how well you did in exams. Over all, I would say that these university years have been the best of my life thus far.

Joseph, London
I believe that my time at university has been deeply beneficial in shaping my way of thinking and relating to others; the actual degree itself is just an added extra.Nonetheless, it would be disingenuous of me to claim that I would have willingly gone to university, in this current climate, had there not been a degree at the end of it. After all university is an investment and few can expect to get a good job, in Britain or abroad, without having obtained one. All that a degree serves to show is that one has a basic level of assumed intelligence, which is why graduate schemes exist. There are several very intelligent and capable people whose career opportunities are unnecessarily restricted after graduation due to companies 'keeping up with the Joneses' and setting their minimum requirements to a 2.1 or first. This happens despite the fact that the actual work the new recruits are given, could easily be performed by most people with 2 Standard Grades or GCSE's. Paradoxically, there are plenty of people who coast through their degrees, take less challenging courses, obtain their 2.1's then expect the world to be their oyster.There are ample resources available for people to educate and become well-rounded from, the most accessible and common of these being our library's. Therefore, if there was no degree at the end of attending university, then it would be an experience made available solely to those in the upper-realms of society and would be of little practical benefit to the 'masses'. In short, a university without a degree, or other societal mark of distinction, would be nothing more than a 3/4 year finishing school.

Ray, Washington, DC USA
Doesn't anyone recognize the importance of an educated electorate in a free society? Lack of knowledge dooms us to repeat historical mistakes or to support leaders who do. Not all education is enlightening and liberating, but it beats the alternative in my book.

Chris Kedge, Merseyside
I am a mature student at the University and I have thoroughly enjoyed the lectures! and seminars that I have attended and have felt stimulated and re-enthused.

Scott, Warrington
The University experience should be (and can be) whatever you wish it to be .Whilst I initially thought going to University was about learning a specific subject what I actually learned was more about self reliance, fun, adventure and self discovery and its for these reasons I would recommend the university experience to anyone. However, university education should definately not be used to then pidgeon-hole a graduate into a specific career path... University should be about opening your mind and removing false constraints.

fel. liveprool
the % above are wrong. unliked a job which pays you for your time, and perhaps recognition is given by the employer/manager, university provides no other fruition than knowledge. most people are unable to obtain the benefits of being over qualified. therefore, it would be unwise for the mass public, to go to university if there is no degree, which can prove that you done something with you time, since you are not getting paid. this assumption is made based, upon vocational course be worth more.

Nick, Liverpool
I doubt I would have begun university if there was no degree at the end of it. However, once there I developed a great love of learning and realised that getting a job at the end, was a much lesser priority than growing and developing my own mind.

Rob Liverpool
I was 25 when I went to University. I had just finished working in Vauxhall motors production plant as a line operator. The tedious job propelled me into applying for University as I knew my mind was expecting more. Now in my final year of study of a Marketing and Media degree I have learned a number of crucial skills that will enable me to command a better position, not only in terms of employment but also in society. Progressing from reading the manufactured tabloid press to the broadsheets and understanding them is one of the most valuable assets I now enjoy. With the number of graduates rising year on year the degree is not necessarily the point but the understanding of the world and how it revolves is. Society as a whole will benefit more from people in education than out.

Leila, Belgium
Education should not all be crammed into the first twenty-odd years of a person's life. I think it would be better to see a university degree as part of a whole life-long learning experience. I feel I would have benefited from going directly into work or training as a young adult, and doing academic study once I felt emotionally ready for it and had more of an idea what I wanted to do in life. It should not be a stigma to be a mature student, on the contrary, older people are often better able to take full advantage of their education and value it more than young people.

Malcolm Southampton
No to the question posed. But also no because three years at a university will only give you a biased curriculum with regard the machinations of a capitalist society. Present day headlines regarding the out of control shananigins of the worlds unregulated capitalists indicates there is a requirement for a democratic form of money creation. 'Should money creation be the remit of public or private entity?' Discuss

Willam Cope, London
My degree, the actual data learned and the certificate has not been very useful.The skills i learned in attanining it - how to organise things, how to process information, how to communicate in writing etc - have been invaluable. You don't need the degree, but the education you get in doing it is what's worth having.

Suzanne Liverpool
Very interesting question actually, I hadn't really thought of it that way, I was just concentrating on getting a degree to move me on to the next stage in my life - jobsville. I suppose if you see going to university as a chance to broaden your horizons, learn something about yourself, others and the world around you it might be a more fulfilling experience.

A festival of ideas in Liverpool 9-11Nov 07, on radio and online.

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