'Degrees for sale' at UK universities (bournemouth)


#1

http://observer.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,6903,1273840,00.html

In the most blatant example of the financial pressure to pass failing students, Professor Richard Wynne, head of Bournemouth University’s design, engineering and computing department, emailed staff telling them to ‘minimise’ the number of failures because of a drop in applications.

He wrote: ‘I would urge all academic staff involved in marking examinations etc to look very carefully at those students gaining marks in the 30s. If the mark is 38/9 [just below the pass mark] then please, where possible, look for the extra 1/2 marks if appropriate and not leave it to the exam board to make this decision.’

Wynne went on to warn staff of the consequences of failing students. ‘I often reduce the problem to one of money. It perhaps brings home the issue at hand when you consider that each student brings an income of approximately £4,500. You can all do the sums as well as me to work out the likely implications for the school.’

The Observer investigation has also revealed that university staff are being put under increasing pressure to pass foreign students studying for masters’ degrees because the income is keeping many universities afloat.


#2

TUT TUT Bournemouth!!! I tell you the 90’s persona of that place is quickly fading - Does ILM even come over anymore - ur lectures love to squeeze that one!


#3

not a typical thing for bournemouth I dont think but goes for most schools in UK


#4

That is very worrying. I am starting the Ma 3D computer animation course in September. I hope Bournemouth does not start going down hill just as I start, that would be very annoying.


#5

Its quite sad, in general Uni’s are heading towards the gutter, there’s a few exceptions and i thought Bournemouth was one of them.


#6

this is an iffy one isn’t it?..

on one hand it’s great, because it:

a) helps keep unis aloft financially, which can be poured back into r&d and resources for the students, better teachers/lecturers, nicer looking facilities
b) gives students who struggle a bit a chance to get a decent degree

but on the other hand it:

a) degrades and downplays the hard work and dedication of students who are putting real effort in and who deserve the higher grades and therefore brings the overall standard of education down to a lower level than it would otherwise be
b) somewhat demeans university reputations abroad as far as respect from potential employers at studios goes, and investors as well

It’s not pretty, but it’s life, and I’m 100% positive it’s happening ALL over the country, and probably elsewhere too.

It happens at schools in the UK too (by schools I mean secondary schools) absolutely. I frequently got lower grades than I thought I deserved, simply because the national average was so low in my subjects (art being the main one), which meant students who were borderline B/A got A’s and thus making it harder to actually get the A in the 1st place (if you see what I mean!)

Again, it’s an iffy one, but who can blaim them. Eduction in the UK is pretty much 80% economy. Look at the league tables of secondary schools for proof of that.

It stinks, but it’s life.


#7

The UK university is quite strange. As far as I know, the govt. gives uni’s funding for the number of students they take on courses (obviously, the more students, the more funding), but if students fail or leave or are kicked off the course in subsequent years, the govt. still gives them the funding for the initial number of students they took on, for the full 3/4 years of the course they were accepted on to. Don’t quote me on that, but that’s how ti works as I understand it.

Being a computer animation student at bournemouth myself, I would also point out (to vfx in particular) that the Computer Visualisation & Animation course is not actually part of the Design, Engineering & Computing school, but in fact the Media school.


#8

Yep, and people certainly don’t get passed just for the sake of it on the computer animation courses…

This isn’t really a surprise though. Many of the “less academic” schools have been handing out 3’s 2:2’s like there’s no tomorrow, just to get the money.

That’s what happens when the university system is under-funded and under pressure to increase the number of students…

Can we just repeat that the computer animation courses at Bournemouth are not run by the school featured in this article.


#9

yes, directly that may be the case, however the opening line of " 'I would urge all academic staff involved in marking examinations" does leave that the range of the email’s intention open to speculation. It’s also stated later in the article that Wynne has the full backing of the University.

Certainly it’s a worrying confirmation of a suspected practice within Universities.


#10

We were told very similar stuff in high school, I went to a “deprived” highschool, low funds, rubbish teachers, abusive bullys, etc etc,

and my graphics teacher was really proud when my class were the only ones who didnt have any students who needed to be “marked up”

We were like “what” and he’s like, “oh when grades are low we start marking people up OR lower the pass brackets for each grade, so an A would have been 70 but if no one got an A we’d lower that bracket to 65,”

It makes a complete mockery of schools, and its all due to the governments Education league tables, where the best performing schools get more money, So the worst schools like mine try and “even the playing field” as a teacher said.

apparently it is for our benefit,

It does happen all the time everywhere, unfortunatly the UK is one of the only place that admits it, Every school in the world wants their kids to perform well, so a few marks here and a few there for kids on the border of passing, usually for extra marks for “effort” are the given reasons.

Anyways for CG degree’s the grades not as important, good degrees are mainly for Teaching you as much as they can, then preareing you for the field you aiming for.


#11

its an unfortunate state of affairs…certainly the standard of education in all forms is dropping, and that has knock on implications, and is especially frustrating from an employers point of view. Recent showreel submissions i have recieved from either current or post-grad students has been below par, especially compared to the output of students 5-10 years ago.

Generally, it concerns me when educational systems have commercial interests but don’t have independent marking. It all comes down to the influence of money i suppose, but its a shame to see course crying out for decent industry experience lecturers, but not being able to afford them because the budgets aren’t there…then you see a whole shedload of expanding building work so even more students can be put through the school…


#12

Yeah thats soooo true, more students, more money, yet no new industry standard lecturers, I will say that the uni i go to has a good crop of lectureres rangeing from industry pros too great artists who wanted to teach, but it is unfortunate that they dont try harder to get the best, the reputation of the schools would go up massively if you get a few big industry guys in there.


#13

This has always been the case. It is generally accepted that the exam boards will only accept a certain percentage of A grades for GCSEs or A-levels, for example, and vary the grade boundaries accordingly to accomodate this. This is nothing new.

I don’t think “looking for a few marks here and there” is particularly bad anyway. The examiners aren’t there to try and trick you, or make you fail. In fact, if you don’t get the mark you want and request a remark of the paper, the examiners will obviously be looking for extra marks since the examinee obviously feels hard done by.

I don’t know, as I said, as I understand it, the uni gets the funding either way (or at least a percentage of the full funding) even if students fail or are removed from the course for whatever reason.


#14

So what if some students like wasting their parent’s money so that they feel a little independent “studying” abroad while having fun? First of all, its not your money, second, they won’t be taking your job, unless you are on their level. But in that case you won’t be getting any job anyway.
I see no reasons for worries here.


#15

the question wasn’t about worry for them taking jobs, It was about the integrity and value of the uni’s grades,


#16

This is nothing compared to animation course at the “University” of central Lancashire. Its practically impossible to fail. Work simply isn’t assessed properly and everyone pretty much gets the same grade - despite there being a wide spectrum in the quality of the work produced.

And the Uni is trying to get as many foriegn students as possible. There are several foriegn students on my course who can’t even speak english and often have no understanding of project briefs. Crazy.

You can’t really blame the uni’s though. They are doing what they must to survive. If they had adequate funding they would not have to resort to such tactics.

I think courses such as animation suffer more than others because the department heads simply don’t understand how much investment a modern animation course requires.

At the end of the day if you want a job in this industry its DOWN TO YOU! No one is going to teach you everything you need and they certainly aren’t giving jobs away. So don’t worry about your course just work hard and look after yourself!


#17

The college i went to was meant to be one of the best in Britain, but has slowly but steadily dropped in standards. Even before i went there it had a great name, more because of the Lecturer who ran it, he left in my first year and you could see the standards just slip by each year.
It’s got to the point where they’re letting anyone in now, and some of the guys there have absolutely no talent but it was all about bums on seats! When i had my interview it was tough and you really had to sell yourself to get on, but now they’re letting in some wasters who think that it’s an easy course to do, they come in and resit years because they’re too lazy to work. It’s all about the funding and getting in the money, but as a result the standards have fallen.


#18

I hope I can try to set your mind at ease a little… I graduated from the MA last year and can say that the number of people finding employment after the course surprised even me. I know people who got into in Framestore, MPC, Double Negative, Animal Logic, Vanguard, Aardman, and many other companies. It was a very creative and productive environment, and I doubt that it’s changed much in a year or two. Work hard and you will get somewhere.


#19

This article is only more evidence of what is happening in the US and Canada as well. Universitys all over the place here have come up with these “game development” programs to meet the demand of students. The problem with these programs is that often they teach the technical skills to get into the industry but not the skills to succeed in it. (software engineering, project management, workflow optimization are ideas that may be no more than mentioned, but are critical once you get in.)

The other problem is that these programs cause the supply of artists and programmers to go up, removing the demand for these individuals and keeping wages low. I would propose an idea to help solve this problem, but I’m clueless. :shrug:


#20

I was once told that in US if graduates from a college cannot find work because there isn’t any demand for it, the state has to close down that college or tell them to abandon that specific course. Is this true?