More College Students Equals Lower Quality
A new “comprehensive study” of universities in the United Kingdom has come to the startling conclusion that the larger the number of students admitted to college, the lower their quality.
Pity the poor British professor. Once upon a time in the halcyon 1960s, his students were a privileged few, an academic elite drawn from the top 4 percent of the population. New university arrivals were literate and numerate; crimes against grammar were the exception rather than the rule.
But according to a new comprehensive survey of British university faculty and staff, all that has changed. “They [incoming freshmen] don’t know how to write essays – they just assemble bits from the Internet,” commented a disgruntled Oxford tutor. “Even the cream of candidates … do not necessarily know how to use an apostrophe,” added another.
The decline in student competence parallels a dramatic increase in British university and college enrollment over the past decade, spurred in recent years by Prime Minister Tony Blair’s push to get half of all young Britons a university degree.
It appears it is not just matriculating undergraduates who are innumerate. So long as students were being admitted on the basis of aptitude rather than social class, it is almost by definition true that admission of those previously excluded will lower the overall quality of the pool.
The more interesting observation is that there has been a decline in the upper tier candidates as well. Presuming this is actually true rather than fanciful memories of the good old days, it is a phenomenon worth exploring. If the Brits are following the example of their American cousins and mainstreaming mentally retarded and emotionally handicapped children into the classroom while at the same time making it almost impossible not to graduate high school, that might be a place worth starting.