David McWilliams vents against universities here - but it is difficult to see what point he's making at all. he seems to suggest that Irish universities are failing because thousands of their graduates are unemployed. And then indicates that because millions are registering for MOOCs (Massive Open Online Courses) in the US that the Irish universities are set to go the way of HMV.
McWilliams refers to the "deal as understood for years" that graduates struggled through the Leaving Cert and university to give them a much better chance of a much better job. The implication is that this deal has been broken and presumably by the universities. Notwithstanding that the universities would ever be in a position to guarantee employment, the argument is unconvincing since it would imply that our universities were not failing during the Celtic Tiger period. Since there was full employment and graduates went easily into jobs does this mean something has broken in our universities only since 2007 or so?
A cursory look at the data however would show that the deal is actually still in place. Figures from the last Census on unemployment among young people showed that graduates had a much better chance of a job (I'm not aware of data on whether these are much better jobs). This report in the Irish Times summarises the data:
Almost 70,000 of the young people who were out of work had finished their education. There was significant variation in unemployment levels depending on the level of education completed.
So it seems graduating from college is a good idea for increasing your chances of employment.
Whether the emergence of MOOCs is as great a threat to traditional modes of university teaching and learning will need to be seen and this far from decided (my own view is that on-line delivery may end being as much a complement as a substitute for university programmes). The issue of certification still needs to be sorted out. I wonder would Irish employers be indifferent to the education claims of a graduate of a third level institute or an on-line programme.
I'm an economist so many of these posts will be about economic issues. But since everyone is allowed a view on economics I am inclined to go beyond my profession to throw my tuppence ha'penny into other issues.