Too many Irish university students unable for university education, OECD study says

patslatt

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I myself went through a maths-natural sciences heavy special program for my second level in a lycaeum, but in Uni opted for the Public Law studies. I went to an optional course of Basics of Public Economics, and was shocked in one day to see the prof unsuspectedly drawing a graph on something and then suddenly ask: "Now, how do we know at which point the growth seizes from happening?"

I had done enough derivatives in my long form lycaeum maths under a very capable, very demandind and very non-PC teacher to instantly know what he was after there, but it still was like watching a car wrecking in slow motion for I thought I had put all this behind me.

I can't imagine what my fellow students who had opted for the short form maths were feeling.
CALCULUS

25 years ago I gave a present of a very comprehensive American university level calculus textbook several hundreds of pages long to a relative preparing for the LC. He told me his maths teacher photocopied drawings from it and posted them all over the walls of the classroom as a teaching aid. The quality of American textbooks is extremely high.
 


patslatt

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Higher education access route...

If a uni has 50 places and they give 6 to hear student on a reduced points entry basis - they really only have 44 places. This means that while 6 get in with less the students who do get in need more than they would have needed if there were 50 places. 6 students are very happy and 6 lose out who would really merit a place on real achievement / exam performance.

In theory it may be a good idea however in practice I don't think it works. Universities actively manipulate these schemes to keep points inflated in certain courses. I heard a story of a head of a law dept banging down the door of admissions demanding that they don't dare let the points for law drop below 500! That this would send out all the wrong messages to their rivals about their standards and the vs,he of their degrees...

Many new Irish are getting these places because their parents incomes fall below the income threshold and not because they are from marginalised communities - many Irish are also getting them who I think don't deserve them too. But the result is that many hard working honest students are failing to get a place even though they have more points -

It is part of that PC think that I believe has lost its way and is causing hardship - parents who work hard and pay taxes are not only paying for high fees for their children but are doing so for other people's children and funding a system that discriminates against their children...
HYPOCRICY
Could society function without it?
 

SAT

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It is worth mentioning some of the lecturers in the universities aren't up to scratch either.
 

silverharp

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CALCULUS

25 years ago I gave a present of a very comprehensive American university level calculus textbook several hundreds of pages long to a relative preparing for the LC. He told me his maths teacher photocopied drawings from it and posted them all over the walls of the classroom as a teaching aid. The quality of American textbooks is extremely high.
I came across some chat on a US maths website. The guy was saying there were chinese and irish guys in their class and that they flew through the material quicker than this guy anyway. Its probably the non standard nature of their schooling, some schools will teach less than others
 

Analyzer

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If the kids are lazy, unable to speak/write English correctly, and generally useless, there is an option.

BELFIELD.
 

The Field Marshal

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The reasons for Irelands poor performance as outlined in the OECD report are IMV:

[1] The heavy politicisation of the teaching profession primarily interested in high pay, short hours, long holidays and golden pensions.

[2] The excessive diversion of existing resources to teaching the backward such that students of average ability are neglected.

[3] The failure to stream and bring on the gifted students on the basis that it offends
the false Marxist principle of equality.
 

The Field Marshal

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Oh yes I should have added the philosophy of many Irish teachers that there is no such thing as a backward or dense student.

This philosophy has been lapped up strongly by Irish teachers I can only conclude as a shield to hide their own personal inadequacies.
 

stakerwallace

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It is worth mentioning some of the lecturers in the universities aren't up to scratch either.
I would have to say that the job became easier and easier, if not more frustrating, as time went on. The students' levels of prior knowledge fell off a cliff sometime in the late '80s or thereabouts.
 

SAT

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I would have to say that the job became easier and easier, if not more frustrating, as time went on. The students' levels of prior knowledge fell off a cliff sometime in the late '80s or thereabouts.
That doesn't excuse 'expert' science lecturers disseminating information which is just plain wrong! And I am not talking about nuances or opinions I mean factual inaccuracies. One of these lecturers was was not happy when errors were pointed out afterwards by students.
 

stakerwallace

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That doesn't excuse 'expert' science lecturers disseminating information which is just plain wrong! And I am not talking about nuances or opinions I mean factual inaccuracies. One of these lecturers was was not happy when errors were pointed out afterwards by students.
I'm not attempting to excuse any such thing. I'm merely pointing out that it many areas staff find themselves now teaching content which could be presumed upon from general schooling and reading in the past but is not evident among students today.
 

A Voice

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The reasons for Irelands poor performance as outlined in the OECD report are IMV:

[1] The heavy politicisation of the teaching profession primarily interested in high pay, short hours, long holidays and golden pensions.

[2] The excessive diversion of existing resources to teaching the backward such that students of average ability are neglected.

[3] The failure to stream and bring on the gifted students on the basis that it offends
the false Marxist principle of equality.

Oh yes I should have added the philosophy of many Irish teachers that there is no such thing as a backward or dense student.

This philosophy has been lapped up strongly by Irish teachers I can only conclude as a shield to hide their own personal inadequacies.
There's much to agree with there, but the problem goes beyond the teaching profession itself into general societal attitudes.

[1] People see 3rd level as a right now, not as an attainment based on ability (unevenly distributed in nature) and hard work. As such, pretty much everyone expects 3rd level qualifications. But "pretty much everyone" is too big a cohort to satisfy stringent criteria and standards. So the rights argument exerts downward pressure on standards.

[2] There has been a near collapse in authority, across the board. Education is not exempt. Without it, one can't enforce standards. In recent weeks I have witnessed two instructive exchanges:

(i) a 27-yr-old (!) student complained to a lecturer after being singled out for not paying attention. Rather than accept what was a mild rebuke, the student complained bitterly and at length about her learning style not being respected. "We are all individuals" was said, a couple of times.

(ii) a final year student gave a (mandatory) presentation in a foreign language that was so bad as to be unintelligible. The tutor described it as pidgin, and was reported by the student for using a "hurtful" and "insulting" word, and was subsequently hauled over the coals by the academic director. Needless to say, the student was poor because she never practised the target language in class or elsewhere.

Given these attitudes, is it really any wonder we are not much good?
 

patslatt

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There's much to agree with there, but the problem goes beyond the teaching profession itself into general societal attitudes.

[1] People see 3rd level as a right now, not as an attainment based on ability (unevenly distributed in nature) and hard work. As such, pretty much everyone expects 3rd level qualifications. But "pretty much everyone" is too big a cohort to satisfy stringent criteria and standards. So the rights argument exerts downward pressure on standards.

[2] There has been a near collapse in authority, across the board. Education is not exempt. Without it, one can't enforce standards. In recent weeks I have witnessed two instructive exchanges:

(i) a 27-yr-old (!) student complained to a lecturer after being singled out for not paying attention. Rather than accept what was a mild rebuke, the student complained bitterly and at length about her learning style not being respected. "We are all individuals" was said, a couple of times.

(ii) a final year student gave a (mandatory) presentation in a foreign language that was so bad as to be unintelligible. The tutor described it as pidgin, and was reported by the student for using a "hurtful" and "insulting" word, and was subsequently hauled over the coals by the academic director. Needless to say, the student was poor because she never practised the target language in class or elsewhere.

Given these attitudes, is it really any wonder we are not much good?
BUMS ON SEATS
THat is the way budgets are maintained when students don't pay adequate fees.

The government won't properly fund third level because political priorities are to spend money on public sector pay and projects in constituencies, especially towards general elections.

We may be witnessing the destruction of Irish university standards and if so, university reputations will be very hard to restore. THe best Irish students may go to the top tier English universities which are properly funded with fees. And most of them won't return to work here.
 

Apple in Eden

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A large part of the problem is the points system coupled with loose course requirements set by the colleges.

For example, a student can do a science degree having only done ordinary level maths because they achieved the necessary points in other completely unrelated subjects. Needless to say a science lecturer at 3rd level would find such a student's numeracy severely wanting. It would probably serve both the students and the colleges better if there were stricter entry requirements for courses and so, for example, higher level maths should be a prerequisite for doing a science degree. The students skill set should be shaped to fit the course rather than the course being shaped to fit the students.

There is also a question mark over the value and relevancy of some of the degree courses offered at the low end of the points scale and so as employers are well aware not all degrees are equal. Having said that if someone wants to study these subjects and are willing to pay for it - why not?
Don't see why Higher Level Maths should be a prerequisite for science per say. Many degree courses would rely most heavily on Stats which while needing good numeracy skills and basic Math is a long way short of needing to be a Math Nerd.
 

Watcher2

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Don't see why Higher Level Maths should be a prerequisite for science per say. Many degree courses would rely most heavily on Stats which while needing good numeracy skills and basic Math is a long way short of needing to be a Math Nerd.
I cant say I am an expert in the area but perhaps its that attitude that has created the issue. Surely where "numeracy" is a big part of a course, math should be given priority in the entrance criteria?
 

Politics matters

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Higher education access route...

If a uni has 50 places and they give 6 to hear student on a reduced points entry basis - they really only have 44 places. This means that while 6 get in with less the students who do get in need more than they would have needed if there were 50 places. 6 students are very happy and 6 lose out who would really merit a place on real achievement / exam performance.

In theory it may be a good idea however in practice I don't think it works. Universities actively manipulate these schemes to keep points inflated in certain courses. I heard a story of a head of a law dept banging down the door of admissions demanding that they don't dare let the points for law drop below 500! That this would send out all the wrong messages to their rivals about their standards and the vs,he of their degrees...

Many new Irish are getting these places because their parents incomes fall below the income threshold and not because they are from marginalised communities - many Irish are also getting them who I think don't deserve them too. But the result is that many hard working honest students are failing to get a place even though they have more points -

It is part of that PC think that I believe has lost its way and is causing hardship - parents who work hard and pay taxes are not only paying for high fees for their children but are doing so for other people's children and funding a system that discriminates against their children...
If you're talking about students taking arts degree courses than I disagree entirely, if a middle-class student who attended a fee-paying school secures 400 points, while a working-class student achieves 380 and consequently gets the place ahead of the former, I think that is fair.

The leaving cert points system is not a reflection of intelligence; its a reflection of well a person can memorise an exam (at least when it comes to non-science subjects). This means that a student who has more resources at their disposable has a much greater chance of earning higher points compared to less-well-off students.

I think you are exaggerating this issue. The Irish education system is set up to favour the children of the wealthy, the state shamelessly provides funding most to fee-paying schools, while omitting to provide adequate funds to DEIS schools. The league table shows that in most fee-paying schools, the progression rate to third level education is over 90%, some as high as 100%. Contrastingly, in many DEIS schools, the progression rates are less than 10%.

The Irish education system is not discriminating against the children of the wealthy in Ireland. I think it is less than 10% of students in Trinners avail of grants each year and only slightly higher in UCD too. Perhaps you are just resentful of students who come from non traditionally educated families availing of third level education?
 

raspberry tea

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Yeah because what the world need is another useless opinionated starbucks glugging university student, who cannot even knock a nail in the wall or work with wood etc, plumb or fix a toilet, **** sake, is this the society we are raising, all middle managers or self appointed freelancers and consultants, who is actually growing crops, doing real work as opposed to paper pushing - who is making the widgets? Nobody willing to do anything worthwhile anymore?
 


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