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Universities have a crucial role in the modern world. In England, entrance to universities is by nation-wide competition which means English universities have an exceptional influence on schools--a striking theme of the book. This important book first investigates the university as an institution and then tracks the individual on their journey to and through university. In Universities have a crucial role in the modern world. In England, entrance to universities is by nation-wide competition which means English universities have an exceptional influence on schools--a striking theme of the book. This important book first investigates the university as an institution and then tracks the individual on their journey to and through university. In A University Education, David Willetts presents a compelling case for the ongoing importance of the university, both as one of the great institutions of modern society and as a transformational experience for the individual. The book also makes illuminating comparisons with higher education in other countries, especially the US and Germany. Drawing on his experience as UK Minister for Universities and Science from 2010 to 2014, the author offers a powerful account of the value of higher education and the case for more expansion. He covers controversial issues in which he was involved from access for disadvantaged students to the introduction of L9,000 fees. The final section addresses some of the big questions for the future, such as the the relationship between universities and business, especially in promoting innovation.. He argues that the two great contemporary trends of globalisation and technological innovation will both change the university significantly. This is an authoritative account of English universities setting them for the first time in their new legal and regulatory framework.


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Universities have a crucial role in the modern world. In England, entrance to universities is by nation-wide competition which means English universities have an exceptional influence on schools--a striking theme of the book. This important book first investigates the university as an institution and then tracks the individual on their journey to and through university. In Universities have a crucial role in the modern world. In England, entrance to universities is by nation-wide competition which means English universities have an exceptional influence on schools--a striking theme of the book. This important book first investigates the university as an institution and then tracks the individual on their journey to and through university. In A University Education, David Willetts presents a compelling case for the ongoing importance of the university, both as one of the great institutions of modern society and as a transformational experience for the individual. The book also makes illuminating comparisons with higher education in other countries, especially the US and Germany. Drawing on his experience as UK Minister for Universities and Science from 2010 to 2014, the author offers a powerful account of the value of higher education and the case for more expansion. He covers controversial issues in which he was involved from access for disadvantaged students to the introduction of L9,000 fees. The final section addresses some of the big questions for the future, such as the the relationship between universities and business, especially in promoting innovation.. He argues that the two great contemporary trends of globalisation and technological innovation will both change the university significantly. This is an authoritative account of English universities setting them for the first time in their new legal and regulatory framework.

55 review for A University Education

  1. 4 out of 5

    Chad

    I picked up A University Education by David Willetts after it popped up on my Goodreads recommendations around the time I read The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman. Newman's book was written in 1873 regarding the founding of the Catholic University of Ireland. It was a very provocative work for me as I was working through my own graduate work. For instance, the argument: “The view taken of a University in these Discourses is the following: –That it is a place of teaching universal knowle I picked up A University Education by David Willetts after it popped up on my Goodreads recommendations around the time I read The Idea of a University by John Henry Newman. Newman's book was written in 1873 regarding the founding of the Catholic University of Ireland. It was a very provocative work for me as I was working through my own graduate work. For instance, the argument: “The view taken of a University in these Discourses is the following: –That it is a place of teaching universal knowledge. This implies that its object is, on the one hand, intellectual, not moral; and on the other, that it is the diffusion and extension of knowledge rather than the advancement. If its object were scientific and philosophical discovery, I do not see why a University should have students.” Newman thought that the new trend in universities being defined by their research output rather than their role as transmitters of knowledge was detrimental to the very ethos of a university. Willett's book is a more contemporary work, written just last year by no more than the former Minister for Universities and Science in the UK. As such, it can take into account such recent events such as Brexit and how that is likely to impact the university. Interestingly enough, Willett quotes Newman's Idea of a University throughout his book. While he is sympathetic to Newman's argument, he doesn't agree that a university's main role is the transmission of knowledge, but believes that the research-intensive university brings a lot of good. He adds some nuance that Newman doesn't take, because Newman's book is largely to make an ideological point rather than citing data and statistics, which Willett does quite thoroughly. Newman brings, among others, two points to the fore: (1) there are diverse types of universities, with different balances between research and teaching, and this diversity is a good thing to preserve and (2) universities have had to adapt in the 20th century to a number of new constraints, research being one of them. Willett does acknowledge where research does potentially collide with their teaching mission-- for instance, the best research doesn't necessarily correlate with the quality of teaching. What I didn't expect to get from this book-- and I easily could have if I read the dust jacket first-- was that this book primarily centered around universities in the UK. As an outsider to this system, there were many things I was unfamiliar with, and you get thrown a lot of information out of context. I started to get a picture of how the education system worked in the UK, but there were still times when I read the words on the page without the thrust of the argument registering. That, plus a lot of fun idioms and phrases like "slap-dash." I learned, for instance, that instead of the SAT and ACT for college placement, students in the UK have subject-specific tests called A levels. Students pick three topics that they choose to specialize in during their high school years, instead of getting a broad education in high school and the first years of college. This more specialized system is largely driven by university departments that select which students to accept, rather than having a university-wide approach. Student loans are handled differently too. Students don't pay anything up-front; instead, students will have, say, 9% of their pay exceeding 20,000 pounds a year deducted from their paycheck until they either pay it off or they retire. Goods and bads there. For a book written by a politician about the education system, I was pleasantly surprised. Willett really knows what he's talking about. He seems genuinely interested in the outcomes of students, and is willing to work with the other side to get it done. He respects the efforts that past administrations have made, and paints a picture of the development of education in the UK in a continuous arc of development. I don't know if I could say the same thing about a politician in the U.S. doing the same thing today (can you imagine, for instance, Betsy DeVos writing a similar book on U.S. education?). It felt like I had an expert in the room, rather than a politician. Maybe I'm looking at UK politics through too rosy of a lens, but then again, it's hard to gauge as an outsider. The flip side of the fact that Willet knows what he is talking about is that this book is dense. 350 pages of statistics, history, legislation-- it was hard to get through this book. I only made it through in a month, because I had it out on an inter-library loan. I had to have it done by tonight, or else I wouldn't be able to finish. I really appreciated the broad historical perspective that Willett provides on the university, going back to its medieval roots and painting how the trajectories of universities diverged in continental Europe and the U.S. Excellent work, but not for the faint of heart.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Green

    We enjoyed reading this book and more or less agree with Lord Willetts about what is education. Or as he calls it - "vocational higher and further education". Willetts assessment of the history of vocational education and the way these courses work is astute. Of particular interest are the "private attempts to push universities out of their training roles" Willetts stops short of identifying who are the agents of these short sighted attempts to lumber students with an education they cannot use. Ma We enjoyed reading this book and more or less agree with Lord Willetts about what is education. Or as he calls it - "vocational higher and further education". Willetts assessment of the history of vocational education and the way these courses work is astute. Of particular interest are the "private attempts to push universities out of their training roles" Willetts stops short of identifying who are the agents of these short sighted attempts to lumber students with an education they cannot use. Many people do not realise universities offer apprenticeships. Practical courses - vocational, technical and professional degrees offered by universities lead to highly skilled/ highly specialist jobs. Qualifications, and the work experience that lead to qualifications are baked into these degrees. Willetts does a good job of reminding us of this. But stops short of a definitive solution of how to avoid lumbering students with debt and an education they can't use. EBB's book club begins the necessary discussion of the future of education - fit for purpose for the 4th industrial revolution.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael

    A comprehensive overview that does an excellent job of taking a complex, and multifaceted, topic and stitching it together in a flowing narrative with a historical perspective. David Willett's is also in a position of authority, and with significant background parliamentary experience, that his personal insights add a further layer of interest into the political discussions around topics impacting the university and society. If you work in a HEI this book will provide an up-to-date and thorough w A comprehensive overview that does an excellent job of taking a complex, and multifaceted, topic and stitching it together in a flowing narrative with a historical perspective. David Willett's is also in a position of authority, and with significant background parliamentary experience, that his personal insights add a further layer of interest into the political discussions around topics impacting the university and society. If you work in a HEI this book will provide an up-to-date and thorough writing that will pull the workings of a university together. Throughout there are references and plenty of quoted national/international studies, making this book a strong revision material. The only negative I have with this book, is the a priori expectation. The author is not overly forgiving with terminological descriptions, or reminding the reader of what particular parliamentary acts, abbreviations etc refer to. Perhaps in the next edition, footnotes or further parenthesis can be added to remind the reader. Otherwise, the level of detail may become too much to engage a wider public.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Aidos Ibadulla

    This book is just brilliant. A masterpiece from the author. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. As a student, who still studies at a British university, I always wanted to read a book similar to this and very pleased to find it. I have learned a lot about the British higher education, it’s history, the duopoly of Oxbridge and the reason of their dominance; it’s unique and distinctive system... Really, there are a lot to say. Instead, do the following: Just grab the book and enjoy of reading i This book is just brilliant. A masterpiece from the author. I thoroughly enjoyed reading the book. As a student, who still studies at a British university, I always wanted to read a book similar to this and very pleased to find it. I have learned a lot about the British higher education, it’s history, the duopoly of Oxbridge and the reason of their dominance; it’s unique and distinctive system... Really, there are a lot to say. Instead, do the following: Just grab the book and enjoy of reading it. Will not regret ;)

  5. 5 out of 5

    Noah Hillyard

    At first I was worried that this going to be something of an apologia for Willetts' time in office, and while there is some of this (p. 181 contains a pretty cheap partisan swipe), he clearly has a deep appreciation of the issues surrounding universities. One of the central points he highlights - that we often falsely equate rankings (largely based on research and students' prior attainment) with teaching quality - strikes a chord, and his arguments around fees and widening participation are als At first I was worried that this going to be something of an apologia for Willetts' time in office, and while there is some of this (p. 181 contains a pretty cheap partisan swipe), he clearly has a deep appreciation of the issues surrounding universities. One of the central points he highlights - that we often falsely equate rankings (largely based on research and students' prior attainment) with teaching quality - strikes a chord, and his arguments around fees and widening participation are also broadly sensible.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Elisabeth Marksteiner

    This is a masterful review of the role of the university through historg and into the modern era. Looking locally and globally, this is a deeply informed expert exploration. Definitely one to come back to. It doesn’t fit with the simple sound bite era of single issue agenda. Brilliant.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sim

  8. 5 out of 5

    Holly Snaith

  9. 5 out of 5

    David Morris

  10. 5 out of 5

    Robert Hardware

  11. 5 out of 5

    Neil

  12. 4 out of 5

    Nikki Elliott

  13. 5 out of 5

    Miroslav Beblavy

  14. 4 out of 5

    Sam Johnson

  15. 5 out of 5

    JIM DICKINSON

  16. 4 out of 5

    Billy Bryan

  17. 5 out of 5

    Hugh Jones

  18. 4 out of 5

    jennet wheatstonelllsl Proc

  19. 5 out of 5

    A Young Philosopher

  20. 4 out of 5

    lee

  21. 5 out of 5

    Caitriona Pierce

  22. 5 out of 5

    Joakim AI

  23. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan William Minton

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jan Crackfeed

  25. 5 out of 5

    Alasdair

  26. 4 out of 5

    Acacia Begley

  27. 4 out of 5

    Doc Martin

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

  29. 4 out of 5

    Paul Shevlane

  30. 5 out of 5

    Nico Macdonald

  31. 4 out of 5

    eddie

  32. 5 out of 5

    Louis Maddox

  33. 5 out of 5

    Lin Ding

  34. 4 out of 5

    Elise

  35. 5 out of 5

    Ptallidum

  36. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

  37. 5 out of 5

    Olof

  38. 4 out of 5

    Steffen

  39. 5 out of 5

    Philipp

  40. 4 out of 5

    Celine

  41. 4 out of 5

    Luis Angel

  42. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

  43. 4 out of 5

    Dominik

  44. 4 out of 5

    Chris Creed

  45. 5 out of 5

    Dexter

  46. 5 out of 5

    Arturo

  47. 5 out of 5

    Sengeset

  48. 5 out of 5

    Takeshi

  49. 4 out of 5

    Péter Palasics

  50. 4 out of 5

    Daniel Jandak

  51. 5 out of 5

    Julius Cayaon

  52. 4 out of 5

    Jithendra Bhattiprolu

  53. 4 out of 5

    Nathan

  54. 5 out of 5

    Chris Carmona

  55. 5 out of 5

    Akin Okvur

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