Is university education losing its value

I contend that that author of this post, though a university graduate himself did not understand the reason for the existence of the university. In an earlier post that I wrote, I mentioned what other scholars had identified as the raison d’etre for the existence of the university is scientific interest- pursuit for truth. This I think still remains the main goal for the existence of research institutions of higher learning.

Bertrand Russell in his reflections on education, writes in part

Instead of obedience and discipline, we ought to aim at preserving independence and impulse. Instead of ruthlessness, education should try to develop justice in thought. Instead of contempt, it ought to instill reverence, and the attempt at understanding; towards the opinions of others it ought to produce, not necessarily acquiescence, but only such opposition as is combined with imaginative apprehension and a clear realization of the grounds for opposition. Instead of credulity, the object should be to stimulate constructive doubt, the love of mental adventure, the sense of worlds to conquer by enterprise and boldness in thought. Contentment with the status quo, and subordination of the individual pupil to political aims, owing to the indifference to the things of the mind, are the immediate causes of these evils; but beneath these causes there is one more fundamental, the fact that education is treated as a means of acquiring power over the pupil, not as a means of nourishing his own growth.

Bertrand Russell

nowhere does he say or Ogot say the goal of university education or education for that matter is to get you a good job. This happens only as a matter of course. Many people around us have gotten wealthy with no university education and many others have remained almost destitute with university education. We can’t therefore measure the utility of university of education by how many people are employed. This happens, in my view, to be thought advanced by Edwin Hinda in the post I linked above.

He writes for example

Perhaps it is time to review our priorities. If, as a country, we just focus on the capability and productivity of our youth, we shall develop rapidly as opposed to investing in the theoretical university education, only for students to end up unemployed. Agriculture, the backbone of our economy, and the practical courses, are the only way out of this quagmire. University education is losing value and change is inevitable.

which I find quite problematic. For the youth to be productive, we need people who can think independently. Who can innovate. Who can acquire, analyse and apply knowledge to solve societies’ current problems. But if we think only of the stomach today, then we are better of returning to the pre-industrial era. We are living in the information age and it is time we behaved like it. The only people who will prosper will be those who can manipulate knowledge or information to their advantage in addressing any of the crises facing humanity.

The fact that our economy is not performing optimally in a way that adequate funding is not available for university education is not a reason to declare a loss of value for university. That a university student depends on their parents for education is not unique to Kenya only, but happens everywhere in the world, where university education is not free.

It is my humble submission that Edwin ought to refund his parents the money spent for his university education, apologise to his tutors and the community of students for not having benefited from his sojourn at the university.


About makagutu

As Onyango Makagutu I am Kenyan, as far as I am a man, I am a citizen of the world

12 thoughts on “Is university education losing its value

  1. john zande says:

    Fight with all you have to maintain, and build, your universities.

    Think for one moment what your world (our world) would look like if they were gone.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. jeannejam40 says:

    Yes I think Uni has lost its purpose! I attended a three year nursing program. (Which I reimbursed my parents for) then feeling I knew nothing but medicine I went back to school to extend my field of knowledge. Since I was not dependent on that knowledge for my livelihood I could argue with professor. Even then they where not teaching how to think but rather to simply memorize. Sadly I believe it is only thinking that will save societh!


    • makagutu says:

      That looks to me to be a problem of instruction and not the value of university. And i think you say it best when you say your livelihood didn’t depend on the degree. You went specifically to just learn


  3. University education in my opinion is very meaningful. As an educator, I still pride myself with the idea that the more the transition to university the better will the society be… I have people who are graduates, blood connected who haven’t gotten employed for years since their graduation…in their struggles, they still find meaning in advocating for the best education foundation for their children. Never have I regretted that they pursued those degrees. My only source of worry is when people stop thinking right after graduation. It pains me as a teacher to watch brains locked… and people live in desperation bcuz they are jobless…I have passion for learning bcuz it liberates. I wish I can die while still studying. It is worth it…it is pleasurable and it is princely… not everyone has the same capacity. For those who have it, they should sustain this pursuit and hopefully make the society a better place.


  4. jimoeba says:

    University should be a bastion a free thought, but 80-90% all vote the same way. University is worth saving for the small percentage of innovators it aids.


  5. I think the value of a university education largely depends on what the individual student extracts from it. It’s very possible to attend a college, do the minimum and regurgitate the relevant facts back on tests, and graduate with the same worldview you went in with. I know a lot of people who did just that.

    But if you ponder what you’re exposed to while going through it, it can expand your horizons in ways that’s simply hard to describe to someone who hasn’t experienced it, and may think, from their perspective, that you’ve just been brainwashed.

    Liked by 2 people

    • makagutu says:

      You are right on both counts. I remember my friend in undergrad who said he wouldn’t attend our introduction to philosophy class because it would make him question his religion or something like that.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. The myth of being the holy grail of intellectualism evaporates as soon as one enters the university system.


    • makagutu says:

      My friend you have killed it.
      I think in a sense, the university being community of home sapiens suffers the same problems the rest of the society does but it is expected that this is the place where these problems are faced and better responses developed

      Liked by 1 person

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