The geniuses of the higher education council yesterday announced that they are lowering minimum university entrance requirements for some fields at private and some public universities. Now, students are required to get 55% on the Tawjihi examination to be accepted in a number of fields. Previously, the minimum was 60%.
Now, I have been scratching my head about this all day. Why 55%? I mean, if they said 50% (the minimum passing grade), then that would make more sense. The logic would be that anybody who passes the Tawjihi has the right to continue his or her university studies. Despite the flaws in this logic, it does have a certain sense to it. But 55%? Why not 52%? Did they conduct some study that said that a 55% student was academically qualified for undergraduate studies, but 54% was just too low? Is this to maintain some pretence that they are interested in maintaining high quality in our higher education system? Like they are saying “sure, we have standards!”. What a joke.
Of course, the point is to help private universities maintain high enrollment levels. Most of these clowns are shareholders in private universities, and so they have a vested interest in packing them in. This way, classes are full, and the cash flows out of parents’ pockets into theirs. A perfect set up.
What about the students and their families? Sure, they are happier in the short run. But in the longer view, are they being served or abused. Are they being kept from going into the labor market or getting professional training that will allow them to make a decent living? Will the degrees they receive equip them to face the requirements for high quality white collar jobs that they are supposedly being trained for? As far as I can tell, getting students a university degree is a requirement made by parents and not by employers. From a statistical perspective, weak students in high school tend to be weak students in universities. Of course, universities (especially private ones) are loath to expel failing students because they make money off of them. In the final analysis, these students graduate and obtain diplomas, but are of little use in the workplace. Does anybody care?
Is it the job of the higher education system to respond to society’s preferences, or does it have a responsibility to reshape people’s attitudes to better reflect the country’s needs?
We keep hearing talk about giving our new generation the tools for dealing with the modern job market. Clearly, actions speak louder than words.