to have to read a number of student essays, university student essays.
As I write this there are also ongoing student protests in the United Kingdom over the need to pay university fees and the likelihood that these fees are set to rise. A university education in the UK and Australia is now seen as a right rather than a privilege - regardless of ability.
In Australia there is now an unspoken assumption that all school students will aim for university.
The overall curriculum and structure of the education system is designed with this in mind. There are earnest debates about ensuring that "disadvantaged" students are not disadvantaged.
Students from schools which perform well find their overall marks reduced so that students from schools which do not perform as well will not be disadvantaged. Universities are required to take into consideration a range of other factors when accepting students into some courses.
It is all done in the name of ensuring that all students are given an "equal" opportunity.
There are fees, the Higher Education Contribution Scheme, other schemes, grants, special assistance etc etc. All these things are supposed to ensure that no student misses out.
The reality is rather different. There are able, indeed very able students who do miss out because of quotas in courses. There are students whose apparent family income is taken into account and who therefore fail to obtain grants. There are other students who come from backgrounds which are given "special consideration". They can obtain places in preference to more able students simply because university funding depends on this. There are students from overseas who pay full fees which help to fill university coffers.
My own view is that primary education is a right. Some form of secondary education is also a right but there should be a greater diversity available. I know there are arguments about "everyone has the right" and "students that age do not have the maturity to make a decision and might regret making the wrong choice" etc. There will be a few who make the "wrong decision" but the vast majority will make the decision they feel is "right" for them.
Tertiary education is not a right. It should depend on genuine ability. Truly able students who are not able to pay should also be provided with financial assistance. We should take in limited numbers of the very best students, students who genuinely want to be there and who are both willing to do the work required and reach the desired standard.
The essays I read were from "borderline" students. They are struggling. They should not be at university, indeed do not really want to be there. The spelling is poor. The grammar is poor. The arguments are lacking. There is an overall failure to understand the material that has been presented. These students will however get a passing grade - just. They will further erode the value of an undergraduate degree.
I do not believe the "right" approach to tertiary education is doing anyone any favours.