Those within Higher Education would have us believe that qualifications remain the “Gold Standard” of learning and credentialing. In recent times, this has become more of a plea than a statement of fact.
Claiming a gold standard status is useful, because we know that pure gold does not tarnish. It is only when mixed with impurities and other metals that gold can be caused too tarnish. So it is with qualifications. They have been tarnished and their lustre has been lost as a result of the impurities that have been introduced.
There are many ways to respond to that question. One could suggest that one of the impurities is the ‘either/or’ debate as to whether education is for employability or to develop well-rounded citizens who can add broader value. When did this become OR instead of AND?
Another response might be that delivery of education has become so clouded with the pursuit of revenue that decisions about ethical delivery have been sacrificed. Why do universities continue to oversupply graduates into areas where employment opportunities are not only drastically reduced, but they continue to be challenged by the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Future of Employability?
It may be suggested that Amazon’s bold move to spend $700m dollars on improving its workforce because it cannot find the people it needs, but to exclude Higher Education from their model, is a sign that faith has been lost and relevance is being questioned. It may be that the increasing removal of qualifications from employment requirements are yet another indicator that faith has been lost.
These suggestions relate to just a few topical issues. Most importantly, qualifications as they have been framed in the past are far less fit for purpose than they were. They used to be a gold standard, but that is no longer true. They need to be reinvented.
Just because academia claims that qualifications are “The Gold Standard” that doesn’t make it true. It is self-serving. Higher education must find a new value proposition. I hope it does, but that run is being left very late. Although the lack of vision, including from Governments, continues to breath life into a model that desperately needs drastic surgery, or perhaps rebirth.
Or perhaps, I am part of a misguided minority?…