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Friday, November 24, 2006


jon livesey

It struck me as a pretty fair and balanced document, refreshingly free of Nu-Lab spin and hype. I was struck by one obvious problem in the tables - does anyone really believe Japan has no graduates in Mathematics and IT?

Another lack is a sense of finding incentives to get British students into Math, Computer Science and Physical Sciences. In the US there are some well-known anomalies in the workplace - people of modest talents can make way too much money on Wall St, for example - but by and large your lifetime earnings in the US are coupled to your educational achievement. If you want students in the UK to study difficult subjects, you have to reward them with decent salaries, and that in turn means that you have to promote start-up companies to employ and pay them. If the UK wants to play in the knowledge economy, the notion of the underpaid boffin who works for the love of it has to go, if it's not already on the way out.


"does anyone really believe Japan has no graduates in Mathematics and IT?"

If they got thier degrees outside of Japan, they would not likely be reported in Japan. Maybe. Depends how they gathered the stats.

jon livesey

"Depends how they gathered the stats". Exactly. That was my point. They're comparing countries by category of degree, when they've got some categorization problems.

But that's the minor part of my comment. My real worry is that we have a Government saying the right mush-words about hard sciences, but not doing too well in thinking up incentives. I worry that the UK is in a downward spiral, where the holders of soft degrees are running the show, and although they know to simulate the right sort of worry in public, they aren't about to do anything that could threaten their own position in the long run.

You really just have to compare what they say with what they do. What they say is that hard science is important. What they do in practice is try to get universities to admit more low-achieving students for socio/political reasons.

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