Monday, May 25, 2009

What I did in May

Good news have been cropping up lately:
- my article will be published, after all (my first ever publication in an international refereed journal)
- my paper was accepted for next year's ICAANE in London
- I got a four-month grant for writing my dissertation which means it might eventually be completed

The course in archaeological survey is almost over, the students just need to hand in the final assignments on post-fieldwork. As always, the course was an educational experience for myself in how not to do things. The course could have been better; I suppose it could have been worse. I have learned my lessons and will no doubt do different mistakes next year.

It was also an interesting glimpse into the undergraduate psyche and the pressures today's students are under. Back in the good old days when I was a student you had a certain number of months we were entitled to study grants, and how you used that time was your own business. If you used up the money before graduating, well, that was just too bad. Since then the Study Grants Board has become interested in the progress of your studies. You have to prove that you have been studying diligently, and the only way of proving that is, of course, getting enough credits. The close supervision of credits earned seems to have created a situation where the credits themselves are the end, and not the means to an end. The students do not study to learn anything, they study to get the credits.

The same system that works on the level of an individual student, works also between the Minitry of Education and the universities. The Ministry, which hands out the money for the universities, requires universities to produce a certain number of degrees yearly to get the funds to run their teaching and research. Of course the requirements rise every year without similar input into resources. The universities are effectively treated as if they were factories producing rubber boots for the left foot only. Every year the factories are required to produce more boots out of the same amount of rubber. And they say hey, you can do that if you cut the amount of raw material per boot. The boots won't last any wear, but who cares, as long as the statistics look nice - the end product is useless without the right foot boot anyway.