Monday, 14 April 2008

Are Degrees Being Built on Foundations of Sand?

With headlines such as Selling Beds is Now A Degree Course you'd be gullible if you thought that idea of Foundation Degrees somehow undermined the intellectual demands of students undertaking vocationally orientated study.

Potential students would be gullible too if they expected a Foundation Degree to be a 'soft touch'. For starters any form of part-time study places demands on self-management skills, and balancing serious study with a full-time job is not easy.

Business orientated degrees have always emphasised the application of conceptual understanding and a Foundation degree is simply another 'path' of higher education experience, that opens up choice. Its almost like saying that the scientists designing and conducting experiments at CERN as less intellectually worthy than the theoretical physicists who have have suggested the things they can work on.

Mass media simplification and old school intellectual snobbery merely exemplify the lack of education that they smirkingly try and have a go at. Education is an experience not a subject. Some students will muddle through, some will learn 'strategically' and some will transform their outlook and their abilities. This will happen regardless of the 'delivery' method.

The phenomenon of Retailing is a significant and important dimension of human social and economic life. It involves deep understanding of a wide range of behavioural, psychological, technical and managerial skills. It confronts students with ethical dilemmas and challenges them to connect abstract management concepts.

Like any form of education it runs the risk of being normative and prescriptive, however innovative retail thinking is essential for the creation of new retail concepts capable of meeting the challenges of the Experience Economy and continually delivering value so that you and I shop.

This isn't just (sorry M&S :) ) about powerful supermarkets its about entrepreneurial opportunity at the local level. Foundation Degrees are essential in order that Retail Wheels don't get stuck in the sand!

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