Surveying the unspoken concepts underpinning higher education
Last summer I applied to ‘attend’ university. ‘What are you attending to, or, for?’ was a question that made me wonder. When we say we are ‘going to university,’ how have we imagined, or rather perceived, what our final destination will look like when it’s all over? Have we as a society become too obsessed in the possessions of degrees, rather than seeing the reality of the modern illusion of having one? Is it not time to reconsider university education as only offering one way of learning and merely as part of a longer, linear experience in the context of a lived life?
This was not my first time in applying, actually it was my fourth. Each time from a different location, Sheffield, Scarborough, Edinburgh and now my latest, Inverness. I was made a ‘Conditional Offer.’ But prior to this offer, having spoken on the phone with the academic leader about the admission process as a mature student, he said ‘if the evidence you submit is not strong enough, I’ll get you to write an essay’. At this point of the call, I was happy, pleased with myself, knowing I had plentiful ‘essays’, which I could submit as part of my UCAS (Universities and Colleges Admissions Service) application.
I had my recent polemic book, which I had completed over a year ago, articles published online, a manifesto and future projects which I plan to go deeper into the experience of human life. I felt in many ways that nothing could stop me now, seeing my chosen degree as part of my overall life’s destiny.
And, then it all came crumbling down – in my own sense of disillusionment – when once again I began to think through the terms of the ‘conditional offer’. Let’s think about the words used here: a condition has now been set, which in reality is holding back the progress of my own life, a man-made condition (pre-set) to the significance of my being in the world.