Friday, May 06, 2005

It is all about the Money

Most Malaysians look up to London graduates. By London, I mean graduates who come from the University of London's many subsidiary universities like Imperial College, London School of Economics, University College London, King's College, Queen Mary and etc. These schools set very high entry requirements to most, if not all their courses. Their fees are usually about 10-15% higher than universities outside London (other than Oxford and Cambridge of course). Studying in the capital city of England is not a cheap exercise. Cost of living there costs a bomb. Just to give an example, to rent a studio apartment in the city in the Holborn area costs £350 per week. In Nottingham, a really really nice one right in the heart of the city costs £350 a month! So, now you see the difference...

Anyway...back to what I want to blog about. Being in one of the London universities connotes a certain prestigious feel to it. When your employer sees your certificate with the LSE sign, they will employ you straightaway.

Unfortunately, my perception of London universities has dwindled since a couple of days ago. A friend scored a 2nd lower for his undergraduate degree in Nottingham actually was able to pursue his MSc in Engineering in Imperial College when his offer was conditional upon him getting a 2nd class upper. I don't know how he did it or how he begged his way through, but he managed anyway. When I heard that, my jaw dropped. Imperial College, must be one of the world's most famous university for Engineering actually accepted a 2nd lower student? Sigh. What happend to them boasting about their high entry requirement and etc? What happend to their constant talk about "our students reflect the quality of our school"?

To me, its all down to the money. Its all about the money. As long as you are willing to pay (international students pay double fees), any university is willing to accept you. Of course your results must not be staggeringly low. Average will do. 2nd upper is no longer coveted. It is only on paper. What they want is your cash.

I'm not generalising. I'm just appalled by such low standards a high quality university boasts to have. I'm not sure about Oxbridge but so far I have not heard any 2nd lower student getting a place there (unless he is the Prince of Wales or the King of Arabia I guess).

Nottingham University is not flawless. I'm sure that money can buy a place in any course that you want to pursue here subject to at least an average result. I know of someone who failed his A-level Math and studied Engineering in Nottingham after only one day of persuading the admissions officer. Integrity? Quality? Bullshit. I say, it is the Money.

I hope I don't offend any LSE, Imperial College, UCL, KCL or QMUL students and potential students. I'm sure there are many of you who obtained places based on your merit. But please make this as a reminder that coming from such big-name universities just puts you on a pedestal high above the rest but...the quality that comes with the price tag may actually be compromised because the eyes of such universities are plastered with the £ sign.