My Pessimism and Optimism

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By William Nguyen:

During my 3 years at UWS, this is the conclusion I have come to.

UWS was a university established to cater to the poor, struggling and geographically disadvantaged.

It was to give those who generally came from a working class a chance at social mobility and contribution to society than another working class cog. For those who did not have the advantage of being born into an educated middle class family or studied a decent education in public schools in the west, this was their chance to break the cycle.

Although UWS has the reputation of a last-resort university, where some artificial prestige of going to a more famous university somehow could rub off onto its students – who face the same prospects of prolonged unemployment upon graduation.

At UWS the teachers are passionate, encouraging and equally if not sharper than their peers at other universities. Lecturers and tutors encourage contact and questions. The students support each other and voice their opinions or gain constructive criticism and most staff are there to help us succeed.

At other universities, the prestige is just too much at times. Lecturers are too busy for the individual; the tutor’s time is too valuable to assist the struggling; students were competitive to get in, they continue to remain competitive, afraid of sharing their ideas as someone else might gain the competitive edge over them. Darwinism at its best. What ever happened to the concept of ‘Two heads are better than one’?

But, despite all the goodwill and positive energy that was devoted to UWS to break the cycle of elitism in education… it has hurt us. UWS has let in many struggling and many stragglers. Those without the capability of gaining entry into a university are let in, to gain a degree to professionally represent being a product of study at UWS. Those without direction in life, an idea or path sign up and are warmly embraced. “Ps equals degrees” appears to be their motto. Teachers fear writing a report on why 50% should not pass as the allowable quota is usually 10%, so they artificially or intentionally lower the standards.

I know. Because I am also guilty. How can someone graduate if they do not understand what they have studied? Maths. Many of us shudder at the sound and thought of it. I have completed its major, yet, do not remember what I studied nor understand its application in real life. How did my peers and I pass? How did my peers who never attended the complex lectures pass? How did people without the motivation or ambition to attend uni, facebook about it during lectures and tutorials, pass? Well, if the class exams and final exams are similar if not the same… how can a monkey not pass?

UWS. A place where passionate liberal lecturers pour their hearts, souls and energy into breaking the cycle of elitist education and classism, giving the underdog a chance – only to have a large number of the students drag it down; while its directors brainstorm ways of getting more students to come in, regardless of their ability to cope, utilise what they have learnt or contribute to our reputation. Instead of providing more units (or maintain the units available in the handbook) or even giving legendary lecturers a raise, we bribe students to sign up. Quantity over quality.

I have come to realise, we need hardship to motivate us; we need ambition to drive us; and we need to be challenged to filter out those who will only drag down the name and reputation of UWS – only then, can we truly continue on the path of giving the underdog a chance while maintaining our competitive edge.

But hey, the directors of UWS have solved the problem. They have changed the University’s name.

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