English Listening Skills: New UK Universities
Summary: English Listening Skills
Traditional universities in the UK are expensive. The average university student in the UK leaves with a degree and with £50,000 in debt. But what if a university wanted to pay you £18,000+ annually to get your degree at a university? Would you be interested?
Traditional universities in the UK use the same ideas, structures and thinking put in place 100’s of years ago, they seem incapable of changing themselves. The only big change they have achieved is instead of offering education for free they now charge you a lot of money to attend.
Things are slowly changing in the university scene in the UK. A few new universities based on new ideas and new thinking as starting to appear, maybe things are finally changing for the better.
So why not improve your English listening skills by listening to an interesting podcast on what future higher education in the UK might look like? The podcast contains lot’s of interesting vocabulary as usual with explanations as we go along. So jump right in and get training your brain to become more fluent in English.
Audio Transcript: English Listening Skills: New UK Universities
Hi and welcome to this latest podcast from Adept English. If you want to improve your English language understanding and your fluency in spoken English – then Adept English podcasts are exactly what you need. We help you with the difficult words, enable you to practice English in a way which is enjoyable and hopefully interesting! So let’s do something again today, which I hope might be thought-provoking. What does ‘thought-provoking’ mean? It means that it’s aimed at making you think, it provokes thought!
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Interest in Education
Today I’d like to talk about something which I’ve noticed happening in the UK recently and which I find really interesting. Those of you who have bought our Course One, Activate Your Listening know already that I’m interested in Education. And on the Adept English Course One, there’s a whole section on education. If you buy Course One, you’ll learn a whole lot of words and vocabulary and phrases associated with Education. Education is something we all have in common, we’ve all been to school. So if you buy our Course One, you’ll hear recordings about education in the UK, and conversations about it too between people, between two people. I even interview students in education – so that you can practice your conversation skills.
I’m guessing you’re probably interested in education too – you’re educating yourself by learning English here for one thing! So one of the things about the UK, is that we have really good universities. Most people have heard of Oxford and Cambridge Universities, but actually there are 106 universities in England alone.
Two New Universities
What I’ve noticed that I found interesting is two new universities, which are both very different from the traditional ones. And purposefully so – they’re trying to be different. And these two new universities are also very different from one another. But what they have in common is that they are both rethinking and perhaps reformulating the way that university education is taught. It’s a bit experimental perhaps, but they are in contrast to traditional universities, especially ones like Oxford and Cambridge. The verb ‘to rethink’? That just means to revisit the problem, to have another look at something, if you ‘rethink’ and arrive at a different answer. And if you ‘reformulate’, you arrive at a different formula, a different way of doing things.
The Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology
So the first of these universities is the Dyson Institute of Engineering and Technology. In the UK, if you use a vacuum cleaner – that’s the piece of machinery that you would use to clean your carpet or your floor, it’s very likely to be a Dyson. We have one in the cupboard under the stairs. And ‘vacuum’ - that’s an interesting word – V-A-C-U-U-M. I think vacuum is the only word in the English language with a double U! A vacuum is an idea from Physics and it means a space where there is nothing, not even air molecules. So as vacuums create suction – they suck, [‘sucking sound’ - like that!], the vacuum cleaners suck up the dirt. And quite often the brand of vacuum cleaner in the UK is Dyson, D-Y-S-O-N. Also if you use the toilets, public toilets in the UK, you’ll often notice that the machine for drying your hands after you’ve washed them, is a Dyson. So the owner of this British company, is called James Dyson, now Sir James Dyson and of course, he’s an engineer and passionate about engineering. And he’s so passionate about engineering that Dyson have founded their own university, to train engineers. So the Dyson Institute is in Wiltshire, out in the countryside and it has its own campus, its own grounds, where there are special engineered ‘pods’ for students to live in. And what’s more, students don’t pay tuition fees. They have to pay for their accommodation, their living quarters, but the students are paid a salary - £18,000 in the first year of university, £21,000 in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th years. When the students get their degrees, they don’t have to work for Dyson, but if they get a IIi or a First in their degree, they will automatically be offered a job with Dyson.
Students there spend 2 days a week in lectures studying, and 3 days a week working on engineering problems in the Dyson factory. So it means that the students learn theory, but then the next day, they’re using the theory, they’re doing practical things with it. To inspire the students, there are pieces of engineering technology all round the campus. This is a shake-up of the traditional university – and asks questions like ‘What is university education for?’ I’m guessing if you want to become an engineer, then the Dyson Institute teaches you to think like an engineer through and through and then out in the real world, you’ll be able to apply those skills to real world problems, which you’re doing as part of your studying, part of your degree. Engineering is one of the best subjects in terms of how much you earn afterwards. And the whole point of this university, The Dyson Institute is to fill that gap between what students learn and what employers want. So it’s experimental. But just the fact that there aren’t tuition fees to pay and that the students get paid a salary and often have an offer of a job at the end of it – well, this is very different from the usual educational model.
The London Interdisciplinary School, LIS – the gap it fills
The second of these new and different universities is called the London Interdisciplinary School, or LIS for short.
In traditional universities, there are divisions between subjects, between disciplines. So you might have the Psychology Department and then the Sociology Department, the Spanish Deparment and then the Mandarin Department. And these may compete for funding and they certainly will compete for kudos. Kudos, that’s a Greek word, K-U-D-O-S means respect, prestige, importance, if you like. Having different academic departments, means that research, new thinking can be held back. So people favour one subject, one discipline, over another. I remember one of my children talking about studying Science at school and having a complete surprise when an idea, a piece of learning from Chemistry suddenly popped up in a Physics lesson. So children getting the impression that these subjects, Physics and Chemistry are nothing to do with one another! As though they’re completely separate. That’s the way they’re taught.
Of course, the reasons why knowledge and learning is divided into subject areas in universities - it’s more historic and the idea of interdisciplinary learning is very current thinking. So ‘interdisciplinary’ means you mix up all the disciplines, you mix up the subjects, you don’t have boundaries between them. So some universities teach subjects in a very narrow way and their focus is more on the prestige, the kudos of the university and its research, rather than the needs of the students, who’re paying for it. I think some lecturers treat their students as an inconvenience! Students get in the way of what they really want to be doing, the research. And now that students have to pay £9,250 a year in fees – it’s even more for international students – I think students are expecting something better than this!
The London Interdisciplinary School, LIS – a different type of university
So the London Interdisciplinary School, LIS is a new type of university, opening in 2020 and taking on only 120 students in its first year. There’s only one programme of study at this university – just one degree course will be offered! Very different, very radical, different thinking. But the aim will be to link the academic and the entrepreneurial. If you’re an ‘entrepreneur’, it means someone who starts your own business, thinks up a new idea and makes it into a business. So ‘entrepreneurial’ is the adjective to go with that. Students will do work placements with businesses and startups, for which they will be paid a salary. A ‘startup’ is a business that is just starting up – a new and probably a small business. [At] the London Interdisciplinary School terms will be longer to allow for all of this – so it means that students won’t come out of university with such a big debt, they won’t owe so much money at the end of it.
The London Interdisciplinary School will also base its teaching around ‘real-world problems’ and it hopes to address subjects like the problem of knife crime, childhood obesity, use of palm oil, or how to genetically alter mosquitoes to prevent malaria. All of these are problems which haven’t yet been solved. So students at LIS will work on multiple problems over their three year degree. And they’ll be taught by different subject heads – a combination of the following subjects - engineering, psychology, environmental science, politics, anthropology, neuroscience and the degree will be a mixed Arts and Science degree. I suppose its nearest equivalent in breadth is the International Baccalaureate, except that it’s focused on ‘real-world problems’ and it’s degree level. It’s also got that heavy emphasis on paid work placements, so doing jobs for employers. So it is education, it’s not purely training for a particular job – it is education in a broad sense, but with an eye on what the world needs, making sure that its students skills are relevant, what’s needed. That’s all a far cry from my first degree in Latin, though perhaps students of Adept English benefit from my knowledge of grammar? That was why it was necessary for me to do another degree, a Masters in Psychotherapy. At least that’s ‘real-world orientated’. I use that one every day!
If you want to know more…
So I guess what these two new universities have in common is that they are focused in producing graduates, so that’s people with degrees, who meet employers’ expectations. The aim is for there not to be a gap between what students learn and what employers need. If you’re interested in either of those courses and you’d like to know more, I’ve included links to their websites in the transcript, as ever on the website at adeptenglish.com.
Enough for now have a lovely day. Speak to you again soon. Goodbye.
PS: Two New UK Universities
Well I hope that was interesting and helped you with improving your English listening skills! Although these examples are small. The Dyson university has a tiny number of students and the London Interdisciplinary School only opens in 2020 so it is untested. That radical new ideas about higher education are emerging shows that people know the current system is far from ideal and needs to change.
We encourage UK children into higher education, it’s seen as the next obvious step. You go to school and do “GCSE‘s", you go to college and do “A” Levels then you go to university and finally get a “degree”. Education is a wonderful thing, but academic education, it is not suitable for everyone. Many of the graduates who leave little known universities with poor degree results have a huge struggle to pay off the £50,000 in debt that they now have hanging over them.
For some students higher education has made their real world lives worse. I know several people who are working in a pub’s who have a degree in history who just can’t find a full-time job.
The current “one size fits all” approach means some students will lose out, we need more ideas, more flexibility and more solutions to give our kids the best chance in life. As a student you should think long and hard about the what, where and why of higher education before you commit 5 years of your life and invest £50,000+ of your future earnings into it.