Vol. VI No. 1 - Tuesday February 27, - March 5, 2007
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ACADEMIA NUTS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Why a university education is more important in 2007

Classrooms don’t have walls for us

Why a university education is more important in 2007

Jon Hartmann
Career Counsellor
Prem Tinsulanonda International School Chiang Mai

We are living in a global economy where manufacturing can be located in any country. As a result, factories are often moved offshore from the developed countries (e.g. USA/UK) to countries with a low cost/tax structure and cheap labour. When the factories go, the jobs and subsidiary industries go also. What manufacturing remains in the developed country is automated high tech and high quality. The employees of these new factories must have a high level of knowledge and skill and preferably be university graduates. I recently saw a woollen mill in Australia that resembled a laboratory where automated machines were monitored by computer technicians dressed in white coats. The few employees there were highly paid and highly skilled with a strong knowledge base.
This trend in industry is mirrored in business and service industries all leading to a high demand for skilled labour. The figures I have from the UK predict that by the year 2012, 50% of the available jobs will require a university degree as an application criteria. A university degree in 2007 is even more important for future employment than a university degree at any other time in our history.
Modern economies are becoming “Knowledge Based Economies”. The high income and profit is not in primary production or even in manufacturing but in the designing, advertising and servicing of a product. If you look at an MP3 player it is a good example of a modern product. Who makes most the money out of it? The worker who puts it together? The retailer who sells it? No it is clearly the designer, the technology innovators and the company that employs these people and comes up with the best product that can reap millions of dollars from an MP3 player. This is what is meant by a knowledge based product and a knowledge based economy is built around such products. In this economy and production system there is little place for the uneducated at any stage of the process other than the simplistic manufacturing, which is therefore done offshore.
School leavers are therefore entering a new era of university training. Universities are responding to the challenge of a knowledge based economy by hugely increasing their numbers and courses. In the last 12 years in the UK student numbers at university have risen 94%. Universities in all their faculties have embraced internships as a way of giving their graduates practical training before conferring a degree. The high cost of education has meant that universities are now more “customer conscious”. Students want value for money and the universities have responded with a flexibility never seen before in education. Students can study on-line, at home while minding young children, on campus part time, can do any number of double majors, can transfer from one campus to another and can take a year off when they want. These are but a few of the changes which make universities different from what the older generation remembers. The typical student is changing from a fresh faced 18-year-old to someone who is working part time or a single mother or a middle aged person changing career paths. As life long learning is now a fundamental of knowledge based economy everybody in the workforce is studying and many formally at university.
Can the modern based economies meet their targets for the future and produce enough educated people to run their economies? The answer at this stage appears to be NO!
All the data suggest they will fall far short of the targets and will require a huge influx of graduates from overseas. For a Thai student, educated in English and graduated from a good university, this means their chances of getting a highly paid job overseas will continue to improve. Also as Thailand moves to a developed economy there will be many more local opportunities as well.
The scene is set for the next decade. A university degree has never been more relevant or more important and will increasingly be the accepted minimum requirement for employment in knowledge based economies.


Classrooms don’t have walls for us

Middle School students traveled to Luang Prabang, increasing their understanding of the history, geography and sociology of Laos.

Kath Phillips
Students from American Pacific International School spent much of last week outside the classroom. High School students were either involved in community service activities at school or in Jantaburi, where they helped a local school, or were learning about crafts and the environment and developing new skills nearer home at Mae Chaem.

Grade 12 students were involved in community service activities in Jantaburi, where they helped a local school.
Most Middle School students traveled to Luang Prabang, increasing their understanding of the history, geography and sociology of Laos. This is a focus for their South-East Asian Studies course.
Grades 1 and 2 visited Bangkok and Pattaya finding out more about marine and aquatic environments. This was a very exciting trip for the seven-year-olds, many of them spending the night away from home for the first time.
Even the youngest Elementary students spent a night in Lampang, while Grade 3 discovered Sukhothai, Grade 4 learnt more about rural Thailand by visiting the Maekok River Village Education Center in Tathon where they walked, made rafts and worked on the organic farm and Grade 4 experienced life in the rainforest. All of the Elementary class visits were developed as part of their current Units of Inquiry: central to the Primary Years’ Programme of the International Baccalaureate which has been introduced from K1-G5.
Students and staff returned to school weary but exhilarated - and clearly more aware that learning is not just for the classroom.



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