Just as health care needs reform and overhaul, so does the college and university system. Inertia being what it is, don’t expect far-reaching educational reform too soon, but the sense that our educational paradigms are outdated may be gaining ground.

Simon Jenkins, earlier this month, wrote a piece in the Guardian on the sheer waste of time and human capital in contemporary education. He focused on the UK, but his comments hold generally.

According to Jenkins,

There is no evidence that students need long holidays to endure the strains of university teaching, nor that they or their teachers benefit from inordinate amounts of effort put into research. There is no evidence that higher fees have deterred poorer students, despite categorical assertions from one and all to this effect. Come to that, there is no evidence that a large university sector benefits the economy as an “investment”. It is chiefly a consumption good. Given that most degrees are non-vocational, universities are probably as wasteful of valuable labour as military conscription.

Read the entire article and see whether you agree. Science and engineering curricula, if rigorous and laboratory-work intensive, seem to constitute an exception to Jenkins’ dismal view of academic time-wasting. But his cost-benefit analysis of western education seems largely to hit the mark.