Bob Jones on the uselessness of tertiary courses, the Dompost and the Dompost journalists

Bob Jones is a national treasure, and in this week’s NBR he has out done himself on the insults.

It is rather special as he discusses the general uselessness of the Dompost, its journalists and education in general.

“Teachers struggle for jobs” was the welcome front page heading in the Dominion-Post a week back.

Before readers jump up and down, I’ll explain the ‘welcome’ bit. There has been a change of editor, meaning people with weak hearts can now resume reading the front page. Under the previous office-holder whose reign corresponded with a massive circulation decline, the mind-boggling fictions, disgraceful created non-stories and sheer nonsense bespoiling the Dom’s front page, plumbed depths never hitherto reached in the annals of newspaper publishing.

Nonsense articles still continue to entertain, only not on the front page. For example, not once but twice in the last few week’s, the Dominion-Post has described Kiwi Property as New Zealand’s largest listed company.

But back to the school-teacher story, published incidentally, under the obviously mickey-taking fictitious name, Laura Dooney. Ever heard of a ‘Dooney,’ aside from which, given the piece was well-written, anyone competent having such a name would long since have changed it by deed-poll.  Be that as it may, the item claimed we’re pumping out school-teachers who are unable to obtain jobs. It cited the Ministry of Education advising that only 15%, for God’s sake, of new teaching graduates, are able to secure permanent teaching employment. This over-supply outrage was attributed by the NZEI president Louise Green, inter alia, to “teacher training providers, eager to sustain numbers and thus corresponding funding.”

Whoever wrote the story (like you, I can’t believe the Dom’s ‘Dooney’ try-on) missed an even bigger one, namely that specialist courses graduate over-supply goes far beyond teaching.

He insults the Dompost, the former editor and the education reporter, along with business journalists…all in five paragraphs. I must try harder. Unfortunately for Bob, Laura Dooney is in fact a real person and it is her real name.

Here are two more examples but it certainly doesn’t stop there. Both mainly affect young women. Otago University takes on large numbers of students for physical training degrees, their related jobs otherwise known as gym teachers. Yet the university must know that only a few of them (I’ve been told 5%) will actually obtain such employment, for the very good reason that they don’t exist in such numbers. So, too, all of our universities have law faculties pumping out graduates in numbers hugely in excess of demand. There is no way they cannot be aware of this.

And Labour will provide even more funds to churn out even more useless graduates who think they are entitled to a job.

Next to listening to speeches one of my most intense dislikes is delivering them but there’s an exception – requests from secondary schools to talk to senior pupils. I always accept as I feel for young people having to decide career choices when their life experience is totally inadequate to make such important decisions. But decide they must, which is why I believe universities are breaching an ethical duty to issue cautionary warnings to students regarding overcrowded conventional disciplines. I exclude students taking more esoteric subjects, such as attending art school and the like. Unless they’re total half-wits, they’ll be aware of their sink-or-swim fate once out in the world, as it’s self-evident. Nevertheless, I take my hat off to such students for having a go and pursuing their dreams.

I wish Bob had delivered a speech to my school. It would have been hilarious, especially considering my last years at secondary school were the last years of Sir Robert Muldoon.

I’ve raised this issue with a vice-chancellor mate who agrees, particularly with law, that there’s a case for cautionary job prospect warnings with conventional but over-crowded fields.

I’m a believer in competition but let’s not forget, we’re dealing with young people, only a year or two removed from child status. They deserve protection, as Louise Green points out, from “providers eager to sustain numbers and thus corresponding funding.”

And that funding will substantially increase if, God forbid, Labour were ever elected again.



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  • SlightlyStrange

    When I was in a role volunteering with 15 and 16 year olds, my one piece of advice to them was to avoid rushing straight into a course at university if they could, unless they knew exactly what they wanted to do, and that the course they were signing up for was what they needed to do it.
    Interestingly, most took my advice and took a year off to work, or went and did a short practical course before travelling overseas and then returning to study in a different field to that they had originally planned.
    Of the 8 I worked closely with, one is now military after studying engineering, one a chef at an ECE centre, two have just qualified (and have jobs) as nurses, one is overseas working as an instructor at a skifield, and another 3 went to uni to do standard things like accounting and finance, and struggled to find work.
    the first 5 were all in the group who took time off school and thought about it before signing up for the course they wound up doing. The last three went straight to uni and have significantly more debt.

  • pirate vs ninja

    High schools are no different. My step-daughter who is academically very capable was encouraged recently to take food technology in Year 11 by teachers desperate to up the level of passing students in their department. The age of schools having a genuine pastoral care quotient to their treatment of students has long gone. And unsurprisingly, so has the student’s respect for the institution and the teachers.

    • Aquarius 61

      I remember being told in the late 70’s the reason I hadn’t been accredited with UE (having done much better than some students who had been accredited), was the school needed some students to pass the external exams to maintain their accreditation rates. I passed. It seems nothing has changed in almost 40 years.

      • dennis

        My house master told my parents that I would not pass school certificate. Fortunately my parents did not tell me. I did comfortably. The same house master refused to credit me UE. I had to sit it. The only one in the class. Some time after the exam I realised I had made a fool of the house master by passing school certificate easily hence no accreditation.

      • Old Chook

        Had the same experience in the 60’s but at least UE sat in 6B was worth something and only those who were really academic went on to 6A. Our school of over 1000 pupils had only about 15 students in 6A.

  • Anthony

    I’d hope the government might increase/decrease funding in some way based on pass rates and employment prospects, with annual reviews.

  • McGrath

    I remember my uni enrolment days where a lecturer was loudly telling a prospective Philosophy Major Student that you’re wasting your time because it will get you nowhere in the real world. These days, that same lecturer would be tarred and feathered off campus for hurting feelings…

  • Somnambulist

    There ought to be a mandatory ‘cooling off’ period of at least two years between kids finishing school and applying to university. That way they’d be forced to experience at least a bit of the real world, and be taken away for a while from the ivory tower academics who have a vested interest in pumping as many as possible through the ‘education for its own sake’ sausage machine.

    If they had to give up a job to go to university it’d be a positive affirmation that this is what they really want to do, rather than just falling into it because it puts of thinking about life for a few more years (albeit at a huge financial cost to both themselves and the nation).

    • Oh Please

      Yeah, right, give up work and go to Uni when you have a mortgage or rent to pay. I think not. Then start on a 7-9 year course to be fully qualified as a medic. Unlikely.
      My son has gone straight from school to Uni, and he has the savvy to tell ivory tower BS from real life.
      The real issue is with the low standards expected of applicants – the first year of many Uni courses covers what should have been learnt at school. Bring back UE and make a Uni place a valuable commodity.

    • Metricman

      Particularly true of school teachers. They should never be allowed to go straight to Teachers College without experiencing some of the real world. Going to University and getting an arts degree does not constitute experiencing the real world.

      • Jimbob

        Its worse with teachers as their courses are not like normal uni. Mates did it and they were marked for attendance like they were at school. No hope.

      • Old Chook

        And when at TC they meet the love of their life and between them live in the alternative universe of a secure, well paying job for life. No understanding of how some parents actually do struggle to pay for all the ‘extras’ – I was a teacher, loved it, but also had experience in the ‘real’ uncertain world of economics.

  • Cadwallader

    The best option for going to uni is to leave school and then work for 5 or 6 years then apply. The advantages include saving money towards fees etc. and learning to work in a routinely tuned manner. The downside is that you can lose contact with mates your own age who go straight into tertiary education. Overall it worked well for me.

  • Oarsum

    Bob asked, ever heard of a “Dooney”? I don’t know what he is referring to. I can recall that Ken Douglas, former head of the Socialist Unity Party, and Combined Trades Union was always known as Dooney Douglas.
    Not sure that urban dictionary is a suitable source of information, but google showed no other results. Dooney means blockhead; idiot; imbecile; loser; moron; someone lacking in intelligence or someone who commits thoughtless acts {you’re doing a dooney if you fail health}. OR slang for a fat, ugly and/or annoying girl


      Thanks for explaining that….with English being my second language, I had some difficulty understanding his utterings…..although it didn’t need much to get the gist of his comments.

    • kehua

      There is a fairly robust family in the Hawkes Bay that would no doubt revel in having a debate with Bob about their family name ha.

  • Disinfectant

    I once did an A level physics exam and got a very good pass.

    I also did the S level, an even tougher paper and absolutely nailed it. But I was given a fail. An S pass was a passport to a scholarship. Geuss there are only so many scholarships to go round.

    Left me somewhat cynical about education.

  • rua kenana

    Tertiary courses useless?
    Aren’t they the things that so many overseas students come here to do, and so generate a lot of overseas income for NZ?
    And, who knows, they might even manage to teach the occasional NZ student medicine or engineering or other (useless?) education.

  • Wayne Peter McIndoe

    Problem with some graduate teachers is that the only experiences they have known (aside from holiday employment) has been within the education system. I know of at least one teacher who left high school went to Uni to do a Phys Ed degree went to teachers college and then ended up teaching back at his old high school, no experience of the outside world so to speak. I remember my standard 3 teacher was a gentleman who had been through the second world war and went into teacher training on his return, a man of integrity and who believed in achieving high standards with areas of times tables and reading – best teacher I ever had and did not need a dam tertiary degree, absolutely one of my favourite teachers

    • The Fat Man

      Even more scary.

      Politicians who have never had a real job.

  • tas

    I wholeheartedly agree with Bob. When I started uni, I had no idea what I was doing. Many people said I should just do what interested me and it doesn’t matter what degree I get. It was sheer dumb luck that I was interested in computer science, rather than french literature, and thus have reasonable employment prospects.

  • Anthony

    I thought Sir Bob believed in a general education and will employ Arts grads rather than people supposedly trained in property management for this own business?

  • Dog Breath

    Daughter in law graduated from Uni a couple of years ago with a law and commerce degree. She was the only graduate who had a job within a month of graduation.. She was not the most academic of the graduates yet she was shoulder tapped. Why, she worked 12 hour shifts each weekend and unknown to her she served to a senior lawyer from a local law firm. Each weekend for all the years of her degree she supplied goods to this senior kawyer with a customer service, of as it turned out, to the highest level. A quality that fitted perfectly with the law firms values. In her last year of study a chance conversation revealed her upcoming law degree graduation. On graduation out of the blue she received a phone call from the law firm of the senior lawyer to come in for a chat. What ever she said to the other law partners must have impressed with a job offer following.
    Like all graduates she began doing tasks like sharpening pencils and photocopying. Her attitude to work soon had her doing conveyance work and the firm sponsored her admittance to the bar. She was soon exceeding expectations leading to more opportunities and now looks on track to be offered a partnership in the firm. She recently received a bonus for exceeding customer targets, enough to buy a car, her first.
    All this started by giving a high standard of customer service at a supermarket. You never know when an opportunity is presenting itself resulting in the above outcome.

  • The Fat Man

    Whats the saying.

    Those that can do. Those that cant teach.

    Apart from the Government funding. Let not forget that the students are taking on huge amounts of debt to fund these studies.

    How did we get to the stage where you have to go to uni for 3-4 years to be qualified to fill out a TAX return.