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The role of universities in a world with free access to information

The way a person in the West obtains an education has long been a static process of schools and universities. Humans have always been a curious kind seeking out knowledge to improve the way we do and see things. By spreading information and knowledge through books, newspapers, magazines and most lately the Internet, making sure everyone has the capabilities to seek facts out for themselves, has lead to an increasingly intelligent and prosperous society. However, even WITH the Internet, not much has changed in terms of the way the educational system works since schools were first made official roughly 200 years ago.

For example, there is still this very old fashioned way of viewing someone as an architect, that way being that the person has to be able to prove his job title with a piece of paper from an institution such as a university. He couldn’t just draw you a blueprint of a house to convince you. But why is this? Today, with the vast amount of information and knowledge we can gain, for free even, through book, videos, audio and the Internet why couldn’t someone be an architect without having had paid that tuition fee and obtained that rolled-up piece of paper?

If you want to become a web developer, paying for an expensive education that will take you a year or even three years to complete will be a waste of money and time. There are so many people that literally give away their knowledge for free and you can learn in your own phase and in your own time. It won’t take you one year to learn web development if you are determined enough.

This is the beauty of the future – anyone can become anything as long as they have the motivation and intellect to find and pick up the information themselves. You might say that you wouldn’t trust a self-educated doctor and that is a good point. However, there still has to be a trial process when applying for jobs. An employer is going to have to make sure that the candidate he choses does have the capabilities to carry out the job. Just like they do today.

And there have been cases where someone has been practicing as a doctor for years without the relevant qualifications. Of course, it sounds like playing with people’s lives but if this person managed to fool everyone else who DID have the relevant paperwork to match their title, and perhaps even better, why shouldn’t this person keep on working as a doctor? This person is a genius. Let’s see what else they can learn to do? What if that person has the cure for cancer and we’re not letting them prove it because they don’t follow the traditional and old fashioned principles and checklists we have set up?

We need to remember that many schools and universities have their own interest. They are businesses. Doesn’t matter if they are privately or publicly owned, the people in charge are doing everything in their power to keep the business running as usual. This is why the change needs to come from the workforce and the employers. Hiring someone who has a university degree might cost you more money but might not give you a more qualified employee. And an employee with a self-educated background have more negotiating power as they can take a lower wage but also show real grit and ability to learn by themselves. Which is something we all need to keep doing as long as we live. Learning does not stop after university. In most cases, the most useful learning will actually happen when you are working. And no college or university degree can prepare you for that.