Degrees of usefulness

Much has been written about the cost/benefits of a degree. Aside from the cost it seems to me that there is a real problem about the content of a degree and what it is supposed to do. At the heart of it is the way academics view the world. For them a degree is just a stepping-stone to a doctorate and then to life of research and specialism. However, for the vast majority it is preparation for a career in something quite different, like business, and unless the degree is in something like law, its content (but not the discipline) is rather irrelevant.
Yet it seems that the content of an undergraduate degree is getting more and more arcane and specialist. A potential candidate for Oxbridge now has to persuade the their panel of dons that their lifetime obsession is in the recondite detail of some obscure subject. And when they are at university the subject gets narrower and narrower.
And in the real world? Life is getting more complicated and broad. People leave university with no insight into even the basics of business nor knowledge of the thought processes of different cultures and disciplines – surely something to find out about as part of an education for anything other than academia. Can this be right any more than primary schools not teaching touch-typing as part of the basic curriculum?
This seems to be a particular problem in the UK. My son is about to go to McGill in Montreal where he has been accepted by the Faculty of Arts – that is all. He can chose from a smorgasbord of subjects from Greek poetry through Finance to Politics. He can do a mix of minors and majors to come out with BA that seems to me to be both interesting, wide ranging and educational in the best sense of the word. There seems to be there a recognition there that an undergraduate degree is a separate thing from postgraduate work, undertaking a different task for different ends.
Unfortunately universities are run by academics and the prism they see things through is rather different. This is too important to leave to them.

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