Professor John Biggs, elsewhere in this JALT, expresses alarm at the gaudy ubiquity of university education, noting a consequent decline in the craft schools of old. As he puts it: We have wound down vocational and technical education and broadened university courses to take in some of the technical content previously taught in technical colleges. A massive mistake, leaving us with … overcrowded and downgraded universities.
I can assert – on the basis of 25 years as a university teacher and another quarter of a century in mainstream journalism – that his argument makes considerable sense. In semi-retirement (and working part-time as a newspaper sub-editor), I am able to reflect with some authority on what universities can achieve and what they are less equipped so to do when it comes to the craft of journalism. ‘Craft’ is the term, I feel, that best describes it, for it cannot truly claim to be a profession as its practitioners do not require any specified qualification or formal registration.