The Meaning of Universities    QE8   30 April 2017 Min Huang


1. What is the meaning of universities apart from learning knowledge, which may never be used in your life?

[Min] I worked for 5 years, and went for a Masters degree here. The tuition fee is not cheap. And I found that not all the subjects are useful for my future career. Anyway, [the pitch was] if I have a Masters degree, I can absolutely get more money and higher positions in a company just because I'm Master qualified. When I thought back to my undergraduate situation, it was the same. So what is the meaning of universities which have so many useless subjects for one's future career life? Is our education really suitable for everyone? If it is good, why did Steve Jobs give up his degree while he still can make a great difference?

2. [Thor] Thanks for your topic Min. It is a very good discussion question. I have spent much of my life working in universities, and written several articles close to "What is the meaning of universities?". For example, you might find it interesting to have a look at these:

1. May, Thor (2014) "The Purpose of Education - a hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy?". The Passionate Skeptic website online at

2. May, Thor (2014) "So we had a few failures. Was that the end of university? The Passionate Skeptic website online at

3. May, Thor (2011) "Why Write A PhD?" The Passionate Skeptic website online at Thor May

Of course, universities are also supposed to be about research - creating new knowledge which keeps our civilization improving. They do a lot of this, but even in universities only a few people are good at it. Being smart at exams is quite different from having an original, creative mind. As for jobs, once you actually have a job in most places, your degree will be pretty irrelevant. We can talk about why that is so on Sunday.

The Meaning of Universities Discussion Questions ©Thor May 2018

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