“That led us, privately, to the student groups,” Glorious Day said.  “The students figured out that their courses were bad.  After a series of back-and-forths between student body and faculty and administration, there were student demonstrations against the low academic standards of courses. Several social groups had saved college examinations from decades past, and had no difficulty demonstrating that they were much more demanding than current examinations. Also, the faculty for various reasons had been larding up the required curriculum with non-technical courses of in my opinion dubious merit. Required courses on plays, novels, poems, and music – using the last term broadly — of the pre-Interregnum period, even several centuries before that, struck me as peculiarly unrelated to the expected technical curriculum.”

  “Did the students,” Glorious Day asked, “ever have a written complaint?”  

“I have a copy of that, too,” Elektra said.  “The student report is much longer than the minority report, but you would have to be an expert in the field tell whether the specific criticisms were right or not. I’m not that expert.  The report was certainly well-written and fact-focused. The students asked me, as a signed message attached to the report, if the First Minister could please deal with this as well as launching the new Federal Technical University.”  

“And this somehow reached you?” Michael asked. “I would’ve thought you had enough flak-catchers to be sure you rarely encountered messages.”  

“On one hand,” Elektra answered “my staff is actually quite bright.  On the other hand, the students worked out what channel might be successful, and one of the parents was in the right place who could deliver the message.  More I should not say, but there are a few people in the Union who are extremely interested in upping the quality of our technical education.”  

“It gets worse,” Glorious Day said, “thanks to a decision more or less everyone supported when it was made. We have the National Technical College, which is supposed to be the standard-bearer for advancing academic quality, and we have the Union’s limited number of other colleges, all of which we fund, with the requirement that their curricula are subject to inspection by NTC.   That was supposed to ensure that all of the colleges we are supporting reach a certain high minimum standard of expectation. Unfortunately, the way the rules are written, if NTC is in the grip of the wrong people, those inspectors can be used to beat down the academic standards at the other colleges, so that NTC still leads, not by doing better, but by making everyone else do worse.”  

About George Phillies

science fiction author -- researcher in polymer dynamics -- collector of board wargames -- President, National Fantasy Fan Federation
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