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Academic attacks ‘lazy’ students in employability debate

Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti
16 June 2017 1 minute readShare
Student carries a stack of books

The problem with poor graduate employability is not teaching standards but ‘lazy, ignorant’ students and poor university management, according to one academic.

It comes in response to a My Business story in which a business owner criticised Australian universities for producing “embarrassing” graduates who are virtually unemployable because their skills and knowledge are so poor.

Since that story was published, My Business has been contacted by a number of business owners and professionals who agree that – regardless the cause – Australian university graduates are simply not entering the workforce armed with the right skills and knowledge.

One reader suggested that “The Australian tertiary education sector has become a back door migration scam where foreign students seek tertiary education at any price so as to convert their student visas to permanent residency upon graduation. The consequence is graduates with no life experience in Australia, lacking language and cultural skills which make them unemployable in their specialist field.”

Another said, “I can only add to this. The unis and CPA Australia and CA ANZ are producing unemployable accountants.”

Meanwhile a legal professional complained that many law graduates can’t even write and address a letter correctly.

The academic and My Business reader, who identified himself only as Prof Putupon, suggested that far from teaching standards, it is an ingrained culture of grading students on a bell curve, rather than on their actual skills and knowledge, that has led students to become complacent.

“As an academic in this field, a major problem is that we are rarely able to fail students and they know it. The failure of students to meet acceptable standards is now regarded by university management as a sign of poor teaching rather than poor student understanding,” wrote the academic.

“Maintaining standards in this environment is a losing battle. Consequently, student attendance is appalling, and online teaching is a complete farce. There is no consequence to students for their lack of engagement. It is not unusual to turn up to a tutorial with 28 students and find that only two have done the required reading.

“That’s the reason why these graduates claim they don’t learn anything – it’s because they don’t turn up, don’t do the required work, and don’t participate when they are there.”

The commenter suggested business owners looking to employ worthy graduates should check an applicant’s university transcript and GPA (grade point average), or ask for an academic reference.

“We don’t give them to students we don’t know. Also, check what extracurricular activities they have participated in. If there are none, it’s a sure sign they are lazy, ignorant and have a sense of entitlement.”

Academic attacks ‘lazy’ students in employability debate
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Adam Zuchetti
Adam Zuchetti

Adam Zuchetti is the former editor of MyBusiness and a senior freelance media professional, specialising in the fields of business, personal finance and property. In 2020, he also embarked on his own business journey – inspired in part by the entrepreneurs and founders he had met through his journalistic work – with the launch of customised pet gifting and subscription service Paws N’ All.

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