Universities | Should they even exist?

I have spent the last 6 and a half years in university, and have 6 more months until I am finally finished. I think that somewhat qualifies me to talk on this subject.

I have come to the conclusion that in 2016, universities are no longer relevant, and that the method of learning that university provides is no longer effective (if it ever was).

 Here is why:

  • - For the most part, they are location dependent - an issue for fractured cities such as Johannesburg.
  • - Coursework cannot be revised fast enough to keep up with evolving technologies and economies.
  • - In design degrees (architecture, fashion, industrial design), students are subjected to authorities' beliefs and their view of reality - something that can only hinder progression if the student's view is somewhat different.
  • - They are far from affordable for the people who actually need it most, and often the vehicle that leads straight to debt (student or parent, or even both). This is mainly because they rely heavily on physical infrastructure and man-power to run - something software and the internet could completely resolve.
  • - They do not prepare the students for the realities of the working world. Starting a business in that field, challenges they might face, etc.
  • - There is far too much red tape for systems to be revised fast enough to be relevant to the times. (i.e. The reliance on academic journals and other "qualified" sources).


These are some of my suggestions for the future of education (some are already happening, thankfully):

  • - Remove the requirement for a formal degree in heavily regulated industries such as architecture, medicine, engineering and hospitality and replace them with internships and benchmark exams that you cant take and retake whenever you feel ready. This way people can learn by doing, not by abstract theoretical study that is quite possibly not even relevant anymore. I suggest an 80% doing, 20% training/guiding balance. This can also help focus your learning, for example, you don't have to learn about landscaping in  architecture school if your primary interest is transport systems. You can choose your focus and therefore save time and have a more relevant, lean education.
  • - Take all degrees online and make them a great deal cheaper. (Not free, because there needs to be at least some cost involved to motivate someone to actually follow through). This way, you don't rely on professors and lecturers, your course can be updated at any time to remain relevant and anyone can sign up regardless of geographical location.
  • - Make all "qualifications" non time-dependent. This way people can go as fast or as slow as they please.
  • - Make use of online communities to tap into shared knowledge so that we can all move forward faster by learning from other peoples' mistakes and failures.


With the above proposed system, I also believe that only the best and strongest will survive - you can fool your way through a university degree, but not through an internship with a mentor that relies on you on a day to day basis or an online course with levels that you simply cannot pass without objectively having the skills or knowledge.

In summary, here is a quote about education:

"Education needs to be rethought. Education does not just happen in college, but it also happens in developing skills which will enable people to contribute to our society as a whole." -Peter Thiel

And one that will inspire you to just do what ever you want, regardless of who says you should go study, or that you have to have a degree.

"If you're less sensitive to social cues, you're less likely to do the same things as everyone else around you." -Peter Thiel