A university is an education institution of tertiary learning. Most candidates choose this path in order to attain degrees in undergraduate or postgraduate education. In addition, people conduct research in different fields in these institutions. More importantly, university is also a highway to most professional jobs. The establishment of universities dates back to the 6th of medieval era. At those time, universities were religious establishments where nuns and monks were teachers. The earliest European universities were of the corporate structure and included the University of Bologna established in 1088, The University of Paris founded in 1150, Cambridge University of 1209, Oxford University of 1167, and others (Kaufman, n.d.). Thought entire Europe, the governors and rulers started realizing the need for knowledge, which drove them to create the institutions of higher learning. The new and more technical knowledge gained by the rulers, princes, and various leaders enabled them to handle difficult problems and gain better results in regards to their leadership. This paper aims to discuss the major changes of the true nature of universities over time and the main causes of these changes.
In the ancient Europe, the universities taught mostly in one language - both text and speech. It was Latin. According to Kaufman (n.d.), there were differences in cultures among the universities. There was also a range of courses offered in these universities. For example, the northern universities focused on arts and theology by offering corresponding bachelor degrees. On the other hand, the southern universities, including those in Italy, focused majorly on law and medicine with doctorates being offered primarily for the scholars. The choices depended mainly on the intentions of the researchers after the university. The northern graduates primarily intended to teach, while the southerners aimed for the professional jobs.
Each year, many students graduate from high schools in different countries of the world. These students face with difficult choices of whether to pursue further education at the university or to start working for a salary. These decisions depend on the number of factors, which include personal interests and goals, the financial capacity of the individual and the family, and high school performance, among others. Even with these struggles, it has been found that university education is of great value. Additionally, it empowers students with vital general and professional knowledge (Webbink, 2007)
According to Orata (1951), higher education is of great value. It has been found that individuals, who have gone through the four-year course at the university, on average make much more money than those, who never went through college and have not attained a bachelor’s degree. This data comes from the United States Bureau of Labor’s study consucted in 2009 (Orata, 1951). This research found that a bachelor’s degree holder generates an average annual salary of $ 20,748 more than the person who has not attained any degree (Orata, 1951). It has also been found that an adult, who starts working immediately after high school, earns an average total of $ 1.2, while an adult, who holds a bachelor’s degree, makes an average of $ 1.6 dollars, creating a difference of $ 0.4 (Orata, 1951). This study has been conducted by the United States Census Bureau. Therefore, there is a clear picture of how valuable the pursuit of university education is compared to attaining merely a high school certificate. There is greater financial value to the university education in the long run.
According to Oketch (2003), universities have changed tremendously since their inception. Firstly, the mode of ownership has significantly altered over time. The early institutions of higher education, which comprised of the universities, were exclusively owned by the churches, especially the Catholic Church. Currently, universities can be owned by any individual or organization as long as their curriculums have been approved by the relevant authorities. The second aspect that has significantly changed university education is their curriculum. Currently, most universities teach almost every subject that a student might request. Universities have become the centers of modern research. University students carry out research on almost every aspect that affects the human life. Another aspect that has transformed is funding. In older days, universities were exclusively funded by either churches or governments. Now, these institutions receive funding from individuals and organizations. The access to university education has changed as well. Today, prospective students can access education in many ways, including the distant mode of learning.
The abovementioned changes in university education have had profound effect on the society. Apart from the financial value, higher education offers students opportunities that they would be unable to get if they only have gone through high school (Webbink, 2007). There are many activities offered by the universities. They range from academics, such as research, innovation, inventions, discoveries and exchange of knowledge, to social activities, such as meeting new friends from different cultures, getting involved in different sports and games, etc. Some of these activities and experiences are unavailable for those, who only went to high school. Moreover, students become known, gain popularity and get various awards depending on their achievements due to their national and international exposures. Those who fail to join universities are excluded from such exposure, and most of their high school talents become useless. Along with the pursuit of higher education in the university, the level of intelligence of the students becomes more competitive compared to those who only graduated from high school.
According to Kaufman (n.d.), the average IQ of a student who has just graduated from high school is 105, points while that of a college graduate is 115 points. Intelligence quotient is accepted as more efficient way of foretelling the important social outcomes than any other psychological characteristic. On average, more intelligent people will live a better and more quality life than less bright people. It has been proven that more intelligent people have little difficulty in solving different problems compared to those who have not attended a university. In another study, a student from the University of Edinburgh in the United Kingdom showed that those people, who have higher intelligence scores in their childhood, live healthier lives at the age of 80 (Kaufman, n.d.). This study, therefore, concludes that those with higher intelligence quotient live better lives compared to the ones with lower IQ. Therefore, the individuals, who have gone through the university education for at least four years, have higher chances of living longer than those who only went through the high school. Therefore, intelligence is an added value of the university.
Universities can also be considered precious as they enable the students gain critical life skills that aid one in becoming successful in various aspects of life. In the university, individuals are considered adults and are expected to control and manage their life with very minimal rules. It is here that people gain skills on how to acquire and manage money and to know the best way to use the little cash they have. They always have to choose between spending the money on fun, paying for accommodation and food, buying education material and saving.
Chandrasiri (2003) notes that, most students earn the money the hard way, as they have to spend extra hours doing part-time jobs and therefore learn to save the little they get instead of spending it extravagantly. This money management skill is crucial and becomes handy in their entire life. It is also in the university that individuals gain the time management skills. They always have to plan for a limited period and make sure that they fulfill all their essentials such as study, completing assignments, relaxing, doing personal stuff such as laundry and time for fun. Such education empowers graduates with the necessary skills that they will need to apply during employment. Most of these skills are attained in the university to help the individuals in their entire life.
Another significant value of the universities is positive contribution to the society. University graduates occupy all the professional fields of work and constitute the skilled labor. With the help of the universities, people become empowered with various technical skills in such areas as medicine, engineering, technology, agriculture, business, politics and law. These fields are essential for the community, as the graduates offer such services, as quality health, which would otherwise not be available. The research offered by the university graduates is also beneficial forthe community. It is through the investigations carried out by the universities or university graduates that new problem-solving innovations, inventions, and discoveries are made. They include the discovery or invention of new drugs to cure diseases that threaten the community or technology that makes life easier.
With better technology, the values of the modern universities have increased immensely. This growth is attributed to the vast exposure of the students and their interactions with researchers from the other parts of the world. Globalization has become an important contributor to the improvement of the university’s value.
To conclude, there are countless values attributed to the universities. They help improve the life of the individuals and society. The knowledge gained from the university combined with the offered education impacts the lifestyle significantly. Thus, university offers great value. However, with the new technology, the Internet and improved channels of communication, people, who do not get the chance to join the university, have also gained much knowledge. They can be able to do as much as the university graduates. These opportunities have substantially influenced the values of the university. In addition, corruption may have also decreased the value of universities, as people with no qualifications get to the universities or professional fields.