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ANU combining Masters with Bachelor degrees for “vertical” double degrees

By johnboy - 8 August 2012 19

ANU’s Vice-Chancellor Ian Young has blogged an explanation of new “vertical” degrees:

The new degree will mean students can get a bachelor and masters degree in reduced time, complete several masters subjects in a bachelor degree, and graduate from two degrees that will set them up for life.

Forty per cent of ANU students already take ‘traditional’ double degrees, adding depth and breadth to their studies. Now students will be able to combine a bachelor degree with a masters degree, adding the desire to pursue higher qualifications to the package from day one. The masters adds ‘height’ to the double degree.

Frankly I find it hard to believe that “depth”, “breadth”, and “height” can all be added during the same duration of studies.

It sounds a lot more like shallowness and, dare we say it, a devaluation of qualifications.

What’s Your opinion?


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19 Responses to
ANU combining Masters with Bachelor degrees for “vertical” double degrees
poetix 10:49 am 09 Aug 12

HHR said :

“Master%u2019s degrees are as useless as tits on a bull. Either go the whole hog and get a PhD, or get out in the real world and get actual experience.” You cannot “go the whole hog and get a PhD” without further postgraduate studies under your belt, so, you actually need to get your Masters in order to continue. ….

This is simply incorrect. I only had two Bachelor degrees before I was accepted into an ANU PhD, and only one was relevant to the application process.

I hate the way academia now speaks in terms of career and ‘setting people up for life’, not about knowledge or discovery. Masters degrees, it seems, are the new century’s CIT qualification.

Diggety 10:03 am 09 Aug 12

This is no biggy. At all.

It may come off as a strange explaination of a restructure, but the degree structure is not uncommon – in other nations at least.

Worry when we give honorary doctorates to sporting captains. Like Richie McCaw for example.

NoAddedMSG 9:34 am 09 Aug 12

c_c said :

Also worth noting that the ANU allows HDs to kick in from 80% while most other Universities set the threshold at 85%, so arguments about devaluing degrees and assessing different qualifications are already difficult, and at ANU, have already been cheapened by these existing measures.

I go through a lot of academic transcripts every semester (550 ish usually) so I can tell you that students who transfer to ANU usually go down a grade band – ANU marks much harder. Kicking an HD in at 80% doesn’t devalue the degree at all.

What does create issues is an utterly daft grading system which even the students don’t understand – HD, D, CR, P, N, NCN, CRS, PS, WD, WN, WL, and then you get in the things like KU, RP, IP, and DA. It is a very good way of making sure no one outside the system can understand transcripts – I still don’t get what is wrong with an A – E scale.

Tetranitrate 5:29 pm 08 Aug 12

c_c said :

Also worth noting that the ANU allows HDs to kick in from 80% while most other Universities set the threshold at 85%, so arguments about devaluing degrees and assessing different qualifications are already difficult, and at ANU, have already been cheapened by these existing measures.

ANU also marks harder, particularly in law. It all goes out the window with scaling anyway.

HHR 4:59 pm 08 Aug 12

Having just completed recently, both a Bachelor degree (ANU) and a Masters degree (Monash), I think this is a great idea.

“Frankly I find it hard to believe that “depth”, “breadth”, and “height” can all be added during the same duration of studies.” Did you even read your own links before posting this? They can shave six months off the total study time, as in a standard Bachelor degree + a Masters degree, which equals 3 years + 1-2 years. So, instead of completing your studies in 4-5 years, you will be done in 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 years. The time shaved off comes from the Bachelor side of the double degree, and if any of you have completed a Bachelor degree, you will know that with all the electives you can take on top of your chosen majors, there is no depth lost in shaving a few of those electives off.

My hope is that this will also allow students to bypass some the introductory courses for their Masters. Having just completed a major in Linguistics at ANU, I found it a complete waste of my time and money (no CSP for my Masters) to have to complete the Introduction to Linguistics course as part of my Monash degree. I think that type of course suits students who a) have never studied that field before, or b) have not studied at all recently, and I hope that the ANU vertical degree takes this into consideration.

“Master’s degrees are as useless as tits on a bull. Either go the whole hog and get a PhD, or get out in the real world and get actual experience.” You cannot “go the whole hog and get a PhD” without further postgraduate studies under your belt, so, you actually need to get your Masters in order to continue. It’s not just about paying fees at university, but also about the learning process. In your Bachelor degree you write 2500 word essays. In a Masters you write a longer thesis of around 60,000 if you’re doing research, or 5,000 word essays if you’re doing coursework. For a PhD you are writing a thesis of up to 100,000 words. You can’t simply jump from 2500 word essays to a 100,000 word thesis. You also need to develop your research and analytical skills, which clearly, you have not.

“I was going to suggest, provided the “masters” level subjects were only offered to students with a certain level of attainment in their undergrad subjects, this could be ok. Then I realised that this is honours.” Honours is not as widely recognised worldwide as a Masters degree is, so it makes a lot more sense, if you want to be able to move around, to do a Masters degree. I am sure that ANU will have requirements for continuing on to do Masters, giving students who didn’t achieve the required grades the option to complete their standard Bachelor degree in their last semester.

“For one thing, this deflates the value of the existing masters degrees in the economy. Kind of like printing money.” How exactly does it deflate the value of an existing Masters degree, given that it will still be a Masters degree from ANU? You are simply finishing your Bachelors earlier, and starting your Masters where you would normally be doing your final semester of your Bachelors. I also don’t think it will devalue the Bachelors degree you attain by such a process, as I imagine that instead of doing X amount of electives along with your chosen majors/minors, you will be doing fewer electives, which will not affect your depth of knowledge. You still graduate at the end with two pieces of paper: one that says Bachelor and one that says Masters. I don’t see how any employer can be confused by that.

I think all forms of learning should be encouraged, and a vertical double degree like this simply allows those students who have a goal in mind to focus on that goal and tailor their studies to achieve it quickly and efficiently, and to be able to enter the workforce earlier and with less debt.

devils_advocate 4:20 pm 08 Aug 12

c_c said :

devils_advocate said :

c_c said :

Why all the negativity?

Do I detect a bit of toll poppy creeping in, perhaps a bit scared newer graduates with better looking degrees will overtake you and, as research shows, earn more?

For one thing, this deflates the value of the existing masters degrees in the economy. Kind of like printing money.

Another problem is, that as an employer or someone who is tasked with making employment decisions, it now becomes one more complication in assessing the qualifications of graduates or candidates in general.

Given that there are at least 5 different ways to calculate GPA among Australian Universities (and ANU doesn’t do GPA to further complicate things), along with several different ways to calculate Honours scale among the Universities – it’s never going to be easy for employers.

Also worth noting that the ANU allows HDs to kick in from 80% while most other Universities set the threshold at 85%, so arguments about devaluing degrees and assessing different qualifications are already difficult, and at ANU, have already been cheapened by these existing measures.

All true – so why add a further complication?

c_c 3:12 pm 08 Aug 12

devils_advocate said :

c_c said :

Why all the negativity?

Do I detect a bit of toll poppy creeping in, perhaps a bit scared newer graduates with better looking degrees will overtake you and, as research shows, earn more?

For one thing, this deflates the value of the existing masters degrees in the economy. Kind of like printing money.

Another problem is, that as an employer or someone who is tasked with making employment decisions, it now becomes one more complication in assessing the qualifications of graduates or candidates in general.

Given that there are at least 5 different ways to calculate GPA among Australian Universities (and ANU doesn’t do GPA to further complicate things), along with several different ways to calculate Honours scale among the Universities – it’s never going to be easy for employers.

Also worth noting that the ANU allows HDs to kick in from 80% while most other Universities set the threshold at 85%, so arguments about devaluing degrees and assessing different qualifications are already difficult, and at ANU, have already been cheapened by these existing measures.

devils_advocate 2:48 pm 08 Aug 12

c_c said :

Why all the negativity?

Do I detect a bit of toll poppy creeping in, perhaps a bit scared newer graduates with better looking degrees will overtake you and, as research shows, earn more?

For one thing, this deflates the value of the existing masters degrees in the economy. Kind of like printing money.

Another problem is, that as an employer or someone who is tasked with making employment decisions, it now becomes one more complication in assessing the qualifications of graduates or candidates in general.

c_c 2:39 pm 08 Aug 12

johnboy said :

It’s pretty simple. If they’re compressing the tuition then why not do that in the traditional structure?

But it certainly looks like they plan to teach less while conferring more.

Can’t make that sort of judgement until you see the assessment schemes for these new courses.

Throughout the ANU, they’re making traditional teaching optional and favouring of research intensive methods.

In addition, there’s growing demand for non-standard session enrolment, where despite having courses condensed into a couple of weeks, the assessment schemes are the equivalent of two full semester courses.

So long as the assessment scheme is rigorous enough and the target of these new programs remains the higher performing students, I don’t see an issue.
If they make the assessment weak though, then I would agree it risks conferring more while teaching less.
But I’m going to remain open minded about this, because I still recall the same kind of negative arguments being made when combined degrees came into fashion and I’ve yet to see any negatives come from them, quite the contrary in fact.

HenryBG 2:38 pm 08 Aug 12

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

c_c said :

Why all the negativity?

Do I detect a bit of toll poppy creeping in, perhaps a bit scared newer graduates with better looking degrees will overtake you and, as research shows, earn more?

The question will be whether the new structure actually translates to better skills and outcomes. At this stage it is hard to tell.

As JB said, though, it certainly looks like more conferring with less teaching.

I think you should just go the whole hog and just buy your Degree, Masters, and PhD online.
You can get all 3 for under $300 if you find the right website.

devils_advocate 2:38 pm 08 Aug 12

VYBerlinaV8_is_back said :

c_c said :

Why all the negativity?

Do I detect a bit of toll poppy creeping in, perhaps a bit scared newer graduates with better looking degrees will overtake you and, as research shows, earn more?

The question will be whether the new structure actually translates to better skills and outcomes. At this stage it is hard to tell.

As JB said, though, it certainly looks like more conferring with less teaching.

I was going to suggest, provided the “masters” level subjects were only offered to students with a certain level of attainment in their undergrad subjects, this could be ok.

Then I realised that this is honours.

So yeah, sounds a bit dodgy.

VYBerlinaV8_is_back 2:24 pm 08 Aug 12

c_c said :

Why all the negativity?

Do I detect a bit of toll poppy creeping in, perhaps a bit scared newer graduates with better looking degrees will overtake you and, as research shows, earn more?

The question will be whether the new structure actually translates to better skills and outcomes. At this stage it is hard to tell.

As JB said, though, it certainly looks like more conferring with less teaching.

johnboy 2:11 pm 08 Aug 12

It’s pretty simple. If they’re compressing the tuition then why not do that in the traditional structure?

But it certainly looks like they plan to teach less while conferring more.

c_c 1:57 pm 08 Aug 12

Why all the negativity?

Do I detect a bit of toll poppy creeping in, perhaps a bit scared newer graduates with better looking degrees will overtake you and, as research shows, earn more?

switch 1:18 pm 08 Aug 12

“The new degree will mean students can get a bachelor and masters degree in reduced time, complete several masters subjects in a bachelor degree, and graduate from two degrees that will set them up for life.”

And best of all, keep them paying fees at university for a few more years.

Master’s degrees are as useless as tits on a bull. Either go the whole hog and get a PhD, or get out in the real world and get actual experience.

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