Monday, September 26, 2011

The student athlete exposed

This excellent article in The Atlantic reveals aspects of NCAA athletics that most Americans have refused to face. I've heard Frank DeFore rant about the absurdity of the NCAA and not paying college athletes but never fully understood his point.  This article shows that the idea of "student athlete" is designed to clear universities of any liability of athletes get hurt. The article tears back the veil that makes us nostalgically cling to the amateur ideal, even when the Olympics has abandoned amateurism without collapsing. Rugby has also abandoned amateurism, in 1995, and is arguably better off for removing the hypocrisy that existed before that. The article is excellent in showing how many "ideals" are actually manipulated by those in power for their own material interests. In this case, all these 18-22 year olds working for universities but not costing anything, while the universities, coaches (even assistant coaches!), television stations, and advertizes all benefit. This article is sure to change a lot of people's opinions. And it shows that there are lawsuits making their way through the courts that may cause the NCAA to collapse even before it loses in court.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Hong Kong students

More good news for CUHK in the new entering class. CUHK continues to attract a disproportionate number of HK's best students. This year's freshmen include 43% of the students who entered university on the "early admission scheme" (based on outstanding results in their "O Levels", the HKCEE), and "nearly 40 percent of those who obtained three As or above" on their A Levels. Since there are 7 public universities, of which 3 are the elite research universities (along with HKUST and HKU), CUHK continues to attract more than it's share of the best students, even though some on HK island view the campus as being out in the middle of nowhere.

But there is still one disturbing trend, and that is the "vocational training" mentality of students.  Here are the majors with the "best" entering students, as reported by the university newsletter.

Top programmes/disciplines as ranked by the highest scores of the admitted JUPAS applicants:
  • Global Business Studies

  • Pharmacy

  • Integrated BBA

  • Quantitative Finance

  • Medicine

  • Psychology
Top five programmes/disciplines in terms of the median scores of the admitted JUPAS applicants:
  • Global Business Studies

  • International Business and Chinese Enterprise

  • Quantitative Finance

  • Pharmacy

  • Medicine
Medicine is not a surprise; it is high everywhere, as it should be. But business? Not economics, but "applied economics" (BBA stands for Bachelor's in Business Administration). Pharmacy?! Nothing against pharmacy or pharmacists, but pharmacy and not biology or chemistry is attracting our top minds?  Psychology is an odd one too; it is a notoriously "easy" major in the US--which is too bad, because it is an important field. But it is popular in HK because it is a social science that is viewed as leading to jobs. Journalism is also high on the list. Sigh.  The reason this is a problem becomes clear when you meet journalism students who may know how to write, but don't know any social science theories. They of course then find it hard to write a story analyzing why people do X, or how to interpret a cultural phenomenon.  They may get their first job, but will they succeed in the long run?