Fez - The university is an essential phase of every student’s career. It is a stage where students develop their knowledge and equip themselves with the necessary skills to lead a successful life. In today’s world, the diversity found at the university forces some professors to change their methods; while some subjects require an academic background, others need more hands-on training and practice. This dichotomy divides university education between what is more academic and what is more vocational.
Fez – The university is an essential phase of every student’s career. It is a stage where students develop their knowledge and equip themselves with the necessary skills to lead a successful life. In today’s world, the diversity found at the university forces some professors to change their methods; while some subjects require an academic background, others need more hands-on training and practice. This dichotomy divides university education between what is more academic and what is more vocational.
Vocational education is a type of learning that is based on training or practice. Nowadays, this type of education has started to gain some popularity in Morocco, as we find more institutions requiring their students to go through a training period of one or two months before their graduation. This training is believed to equip the student with the necessary skills for the job market. However, one should not dismiss the role of academic education and its impact on university students. This type of education is, in principle, based on developing one’s own knowledge by acquiring different theories and being familiar with their principles.
Therefore, academic education focuses on the student’s needs in terms of knowledge and theory. When students finish their high school studies and enter the university, they face different problems as they adjust. For instance, many Moroccan university students find it difficult to choose a certain specialty or research topic in their third year. Thus, if their first years in the university are based on training, their choices and decisions tend to be arbitrary, and several problems may emerge in the last years of their studies. Nevertheless, if these students are exposed to different academic subjects, they will be able to narrow their scope of focus, and their choices would become clearer.
Proponents of vocational education argue that all university subjects necessitate some training at a certain level. This cannot be ignored, since any knowledge or theory that is not put into practice may become useless. However, university education is not based solely on training programs. Several subjects taught at the university require a good academic background with no practical training. For instance, in the social sciences and the humanities, different subjects such as history or literature do not require any practical training for the student. In these areas, students must gain familiarity with the field in general or the subject in particular. Furthermore, most of the essential skills that university students need to develop are academic. In other words, students are required to be more critical, analytical, and creative, and these internal/mental skills are usually fostered through academic subjects.
Proponents of vocational education go further and argue that some subjects that fall within the realms of science or technology do not require any background knowledge, and academic training is not useful for university students in these fields. This argument cannot be valid, since all scientific sub-disciplines are primarily based on theories and principles. Any practice, be it a scientific experiment or a programming task, falls within a certain framework or approach which, in turn, follows a set of principles. Accordingly, before they go through any type of vocational program, university students need to be equipped with the necessary background knowledge that will help them to benefit from these programs.
All in all, the debate over the nature of university education has taken different paths. As we move towards a more globalized world that is influenced by technology and industry, the job market requires people with more expertise and skills. However, the major role that academic education plays shall not be undermined since it is the main type of education that characterizes every university.
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