I’ve just read an article on the BBC website which claims that the College of Policing has said all new police officers may be required to have a university degree in the future.
As far as I am aware, the police are sometimes trained at the College of Policing or an alternative and are sometimes required to undertake a diploma in policing, where I imagine they would learn the skills they would need for a job. Others may start off as voluntary officers or be recruited after school/college. Whilst specialists and detectives may benefit from a criminology degree, I see no reason why regular police officers would need one. How is studying an unrelated subject for three years going to make you a better police officer? It seems that the police force is one of the few sectors that does not currently require a degree, and that to me is a very good thing. Rather than having to waste their money, get into debt and only be able to apply for the police at 21 at the youngest, police recruits get specialist training designed for their chosen career, presumably don’t have to get a student loan, would get trained by specialists and would be trained for two years rather than the standard three. If the police have to take a degree, presumably they may still have to undertake specialist training afterwards, which means they would have to wait five years rather than two to start their career. This makes absolutely no sense to me. Why do we have this obsession with degrees? How will a degree help with a job such as this when specialist training is already offered, a job where presumably you would learn best in the field and on courses specializing in what you would actually do on the job?
In order to make the degree at least somewhat worthwhile, we need to expand other vocational options so people who don’t want to take a degree don’t have to without their employment options diminishing. This involves offering more specialist training without a degree being necessary, not less. Stop forcing people to waste their money, and stop acting like a degree is the only thing that makes a profession ‘legitimate’. If you don’t realistically need a degree for a job, why make people get one just because everyone else seems to have one? Why is that a good thing? People who chose to take an academic degree are now at a disadvantage, because the degree is becoming more and more normal and therefore graduates are required to have a range of other skills and work experience that are quite often hard to get at university, and non graduates are now apparently assumed to be ‘lesser’ in the world of work simply because they didn’t choose to go to university. But how does going to lectures on a general interest subject help in a specialist job; as this article doesn’t say the degree would have to be specific, I am assuming this is what it means. A degree in psychology or criminology may be beneficial, but I don’t see how it would be more helpful than spending those three years gaining experience and/or qualifications directly through the police. I am not saying university is not a good thing, or that the degree of life experience and independence it offers young people should not be acknowledged. But it should not be mandatory for a sector that doesn’t seem to need it and has presumably functioned reasonably well without it until now, and if someone was able to train for a job and actually be working in that sector by the time they would have otherwise left university, surely they would still get those opportunities. A lot of the comments on the BBC article claim that the police would need a degree to make them ‘more intelligent’ than criminals. A degree does not necessarily make you more intelligent, and not having a degree does not necessarily make you less intelligent. Intelligence is also relative, and is not always carried across. For example, if you did a degree in English literature than you would learn to analyse texts, to write essays and develop your knowledge of literature. Those are not bad skills to have. But when faced with a criminal, I don’t really see how it would put you in a better position than someone who did not have the knowledge of that particular subject. For certain careers, like journalism for example, a degree like English or history is very beneficial because it equips you with skills you can then apply to journalism, such as analysis, a clear writing style and the ability to see things from different points of view. But whilst it wouldn’t hurt if you wanted to be in the police, I don’t really see how it would put you in a better position than someone who had actually gained experience with the police during this time. University is not the only way to learn new skills and develop your intelligence. Since the rise of the internet, a lot of knowledge is already at your finger tips if you desire to look for it. University should be a choice. It should not be mandatory.