Worlds Apart

As a teacher and trainer I’ve worked in two very distinct but nonetheless related fields, namely academia and business. The relationship is the English language, but otherwise there are few correlations between these spheres. This begs the question ‘why?’ Why, when our world is so sharply focused on the ‘graduateness’ of students, do we instead focus their attention on preparing them only for further academic study, when the reality is that few of them will continue on such a narrow path. Why do undergraduate programmes ignore the fact that the key skills students need are those of clear, effective communication in their written and spoken language and not formal, academic obfuscation? It would be wrong to say that the way English is used in business – often as a stripped-down and very functional tool – is the only way to teach or train people to communicate, but it is certainly more relevant and transferable than the cloistered language of the academic environment. So is it time for a sea change? The oceans of academic heritage will be a tough tide to turn, but change is certainly necessary and in ways inevitable as the UK’s higher education system moves its focus to satisfying market demands.