The Trouble With Uni

Today the English Broadsheets all put their own spin on the latest data about university trends. Starting with ‘facts’, here’s the enrolment numbers for the top eleven subjects students elected to start reading this year:

84,715 Law
76,359 Psychology
69,952 Medicine
66,544 Design
59,895 Nursing
55,500 English
54,838 Management
51,317 Business & Admin Studies Combinations
47,985 Business Studies
46,709 Economics
45,924 History

So Law is number one. But wait. As someone who’s first degree was in business, there are three separate entries that really ought be considered as a single entity. In which case, the proper rankings need to be redrawn.  Business should clearly be Number One, brimming with 154,140 students signing up for higher education commerce orientated pursuit.

Put another way, with the number of 18-yr olds currently estimated at around ¾m in the UK, then incredibly, one on five of the entire population in that age bracket take Business.

One article I read on this cited the previously unheralded Chicester Business Studies course as boasting the highest student satisfaction.  Intrigued, I found their syllabus. I was sorely disappointed to find it looked no different to that upon which I embarked over twenty years ago.

Granted, the ‘optional modules’ aren’t listed in full, but let’s face facts. There will be zero sales skills picked up by anyone on such a course. How can Sales as a discipline still not be deemed credible enough for inclusion? Why is it that Sales as a function doesn’t even merit throwaway mentions in passing during a Marketing lecture? Indeed, why is Sales considered by academia as simply an irritating extension of a marketing department that can be safely ignored?

This strikes me as all so wrong. It would be easy to breakdown “selling” into a modular format for a term’s worth of study. Two strands – theory and skills – would be an obvious starting point.

Knowing about funnel management, for instance, political mapping, proposal creation, and (dare I say it) closing would all prove way, way more beneficial in my humble experience than say, Operations Management or Strategic Human Resources.

I tend to call around a salesteam before I train them when called upon by one of my customers to run such a session.  I usually ask whether there’s any skill or topic they’d be keen to have a refresher on or even be introduced to afresh, that I may be able to touch on too. Last time I did so, with around a dozen salespeople, I got enough steers to fill an entire semester. If only Universities understood this…

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