1. What is the point of education?
Easy - what ever you want it to be! It can be learning for the sake of learning, or it can be learning for a well-paid job. It's totally up to the individual. The only trouble with all this, is that the more you swim down-stream, the more you are tied to a specific career later on in life. If you swim up-stream and study pure maths, you can do anything, from stock-broker to economics research. If you study economics, well, then you are going to have to stick with a career that uses that skill-set. If you do business management, you can work in any business and climb the management ladder if you are good enough, but if you do hotel management, then you are of no use in a garage or even (dare I say it!) a recording studio.
For this reason, the further down-stream you swim, the more selective you must be about the course you attend. Hence, the desirability of the Surrey Tonmeister course and the total unacceptability of others. There is nothing wrong with the others, but you are very far down-stream from pure maths, so you had better attend the best.
Sorry children, but we can't all study obscure subjects and expect society to give us a well-paid career in that subject. MT is swimming down-stream, so expect to be badly paid, or just not employed at all. Not only that, but if you do not attend one of the top colleges for that subject, you are telling the HR department that you lacked the focus, drive and intelligence to study a proper subject at a proper university. An easy degree in an easy subject and from an easy university, just tells the World that you go for the easy options. Your 'sheepskin' is what the Germans call an 'Armutszeugnis' - a certificate of poverty.
The same brutal truth applies to any of the vocational study courses. CGI, Media Tech, Catering, Food Tech, Fashion, Hotel Management, etc., etc., etc.
2. Quo Vadis education in the UK?
Wealth is created by excellence.
I shall leave that sentence there and all on its little own, so that you can read it and digest all that it implies. Wealth is created by excellence. Wealth is not created by being mediocre. This is more true for the arts than it is even for manufacturing. I have a foot in both camps and you can just about sell an average house or even an average car, but you will never, ever sell an average singer-songwriter, an average film, or fill an auditorium to listen to an average orchestra. There just are no residuals for an average white band, but plenty for The Average White Band. It is no coincidence that Adele attended The London School for Performing Arts & Technology.
.'. (therefore) if we seek wealth, we must seek excellence in education.
Public education in the UK has (almost) totally abrogated this task, to the point where droves of semi-literate, semi-numerate and totally impecunious youngsters, roam our streets; lost souls, looking for a role in society and finding none.
The A-Level of today is roughly the equivalent of the O-Level of yesterday. Most primary school teachers today cannot perform simple mathematical tasks. A recent Channel 4 programme asked a room full of primary school teachers to divide a half by a quarter and only one was able to come up with the right answer. To say that that is shocking, is to understate. Most young adults cannot identify an adverb or perform rudimentary sentence analysis. About half do not know the difference between their, there and they're.
We have bulldozed the grammar schools that took working class kids all the way to the top and replaced them with inner-city incomprehensives, where everyone is a winner! But the UK educational system tells the semi-literate and barely numerate, that a college education is theirs as of right! So now, a totally dumbed-down test ('How many fingers am I holding up - one, more than one, several?') is the pathway to a degree in golf course management.
At one and the same time, we have systematically destroyed the traditional apprenticeships that gave us the well-paid and respected careers of builder, joiner, mechanic and all the other great careers that became the foundations of society and often, the start of great and wealth creating businesses. No more day-release, doing ONC to HND building or mechanics at the local tech! Today, it is a lovely new university and teaches media studies. (My first contact with media studies was when I once had to fire the three most useless bods in a publishing house and I discovered that all three were proud alumni of this great study!)
But whilst we are floundering in the remains of what once was one of the best educational systems on Planet Earth, others (Germany and China in particular) are pulling their collective socks up and improving the standards of education in the most remarkable way. Which brings me neatly to MT.
3. Quo Vadis MT?
As Narcoman has pointed out, I have some knowledge of the German system. There, they two ways to become a recording engineer - or similar. The first is the famous Tonmeister and before any of the Surrey boys start to smile, trust me lads, most of the Surrey Tonmeister graduates would not even pass the entrance exam to one of the three German universities offering this six-year study!
Without going into details of the tests that candidates must pass to join one of the original Tonmeister courses, the first test is 60 mins of musical dictation, in which pieces are played and candidates must write down on the score, what they have just heard. Altogether, there are six or seven such tests, including basic electronics, physics, orchestration, an unprepared piano piece to be sight-read and a piece of your own choice. And then come the usual auditions, interviews and so on. Most candidates attend at least one year of music school to prepare for these entrance tests.
A second way to be the lad or lassie who sits behind that big desk, is to do a three year apprenticeship as a media technician for sound and picture (Mediengestalter, Ton und Bild). These apprenticeships are so sought after, that applicants have to either have good A-Levels (Abitur) or a qualification in a related field. Because an apprentice has to be employed as such by a studio or TV station or similar, the numbers are self-regulating. Most get in, via TV production, but many do this via recording studios, mobiles, mastering rooms, DVD authoring facilities and so on. Apprentices and moved from facility to facility, to give them an all-round education and work experience.
The 'Mediengestalter' career course was brought in over ten years ago and I was extremely sceptical, as it mixed picture and sound and even mixed in such tasks as DVD authoring, camera work, multitracking and live broadcast work. It sounded like a bit of everything, but nothing for real. As it turned out, the course has proven itself magnificently and has even effected markets outside Germany, but only because the companies that employ 'Mediengestalter' are taking work away from others outside Germany. From Queen in Glasgow to Genisis in Rome, or just that box-set of James Bond or Bourne films, all done by 'Mediengestalter.'
My opinion? That is the sort of system we need in the UK. Urgently!!!
4. MT v. Electrical Engineering (or similar)?
I have been working with renewable energy companies lately, evaluating the economics of the various types of energy storage. In this work, I have been talking to energy companies and they have told me, almost as a man, that they are desperate for graduate engineers in electrical engineering. Desperate, as in being able to recruit fewer than one-quarter of what they need. Desperate, as in unable to even bid for juicy contracts, because they just cannot get the engineers for the work. Desperate, in that they get planning permission for a scheme and then cannot even complete within the two-year window of the warrant, because of a lack of engineers. Desperate, in that they had to watch as German companies Hoch-Tief and Siemens get the only big hydro-electric scheme in decades in the UK, because UK contractors could not guarantee having enough engineers to complete the project in time.
So if you are happy with what I call the 'pooeee' law (P=UI, aka P=VI) and get all excited about Joules and his law, then you know what to do!