IELTS Sample Essay | What is the main function of a university?

IELTS Writing Task 2

Some people think that universities should provide graduates with the knowledge and skills needed in the work place.

Others think that the true function of a university should be to give access to knowledge for its own sake, regardless of whether the course is useful to an employer.

What, in your opinion, should be the main function of a university?

Give reasons for your answer and include any relevant examples from your own knowledge or experience.

You should write at least 250 words.

Cambridge IELTS Practice Test Book 7 | Test 4 Academic Writing Task 2 | Main Function of a University

Universities are generally considered to be places of higher learning, whether students pursue undergraduate, postgraduate or doctoral degrees. While both views expressed have some merit the fact is that most universities offer a wide range of academic courses which clearly offer both options mentioned: access to directly relevant work related knowledge and learning to gain knowledge without any higher purpose than to learn more about a specific subject.

While some employers may not see the relevancy of a student following a degree course which has no apparent relevancy to any particular profession, a university education develops certain skills and abilities which can be useful in many wider areas of life. There are many cases where graduates in fact successfully take up professional positions which have little or nothing to do with the subjects they studied at university.

What’s more, universities are not unlike the general school system, there are many subjects which people would not consider essential to daily life as an adult, but the learning process builds a general knowledge and skill set which most adults need in order to be productive members of society.
Some people also believe that the experience of attending university is a valuable life lesson, allowing an opportunity for young people to grow, discover more independence and explore themselves as individuals.

Personally, I consider it essential that universities continue to offer a wide choice of subjects for students irrespective of whether they are directly relevant to obtaining a position in the workforce or not. They should be considered as places of personal development whether a student chooses to study anthropology or an MBA.

How would you answer this IELTS essay question about the function of a university?

  • Nowadays, all information is available on the internet for students simply seeking knowledge; will this affect the role of universities in the future?
  • If employers want graduates with workplace skills - should employers pay for the graduates university education?