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Universities are increasingly being considered the cornerstone of all modern economies.

Given
that we are living in a knowledge- driven era where human resource is strictly deterministican
important determinant of the prosperity of the society, it is no wonder that investment in higher
education tops the agenda of most governments. According to the South African Government
Information, roughly R21.3 billion was earmarked for higher education for the period 2011/2012
(Higher Education Transformation,2011online). However, lately questions have aroused
surfaced on the real purpose of universities: are they only meant to prepare professionals of high
caliber or in addition to this impart knowledge of life skills? Many humanities professors feel
that commerce degrees offered by universities are only molding dummy individuals solely meant
to excel at work while paying scant attention to the complete development of the typical
commerce student. They and are of the view that humanities degree equips students more
efficiently for life (Oakfarm,yr). Ideally universities should prepare both for life and a career and
I strongly believe that this is what a commerce degree is doingseeks to achieve. In this essay, I
will first evaluate some of the roles that commerce degrees should have played in the lives of
students in light of the aims of higher education in society and then develop arguments to prove
that a commerce degree indeed prepares students both for life and a career.

It is commonly known that theIt would be believed that higher education courses should prepare
students intellectually, socially and emotionally for the workplace. In other words, they should
focus on the development of students’ development of the head, the hands and the heart of
students should be the main aim of higher education. In this context, commerce degrees should
primarily focus on inculcating imbibing in students with technical skills to be employable. Also,
to ensure the integral development of the students (the hands and the heart), the degree must
place high importance on the moral and ethical implications of being a professional. The degree
should help students broaden their horizons ‘ to think out of the box’ while equally valorizing
values like team building ability, leadership skills as well as communication skills among other
values to better equip students for both life and a career.

After having seen some of the roles that commerce degrees should play in the lives of students, I
will now evaluate what the average BCom is achieving and show how it helps students more in
terms of life and career as compared to a humanities degree. First and foremost, the bachelor of
commerce has a coherent syllabus that is focused on ensuring that students have a firm

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understanding of the major pillars that constitute the corporate world (Benefits of Bachelor,
2008). Commerce degrees allow students to specialize in a specific stream pertaining to business
and the latter know where they are heading in the future. Students do accounting, economics and
finance; all of which are the key tools that they will be using in their future jobs (ibid.). For
instance, an ACCA student will be doing advanced accounting that will indeed help them when
they qualify for a Chartered Accountant status.

Also business companies which recruit employees are aware of the fact that commerce degrees
does provide key tools that will increase their profit margins and are thus willing to give their
employees scholarships to acquire these skills. For instance, in Mauritius, De Chazaal Du Mee,
DCDM, which is a prestigious accounting firm sends their workers to countries like such as
Tanzania where the latter acquire additional knowledge on accounting practices (De Chazal Du
Mee, 2009). This shows that the commerce degrees indeed prepare students for a career by
allowing them to master key concepts that will be of paramount importance to employers.

Furthermore, the commerce degree also adapts itself to changes on the business landscape by
amending the curriculum wheren necessary. It hence helps students integrate more easily to the
job market. For instance, all first year students at UCT in 2011 who have taken the Financial
Accounting module now had have to start preparing Financial Statements as per GAAP
(generally accepted accounting principles), which only became effective this year when the
board of Chartered Accountants in South Africa decided to implement a new standard according
to which practicing accountants have to comply to hereafter (Department of Accounting, 2011).
Hence, this shows that being conferred with a commerce degree indeed prepares one for a career.

Moreover, commerce degrees as opposed to the claim of humanities professors do prepare


students for life and not only for a career. Commerce degrees from institutions like such as UCT
help to frame the character of its their students since EBM (evidence based management), a
module that encourages critical thinking is compulsory for everyone opting for business studies.
This course helps students make sound judgments not only in the corporate world but also in
practical life situations. The EBM course focuses on ‘the development of critical reasoning
skills, including the ability to analyse and construct logical arguments, to research problems, to
articulate competing viewpoints and to form independent judgements about contentious issues of
policy and practice’ (BUS 1036F, 2011). Also on a more general basis, commerce degrees

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confers problem solving and analytical skills. This shows that commerce degrees do indeed help
prepare students for life.

In contrast the humanities degree provides a broader insight into human interaction and social
affairs but does not train students for a specific profession. The courses could include music,
literature, and drama, among other disciplines. A common profession that a humanitiesy degree
holder undertakes is teaching, although many students pursue a post graduate degree either in
humanities or some other related fields. But Still, even for those who are pondering
overconsidering to continueing with a Mmasters in humanities, the future is may be quite bleak.
As William Benton (2009) believes that there is a considerable decline in benefits derived from
humanities degrees in terms of job security and income. He adds further that Pannapacker,many
students are now incurring debts and that ‘ writes: “Most undergraduates don’t realize that there
are a shrinking percentage of positions in the humanities that offer job security, benefits, and a
livable salary ...Meanwhile, more students are flattered to find themselves admitted to graduate
programs; many are taking on considerable debt to do so. According to the Humanities
Indicators Project of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, about 23 percent of
humanities students end up owing more than $30,000, and more than 14 percent owe more than
$50,000.” (William Pannapacker).

However, iIt is worth noting though that humanities degrees enable student to ‘think logically,
debate, and to improve their communication and presentation skills as well as fosters cooperation
and teamwork among many other skills. But dDespite this, the degree does not prepare a student
for a career well relatively well as compared to a commerce degree although it ensures that
students get a well-rounded education for life. (add a study: decline in critical thinking skills)

Now I will evaluate the negative aspects ofThis said, even the commerce degree lags behind in
some measure and one can identify a in terms of the ggap between the how it ‘should have
prepared’ students and how it ‘is preparing’ students. As mentioned before, in view of the aims
of higher education, the commerce degree should have focused more on blending the moral
values together with pure academic work. Apart from the organizational psychology courses and
the ‘Politics, Philosophy, Economics’ programme, the other commerce courses do not cater for
ethical education in the case of the University of Cape Town. (Commerce faculty, 2011).
Unfortunately, many institutions still cannot grasp tIt seems that the other courses overlook the

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importance of ethics in academic workthis and as a result ,many commerce degrees have this
serious lacuna.

AlsoIn fact, the BCom should be synthesized with the humanities degree to ensure that
commerce students become fully fledged professionals who not only have superior numerical
analysis but as well communication and presentation skills, cooperation and team building
among other skills that are attributable to humanities degrees. Hence it is important that
universities ensure that the life skills derived from commerce degrees are on the same
wavelength asat par with its career benefits.

But Having discussed the way in which commerce caters for life and career, one needs toif one
just pauses and ponders about all the ongoing discussion about regarding the distinction between
career preparation v/s and life preparation., Iis it not true that at some point in time career and
life definitions just converge and merge? For instance, when one brings home frustration from
work, one is obviously mixing workplace with home (and for some people life).

There is alsoIt is also assumed that a career the big controversy: should career
necessarilynecessarily epitomize points in the direction of a CEO in his air- conditioned office.?
Is it ridiculous to state that someone doing drama can make a career out of it? This kind of
question should be left to each person because the career and life definition of person A can be
different from that of person B. For some people, drama may mean career as for them career
cannot be distinguished from life, given that drama holds an extremely important place in their
lives. Thus,So to a certain extent, one can ask if it is really important that one separates life from
career in terms of the benefits derived from either the commerce or the humanities degrees.

In the light of all the above- mentioned arguments, it is also reasonable to state that commerce
degrees indeed prepares one better for a career than humanities degrees. Irrespective of what
humanities professors say, I believe that the BCom prepares students for life although to a lesser
extent than humanities degree. It also becomes clear that the distinction between preparing for
life v/s preparing for career should be best left to the people. It In order to bridge the discrepancy
between the humanities degree and the commerce degree, I feel that professors from both
departments should work more together to ensure an exchange of working techniques and
approaches to problem-solving to cultivate a hybrid commerce-humanities mentality in students

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to make them an all-rounder ready to face society’s challenges. is also pragmatic to state that
commerce degrees indeed prepares one better for a career than humanities degrees. Irrespective
of what humanities professors say, I believe that the BCom prepares students for life although to
a lesser extent than humanities degree. In order to bridge the discrepancies in education from
humanities degree to that of a commerce degree, I feel that professors from both departments
should work more together to ensure an exchange of working techniques and approach to
problem solving to cultivate hybrid commerce-humanities mentality in students to make them an
all-rounder.