University for all was a complete nonsense

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WHEN historians come to ponder quite what a shambles the last Labour government made of absolutely everything they will dwell on the headline stuff: Iraq, Afghanistan, destroying the pension system and so on. But there’s a less high-profile mess-up that is continuing to cause terrible problems: the insane push to have half the country’s teenagers go to university.


Published: Thu, October 3, 2013            



Graduates are leaving university with debts to find there aren’t enough jobs to go round [GETTY]   

No matter that we are crying out for decent plumbers, electricians and so on, the thinking went that if you didn’t go to uni you had somehow missed out. Cue the debasement of degrees and a generation with meaningless qualifications and thousands of pounds worth of debt.

Quite what a mess this has turned into was illustrated this week by Liza Fitzpatrick, from Hull, who was told to take her degree off her CV by a job centre because it was putting potential employers off. Liza is understandably furious yet the people she should really be angry with are not the job centre staff trying to help her but the people who told her to get a degree in the first place.

She also, absolutely admirably, has said that she would take any job in order to stop signing on but clearly her degree – in social and community care, which doesn’t sound very academic – has become a hindrance rather than a help. There is nothing wrong with following a vocation rather than studying classics at Oxbridge and it is time we recognised this rather than watch another generation throw thousands down the drain for something that is simply not worthwhile. We are encouraging high hopes that cannot be filled and false expectations about what a degree will endow.

An awful lot of these degrees are not worth the name to begin with, while some of the country’s most successful people – Sir Richard Branson, Stuart Rose, Jamie Oliver – didn’t go to uni and it didn’t hurt them. Labour MP for Hull East, Karl Turner, has said that the bigger issue is a “lack of suitable graduate jobs in the City”. Oh no it isn’t. The whole thing is just a giant con.


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