Most people will get a lot more from university if they already have work experience – preferably 25 plus. Most degrees, in themselves and outside science, are worthless and employers know this. The better routes are apprenticeship or direct work experience. Three years with Sainsburys will put your boy or girl in a better position at 21 than university, less about 50K of debt. In this time they could do more than half a degree part-time. One evening module a week would get them a third of the qualification and show any employer at that time they are capable of the level.
All parties are lying about this because they can only offer an expanding economy on the basis of waiting for one to come through growth – and growth will only come again if we cut debt by writing a lot of it off. At least £3 trillion of Europe‘s debt that we can pin down is now unpayable, so austerity won’t work. More people are in work now than prior to the general election – yet the rate of unemployment and under-employment is spiking up. Don’t sit back on your old-fogey ideology – try signing on and see what a lack of help and jobs that really exists. Watch a replay of tonight’s Newsnight to see how hopeless it is. The two dorks either side of Paxman clearly have no clue and the fact that the cuts are about to bite didn’t even get a mention.
This coming year is the first of full fees for each year of university study. This means a debt of £27K plus maintenance fees plus extra for reasonable living conditions less any earnings not spent. Your kids may get little more than textbook teaching delivered in ‘death by Powerpoint’ in a system that passes almost anyone who can put together 3-6 essays a semester together from the set texts.
There’s a knock-on problem in what I’m saying and that is pressure on those kids who wouldn’t go to university anyway. The brighter kids will be competing with them for the jobs at 18. So, if your boy sensibly doesn’t do leisure studies, tourism or media studies and becomes a train driver, someone else’s won’t.
We need structural reforms to come as quickly as they do in war mobilisation. There isn’t a politician even talking about this. And talking about Korea’s 80% university-college participation rate is barking – their system is dire. The answer lies in productive jobs, reasonable wages and a more equal society -not in forcing educationalists to pass on what political culture requires (as in Korea and our own GCSE and A levels). I have no problems with otherwise bright students who can’t spell or count – but I do with those who haven’t learned to use spellcheckers and spreadsheets over three years – and who obviously barely know one end of a computer let alone a program despite their ICT GCSE.
I suspect the secret of our universities used to be that they only let smart students in and that those in gave themselves an education on what scraps they were thrown. This was OK with the 10% entry of my day and the wonderful mature students I was teaching 10 years ago. Now we are teaching answers to people who can’t deal with questions.
Over in the USA student debt is over $1 trillion – more than credit card debt,