« David Davis: Why has no action been taken over Muslim cartoon protests? | Main | What is a right-wing play? »


I would wholeheartedly agree. What is the point of pushing people into a university education that will not benefit them in the long run and will stack up thousands of pounds worth of debts- when the country has a fundamental lack of skilled professioanls?

Perhaps we should wait for the invisible hand of the market - as students recognise they will be 'burdened' with the costs of their degree courses they will start to make informed choices on those which deliver equivalent or greater benefit to them.

Of course the market works two ways - if as a state we want more maths/physics/chemists/engineers then make those courses cheaper - and pass the message down to secondary schools.

We saw last year that realisation that plumbers are well paid rapidly increased demand for vocational training in plumbing.

There is also such a thing as education for education's sake. I have a history degree but I'm not an academic or history teacher, so theoretically I won't be using my degree.

Yes our economy needs more engineers etc but we also need to have an academically vibrant country where genuine academy is respected, unlike where the education secretary says mediaeval historians should be scrapped.

I would never want to deny anyone teh chance of going to University. It was a great experience. I remember I was very clear about what I wanted to study - but remember even then being told that going to University would get you a "better" job. The implication was that if you got a degree, you would end up getting a job which paid more.

The things that worries me is that I suspect many students are still being told that - and in actual fact it isnt true. What they will do is possibly forgo 3 years of earning (if they didnt study) take on a pile of debt, and then possibly get the job they could have had three years previously.

Its about time vocational study wasnt seen as second class. If I was now given the opportunity of going to University knowing what debt I would have to get in I think I would learn a trade, take some business studies classes and set myself up business.

Yes we need a well trained workforce - but I am yet to be convinced that having a target for the number of people attending Higher Education is necessarily the best way of ensuring UK PLC can compete in a global economy.

wasp: In principle, I agree. However, it does beg the question as to whether certain students studying at certain Universities really have a passion for their subject, or whether they go to University having been peddled the myth that it is their key to a graduate-level career.

There is a great social value in allowing people who are genuinely interested in academia to receive high-quality education to further their particular academic vocation or interests. There is no value in persuading students to take a course they have only the slightest interest in under the false prospectus that it is their magical passport to a lucrative job. The problem with University expansion is that the pattern is that of increasing the numbers of weaker students with vanishing interest in their subject at poorer Universities with less rigorous degrees. These are the people least likely to complete their degrees, and least likely to get a graduate-level job if they do.

I fully concur with Jonathan here. I didn't go to university for various reasons and remember the look of horror on teachers faces when I told them. They then started perpetuating the myth that if I didn't go, it would cost me thousands of punds in lost earnings if I didn't go.

There are a few factors that have meants that I've never regreted the decision once. Firstly, I'm sitting here without a penny of student debt, Secondly, when I worked a short stint in a call centre, I was the only one without a degree. Everyone else ended up there after uni because there were no jobs related to their degree. Thirdly, I have a couple of friends who had a couple of years at Uni, racked up £10000 of debt and had to drop out as the course never suited them. They are now doing well but are paying back a debt on a degree they don't have.

Now I'm not saying, no one should go to uni, in fact, I think those studying courses for which there is a skills shortage should be subsidized to some extent. What I'm against, is this endless pushing of university by teachers when looking down their nose at other options. Some kids are bright but don't suit academia. The vocation options should be there right alongside university.

I agree with education for educations sake and that's what I meant by "benefit to them" ; people spend more money for a house with a view because they make informed choice it's valuable to them personally.

By charging students we enable them to make informed decisions and to demand a better education. If you are paying then you will be more demanding.

Just because you don't go to university doesn't mean that you don't study (even for education's sake). Many people actually work full time, often from the age of 16 but have always studied after work in their own time both for work and pleasure purposes.

They also usually complete the courses they start because their job promotions rely on the qualification (piece of paper) or they pay for the course themselves.

I too think Julian Brazier is broadly right although I don't think he's expressed himself too well.
It is a scandal that many science based University departments are closing because they are expensive to run and are also not attracting sufficient students.The reason may be that schools anxious to go up the league tables are encouraging students to study 'easier' subjects.Surely it must be to the countrys benefit that our children receive a rounded education and that schoolchildren should be taught those subjects that may be of benefit to them when looking for a job.
However I don't think that there is any evidence that 'arts' graduates are more likely to find themselves without a job than anyone else.I did see a report that showed that media studies graduates had a better chance of finding work than law graduates.I only wish I could remember the name of the report before anyone asks!
The fact that large numbers of graduates with large debts will not be able to find jobs that will pay those debts is becoming evermore apparent and a growing problem for the country(we have witnessed an explosion of personal bankruptcies from these people).
Therefore we should challenge the 50% figure and do our best to ensure that those people who go to University are both qualified to do so and well motivated.
Perhaps it might also be an idea to look at withdrawing top up fees for those courses which are needed in this country and for which there is currently a shortage of students

I think you are right Malcolm in that the report shouldn't have just picked on Arts students. There are many courses, media studies, Leisure and Tourism ect which could be used as an example.

"Perhaps we should wait for the invisible hand of the market - as students recognise they will be 'burdened' with the costs of their degree courses they will start to make informed choices on those which deliver equivalent or greater benefit to them"

Agreed. Withdraw the state from education including universities and all the second-rate universities and mickey mouse degrees will soon collapse. For those who have arts degrees and are a bit worried about employment prospects, I suggest a law conversion course.

Of course if the secondary education system wasn't such a joke, more of those entering university would be up to the job of finishing.

Trying to force 50% of students to go to University is ridiculous. No wonder a lot drop out and many end up with huge debts.

The A level passes are being massaged so many of those who gain "A" grades, are not up to the challenge of accademic life.

Put up the pass marks so only those who will benefit from life at Uni go.

The University of Life will be just as good for the others.

I actually disagree Margaret. I went to what you would call a traditional University and found that the first year there was actually no more taxing than A Levels. I dont think that its A level figures are being massaged when you can easily gain entrance to Higher Education with D and E grades.

I am a bit wary of comments such as "those who will benefit". I am no expert on higher education - but I had this debate with the sitting MP at the last elcetion. My view was that less people needed to go if we as a country invested in quality vocational education and gave it an equal status. He said I was wrong and that people should be allowed to go to Uni to study more vocational courses.

Maybe I was being simple - but isnt this the same argument. We need quality vocational courses. Whether that is caller Higher or Further education is just word-play.

Margeret, I have a friend who got a U in the A-Level subject he went to university to study. He got chucked off the course 2 and a half years and £12000 later. He's doing well in his job now but was never suited to academia. He was pushed there by teachers who thought they knew best.

I didnt take the risk of University-too much expense with no guarantee of a good job afterwards. I think people going to Uni really need think of whether a degree is really necessary for the job. Theres a lot at risk, not just financially. One of the reasons I chose not to go to Uni was because of the three years doing a degree. I could better use the three years getting involved locally and building up a political profile, something that would be somewhat delayed if I went to Uni.

It is in our own self-interest to be extremely supportive in providing appropriate education - even if it's non-vocational education. Note two key words: supportive and appropriate. It’s not supportive to press-gang students into particular courses or directions in order to meet targets. It’s not appropriate education if the student doesn’t have the aptitude or interest to succeed.

To improve education for everyone and to provide better value for money, I’d like to see much more emphasis placed on giving students proper choices and fact-based guidance whenever they arrive at one of education’s crossroads. It’s madness for a student who’s bright but who’s never shown any academic interest to blindly go to university. It would be good value to provide counsellors to every student to help them assess the facts and realities of their track-record and choices.

Similarly we should be ensuring that all 11 year old get choices and good advice to go along with it. If parents aren’t taking an interest in the available choices, for the sake of the child, educational advisors should.

I think that politicians/teachers/chattering classes, should remember the theory of the Bell curve. Cant draw one for you right now, but there a few of whatever at each end, and the bulk in the middle. It follows there fore, that a small number will never make Olevels, never mind As, The majority will have varying abilities, not neccessarily academic, and there will be a few at the other side of the curve who will get Firsts. 50% is nowhere Mr. Blair. Each according to his ability. I did not go to Uni, although the nursing profession has been having a severe attack of empire building, and the Uni nurse is now de rigeur, and also too posh to wash. I got paid to train, got fed, bed and board. You do not need to go to uni unless that is the only way to qualify for the job in life you think you can do, and which you want to do. The mickey mouse degrees are a betrayal of our youth. Back to nursing, there was a perfectly good two tier system, with the means of upgrading from enrolled(strictly practical) to state registered. Fine. The discipline where uni may well have a point, is the 4 year Midwifery uni course, and I think if someone really wants to be a midwife, they should still be paid at a reasonable rate so to do. Midwives can work independantly, they are dealing with life, and we need them to be of the highest. But golf course management?? Purleese!!

I think the reason why arts graduates find it hard to get jobs is that they are generally very bright and don't want to do work beneath them.

I worked unpaid for a year (with a part time job umpacking boxes) because the supply of graduate level jobs outside accountancy is so small.

Wasp - what job is beneath someone who is unemployed?

If they were so bright they'd get themselves off their backsides and 'start-up' themselves. Many business people weren't born with silver spoons in their mouths, they worked whatever jobs they could get (and hard) to save money to get started in their own business instead of waiting for the right offer from someone else.

I think a real effort has to be made to change everybodies attitude to vocational training, and this would include universities. This type of snobbery is so Victorian. There is a vast group of people 'out there' who need to be encouraged to believe that they are worth something and have some ability which would be of use. Its not just a question of creating more vocational establishments, you also have to somehow ensure that the teachers or lecturers involved are as committed or passionate about the subject/s they are teaching and are not just in the job for the holidays and salary. I have a father and son plumbers in my house at the moment installing central heating (bliss, I hope after twenty years of night storage heating - but that is another story!), the son is apprenticed to his father and has just taken his final exams, he started off doing an arts course at college, but ended up in an architects office hating it. Now it is entirely self evident that he is totally involved in plumbing and is absorbed by every aspect of it. I don't think the college that he has been attending can take a lot of the credit for this attitude - unfortunately. My own experiences and those of my friends would bear out that last word. The college is now privately owned and has a large number of pictures of grey-suited men on either side of the main corridor, they are certainly not lecturers, and all it says to me is that a whole lot of money is going in the wrong direction!

So we need a different attitude to vocational training, but and it is a big but, we must not have an institution which is run by lots of men in grey suits who see the enterprise as a business and students as commodities! Just as in hospitals nowadays, I can;t remember off-hand what the managers call patients, but they don't call them patients!

'Cornerstone's Julian Brazier MP: Arts degrees leave students worse off'

I think this headline is slightly misleading. Mr Brazier isn't saying(from what I can tell above) that Arts degrees are worthless and no-one should undertake one.

He's quite sensibly pointing out that the arbitrary 50% target for folk going into higer education is stupid. It leads to lots of people taking degrees(and not just Arts degrees) which don't advance their career prospects. It debases university education and gives false hope, and huge avoidable debts, to too many. Where I disagree with him is I don't think using government money/clout to steer people into Maths and Science (etc) would help matters. There are lots of bilogy and engineering, and even law/medical graduates, in call centres too.

We need to, as Ted suggests above, let the market do it's thing. Free Universities from government control. Let them set their own admissions policies and charge their own prices; then people can make reasonable judgements about whether the costs of higher education truly reflect the benefits they can derive from it.

I'm an Arts student (History and Politics). I do think there's some intrinsic value in a university education for me but I can't say that everyone experiences or obtains that value. I think the fairest thing is for the taxpayer not to have to foot too much of the bill when peoples' rationale for going to university,and success while there and beyond, is so varied.

I would also concur with Mark Fulford that more guidance is required throughout primary and secondary education. If you're committed to your higher education then you don't worry about the debt because you see it as an investment in your future. I had to figure that out myself though. I don't recall any teacher ever encouraging me to consider the financial impact of going to university and how that related to other choices I could make. I don't think I'm an exception either.

I think pushing some people into higher education is like trying to force square pegs into round holes. It leaves not just them, but the whole higher education system ,and society, worse off.

On politicalbetting it is quoted that only 40% of university funding comes from central government. Increasingly this proportion will fall and I know Oxford looked at leaving central government funding altogether. It seems to be the case that Gordon & the centralising left want to control university governance & decision making while increasingly the students and other sources of revenue become the people paying for the service.

Perhaps our policy should be that we use the cash windfall from the auction of analogue bandwiths (with any necessary top up) to set up a multi-billion trust fund that supports that part of UK students bursary not covered by student loans and set the universities free.

Unfortunately I can't see "free the universities" being a vote winning policy (and I happen to agree with the idea). The middle classes tend to be anti welfare state, but not when it comes to university funding. That said, if taxes were cut then paying privately for university might be more affordable.

From experience I think there are no more than about 20% who can really benefit from a proper university education at a proper university. It is grossly unfair to encourage young people to embark on courses which are unsuitable and for which they are not equiped.
My advice to any bright teenager would be to take good A Levels and, unless you have a particular profession in mind or are really interested in acedemia and your subject, get your training on the job. You will be far better off, get paid and have no student debts.

It might be sensible advice to go straight into the workplace but lots of students go to university for the student lifestyle, which is fair enough, if you fund it yourself, but 3/4 year jollies at the taxpayers expense just isn't justifiable. And I think in you spell that out, a bit more diplomatically, then you can sell it to the electorate. That becomes a lot harder though the more people are jammed into universities.

Increasingly it isn't at the tax payers expense! That's the point.

As tuition fees and living costs become the students expense (with taxpayer subsidy yes but as I said it's only 40% of university funding and faling) we will see behaviour change. Institutions and degrees with no value will be recognised as such - why go into debt for something that doesn't either give you the education you want or value in the jobs market? The current situation will change radically in next few years.

I could never understand why the Conservative Party was so against tuition fees - they are help both drive up standards and ration demand towards those really wanting to take a degree.

There is an issue with bright kids from poor backgrounds who don't have the family resources to help support them but that isn't insurmountable.

"I could never understand why the Conservative Party was so against tuition fees - they are help both drive up standards and ration demand towards those really wanting to take a degree."

Simple really - they were desperate to increase their poll ratings so they abandoned principle to try and win the support of those going to university and their parents.

Ironically the New Statesman was in favour of tuition fees and opposed plans by the Lib Dems to abolish them on the basis that free university education was part and parcel of the "middle class welfare state". I mean, how outrageous of the middle classes to get something back for the exhorbitant sums that they pay?! Nevertheless a statist system is still flawed and we should welcome the march of private fees and greater independence. Naturally lower taxes would make this more bearable.

Well, as someone sitting to the left of Blair I never thought I'd see the day I agreed with Julian Brazier!

But 50% is far too high. Once upon a time only 5% or so went to uni, and a return to that would be clearly unacceptable. But I do think we could meet somewhere in the middle. Fewer, but better funded students. If the better funding targeted those from working class backgrounds, this could actually be quite a left wing policy.

Would Mr Brazier care to join Labour ;)

Judging by the dropping membership Im not sure many people would care to join at the moment. :o)

three bears free ebooks three bears free ebooks,russian web site providing free ebooks in english fiction russian web site providing free ebooks in english fiction,east of flagstaff - travel guide east of flagstaff - travel guide,vietnam conflict a civil war between what two armies vietnam conflict a civil war between what two armies,need of colour scheme in rooms need of colour scheme in rooms,harborwalk galveston harborwalk galveston,heat plots in matlab heat plots in matlab,diagrammes dallocation des places de stade dinvesco diagrammes dallocation des places de stade dinvesco,carbon trading scheme australia carbon trading scheme australia,re re,

The comments to this entry are closed.



ConHome on Twitter

    follow me on Twitter

    Conservative blogs

    Today's public spending saving

    New on other blogs

    • Receive our daily email
      Enter your details below:

    • Tracker 2
    • Extreme Tracker