Thursday, March 26, 2009

The Great Graduate Rip-Off

Graduating soon? Some advice for you.
The stated aim of our beloved Government is to have 50% of the UK population with university degrees. To do this they created lots of "new" universities from the old polytechnics and then proceeded to cram students in. Of course, students need qualifications. To make sure enough people pass, the A-Level has been getting steadily easier*. It is now so devalued that nobody actually believes they are worth anything (which is a shame for those that have them). But if you can't handle A-Levels there are all sorts of alternatives: BTEC, GNVQ, HEFC - just about any combination of four letters you can imagine.
Now here's the question. Assuming that one of the big reasons people go to university is to train up for a job at the end of their degree, are we now genuinely expected to believe that 50% of the jobs out there in UK Ltd. require a degree? Walk down your high street. Do half of those manning the shops need a degree? What about the factories? Building sites? Transport? Service industries? Are we really saying that half of these jobs require degrees?
Of course not. Stop being silly.
So why are we cramming people into university? Well, here is my take on it.
If we get half of our 18-21 year-olds into university that is a hell of a lot of dole we don't have to find, apprenticeships we don't have to create and opportunity we needn't worry about. Then, when we've got them into university we charge them for the "privilege". £3000 in fees (due to rise steeply). So a tax (clearly) of £9000 for a 3-year degree. Then there is £3500 per year in loans (government backed). So, a government loan of £10500 or so across the three years to be paid back as soon as you cross a very low threshold. Those graduating this year are looking at starting their working lives with around £20000 in debt and probably a lot more. What a rip-off! Look at our economy. It is an unmitigated mess with the opportunity for job-seekers shrinking by the minute. If you do get a job and actually manage to get a decent salary they will tax you more. Heads you lose, tails you lose.
My advice?
Go to a country that values a UK degree. Plenty do. You won't have to pay back the 20 grand so you can have your education for free and then start a new life in a country that values your education. What a deal!
Do it. You know you want to.
*Hotly denied. Therefore true.

1 comment:

fiona said...

Quite agree. The only reason I can think of to encourage more degrees is because apparently there is a link between education and lowered crime rates. Other than that, it's a ridiculous aim. Excellent article as always.