Why We Need FEWER Graduates, Not More

JimRSmith u

This Take is specific to the UK, and draws upon examples from here, but please chip in with relevant experience from other countries.

Successive governments have aimed to get 50% of the population into higher education - whether this is for the betterment of the individuals, or to massage youth unemployment figures down is a moot point.

Until 1997, undergraduates paid no tuition fees in the UK, but the Labour government introduced them, at a figure of £1,000 per annum.

Earlier this year, there was a general election in the UK. One of the more extreme pre-election bribes promised before polling day was that of the fiscal remedials in the Labour Party to "scrap tuition fees".

Tuition fees have recently gone as high as £9,000 per annum. Taking into account living costs, such as rent and food, a debt of £40,000 at graduation is not uncommon. Good luck getting a mortgage with that.

Why We Need FEWER Graduates, Not More
Also worth thinking about is the interest charged on this debt is 6%, versus a current Bank of England base rate of 0.25% (just to compound things).

It's not only getting a mortgage that's a problem, though - so is getting a decent job. Some of our universities are world class, but many are not, and a degree in Instagram Studies or Further Facebook isn't going to open many doors in today's employment market. 46% of graduates are currently unable to secure a graduate job.

Why We Need FEWER Graduates, Not More
At the same time, getting a decent vocational training has become ever more difficult, because apparently the solution to this is simply to import more people. So for the past decade or more, training has been woefully neglected, leading to increased unemployment.

A decent plumber around here can earn £75,000 per annum, once he's established. That is, once he's thirty or so, possibly younger. This is way in excess of most graduate salaries at the same age.

Then, we need to take into account that many universities these days appear to see their primary function not to educate, but to churn out legions of Social Justice Warriors, embittered at their own circumstances, and raging at 'structural injustice', where everything's the system's fault, and none of it is down to their own poor life choices.

Why We Need FEWER Graduates, Not More

Why, oh why, do we continue to push so many people into meaningless higher education?

Medicine, Engineering, Business Studies, Applied Mathematics - yes, I get this, and I believe in grants and free tuition for such subjects.

Sociology, Media Studies, Creative Writing - by all means, follow your hearts, but don't expect the rest of us to pick up the bill. As we do, when three quarters of students never repay their loans in full.

Do it if it's worth it, but if it's a nonsense course, in a Mickey Mouse university, you'd be better off doing yourself a favour, and getting some vocational training, or getting on the career ladder a few years earlier...

Why We Need FEWER Graduates, Not More
39 Opinion