In an interview Denham stated that: ‘We have been in danger of making it sound as if university is the only real aspiration.’ This is perhaps one of the biggest understatements made about Labour’s approach to education in the past few months. Labour’s policy towards higher education has been ill-founded and hopeless from the start with the cost increasing dramatically since 1997.
Coupled with this, Labour over the years seems to have purposely set about instilling an anti-‘anything other than a degree’ sentiment among British people. They have seemingly done away with the notion that people can become qualified vocationally and so instead of encouraging the polytechnics we now have such horrendous creations as ‘Anglia Ruskin University’. The world and his wife – in the UK – are now packing their bags to go and study some ridiculous mickey mouse degree at a ridiculous mickey mouse university in September only to graduate and go into a career pulling pints. What a marvellous precedent Labour has set.
One of Labour’s flagship targets is to increase the number of young people going to university from 40-50 percent. Unbelievably, Denham says that he is still ‘absolutely committed’ to fulfilling that goal, but that he feels there are some school-leavers who would be ‘better off’ not going to university.
Is it any wonder that in such an ill-conceived, ineptly organised, overcrowded education system students are now paying in excess of Â£3,000 per year for the privilege of being able to study at university?
At my university (Royal Holloway), in the time that I have been there, the Media department has bought no less than a hundred brand new Macintosh computers to furnish its marvellous media suites and studios. The media department has a vast array of professional equipment and every day there’s always a small bunch of media students wandering around with all their gear having a bit of a laugh and making videos of each other. Meanwhile my degree requires a desk, a pen, some books and a classroom – but the university can scarcely provide us with that. In fact, we don’t even have a dedicated lecture theatre and are regularly outcast to the lesser used uncomfortable older lecture theatres, some of which don’t even have a working projector.
But the government will keep wedging people into the higher education system whether they fit or not and it will keep creating subjects for the people who can’t study anything academic. ‘Don’t have the acumen to study a proper subject? It’s fine, come and do Management. Better yet, go and do a PhD (that stands for Philosophical Doctorate by the way) in Culinary Studies.’
So now what’s happening? Degrees are losing their value, the graduate employment pool is massively oversaturated and all the ‘proper’ students have to spend even more money studying a masters to differentiate themselves from everyone else.
The last time I checked, 50% of jobs in the UK didn’t require a degree, yet Labour are hell-bent on their current aims to further saturate the higher education system with people studying pointless degrees who will never use any of the ‘skills’ they learn. As an American would say, ‘you do the math’.