This sort of rhetoric parroted every year by a generation laughably removed from the youth employment market is dangerously naive.
At this time of year tens of thousands of excited young people are busy packing kettles and ironing boards ready for next term while others are desperately scrambling through Clearing in the hope that they might, just might, get a place to study something – anything – in a higher education institution a long way from home even if it’s only Horology with Romanian at the University of NeverHeardOfIt.
Studying through an apprenticeship isn’t for everyone. You’re thrown in the deep end, into the working world, and you either sink or swim.
Just under a year ago, I faced a pretty monumental decision. At the age of seventeen, I had to weigh up two contrasting options for my future. In September 2012, I could have chosen to remain within the stable borders of the conventional education system, but stack up a minimum £27,000 of debt. My alternative was to enter the world of work and search for a modest income, whilst youth unemployment soars.
Much to the anger of student organisations across the country and the shame of red-faced Liberal Democrats, university tuition fees have gone up. But is this such a bad thing?
Including or excluding students in immigration reduction targets makes relatively little difference to long-run net migration – which ministers and Migration Watch say is their real concern – but makes a big difference to how the government’s efforts look in short-run political terms.
If you believed everything screamed at you by the tabloids you could be forgiven for thinking that anyone claiming benefits is a lazy, scrounging so-and-so. Spare a thought then, for those struggling to fight their way out of the system against the odds and the stereotypes. In a week that saw David Cameron and George Osborne called “two arrogant posh boys” by one of their own MPs, it is safe to say the class war still rages on in 21st Century Britain.
A lack of proper careers advice has led to a generation of young people being unaware of what they need to study in order to reach their desired careers. Recent statistics suggest that 79% of 16-18 year olds still plan to go to university, despite a huge number of them being unaware of the alternative routes into the world of work.
That the number of university applicants has fallen by 8.7% is wholly unsurprising. Be it the trebled tuition fees or the realisation degree does not always equal job, scores of would-be students are thinking twice. But what is notable about these figures is they go against almost everything we assumed to be true when the hike in tuition fees was announced. That the disadvantaged would be hardest hit has been disproved, and the vision of youngsters turning their backs on higher education called into question. These are, in fact, some rather myth-busting figures.
Britain’s universities are one of the country’s most remarkable success stories. They have been beset by creeping centralised control since the 1980s, as well as funding cuts per student in the 1980s and 1990s that would have crippled most industries and almost any part of the welfare state. They have been assailed by populist critiques about their ‘privilege’, ‘exclusivity’ and ease, as well as their unfair subsidies to the middle and upper income cohorts – as if most campuses lived in a long Brideshead summer.
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