Rhiannon Harries: Drinking, daytime TV, dole..let's give university education the third degree

Share
Related Topics

Acute collective Freshers' Week hangovers should, by now, have lifted from UK universities. That, or they will have been replaced by the lower-level alcohol-induced morning fug with which many an undergraduate begins a large proportion of their days.

It's even possible that a few keen souls will have already got as far as using what The Headmasters' and Headmistresses' Conference last week described as their "very expensive library tickets". For, according to chairman Andrew Grant, that is what a university degree amounts to these days – thousands of pounds' worth of debt and not a lot to show for it in the way of increased job prospects or earnings.

"There's been a confidence trick played on young people," said Grant. "The Government has used historical and partial data to justify the introduction of tuition fees on the grounds there is a premium on graduate earnings."

Grant is right in one respect; there are numerous reasons why, these days, a degree is not a golden ticket to a handsomely paid job for life – and not least the fact that such a thing no longer exists for anyone. But the idea that students are being inveigled into going to university solely by that promise seems rather doubtful.

The truth is that the vast majority of 18-year-olds don't have any watertight ideas about the exact long-term benefit of the degree they are about to embark on. Among an ever-growing tranche of the population, going to university is simply a social convention, beyond analysis or question.

Ironically, given the source of the criticism, where this problem ought really to be tackled is at school level, where getting into university is too often seen as an end not a means. When I made my own choices some time ago, our careers-advice sessions were underpinned by the assumption that we would all go to university, the question was simply finding the right one.

Teachers scoured UCAS guides to find courses for academically weaker students, then polished applications and coached interview technique. It was in good faith, but to not even discuss alternative paths was surely a mistake.

If you make decent use of the opportunities – educational, cultural, sporting, social – that three years of university offers, the value of a degree goes beyond economics. No, a BA in media studies won't automatically get you a well-paid job – few degrees will do that alone. But provided you have been made aware of that and the options beyond, if your interests remain so inclined, there are still plenty of decent reasons to do it. If watching Loose Women and Doctors feature among yours, however, I would suggest thinking again.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Direct Mail Machine Operative

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for an i...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Accounts Executive

£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity for the ...

Recruitment Genius: Team Administrator / Secretary - South East

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Full time Administrator/Secreta...

Recruitment Genius: Parts Advisor

£16500 - £18500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: One of the leading Mercedes-Ben...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: a duchess by any other name is just wrong

Guy Keleny
A teenage girl uses her smartphone in bed.  

Remove smartphones from the hands of under-18s and maybe they will grow up to be less dumb

Janet Street-Porter
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa corruption: The officials are caught in the web of US legal imperialism - where double standards don't get in the way

Caught in the web of legal imperialism

The Fifa officials ensnared by America's extraterritorial authority are only the latest examples of this fearsome power, says Rupert Cornwell
Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Why the cost of parenting has become so expensive

Today's pre-school child costs £35,000, according to Aviva. And that's but the tip of an iceberg, says DJ Taylor
Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert