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 That, or they will have been replaced by the lower-level alcohol-induced morning fug with which many an undergraduate begins a large proportion of their days.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?
SPONSORED FEATURES
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Office / Sales Manager

£22000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Established and expanding South...

Recruitment Genius: Administrative Assistant / Order Fulfilment

£14000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity to join a thrivi...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consulta...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Syria's Kurds have little choice but to flee amid the desolution, ruins and danger they face

Patrick Cockburn
A bartender serves two Mojito cocktails  

For the twenty-somethings of today, growing up is hard to do

Simon Kelner
Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

Britain's 24-hour culture

With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

The addictive nature of Diplomacy

Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
8 best children's clocks

Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea
Tunisia fears its Arab Spring could be reversed as the new regime becomes as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor

The Arab Spring reversed

Tunisian protesters fear that a new law will whitewash corrupt businessmen and officials, but they are finding that the new regime is becoming as intolerant of dissent as its predecessor
King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
Who is Oliver Bonas and how has he captured middle-class hearts?

Who is Oliver Bonas?

It's the first high-street store to pay its staff the living wage, and it saw out the recession in style
Earth has 'lost more than half its trees' since humans first started cutting them down

Axe-wielding Man fells half the world’s trees – leaving us just 422 each

However, the number of trees may be eight times higher than previously thought
60 years of Scalextric: Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones

60 years of Scalextric

Model cars are now stuffed with as much tech as real ones