Wet firebrands

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The Independent Online

Students stubbornly refuse to be revolting, despite all the provocations. The stop-the-war demo in Trafalgar Square yesterday was literally a wash-out; far too few of today's undergraduates show any of the Sixties spirit that would brave any weather for a passionately held cause. It has been pretty dismal on the firebrand front since at least 1980, when students started worrying about building their CVs and looking for jobs. Now we have gone full circle, through full employment and back to today's stories of graduate employers deferring recruitment or pulling out of the "milk round" altogether.

Students stubbornly refuse to be revolting, despite all the provocations. The stop-the-war demo in Trafalgar Square yesterday was literally a wash-out; far too few of today's undergraduates show any of the Sixties spirit that would brave any weather for a passionately held cause. It has been pretty dismal on the firebrand front since at least 1980, when students started worrying about building their CVs and looking for jobs. Now we have gone full circle, through full employment and back to today's stories of graduate employers deferring recruitment or pulling out of the "milk round" altogether.

We blame the Government. What does it do when it finds one issue on which the student body could unite in a froth of moral righteousness? It performs a smart U-turn. So maintenance grants will replace student loans, at least in part, in two years' time.

Apart from that self-interested issue, though, there has hardly been a flicker of that old blaze of dogmatic moral certainty, looked back on with such fond nostalgia by so many, for the past two decades. But with the example of what the Taliban, literally the "students" of Islam, have got up to in Afghanistan, perhaps that is just as well.

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