I was on the BBC’s Have Your Say today whilst taking a break from job hunting and packing. There is a debate on there about whether we should be opening up more university places. This is not a straight forward answer. I may sound like an educational snob here, but I think it is the right solution.
University is not for everyone. The level of academic ability required to get a good degree is such that not everyone can go to university. The Government target of 50% of school leavers going to university is a ridiculous one.
Some of the degrees being offered today will give the graduate little or no gain in the employment world, so why saddle them with up to £30,000 worth of debt for them not to get the return that they have been led to believe they will get? That’s just not fair on the individual.
More money does need to be spent on Further and Higher Education, but let’s get it in the right place. Let’s give those with the academic ability to go and study at University, but may not have the financial backing that others do more financial support so that they can go to University and study.
Also, let’s put money into FE Colleges and open up more vocational qualifications. We have a drastic shortage of skilled tradesmen in this country. Why not offer more opportunities for people to learn trades in the right educational setting? A university is not the most appropriate of places to train builders, electricians or plumbers. Hands on, vocational courses suit these professions, which are catered for best in FE Colleges.
The Government is always on about having a skilled workforce and this being one of the reasons why we want more university graduates. However, this fails to realise that a skilled workforce includes the likes of plumbing, brick-layers, electricians and so on.
There is no point sending someone of below average intelligence to university on a course which will add no benefit to the wider economy just for them to gain a drinking problem and be saddled with a massive debt that they will spend most of their working life paying off.
Another problem with sending too many people to university is that Undergraduate degrees start to become devalued and those with degrees in subjects suited to university level study need to start doing post-graduate qualifications in order to give themselves the competitive advantage that having an Undergraduate degree once did.
As for whether there should be more university places? There should be enough places at university on appropriate courses for those with both the academic ability and desire to go to University without any financial barriers.