What a cunt.
That is all.
Universities minister David Willetts did little to win over his new constituency by describing students as an unacceptable burden on UK taxpayers. Joining in the coalition government's frenzy of cutback soundbites ahead of next week's the Budget on 22 June Willetts said the costs of university education were a "burden on the …
But hey, short of the party appearing elitist and banning degrees in football, bookbinding, women studies and reverting former poly-techs back to poly-techs, what can they do? Education for the wealthy (or rather the educable class, you know it's what they mean)
Not very Liberal policy I must add :( quite distinct from the reduce student debt mantra of old.
p.s. THEY STOLE MY MILK!
It's weird, but in order to attract the kind of people who know what they are talking about to universities you have to let them do research for most of their time, because they didn't become teachers for a reason.
Thinking about it, if we cannot attract enough secondary school teachers with even the slightest clue about their profession, and we make universities like schools, we'll have exactly the same problem there. Oh, and all the best researchers will leave (because there are many universities in other countries that will take the best researchers, not everyone, but the best) and we end up with universities like those of Italy.
Also, research grants subsidize teaching. Change this and you will find that some big universities stop teaching altogether as a resource-intensive, unprofitable exercise. And if Oxbridge go research-only, the Tory-boys' children will have to go to Hull!
The whole system of further education needs looking at. The University sector has grown hugely over the past couple of decades and has pumped out a huge number of graduates only for many of them to find that there are no appropriate jobs for them. Also, many of the degrees now produced are of poor quality with little obvious benefit to the graduate who comes out carrying lots of debt. There are more appropriate further educational models that are more appropriate to the needs of individuals and the country as a whole.
As it is, the whole meaning of what it is to be a University has been diminished by the rush to quantity over quality. In the days when we had Polytechnics, before John Major's government started wrecking the sytem, the purpose and role of further education was rather better defined and more cost-effective.
It's not the students who are unaffordable - it's this incredibly expensive and bloated system which is producing indebted graduates without appropriate prospects. Of course there will be lots of middle class parents (like I suspect the author of this piece) who will resent the reduction in subsidies to their offspring. However, the simple truth is that a system that was affordable for 10% of the population simply isn't when 50% or more use it.
A bit of grown up thinking about econimics might be wortwhile rather than this nonsense.
You'd prefer him to say "we'll just carry on spending wildly, even though we don't actually have any money left"? Face facts, the country is screwed and you can't pay off £150bn by efficiency savings on paperclips. And with 15% increase in applications for university places, something's got to change in a big way.
Blaming the one who has to give the bad news is pretty shallow.
What a refreshing breath of fresh air: a comment brimming with common sense and pragmatism. And you can't get away from the fact that huge numbers of students of non-subjects, meeja studies, golf course management, creative dance &c ad nauseam, ARE an intolerable burden on those of us working.
<rant>I am turned 60, and five days per week I am up well before 0500, leave home at 0605, travel for 2 1/2 hours, do a full days work, travel for 2 1/2 hours home, get home around 1900 and I sometimes have to take work home & do some overnight & at weekends. I haven't had a pay rise for two years, my costs & taxes are continually increasing and I bloody well resent having to fund some idler who is doing little more than prolonging his/her adolesence at my expense. </rant>
Research has nothing to do with it:- it's the funding of nebulous meaningless degrees I resent.
Easier said than done:- I'm a Mac technician/Graphic Designer whose job moved some three years ago. I do not wish to uproot myself away from a lifetime's friends & family at my age, and looking for a more local job with the same pay, continuation of pension rights etc. is next to impossible. I assume that you're young & relatively mobile - young because you see black & white knee-jerk solutions without thinking them through. It might suit you, but it ain't gonna suit everyone. I'm prepared to continue my commute, with 4yrs left to go to retirement, but I'm not happy funding someone else's self-indulgent adolescence into their mid 20's.
Me too, but you said that "...bloody well resent having to fund some idler who is doing little more than prolonging his/her adolesence at my expense." and "...I'm not happy funding someone else's self-indulgent adolescence into their mid 20's." which would suggest post-graduate study, which in turn would suggest research. The majority of student 's finish their post-compulsory education between the ages of 20-22; hardly mid-twenties. Pedantic? Oh definitely! There are some utterly pointless degrees available out there, of that there is no dispute and these need 'reviewing'. The long and the short of it though is that most student these days have to pay for a reasonable proportion of their degree, leaving University with around £20k of debt to pay and as well as taxes and national insurance. How much have you paid for your education Ted?
"I bloody well resent having to fund some idler who is doing little more than prolonging his/her adolesence at my expense. </rant>"
Well don't worry, Ted. You said you're over 60? Give it five years and they'll be funding you to prolong your life in idleness. What goes around, comes around.
The taxes & NI I've paid for the last 42 years and which I will continue to pay are what funds my "life in idleness".
The last thirteen years of applied idiocy in Westminster have left us in a situation where I almost certainly won't be able to retire at 65 - but hey! I just might be able to indulge in a retirement of sybaritic hedonism - funded from the tax payments of a host of meeja studies graduates, Golf course managers, Creative Dancers and other such high-earning, high tax-paying people, whose "education" has proved such an astute investment of my country's limited recources.
I presume your qualifications are in Applied Sophistry
Feckin' baby boomers continue to kick the ladder away from the young!
Having studied in a polytechnic college (they've not gone anywhere) and two different old school Universities at the start of this decade I have to question the view being presented.
The only problem with the Uni system is that the government (with it's inspection driven funding policies) has ensured that Universities have to go for volume and compete with the 'Techs for students in order to over come inadequate funding. (Note, the funding is not for actual students and their studies (god knows I did), but often for essential research/postgrad activities and support services that are needed to keep our Universities and industries at a standard where the world and its dog are not lapping us). It isn't fair that students (especially without riches) continue to subsidise Universities for the benefit of the entire country.
Students are not the burden, the Universities (thanks to successive governments abandoning responsible funding) are an increasing burden on the Student. Students are having to work during their degree studies as a matter of course to avoid huge debts later, but mainly to ensure that inadequate loans are topped up to make them able to live and have a little bit of the fistfuls of fun that previous generations enjoyed so much when they went for fee-free and with a decent subsidy of living costs.
And please lets not dump on the middle classes since the only people that are untouched by this proposal are the upper class and the rich and privileged across the world while the vast majority of youth in the UK go from school to a call center apprenticeship and to living death and unto hell.
You're right about the baby boomers and education too.
From this baby-boomer I can tell you my generation fucked it up properly. The only thing we haven't fucked up on is creating another world war--not yet anyway (and that's probably more because of the previous WW-II generation who were determined not to have another war).
From the great promise and optimism of the 1960s, the boomers have degenerated into greedy, mean have-it-alls. My generation is responsible for the recent financial crisis, the war in Iraq and others, failing to educate our kids as well as we were educated, unbelievable greed on a massive scale, heading large socially-irresponsible multinationals which we once despised, creating a greater divide between rich and poor than anytime in history and so on, and so on.
We boomers will be the first generation in history to demonstrate beyond doubt that being born with a silver spoon in one's mouth is disadvantageous for society. As a generation, we've turned out an unethical lot whose morals are in the gutter.
For most undergraduate teaching, a PhD within the last three decades will suffice; and if you dumb it all down enough you'll suffice for most masters too. Only for those going into research you'd need good researcher-teachers, but that's a vicious cycle mostly (there has been an overproduction of PhDs) --- so a few elite teaching institutions would suffice on the face of it.
Research-only Oxbridge? How? What? Why? I suppose you think that the humanities/archeology/paleontology/... departments will then fund themselves from patents and industry consultancies? It's not like you get paid for publishing original research. But also remember the American model for rich top universities is "get grants/wills from alumni".
Another part of the american approach is of course to hire people educated elsewhere, which gives the twin advantage of not having to run a functioning secondary school system, and importing the freshest knowledge from outside (without having to cooperate and hence leach your own advantageous insight). The fear of the bulk of UK academics fleeing is of course very overstated --- whereto? Only the US and UK systems are mostly meritocratic, plus some minor others (partially), like say the Netherlands, if not demanding fluency in one or more local languages. So forget it for most places.
I'm not sure your Italy-comparison is based on any overview or specific insight. Also, UK/US universities systematically rank high in research and publication output for simple linguistic reasons, so this is an advantage that is hard to lose in the next decade.
That research grants subsidize teaching is very very doubtful. Research grants go to research, and if those involved are junior enough they get forced to take over some teaching from others who rather won't (publish or perish --- the director must also survive). So that can be seen as partially subsidizing teaching, or not; on balance, same amount of teaching (partly by more junior people), but with more researching (by incumbent plus grantee).
Here you totally leave out the origin of this research money (yes, it will be cut if possible). The move of the last decade is anyway towards "high-impact research", with impact defined as either direct financial/IP benefit to UK companies, or results that can be understood by laymen and reported in mainstream news. No interest whatsoever if it helps scientists understand the studied system better themselves.
I'm definitely not agreeing with this minister's statement, nor in favour of the structure spelled out in this post (because of other consequences carefully not mentioned; consequences I'd trust to follow but very hard to quantify), but mostly pointing out your argumentation is not going to sway anyone here. Remember that universities are not under the Dept of Education but under Dept of Business... they're seen as an obsolete subsidized industry like car-making (you can keep a few quirky niche luxury ones, not run-of-the-mill ones) or textiles.
>>>> That research grants subsidize teaching is very very doubtful.
no it isn't. they do. a university takes between 20 and 35% of a research grant for "overhead". this supposedly pays for the supporting infrastructure that they provide for the grant-holder: office/lab space, phones, consumables, technician and IT support, administration, etc. some of that money will be paying directly or indirectly for teaching staff. in other cases, when a postgrad's salary gets paid out of s research grant instead of the university it frees up money which can be used to hire a lecturer ot teaching assistant
Sooner or later the English-speaking world--UK, US, Canada, Australia, NZ etc.--will wake up to the fact that education is as important as national security. Unfortunately, methinks they will do so when it's too late.
From my experience, you won't find any logical argument for cutting back on education in many Asian countries, irrespective of circumstance.
Moreover, I believe that the decline in education in the aforementioned countries over the past 40 or so years is a major reason for their decline.
spot on. A local doctor was bewailing his long hours (36 straight) working for a state government who officially advise medical staff to stoke on caffeine. Reason for long hours ? No-one doing the training, it is so damned expensive and eventually pays so-so for 7 years study. Easier to study finance/fraud and become a thief/banker.
Company I work for have decided loss of staff approaching returement might be a problem( like they cant hire anyone now) so they are planning staff retention incentives. We are already tense. Note, no new staff for training and upskilling. Manager did not want new staff around taking up our time.The relics of Western countries are run by d**kheads.
With regards to the English speaking World, education importance and the nearly retired dude the point is this...
Emerging countries place importance on their education systems, but it's directed at the sciences and medicine etc not sit-on-your-arse-pontificating-for-3-years bullshit degrees. Pay for those out of your own pocket or get industry sponsorship etc if it's that important.
In line with your point directing funding, directing it towards the areas we are lacking in and away from the nice-to-haves and superfluous would be a better way of doing things. Want more scientists? Entrance exams (to double-check candidates) and free funding would do the job if you make a condition of funding that they must work for 5 years or so in the industry etc.
I believe that in Australia lower degrees are self funded (HECS debt) whereas they will pay for a PhD - another possible addition?
With regards the flippant comment towards the 60 year old regarding everyone paying for his retirement you are assuming that he has no private pension when he specifically mentions entitlements and that he would want to live in abject poverty off of the state pension. He has probably paid into the system for his working life so he is entitled to it unlike a free-loader doing a half-baked degree which is part sponsored by the tax payer. Whether the money he contributed was wasted rather than ring-fenced or whether the system itself is unsustainable really isn't his fault.
@ Steven Jones
An excellent spot-on post that cuts to the core of the issue!
As I said in my post, this education problem is not confined to the UK, unfortunately it's endemic to most English-speaking countries.
Getting to the cultural root of the problem seems half the problem.
... on what you are actually studying. Under Labour there was this mad idea that unless you had a university degree you were a nobody.
What we need is graduates with degrees that are meaningful and useful : degrees in engineering, design, business management and so on. Degrees that will help them get jobs that will actually help boost the UK economy.
So yes - students going to university just to get a degree that is meaningless and pointless are a burden on the UK tax payer and frankly should be axed.
They're only a burden because there are so many of them. Thanks to 'Call Me' Tony Bliar's socialist call for 50% of the population to go to University, the value of a degree has been correspondingly eroded. University was always traditionally supposed to be for the academics, and while it might seem lovely and inclusive to get everyone doing it, a large portion of the courses for these new students are entirely useless and will not pay for themselves over the working life of the person concerned.
Education and health are two of the areas which are under the control of Holyrood. So unless they reduce the powers of the Scottish Parliament - which would completely finish the Tories for ever in Scotland - then it doesn't apply north of the border.
I have no idea what powers the Welsh and NI assemblies have, so I don't know if it applies in these regions.
I think a Tory victory was Alex Salmonds' second favourite outcome (after outright SNP majority in westminster, natch). The last time Scotland paid more tax than England there was a bit of *ahem* lively opposition. Considering we've just had two of the worst prime minister we've ever seen, Scotland would *still* have elected one of them over a party that, two bloody decades ago, once had Margaret Thatcher as a leader. Don't underestimate the strength of feeling a perceived unfair tax would have in Scotland. Or our ability to hold a grudge.
that conversation has already happened. the scottish parliament has had tax-varying powers (in both directions) since it was re-established ~10 years ago. they've just not used them yet. salmond and cameron discussed this when they met after the election. cameron said afterwards he wouldn't intervene if the edinburgh parliament decided to change scottish tax rates.
But the Tories are completely finished off in Scotland already. They've got one MP out of 70 or so. They've only won 2-3 seats in the Scottish parliament outright. Most of their presence there is through the top-up list system for PR. Which they opposed.
Paris icon because her knickers are easier to find than a real Tory in Scotland.
I'd like to propose that any civil servant that was involved with and MP that voted for the move to introduce fees and student debt, sorry, loans should be retrospectively charged for their education with interest and inflation taken into account. Freeloading wankers.
Well said. And as you pointed out, it needs to be in the framework of a 'bigger picture'.
Where are the growth areas? Well, healthcare is one. Ireland has been churning out lifescience grads and the company i work for has recently invested appx $100M in a facility there. The previous company* i worked for had invested appx $250M in a manufacturing facility there.
Why? Ireland's Euro troubles aside, they have graduates with the skills they are looking for and an advantageous tax system. Whose to say we can't do the same?
It's tragic that a large number of grads are comeing out saddled with huge debt and little real chance of anything better than a call centre career. Our young people have been sold a pup....
* My previous employer will shut down their manufacturing plant in this country sometime in the next few years - it's the most expensive plant in the company to produce the product (of 16 worldwide, inc 3 in the expensive western Europe) . While there, i saw massive efficiences implemented and money saved. Rising corporate tax, expensive employment legislation and increased power costs made sure those saving were negated.
I recently retired after a lifetime of employing and sometimes being employed by (usually on the sole basis of a degree) people who often had to count on their fingers to do the kind of math I was doing in my head at 10 years old. People who couldn't be trusted to post a letter nor change the batteries in a torch without a user's manual.
In a range of industrial jobs, it was often my view that we were better off taking the very best of the A-Level or even O-Level stream straight from school and training them than some of the socially and technically-dyslexic 'graduates' inflicted on us. But employers, then and now, do so love those paper qualifications, however irrelevant. Resulting in managers, even heads of department, who couldn't spell or formulate a grammatical sentence and couldn't be trusted with sensitive PR or secure IT.
It's long been my view that the university system is nature's way of keeping people with no motor skills away from dangerous machinery.
When hardly anyone went for a degree employees didn't need to look at the final grade, just attending university (especially the"right" university) was more than enough to blow bloody doors off. More students have lead to actual ability being important rather than the monies of mummy and daddy.
We do need a more diverse education system, e.g., we could do with better plumbers/heating engineers like my vocational trained, and well rewarded, brother. We could also do with a decent economy and better-than-moronic business leaders since my other brother has a civil engineering degrees and next to no jobs to apply for.
I would like to discover in this thread if some actual reports exist that reveal whether the amount spent on students is wisely returned. Only one I've heard about was that the GI bill in the US after WWII had a 1000% return on average per GI that took up the offer and went to college for free... and the US system isn't even a patch on the standards required by UK universities and the rigorous and demanding inspection regime, imagine how much more the return could be...
Spot on! The past government (you know the one that’s left us all deep in the s*it) had this loony idea that 50% need to go to Uni and spent the past few years conning youngsters in to this false dream that they could go to Uni, do their BA in Media studies come out and get a nice well paid job. When in the real World they go to Uni waste 3 years when instead they could have been earning money, get a pointless BA that isn’t really worth the paper it’s written on and gain a nice debt of £20k that’ll take year for them to pay off. Fantastic, plus to get all these extra people to study they have lowered the standard of every qualification from GGSE upwards to make sure people can qualify to get in.
We used to have a Uni placement student every year in our department, some years we’d have two of them, doing dev work. I was shocked to find out that they can PASS a degree subject with 40% and only need 30% to pass an exam! Bleedy hell that means they can pass and exam not knowing nearly 2/3 of the subject.
Anyway a little idea why not bring back the grant system for those wanting to study B.Sc or BEng, if this government are serious about science and engineering. If you want to do a BA in Theatre studies, etc take a loan out.
Describing students as an unacceptable burden on UK taxpayers is somewhat shortsighted, as these will be the future drivers of the UK economy.
If the government wants universities to better cover their costs, the government could introduce a retrospective 'Graduate Tax' on earnings of, let's say, 5%, that is paid back to the university they studied at.
Making it retrospective, by which I mean all graduates would pay it, not that it taxes graduates on past earnings, means that the funding switch can be made immediately, and taxing income make it a progressive tax. Paying it back to the universities they studied at encourages universities to prepare their students to be productive members of society (i.e. earn decent money).
Of course this will never happen as the government would lose their control of Higher Education funding, and they would all be liable for the tax too.
to be honest, i do actually think that the amount of people doing "degrees" is now above the optimum. i say this as I went to universite a few years ago at 27 as a mature student - i'm sorry to say that there were an awful lot of people on my course (and others) who simply would not have got into university a decade or so ago - they are/were just not bright enough. it seems that now pretty much anybody, regardless of their level of intellect, can get into some kind of university and do some kind of degree - often in a subject or area that will prove utterly useless in the real world. uni has now become a place to doss about for another 3 years before you have to get a job (maybe it always was). the problem with this is that a lot of the students who are now at university studying courses in "multimedia" etc have no real aspirations to do anything once they leave - it's just a 2 or 3 year sabattical. an expensive 2 or 3 year sabattical. we are severely lacking in qualified tradespeople, skilled engineers and workers etc in the UK and a lot of current "students" would be much better suited to more vocational education and on-the-job training.
i don't actually know what my point is, but yeah, BLOODY STUDENTS.
Having not been to uni, (didnt see the benefits, didnt want the debt), but living in a uni town, every year, we see a new bunch of kids coming in, doing their Art degrees, their socialism degrees, their classical history and anthropology degrees etc etc, for 3 years.
In this three years the spend their time enjoying the 'university experience' for many of them it is their first taste of freedom, living away from home, and being exposed to the 'real world'. As a result of this the finish their nice shiny degree, and go and work in Borders (which now unfortunately has shut down), because their extensive knowledge of media and the arts, or whatever, isn't worth the 15-20k worth of debt that they have found themselves with.
In some cases, it gets worse than this, there are some ex-students that I know, that have tried to convince me that if they can stay in low level employment (not paid enough to be above the 'we're going to start taking your debt from you' mark) for long enough, then the Government will kindly write off their debt.
I don't know if that is the case or not, but the idea of going to Uni, getting massive debt, then taking a menial job for so long that the government writes you off as a lost cause, seems more than slightly counter productive. On the other hand, I didn't go to Uni, and am currently in greater credit, than a lot of my peers are in debt, and am earning comparable wages in comparable jobs.
"In some cases, it gets worse than this, there are some ex-students that I know, that have tried to convince me that if they can stay in low level employment (not paid enough to be above the 'we're going to start taking your debt from you' mark) for long enough, then the Government will kindly write off their debt."
I read/was told its 25 years from graduation. Thats a long time on minimal income.
If you want to stay in menial work for 25 years, please feel free to live as a pauper.
As for me, the reason I'm going to university is to avoid being 70 years old and still pushing heavy boxes around a parcel depot.
But then I'm a little older than your average 18-22 year old "mature" student.
Yeah, because nobody else ever benefitted from graduates.
I mean, nobody was ever helped by a doctor. Nobody uses electronics, or vehicles (or eats food transported by vehicles), or benefits from civil engineering creating the country's infrastructure. Yes, make the doctors et. al pay for the educations that everyone else benefits from.
Your suggestion of making it retrospective is even better. I mean the UK is not the most attractive place to live and work anyway, so encouraging the educated to move abroad will surely help other countries!
Yay, I say back to living in caves, killing what you eat (or killing who has something you want).
(Exception to graduates of the previously mentioned football and bookbinding degrees. Perhaps the government should only sponsor degrees of use to society? If you want to study a different one, pay your own way).
"If the government wants universities to better cover their costs, the government could introduce a retrospective 'Graduate Tax' on earnings of, let's say, 5%, that is paid back to the university they studied at."
Student loans are already paid back, albeit on special no-interest inflation-only terms. It's taken out of any wages over £15k that you earn, automatically. Only the "maintenance grant" and any university bursary is non-repayable, and the amounts you get of both tend to decrease the more money your household earns.
Dear future generations,
Just a little note to say thank you...
BTW sorry we used all the oil, gas and coal, Oh and don't look at the ban account it might be a little overdrawn for a while!
To stop you worrying about these things and to make it look like we are doing _something_ we have DNS you do not need educating.
Don't worry by the time you read this companies like Tescos will have filtered away all the DNS cash. Oh and sorry we also dont want to tax them fairly so err good luck!
I've nearly completed a year of "Access to H.E" course. One of the things I remember from it and various university open days, was the messages from tutors that we're lucky to be going into a degree course now rather than next year. Regardless of who won the election, this was going to happen.
Basically, over the next few years it's going to get harder and more expensive for anybody to get a university education. Increased fees, as the article suggests, are only the start. I believe a complete abolishment of tuition fee caps is on the cards, and it's only going to get worse.
If you've not got a uni degree now, I'd suggest you hurry up and start on one before it becomes impossible for anyone on less than £100,000 to even contemplate it.
as a 40 something, it seems now that there are too many courses in pointless subjects (media studies being one example) and the fact that, 20 years ago, it was the really smart pupils that got into Uni and ONLY smart pupils. Seems like any thickett can get in now on some obscure pointless course when really they should be learning how to cook fucking burgers. We dont want more artists, or nail technicians, we want scientists, mathmaticians, physicists etc and its a simple fact that nauturally smart people make better ones!!!!
Labour and its class-less society ideals really didn't have a clue.
What matters is equality of *opportunity*, not blind equality according to the statistics. Everyone should have an equal /chance/ of getting to Uni, if they *want* too and if they are *capable* of it.
Those too lazy, too thick, or not academic shouldn't be forced to go to Uni at taxpayers' expense just so a government department can boast about meeting its targets. If you are happy making a good living as a competent plumber you're an asset that society needs, and you shoudn't be made to feel bad because you don't have a degree in pipe-bending!
Labour have always had such a chip on their shoulder about class that they could never see that, though. Still can't.
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