Saturday, 7 April 2007

A waste of money.

Here in Lincoln, we have a brand new university. The City Council were desperate to have a university and so were the bars and clubs of the City. So were the builders and landscapers and architects and everyone else who would benefit from this project. But did the country need another university to accommodate another 5000 students?

A quarter of a century ago, when someone went to university in Britain, you stopped and shook their hand - well done - it was something of an achievement. Now do you feel the same way when someone tells you their son or daughter is going to university? They might as well tell you "my son's going to the shops this afternoon" for all the impression it makes.

Our universities, especially the new ones, are full of kids who wouldn't have made the grade 25 years ago. In pursuit of Blair's goal of 50% of all school leavers going through a university education, 'A' level standards have been dramatically lowered and the academic standards of the new universities are well below that of Oxbridge, Imperial or Bath. And they need to be. Without these establishments who will "take anyone", we could never meet Mr. Blair's goals. But it also means that Mr. Blair's goals become meaningless if a student misses out on three years of work in the real world only to obtain a degree in sociology (which is nigh on impossibleto fail) and face the world of work with his/her head full of crap and a life-outlook strongly influenced by Marxist professors. I can't imagine a worse start in life in a first world country. Just take a look at the amount of soft degrees in sociology, humanities, arts, media and other liberal topics that our kids are taking: .

Does Britain need thousands of graduates fit only for non-jobs in the public sector or MacDonalds? A further development that has been brought about by this grand project has been the introduction of tuition fees. The ballooning of the university sector has been accompanied by a corresponding inflation in costs (of course). Once, in this country, you went to university free of charge if you met the strict academic requirement. It was seen as an investment in the State by the State. Now some kids who are bright enough to go to a good university and complete a physics degree are opting not to as they are daunted by the prospect of their debt. And to top that, some New Labour genius recently proposed that those who the State knows have possession of a degree should not be allowed to draw a pension until the age of 70, to take into account that they are likely to have earned more money for less physical work in their lives. If you're not from these shores and find that last point a little hard to believe, go here:

I can't think of a more glaring example of the law of opposite effect than Mr. Blair's university project. My solution would be the wholesale closure of half of Britain's universities (including Lincoln, in 114th place from 122 in the Guardian's league table) In the remaining universities there would be as many places as there is demand for degrees in the sciences, medicine, engineering and other productive areas. University places for subjects in the arts and social sciences and all other soft degrees would be tightly capped at around one tenth of current figures. All these would be free. Only those studying law would pay for their degrees. All applicants would have to pass muster at an 'A' level standard which has reverted to 1970's Cambridge syllabus standard. We would adopt the American system of making school children re-take grades (or years) if they fail to come up to scratch and haven't put the effort in - there's nothing like the prospect of stigma to concentrate the mind.Not only would we have a better, more respected university system, we would also wipe out - at a stroke - many of the breeding grounds for liberal sentiment and ideals which have created amongst other disasters, "multiculturalism", the dependency culture and perhaps, in future, the abolition of the existence of failure (in favour of "deferred success"). In short, let's attack the Berkeley disease with the same vigour with which we attacked smallpox.


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