Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Millions, Billions, Who Cares?

What is surprising about this is not what's happening - if a government shoehorns ill-schooled and unsuitable candidates into 'universities' to fill an arbitrary and self-defeating quota, there's bound to be an intractably high drop-out rate. What shocks - and no one seems to have batted an eyelid about it -is that they have somehow managed to throw £800 million at it. That is a staggering amount of money, isn't it? But we seem to have become altogether figure-blind now - the numbers are just too huge, million sounds much like billion, and it's all a bit of a blur. Like the truly jaw-dropping £110 thousand million we stand to lose in the Northern Wreck... Maybe we're just too dazed and defeated to expect anything but this gigantic profligacy, all done with our money.


  1. Compared with continental European universities, traditionally ours had low drop-out rates. They suffered from ease of access, mass overcrowding, professorial absenteeism, and an absence of individual/small group tuition. New Labour decided to wreck what we had by expanding the percentage of graduates to 50% of the relevant age cohort and by vastly increasing the number of institutions so-called. Switzerland, incidentally, still sends 12% of the same cohort to university, without apparent damage to its economy. Labour's strategy is to boost the ranks of its state clients, while calculating that exposure to Left-wing humanities and social science faculties will provide extra voters. Grim really. As you say Nige, more taxpayers money pissed away.

  2. All part of Nu Labour's immense faith in the power of spin, presentation, misleading statistics. They affirm the importance of maths; maths grades drop because of the awful damage Nu Labour have inflicted on schooling; Nu Labour resolve the matter by making maths exams much easier.

    The reality is one thing, the stats and public statements another. These fools live wholly in the propaganda bubble like that Bush staffer who said "we make reality" meaning that what they say, what they tell the Press, is in fact reality. These cretins and monsters are leading us to the abyss all the while repeating "we are making the world a happy, safe place! Our education is the best in the world! Exam grades soar each year!" Yeah sure, just try holding down a conversation with the average teenage, or ask some teachers about real reality rather than spin reality.

  3. Yes, elberry, trying to converse with the yoof of today is like trying to talk to all but the cream (and I admit there is a skimming) of americans. At least american youth has been taught superficial politeness.
    Of course, why on earth would anyone in his right mind want to go to any but the dozen best of our universities and even then he would have to have some interest in pursuing some academic course.
    The government has worked a terrible con on these young people - huge debts which they will never be able to shake off - in its cynical scheme to get voters.
    They should be told 'there is no job at the end of a so-called degree - you leave 'university' at about the same stage you would have been if you'd done the school certificate' (at 16 years old) and a bloody sight less literate and numerate and more jaded.
    I feel desperately sorry for young people in modern Britain - there is nothing much for them.

  4. remember, we're all middle-class now! stupid is as stupid does.

    I said it was a bad idea at the start.

  5. Heh heh, i went to Durham, got a BA first and MA Distinction 7 years ago, was then on the dole for 3 years (rejected for about 250 jobs), and thereafter did minimum wage temp jobs for another 3. Even my present job only pays about £14 K a year. i should be held up as a cautionary tale for prospective students, though to be fair much of my life's woe has been to do with my tendency to homicidal frenzies and my inability to appear remotely normal. In a better time i would have become a shaman, messianic prophet, or wandering madman.

  6. Is the world going to provide jobs to pay off these student debts? Maybe math & IT students can earn enough already since its a sellers market. Why go further? Where's the payoff?

  7. elberry, what do you mean "in a better time [you] would have been a shaman, messianic prophet or wandering madman"?
    There was never a better time. The time you have is the only time to do it.
    Normal? There's no truth in being "normal".
    The world needs people like you. It's just that you don't get paid for it.

  8. I thought most English universities were still quite cheap -- if not quite free -- if you were smart enough to get into them. How much, then, is it? Here in America, the cost of a university education continues to climb. Even rather mediocre private schools charge huge amounts. I was a professor for many years at a school like that (admittedly, it had some very good departments and an excellent Ph.D. program in Physical Therapy) and it was awful to see some of my graduated students working in shoe stores or chain restaurants. Especially as they all owned loans!

    I did do a year of graduate coursework at the University of Dijon, many years ago -- and it cost about 50 francs. Basically, unless you were smart enough to go, you didn't go. And there was no shame in not being university educated. I knew chefs, salesmen, and electricians among my French friends, and they felt no stigma at all about not pursuing an academic degree.

    IMHO, the root of the problem with these expensive u. educations is the belief that everyone who can get one, must have a degree. Wrong!

  9. i like to imagine a distant time, when our ancestors wore furs and were woad-dyed, and carried brutal arms fashioned from human bone and flint - in this time, Elberry would have been a kind of demon figure, to be propitiated with MILF and honey, not despised and given data entry work. Woe is me.

    Susan, when i was at university the course fees were about £3000 a year (mine were paid by the Government, but that ended when i was there - new students have to take out a loan, i believe), accommodation usually about £2200 a year, then food & books etc. i got a grant from the G too, another thing scrapped while i was a student.

    i owe the Student Loans Company about £7000. The blind fools. They have a get-out clause though, i only have to start repayments if i earn more than about 18 K/year, and if i can avoid that fate for another 20 years or so, the loan is written off.

    In 20 years society will have ceased to exist. If we're lucky things will have reverted to the woad-dyed, fur-wearing times of yore, and Elberry will, once again, be revered as a holy demon.