Mr. Chakrabortty thinks David Willetts is dim

For university fees all seem to be at the high end of the indicated range, leading to:

He predicts that there will be a slump in demand for the bottom-ranking 20 or 30 institutions, which will lead to them suffering \”severe financial difficulties\”.

But that it to assume that this is either an unwelcome or undesired outcome of the fees changes.

It is, unfortunately, rather going against the current collective wisdom to say that too many people are going to university these days. For the mantra is that ever more education will cure all our economic ills.

Entirely nonsense of course. But to stand up and say that it\’s nonsense, that the 30 worst unis in the country will no longer be funded is simply not a politically possible statement or action.

Similarly, to point out that it might be a good idea that instead of those 30 (or more!) establishments might stop trying to ape that rather more selective group that attempt to teach people how to think and instead teach their intake how to do….you know, some vocational work, why the hell not day release schemes for plumber\’s mates?…..is verboeten.

However, if you turn it all over to a market (and note, unless you\’re something weird like a New Classical, no one actually thinks that markets clear immediately, thay they get relative prices, signals, correct at first stab at it) then in time, we\’ll find that the punters don\’t think that a \”feminism in meda studies\” degree from Neasden Poly Uni is worth the £9k a year. And Neasden Poly Uni will go bust, or start teaching assistant nurses to wash their hands or something.

And thus, by exposing the education system to the chill winds of the market we\’ll end up doing what we cannot do politically: point out that trying to stick 50% of the age cohort through an academic education system is simply insane.

Which is why thinking that Dave Willetts is dim is rather dangerous: he\’s not known as \”Two Brains\” for nothing.

8 thoughts on “Mr. Chakrabortty thinks David Willetts is dim”

  1. “why the hell not day release schemes for plumber’s mates?” A plumbing course at our local college — a campus of the county’s University – had to be withdrawn because of lack of interest. Plumbing is too much like hard work, mentally and physically, for most young people; and a fully qualified, Corgi-registered plumber needs to be of graduate-level intelligence, with good problem-solving abilities, numeracy etc, and be able to deal well with people. So the punters prefer to do media studies courses, much to the Principal’s dismay.

  2. a fully qualified, Corgi-registered plumber needs to be of graduate-level intelligence, with good problem-solving abilities, numeracy etc, and be able to deal well with people

    Hmm. Is that “needs” or “has had their role inflated to require as a way of maintaining a cosy monopoly, to nobody’s benefit other than the plumbers?”

  3. johnb @ 2: ‘Hmm. Is that “needs” or “has had their role inflated to require as a way of maintaining a cosy monopoly, to nobody’s benefit other than the plumbers?”’

    OK, I cannot say definitively; but having looked at the Corgi course materials — which contain much technical and numerate information — I would judge that they are roughly equivalent to a second-year graduate syllabus. A good plumber is not stupid. And, quite irrelevantly, my plumber’s son just achieved a first in Astro-physics.

  4. There’s an old saying over here that a plumber–or at least a plumber’s helper–need only know two things: 1.) shit flows downhill and 2.) Friday is payday.

  5. Um, there’s plumbing (fitting bathrooms, sinks, showers etc, anyone can do it, qualifications or not, all you need are some pipes, spanners and desire to get on with the job) and there’s dealing with gas boilers, which requires CORGI registration, lots of qualifications, courses, fees etc etc.

    Given the possibility of my gas boiler killing me, either via carbon monoxide, or via an explosion, I prefer that whoever services or fixes it knows what they are going. Fitting a new tap washer, not so crucial.

  6. As someone who learnt to do it, although never bothered keeping up the CORGI bit, I’d say plumbing is a bit like learning a language. There’s the basic regulations you need to know, a whole raft of technical knowledge & then you need to remember a vast ‘vocabulary’ of fittings & what they do. Range keeps growing as well.
    Yes, like getting by with a phrasebook, anyone can do basic stuff like put in a shower etc but getting it right, elegantly, so it works properly, continues to work, & the result looks good takes a long time to learn.
    When I moved to France, had to learn a whole new dialect.

  7. punters don’t think that a “feminism in meda studies” degree from Neasden Poly Uni is worth the £9k a year. And Neasden Poly Uni will go bust, or start teaching assistant nurses to wash their hands or something.
    What a good point! Ladies need only give up on £9k uni media studies and learn to wash their hands as nurses. I couldn’t have come up with a better example myself.

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