Shrink the university system!

The number of degree students ending up in low to lower-skilled jobs has grown from 9pc to 17pc over the past 18 years, a fresh analysis by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) has revealed.

The increase is largely due to the number of people with a degree rising at a faster rate than the number of high-skill jobs available in the UK since 1993, the earliest comparable data, according to the report.

One in five graduates now earn less on average than someone educated to A-level standard, while 15pc earn less than those with GCSE or equivalent-level qualifications, the ONS report showed.

We\’re simply educating too many people too much.

So we should stop doing so.

Fortunately, as students now get to see the full cost (and pay the full cost) of their education, this problem will be self-resolving.

Which is, although few will openly admit it, the real underlying reason for insisting that students take out the loans to finance their education.

11 thoughts on “Shrink the university system!”

  1. “We’re simply educating too many people too much.”

    Well, we’re awarding degrees to them; whether they’re actually being educated is open to debate.

    Other than that, yes; common sense really.

  2. “Fortunately, as students now get to see the full cost (and pay the full cost) of their education, this problem will be self-resolving.

    Which is, although few will openly admit it, the real underlying reason for insisting that students take out the loans to finance their education.”
    I don’t think you are right. I think the Governments believes that lots of people going to Uni will make us all richer and thinks that the students should pay for it.

    I think you are over estimating their intelligence!

  3. One aspect of over-expansion was drawn to my attention decades ago by a chum who worked at a Poly that was hell-bent on becoming a Uni. Speaking of the people leading the crusade, he said “They don’t even know what a good Uni is like – none of them attended one.” (He had done, and thought the campaign bonkers.)

  4. It is true that the rise of the general level of fees to £9,000 per year over the next few years was to a certain extent unavoidable, but so are the consequences.

    The number of UK students attending university will plummet, especially from those with ‘working class’ backgrounds such as myself who (despite the assurances of those in government) are genuinely fearful of taking on a debt which they cannot easily repay.

    Given that fees are capped and that the cost of going to the University of Bolton is the same as going to Cambridge University, there will be something akin to ‘a flight to quality’, with the remaining students going to the more prestigious universities.

    Those Universities (mostly former polytechnics) will be forced to either reduce their fees substantially to attract students or go bust. In reality I expect that one or two universities will go bust before fees reduce, but by then it will probably be too late.

  5. >Fortunately, as students now get to see the full cost (and pay the full cost) of their education, this problem will be self-resolving.

    Well, they’re still getting an astoundingly good deal, with a slow repayment of the fees (and probably not all of them fees in many cases) through the tax system over decades. It’s not like they’re having to take out a loan from Natwest that has to be paid back in full and with commercial interest within 6 years, with payments starting straight away. That would put a few more of them off.

  6. “The number of UK students attending university will plummet, especially from those with ‘working class’ backgrounds such as myself who (despite the assurances of those in government) are genuinely fearful of taking on a debt which they cannot easily repay.”

    I’ve always thought that if you cannot figure out that taking on debt to get a good quality university education is worthwhile, you’re probably not university material.

  7. There are high skilled jobs and a shortage of university students with the right qualifications to fill them. I suspect the problem is students are not matching their degrees to industry’s needs.

    I’m recruiting someone out of the UK with almost the skills I need and have just made an offer to a student who will only graduate in November and require further training for around $A120,000, and they won’t stay on that long if they show initiative. But someone with the wrong “high skills”, wouldn’t offer them a bean.

  8. To be fair to students it is hard to match their degrees
    to what employers want.
    Or rather was in the 1990s it was very hard to work out which degree would be good for jobs.
    I remember graduating in 1995 and not being able to find a job in Chemistry – despite hearing on the news that we had a need for more chemistry graduates

  9. @DocBud:
    “I’ve always thought that if you cannot figure out that taking on debt to get a good quality university education is worthwhile, you’re probably not university material.”

    Agreed – However the danger with the high level of applicants to UK universities, I would argue that probably half of them are middle class students going to university because it is expected rather than them being acedemically suited or it being justified on a pure costs basis.

    Doing an Economics degree at the LSE to go into the City probably is cost justified. Doing a 3-year degree at Leeds Met to get a Bsc in Library and Information Science is not cost justified as the salary is so low that the debt either can never be repaid or is repaid at such a low rate that it simply hangs over our earstwhile librarian throughout his or her entire career.

    However, for working class students, no matter what the academic ability, there is in inherent fear of debt. They have seen their mother or father start fretting when the man from the Provident comes to take the last £10 they have to pay the £200 cost of your school uniform that will take until next year to pay.

    The thought of carrying a £50,000 debt which acrues interest at 3 or 4% is still a staggering amount of money for the very poorest families.

    Prior to 1990, they would have been judged primarily on merit and granted an appropriate university place (or not) that their academic achievement in ‘O’ levels and ‘A’ levels determined appropriate.

    Fear of debt was not too much of an issue as the poorest students were given sufficient funding to enable them to pay for lodgings, food and books.

    It was only because of this grant based system that I was able to undertake the course which made me what I am today.

    However, in today’s economic climate I would advise people from a similar background to myself to either miss university entirely and focus on either a trade (for the manually adept) or maths and english ‘A’ levels (for the more acedmically adept) and then undertake a form of modern appreticeship or training.

    It seems to me that the economics of undertaking a degree no longer work for the gifted and talented from working class backgrounds.

    The balance of risk versus reward no longer seems reasonable to me.

  10. I’d take the fee caps off altogether and let Oxbridge/ICL/UCL charge £25000-30000 a year to put them up there with the Ivy leagues. The redbricks would be in at the 10 or 15 thousand quid a year mark, same as very good non-Ivys like UCLA. So on down the scale. Most of the polys could die with no ill effect. As long as there’s the usual system of scholarships, bursaries etc. (and why does one never hear of a ‘college fund’ in the UK?) then I see no real problems.

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