Skip to content

Close the Polytechnics!

One in four graduates in work a decade after leaving university in 2004 is earning only around £20,000 a year, according to a new study.

Too many graduating from places it’s not worth graduating from.

Shut ’em down.

It would be seriously interesting for a country to roll back the years here. What really would be the effect of having only 10-15%, again, of the age cohort going into tertiary academic education? I think it would be beneficial…..

44 thoughts on “Close the Polytechnics!”

  1. The Inimitable Steve

    Tremendously beneficial, Tim.

    Except for the petrol-stations-turned-universities of course, but fuck em.

    It seems our kids now graduate £44K in debt. £44K! Not only are we fleecing the young in exchange for fake education, this is probably demographically poisonous too. How is the average graduate supposed to earn enough cash to start a family with £44K of debt hanging over them at the start of their adult life?

    Remember when you could buy a perfectly good house for that money? Sheer madness.

  2. The Inimitable Steve

    JuliaM – Yarp. It’s small comfort that our burger flippers and baristas are the most highly credentialed in the world.

    How do you get a Sociology graduate away from your front door?

    Pay him for the pizza.

  3. If only this were the whole story: the flip side is a good percentage of those graduating with degrees in social studies get reasonably well paying jobs in the public sector fucking up the lives of those who are productive.

  4. Sorry, Steve. It’s not really a debt, it’s a tax liability. Much as it pains me to defend the system set up by Gordon Brown, it’s really not like normal debt. You pay nowt until you earn over 21K a year. So if you’re so inclined you can move in and out of work, be low or high paid, for the whole of your career, and see your liability wiped off after 30 years whether your ‘debt’ has been ‘repaid’ or not. So in reality your expensive higher education could be completely free. Only if you earn well do you pay the extra tax, and the monthly extra amounts aren’t that onerous.

  5. Trying not to be cynical for a moment, to what extent is this the effect of increased supply of graduate labour reducing the cost of graduate labour? Rather than our knee-jerk assumption that it’s an absence of graduate jobs out there for graduates to do?

    Genuine question for Tim to ponder.

  6. As a graduate of the class of 2012 people tell me I have debt.
    I really don’t from the university course. I have an increased payout from my wages if I ever earn over £15k a year but as I’m on between 50p and £1 an hour that’s unlikely to happen soon.

    So £44k in debt? No. Just increased taxation above a particular point much of their working lives, and if they are earning £20k a year that’s no extra taxation. As in never paying it.

    Say someone leaves uni this year, gets a job working in industry. Perhaps gets a promotion to team leader in 5 years time. Perhaps another 5 years down the line gets to become part of management. OK so 10 years in perhaps earning £25k plus – right out of that paying how much extra tax compared to same wage non uni people?
    Yes, peanuts.

    Reduce the number able to get a degree by all means. Just don’t expect it to have much impact on jobs for some years. Lots of jobs I looked at back when I was a professional fundraiser – 2006 to 2012. As I recall just 2 did not require a degree. Despite there being no degree relevant to fundraising (higher there is but not undergraduate) and the job itself being extremely results based.
    So despite an excellent track record, lots of experience, ability to organise others, skill at communicating the jobs required a degree. In anything as it didn’t matter.
    That will be unlikely to change no matter what for some time to come.

  7. Are the wages of the “traditional” graduate jobs falling? No?

    Then it’s not an increase in the supply of graduates causing graduate wages to fall, is it?

  8. Would it be too much to expect state secondary education to equip school leavers with those skills such as literacy, numeracy, ability to organise ideas coherently and diligence, which make them employable? It seems that after their “free education” they have to go into debt to third rate institutions to acquire the aforementioned.

  9. The Inimitable Steve

    Widdershins – good clarification, I had no idea that was how it worked now. That’s how comes I’m not The Infallible Steve!

    I still say raze the polytechnics, salt the land, and sacrifice the lecturers to Vigo the Carpathian, mind.

  10. Does anyone know why the proposed changes to the funding system from the early coalition (basically changing the way the funding was paid so that universities were penalised for having high drop out rates), did not lead to the collapse of the new universities, which was what iirc was forecast to happen?

  11. Germany iirc has kept a relatively low percentage of young’uns going to uni. Not everyone successful has gone the same route as Britain. Others have gone further, mind, some parts of the world are going for 80%+. Which does make one wonder how taxing the degrees can be if folk in the lower quartile of IQ are getting them.

    Not sure closing the polytechnics would work in Britain. There are definitely people who do very well with a technical degree from an ex poly. And folk with limited earning power (especially in the private sector) doing humanities, arts or social science at mid-ranked “proper unis”. I read somewhere – though maybe the figures have changed – that the median female arts graduate was expected to repay £0 of her student loan over her entire lifetime, as her earnings won’t ever go above the repayment threshold before the debt is written off.

  12. This “debt” that isn’t still pisses on the taxpayer.

    Don’t mind paying for science/tech/engineering etc which generally will make life better.

    But to provide PPEs for well-off, middle-class, CM pukes is another matter.

    Purge all leftists, then shut the upgraded petrol stations ( good one TIS) and go back to the brightest 10-15% being directed into useful subjects that earn good money. Paid for free of cost to the student as in days of old.

    The scum of the left can still sling their shite in the marketplace–and see who buys with their own money.

  13. So despite an excellent track record, lots of experience, ability to organise others, skill at communicating the jobs required a degree. In anything as it didn’t matter.

    In the US, we have that too. There’s a strain of thought that puts it down to government interference, in the form of the Griggs v. Duke Power Co. ruling, which made it more difficult to use traditional testing. So jobs that could be done with just a high school diploma eventual “required” a college degree, as that became a proxy for the old tests.

  14. Why pick on the former polytechnics? Sure, reverse the ‘university’ faff and let them revert to polytechnical degrees, but it’s courses that are the problem, not institutions. Where did the ‘Cambridge Spy Ring’ attend (one for Theo to answer)? The home of the Climate Research Unit is University of East Anglia, not a former poly and everyone’s favourite ex-accountant is 0.2 of a professor not at an ex-poly. The mythos of Britain’s ‘elite’ universities is far more damaging than the diploma mills, has been for a century at least, and it’s this undeserved cachet that the polies tried to co-opt for overseas marketing. The academy’s rotten, but unipolies are just a symptom.

    I should declare an interest: I started my degree at City Poly – pronounced akin to City Wok in Southpark – but graduated from London Guildhall University after its cosmetic name-change, which went on to merge with another faux uni to become University of Norf London or some such. I’d have much preferred my degree from City Poly as it just seems more honest and, if names are important to you, you aren’t really gaining much by the change.

  15. If higher education has a value above money the providers should not want money. After all no one pays to go to church.
    It seems that somewhere about a third of graduates regret attending university, and half report no financial advantage. That is a high percentage of defective products! If any other business had that many unhappy customers they’d go bankrupt. But dissatisfied graduates can’t even get their money back, never mind the time.

  16. Mr Ecks – its impossible to predict what degree will be useful in the next 50 years. A lot of degrees will be done because someone has an interest in the subject. Some may plan to do further courses in the same field.
    Is an engineering degree a ‘useful’ subject? What if the graduate then goes into law? Finance? Admin?
    Is a science degree useful? Many jobs for science grads in science that does not require higher qualifications?
    What if science grad goes into law? Finance? Admin? Manufacturing?
    Economics degree useful? Golf course management? Hotel management? Business? Language? Politics?
    Its impossible to know what degrees will be useful, its a good idea to have people taught how to think for themselves, how to present stuff, how to see multiple viewpoints of the same problem and different solutions proposed.
    And how to tear apart academic papers even outside the direct field studied.
    If a degree just teaches how to critically think then society benefits. If it teaches more, adds more skills, perhaps even imparts a bit of knowledge, the its a bonus.
    I didn’t do my degree to get a job in the field of it – I got my degree to learn stuff. The fact it would have helped get some jobs was a bonus – except when applying to the Quakers for a job, they apparently really did not like the subject matter. 🙂
    Seriously while my degree is effectively useless to my ability to get a job now, it did teach me things and I continue to add to my knowledge of a subject I have been studying for over 3 decades.

  17. Martin: None of that is relevant. Degrees in leftist shite, taught by leftist shite and attended by wannabe leftist shite needed to be shut down.

    If you want to learn for the sake of knowledge finance it yourself. The putrid state loans crew have boosted the price of an education hugely anyway. With them gone you should be able to finance yourself esp if you go the alternative route.

    In future unis should teach stuff likely to be useful–stuff concerned with improving our material condition.

    The rest can finance themselves.

  18. Alas, Tim, the days of graduates restricted to 10-15% of the workforce are long gone. Expelled from crap-street secondary modern at age fifteen, oiks such as moi were able to share a desk with individuals that had been educated at Rugby-Caius-Harvard. Unfortunately such is the current arms race, our kids required decent post-graduate qualifications just to cross the start line – albeit their entry level paycheques were pretty impressive.

  19. Polytechnics, and their predecessors, Colleges of Technology (those that did degrees) compensated for a lower grade of entrant with longer terms, more intensive tuition, smaller student groups etc, but after 1992 had to compete on a tilted ‘level’ playing field with old Universities. Tilted? Because their elders had land and money. Level, because the money cam from the same funding bodies. Tilted, because the criteria for doling out money suited what the pre-1992 Unis did better. Now, you can get a shite education at either …

  20. The carping about a “graduate tax” a while back was highly misplaced, when the current “loan” setup is… a graduate tax. In all but name.

    one that redistributes wealth from people who get degrees that help them earn well, to those who get degrees with 0 or negative value.

  21. “its impossible to predict what degree will be useful in the next 50 years”

    I beg to fucking differ. There is no possible future in which Angry Studies will be any use to the world. I grant you that a tiny percentage of graduates from bullshit social sciences courses may get jobs in BSS academia or with the state, but that’s of no use to the rest of us.

    Also, if you aren’t able to even start paying your loan off a decade after graduating then you should have trained as a plumber.

  22. “one that redistributes wealth from people who get degrees that help them earn well, to those who get degrees with 0 or negative value.”

    Oh yes, and that x 1,000. The rest of the nation, including all the poor fucks who had to work from age 16, gets to pay for some useless cunt’s useless bullshit studies degree. While said cunt moans that he/she/xe can’t make ends meet with performance art.

  23. No possible situation where angry studies (is that a course?) will be relevant?
    Glad you have a crystal ball.

    Is this the same situation as after the great war when they said there will never be another war in Europe?

    Leftist courses Mr Ecks? Which particular ones do you think you should not pay for?
    Have never come across a leftist course, though as like many I don’t use the terms left and right in politics it helps to know what you mean when you use the terms.
    What is your ideology regarding leftist?

  24. Martin: The courses that spew the Laurie Pennies and the SJW shite etc. The known leftist fucking “educators” who teach the Red Guard young snot.

    Like I said if that is what you want the same scum will still exist (which anyone standing against their dreck wouldn’t– in the socialist wonderland they want to bring about) you will just have to pay them out of your own resources because neither they nor you will be on the taxpayers tit any more.

    Don’t like that?


  25. Martin, “Its (sic) impossible to know what degree will be useful in the next 50 years”; true, but I’d suggest a degree that allows someone to make such an argument is unlikely to be one, because waiting until a person’s 65 before their degree becomes useful is inherently wasteful, and that’s assuming they choose their degree at age 15. The usefulness of a degree must be assessed by its use, and 50 years is useless for making that assessment.

    “What if science grad goes into law? Finance? Admin? Manufacturing?” Then it has no bearing on the field of study whatsoever – you could as easily ask ‘what if a science grad spends the rest of his life smoking weed and playing GTA?’ That a person chooses not to continue in their field doesn’t affect the value of that field, it only reflects on the individual.

    And I’m very glad for you to have learned “things” though no-one seems to value it; the question is should others be on the hook for the cost of producing something that has no-one wants to buy?

  26. Although to be fair to McDonald’s it has made more millionaires in the USA than just about any other business. Franchises of course. Clients I once had had two KFC franchises and the brothers were making profits of around £400K a year. The Porsche driving younger brother delighted in explaining to prospective dates that his (obvious) prosperity was because he was in the restaurant business. Then he would take them to one on a date…..

  27. Bitter EU Remainers kept repeating that voters on their side of the argument tended to be those who had attended further education, compared with the Leavers.

    They presented this as evidence that Leavers were too thick to understand the issues and that the whole thing was therefore a tragedy and a travesty, which should be overthrown.

    Of course it was nothing of the sort. Anyone who left school at 16 could readily understand the matter. Rather, it is evidence that the interests of the two groups have diverged, with all those who attended these red-brick ‘universities’ and obtained their toilet-paper ‘degrees’ fit only for jobs in vast EU-style bureaucracies; which they voted for in droves.

  28. ken said:
    Gives a breakdown of the effects of different courses and different universities.”

    Look at the table on page 38; if you do a “vocational” degree, it matters very little where you did it (in terms of later salary). But the other degrees, whether arts or sciences, which university makes a big difference.

  29. Nemo – sorry was not aware you were retiring at age 65.
    18 year olds starting a degree course next month not necessarily able to do that, could be several years higher than now even by the time they are retiring.

    Just out of interest guys, why are you so against degree education? Surely your issues are with education itself? Whats that these days – 13 years to age 18?

    Perhaps society does benefit from people who can learn to think critically, look at an issue from multiple angles etc. Where do you want them to learn that?
    Or do you want them to learn such things?

  30. I think the issue is that that a lot of them are learning fuck all useful to anyone. After years of trial and error I’d easily employ someone with 4 years experience and no degree, over someone who has a 4 year bachelor degree and no experience. And I work in a role split between mathematical modelling and software engineering…

    PS on the flip side PhDs have tended to be more useful than non-PhDs, almost always. So Academic qualifications can still work as an indicator of what you can expect from an employee – they’ve just inflated away the value of bachelor degrees.

  31. Surely the real point is that the ‘debt’ represents just how much the public sector has given to the educationalists over the last 30 odd years?

  32. Martin, do you seriously believe that university is the only place where people can learn to think critically from multiple angles etc? Fucking hell, you’ve led a sheltered life. Not to mention, most modern students who I meet don’t really seem to do those things – they mostly seem indoctrinated.

  33. @Richard

    Thanks, that is a rather more data-driven version of the point I was trying to make earlier!

  34. As Timmy says, its nothing to do with degrees becoming worth less as more people acquire them, however, the fact that there are fewer people going into the trades rather than going of to study Environmental Sciences at Leeds Met has increased the premium on tradesmen among my generation.

    I am 26 years old, and have recently returned to Shropshire from London, having worked a junior but relatively well-remunerated job in the City. The difference is incredible; all the lads of my age that did not go to university- other than those who got mixed up with drugs or crime- now own their own homes and live extremely comfortable lives, either as self-employed or very well-paid tradesmen. Most of them are married, and either have or are planning to have kids, and are very happy as a result. Those that went to university are now living in London, struggling to make ends meet and sharing a flat with five other people that they don’t know; partially this is to do with the cost of living there (but where else will they find graduate work with their degrees in marketing or graphic design, realistically?), but they are all almost certainly making significantly less than the brickies, sparkies and scaffolders back home. Naturally, the graduates come from the better-off families in the village. Unwittingly, New Labour’s expansion of tertiary education has caused a massive wave of social mobility, just not in the way they planned.

  35. Just out of interest guys, why are you so against degree education? Surely your issues are with education itself? Whats that these days – 13 years to age 18?

    Perhaps society does benefit from people who can learn to think critically, look at an issue from multiple angles etc. Where do you want them to learn that?
    Or do you want them to learn such things?

    If I’m hiring and winnowing a pile of CVs, one that lists a degree in Grievance Studies had better have something else pretty fucking eyecatching in the next paragraph to stop it going straight in the bin.

  36. Martin, I chose 15+50 = 65 in order to be as generous to your case as possible; the lower the number, the more years of usefulness one might expect from a degree. If you’re going to rely on umpteen unknowns to avoid the principle then you’ll inevitably appear disingenuous; are you really going to suggest the possibility of having to slog ’til you drop justifies the possible usefulness of a degree in 50 years’ time? Quite how far down the rabbit hole are you going to go in defence of your statement? And what’s my retirement – unintended at age 41 if you must know – got to do with it?

    Others have addressed the non-monopoly of degree education regarding critical thinking and analysis, but taken one step further, how much of a degree studied from 18-21 years of age will be remembered or current knowledge 50 years later? I doubt you’d find a single degree course today that’s identical to 50 years ago – the fashion for the ‘new’ almost guarantees it, even with such things as language, theology or ancient history that one might expect to be constant.

    And just because people take a less simplistic view of degree education than yourself does not mean they’re absolutely against degree education. Frankly, your postings on this thread undermine your claims about education to degree level teaching people to “think critically, look at an issue from multiple angles etc”; I remember one or two points from my own degree course – ceteris paribus being one I’d recommend to you.

  37. Chris Bayliss,

    The words “Unwittingly, New Labour” and “just not in the way they planned” could book-end just about any policy, as long as you assume they had good intentions in the first place.

  38. Martin: “Perhaps society does benefit from people who can learn to think critically, look at an issue from multiple angles etc. Where do you want them to learn that?”

    Yeah British Unis are just spewing out loads of those.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *