too many grads?

Are there too many graduates?

Ok – I know a lot of people will be throwing their hands up in horror but are we trying to put too many people through university?

I recently attended my son’s GCSE options evening and learned about the new English Baccalaureate.  Students who receive an A* to C grade in English, Maths, at least two sciences, a foreign language and either history or geography will automatically be awarded the English Bacc. And why? Well no matter what the official line is, it will be another way for universities to filter through too many applications. And the reason that universities get too many applications is that the Government has this ridiculous notion that we need to send at least 50% of our young people to university. This apparently is so we can compete with China ( whose young people are doing degrees in maths/science/engineering).  The HRD in a recent post talked about today’s youth being a beaten generation. I agree wholeheartedly with him when he says that everyone should have the right to a decent education – but it should be the right education – and university may not be the right route.

I am old enough ( unfortunately) to remember the old secondary modern system where those who were not academically slanted went on to undertake a highly valuable vocational education. As a country we have this obsession with sending a higher and higher proportion of our young people to university. And so we end up with high graduate unemployment, a two tier system where some degrees are valued by employers as more ‘worthy’ and no plumbers!!

My brother was not gifted academically as he will be the first to admit – luckily for him there was still a scheme called apprenticeships – he left school at 16 went on to qualify as an electrician and now runs his own business, providing employment to others, and therefore contributing to the economy! So basically he does exactly the same as I do.  I went to university – because that was the right route for me -we both got to the same destination – we just took a different route.

Education needs some joined up thinking

3 thoughts on “Are there too many graduates?”

  1. I have been saying for some time to anyone who will listen that we are sending too many of our children to university. What is the point of giving them false hope and lumbering them with debt before they have even started in full-time employment? Ok, you only have to start paying your debt back once you earn over £21,500 I think it is, but then that begs the question, why spend 3-4 years of your life accruing debt when a) there’s no guarantee of a job at the end of it and b) you could probably have been earning and learning and now on more than £21,500 a year and debt free if you’d got a job at 18? Some will say it’s a life experience. Excuse me, so is life without university. Finding a job, having some money, being debt free, learning whilst in that job and thus getting a 3 year head start on the graduates who are lucky enough to find employment at the end of their course. That sounds like as good, if not better life experience to me.

    Back in the sixties the top 10% went on to university.I twas skewed the other way. Only the very highest achievers got in. Now, as you say, the government is aiming for 50% as a percentage. It’s plain daft as there just aren’t enough jobs to go round. What can be more demoralising than wasting 3 years, knowing you have a debt you at some stage have to pay off yet being unable to find a suitable job because thousand upon thousand of people with the exact same qualification as you are competing for far less available opportunities?

    We have to find a better way. We owe it to our children not to mislead them.

  2. Thanks for your comment Alisdair I agree and fear for my two. My oldest is 14 and youngest is 12- and it wont be long before they will be faced with some pretty major decisions. I think the other major issue is that our young people are now coming out of university believing that debt is normal – that can’t be healthy!

  3. Friends of mine know my views and can’t believe that I would actually dissuade my sons from going to university. Yes, I’m afraid I would unless they wanted to go into a profession that demanded a degree such as medicine, law, accountancy, science, languages etc. I just cannot understand how we can just sit back and accept that our children will come out of uni with debt and far from rosy job prospects and absolutely no chance of getting even on the first rung of any property ladder until in their 30s. Ok, the last one isn’t essential, but that’s how we tend to roll in this country. or at least how we used to.

    The education system has gone wrong somewhere along the way. And don;t get me started on the whole modern day phenomenon of parents sacrificing themselves to give their children the best possible education, moving postcodes to get into a particular catchment area, lying about their religion etc. in order to get little Johnny into the right school. One of my brother in law’s was quite prepared to downgrade from a 4 bedroom house to living in a flat if it meant he had to pay for his daughter to go to the ‘right school’! The world has gone mad I tell you! 🙂

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