Furthering Education


May 19, 2024By Pete North

A lot of people my age were pressured by their parents to go to university, as they saw it as the only path to social mobility. At one time that might have been true, but in a functioning economy, it just isn't. My other half was pressured into a degree, and now she's a mid-level bureaucrat who wishes she'd trained as a plumber. So many white collar graduate jobs are bullshit jobs that serve no real world function, and they're depressing as hell. 

I felt that same pressure because everyone around me was going to university. I didn't particularly want to go, had no real idea what I wanted to do if I did, but the job market was pretty miserable, and I didn't know what else to do. So I went to Uni. 

That didn't last long. I was pretty appalled by the whole affair. I thought I was going to be surrounded by bright people who might somehow inspire me, and it would open the door to a new social life among intellectual equals. Oh boy was I disappointed.

The calibre of students was pretty low. I think there were only about three other students in a cohort of 180 who were actually going to excel at it, but six months in, I couldn't have been less interested. It was good for the university to have all those deadbeats (me included) because it was lots of fee income with practically zero overhead. 

Nobody else was getting a good deal out of it. It was a giant con. Facilities were poor, teaching was poor, tutoring was virtually non-existent, and if you wanted to use any advanced equipment, you'd have to plunge yourself into debt and buy it yourself. I suppose there's no problem with that if you're fully committed to it, but I had no business being at university, and a functioning system would have rejected my application. 

But they don't do that. They'll take anyone with a pulse. Even now they're taking in young people who aren't temperamentally suited to academic study, who will drop out in months, leaving with a boat load of debt they can't manage.  These are young people who were always going to be better off in vocational training or full-time work, and the lack of a degree is no real barrier to well paid work. The expansion of the British university system is one of the greatest British cons of all time, so it is no surprise to find Tony Blair at the root of this evil. His legacy has cheated entire generations who would have got by just as well, if not better, without setting foot on a university campus. 

This was especially true for me. I had to find my own way. Instead of spending three unproductive years at university, I gamed the dole system for two years, went nocturnal, and learned to code. I then took up contracting work, culminating in many years at Airbus.   To date, I still have zero qualifications, I have no intention of getting any, and my only regret is that I ever applied to uni in the first place. It was a total waste of my time, and it was detrimental to my well-being. I'm sometimes tempted to do a masters for my own personal gratification, but it wouldn't open any doors for me, and it would be a criminal waste of £10k, especially considering who my money is going to. 

The bottom line is that we don't need to produce as many graduates as we do. It's actually detrimental to society to produce so many credentialed idiots. As much as anything, there aren't the jobs to sustain them, and all it does is contribute to qualification inflation.

What makes it all the more abhorrent is the unbridled greed of universities. Not content with deceiving a generation of young British people, they're ripping off foreign students while selling degrees as a back door to the immigration system, expanding beyond their capacity, and dumping the externalities on the wider community. Entire tracts of towns are converted to student dwellings, and entire districts become transient and squalid. As a consequence, ordinary people can't afford to live in these places and face longer commutes from out in the sticks. Universities are wholly parasitic. 

Many argue that studentification of towns is the only reason these places stay afloat, which may be true, but that actually points to more serious structural problems in the economy. Worse still, the only beneficiaries of this Ponzi scheme are landlords, bandit property developers, Deliveroo drivers and middle class non-jobber academics who create more problems than they solve. University expansion was a sticking plaster to mask the youth unemployment epidemic, and in so doing, we created an unsustainable bubble. And now it's popping. 

Not only will many of these universities not survive, they don't deserve to, and nothing of value is lost when they fail. In fact, if these places revert to being sleepy, slightly depressed, little cathedral towns, they'll at least feel like home again, rather than a student doss house consumed by blocks of "luxury student apartments". 

If your job creation scheme university is contingent on fraud and deception, then it's doing more harm than good. It's just another pillar of a fake economy that stands in the way of addressing the structural problems in the labour and housing markets. We need to put an end to it now.

[Editor's additional comments]

Pete has nailed a crucial issue yet again... and I'll add that Basic IQ and reasoning doesn't seem to be used in selection any longer. It went out of fashion with the 11+ - instead, selection criteria now seems to include an evaluation of susceptibility for reprogramming by social engineering.  

Milgram's experiment on obedience to authority proved Goebbels' proposition that a big lie repeated often enough will obviate reality and can override basic human decency.

Tony Blair's legacy of a tainted education system really does not want people capable of critical analysis, leading to the ability to think for themselves.

We should also point out that online and AI is completely overtaking the notion of classroom and lecture room learning. We need a different skill set to navigate this world, which involves more intuition, discovery, adaptability and logical reasoning. The teaching profession has little to offer when outside its traditional comfort zone. 

But look at Matt Armstrong's YouTube channel for a perfect example of initiative, intuition and making it up as he goes along - call it "need to know" if you like.  Which is not to say that some sort of baseline understanding of fundamental science is not necessary. The wonderful ElectroBOOM knows his ohm's law (or he'd be dead...).

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