August 18, 2013

The University Neurosis

Jeremy Paxman recently said on an episode of Newsnight, "The middle-classes are always going to want to go to university." A decision not to do a degree can be seen as the ultimate abomination, the total apostasy, the original sin. So deeply lodged is the university myth in popular psyche that it borders on a neurosis. However minds are changing among the young, and this can only be a good thing.

Harry Bird, 18, who recent sat his A-levels was featured in the Sunday Times in a story by the title, 'Boy Wonders.' The feature by the education correspondent Sian Groffiths, was on how more and more male teens are opting out of the default university pathway. Harry Bird said of his decision not to go to university:
"The education system is way too focused on going to university. My school never talked about doing an apprenticeship but I saw an advert, applied, and luckily I got through. My head of sixth form wanted me to go to university, but my economics teacher supported my decision.

Why would I want to go to saddle myself with £40,000 of debt? I'm working at Waitrose this summer and I'm alongside people who have degrees who are stacking shelves. What a waste of time that was for them. Now they're in loads of debt and struggling to pay it off."
Thomas Gunning also 18, explained his decision to take up an apprenticeship with PWC as opposed to doing a degree:
"I would have left university around £60,000 in debt. If I had done the degree, I would still have to complete an accountancy qualification after that. This way I am ahead of the game."

Brian Lightman of the Association of School and College Leaders then said:
"A good apprenticeship trumps a poor university degree. Some university degrees are just not worth the money. You have to look at the employment opportunities at the end of it." 

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