April 08, 2014

The soft bigotry of the "university experience"


Carola Binney said:
"I have a confession to make: I go to my hometown university. 
The decision to stay in Oxford is one I often feel I have to justify. When people learn that my parents live a 30 minute walk from my college, I get an ‘Oh, cool’. It’s in that tone that I imagine might also be prompted by someone telling you, while wearing flares and flashing trainers, that they maintain a shrine to Peter Andre. 
I am, evidently, thoroughly lacking in a sense of adventure. Unimaginative and insufficiently independent, I am bound to be missing out on the full ‘university experience’." 
A young apprentice Phillipa Riduck was asked on BBC Radio 4: "Didn’t you miss the fun and freedom of university?" Phillippa admitted she did get a little jealous with having to do the early mornings all the time but said there was a trade-off:
"You win some and you lose some; you might lose the so-called university lifestyle but you gain a lot more."
I would go further and say that "the university experience" is a serious pressure, expectation and even bigotry that is forced on young people. I certainly felt it and felt it unjustified and unrealistic. I, like Carola, attended my hometown university, the Queen's University Belfast.

There is an elitism that attends the "university experience" - that there is a proper "university lifestyle". And that means those who stay at home are lesser. They are condescended to. As Carola alluded to. This is unfair.

27% of British undergraduates stay at home while they study.
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