The great University and fee question.

I have talked before about the serious question of whether young adults need GCSEs and A’levels in order to find gainful employment or secure a place in University. With the new Government and the uncomfortable fact that the country is broke, we are facing the prospect of degrees costing £27k + leaving graduates with unimaginable debt. So, being the parent of three adults I wonder what their prospects are. The boys both have jobs and Iona has a little work here and there. The thought of any of them taking on such a massive debt burden when, as things stand, graduate unemployment is rife, is absurd.

I can’t help thinking that more and more people will need to work and study side by side and that should make distance learning degrees such as those offered by the Open Univsersity more desirable. Looking at it from all angles; the student gets to work and pay for his degree bit by bit, thus avoiding all that debt (It’s how I did my degree). At the same time his CV gets to look pretty impressive to the employer who sees someone prepared to work hard to get where he wants to go.

The other option I see for the children is to go self employed. This has some advantages, but as anyone who has ever set up and run a business will tell you, it’s darned hard work and income can vary to scary degrees.

Right now there is a massive scrabble for Uni places to get in there before the price hike, but it makes me wonder what will happen to those young people. One of my daughter’s friends is being leaned on heavily to make up her mind what she wants to do NOW quick, before the price goes up!

The question we need to be asking is what is a degree for?

I can’t be only person who has noticed a lot of people doing degrees, getting into a lot of debt and then finding either there is no employement prospects with the degree they have (and it seems more and more that anything less than a 2:1 isn’t considered much of a degree at all) or they completed a degree in something they now wish they hadn’t done.

I’m not sure how much better it is in America, but at least there, the costs of University are offset by lower tax (for now) so that families have some hope of paying for their children’s education.

I am at a loss at how to advise the children. Talking to a fellow HE mum today I wondered whether there would be a push to get more apprenticeships, get people starting at the bottom and if the employer wanted them trained up then they could second them for a degree.

We watched the Victorian Street programme on the BBC (who just very occasionally come up with something well worth watching). It struck me that the butcher and baker both automatically had a family business – though back in modern life the butcher had just gone bust. The iron monger soon found that to run a shop and forge he needed an apprentice and so he took one on. There’s something “solid” if you understand my meaning, about a small family business that really produces something and can sell it.

Iona wants to run her own tea shop. It sounds silly when she says it, but the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to think she might be on to something. Life works better when it’s family based, local community based and not just about the money.

We’ve lost sight of what education is, and what it is for. The processed education in schools leads to pointless processed degrees which in turn leads to unemployed graduates.

It is past time to scrap it and start again. A country that can’t educate it’s children will never be economically viable and going by the fact that employers aren’t even taking on our graduates, we have a problem.


8 responses to “The great University and fee question.

  1. I think that’s a fantastic idea of Iona’s. She could do a few courses in business management, just exactly what she needs to without all the extra bumpf. Although I LOVED my time at Uni, really miss it sometimes and would go back in a second. Definitely the best years of my pre-mum life. Fantastic course, great lifestyle and good friends made that I still see 10 years later. I got a first in history, which will hopefully stand me in good stead if I ever do want to work again, and I’m sure the skills I learnt are useful in preparing the Bible Study I lead each week. I do owe the govt around £12-13K, which goes up each year due to interest, but as there’s not much chance of me earning over £17k a year in the forseeable future I’m not worrying about it yet. Andy’s repayments are hurting us though.

    That was long! Sorry 🙂 so yes, a hard decision but I’m sure your children will make wise and blessed choices, they couldn’t have had a better start.

    • I think the main approach we have is “there’s no rush” so they don’t dive into a really expensive mistake. It’s not easy to work out the best course though.

  2. I learned plenty at Uni which would not have happened on an OU course: how to live by myself, how to make friends, etc. And also, my degree was pretty useful for my career. Perhaps we should just scrap degrees that don’t achieve a reasonable employment rate for their graduates?

    • I have seen others suggest that degrees that don’t lead to good employment (that is high wages) should be scrapped. I wonder if it will happen by default as more students esquew those degrees for that very reason. My son just gave up Drama, even though he has talents there, because he has seen it leads nowhere employment wise.
      He’s trying to get into another Uni to do Paramedics which has a career path ahead of it.

      I did OU for my degree and my oldest and my 16 yr old are both studying OU now. The issue of indepenant living and friends isn’t on the radar at this point.
      When I did mine I was married, working full time and had three children. I already had plenty of friends as well.
      My adult children are as independant as living here allows. They are all working, though none have full time hours – but then the two younger ones are trying to put together other work and need the time.
      They all have a good friend base – so that doesn’t come up.

      When I taught at the Uni near me I found many students were shockingly incapable of self care and some of them were 21/22/23 yrs old! I didn’t see Uni teaching them any coping skills at all. – but then why should it?

  3. I think the tea shop is a great idea for a business.

  4. Iona wants to run her own tea shop. It sounds silly when she says it, but the more I think about it, the more I am inclined to think she might be on to something. Life works better when it’s family based, local community based and not just about the money.

    your so right she just needs to be realistic but the idea her idea is right a tea shop and why not? where can you find a real tea shop with really good service?I love her idea go for it!
    governments Balls want to stop ideas from the heart you cant control these ideas! We have lost site of what education is for and its happend on our watch? we let our children down? we vote for you mum6kids for PM!

  5. The degree problem isn’t just on your side of the Atlantic… my hubby finished his degree and it didn’t help at all with employment – he’s going back for a nursing degree (if we can get the funding worked out)… We have a ton of debt for a piece of paper that didn’t get us anywhere. There’s no way we’ll be able to afford a degree for me anytime soon – not that my health would allow me to handle the stress of “getting a degree” anyway. With our boys only being 12 and 9 – we know that things are going to be really bumpy for them when they’re adults. Our country is in so much debt – and they’ll be one of the first generations directly effected by that. Our goal is to get them educated and employed – but we’re not going to insist on a degree. It’s highly unlikely that a degree will do much more for them than get them in serious debt. Today’s graduates go out looking for work and come home to their parents to play video games all day. My 22 year old sister is competing to try to get a job at a Starbucks or a retail store… right now she works for a day care through her church and barely gets any hours because so many parents have had to find other places to put their children during the day – they can’t even afford the 3 dollar an hour day care fee. My 18 year old sister works at the same place and is lucky if she gets 9 or 10 hours in a week. If my boys do get a degree it will likely be online so they can work while studying. Because of all this we put a lot of emphasis on creative thinking and developing marketable skills in our “home school” – even at the age they’re at now. At the moment they’re learning different computer programming languages – my oldest wants to start developing iPhone apps in the future. I don’t know what the future holds — I’m sure glad I know Who holds the future! 🙂

    PS… Starting up a business is hard work – but the tea shop might just be something to look into… 🙂 I think it’s worth a try…

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