Monday, 13 December 2010

Student Fees ...

The Gorse Fox has written an outstanding piece on the problem of the perception in the UK that everyone, regardless of ability, has a "right" to Tertiary education. I think his analysis of the problem and of the unrealistic expectation the previous government created (Interestingly they must have known they would need to raise the fees themselves!) in the minds of many school-leavers is spot on.

Having grown up in a country where the privilege of going to university depended on your parents being able to afford it, or your doing well enough at school to "win" a bursary from a prospective employer, I have never considered this a right. It is a privilege and I was delighted in 1996 to be accepted (Aged 51!) for a work based degree. It was awarded in 1999 and I undertook a Masters the following year. Neither were "free" and both, though "work based" were hard work - especially as I had to continue my normal work programme as well as study, research and write papers, reports and assignments.

Watching the riots and the "demonstrations" and all the rest of the appalling behaviour I would, frankly, like to see those involved ejected from their universities and barred from higher education for at least five years - some of them perhaps for life. Any re-application should be at full cost only.

General education, as The Gorse Fox says, is a "right" but tertiary education is not. Nor should it be - the vast majority of people in any given population do not have the skils or the mental capability - or sometimes the maturity - to cope with it. And here I will freely confess that I do have a slightly above average IQ and had it when at school - but I lacked the discipline and the ability to deal with the University system when in my teens and even in my twenties. That was a skill I gained slowly in my thirties and forties - hence my late entry into the university education. I know I am not alone in that - in fact, I think I am possibly representative of a very large slice of the population.

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