Education, education, education. A topic rarely out of the press right now, not because of Labour's triumphant reforms but because primary school children are struggling to read, write and add up, yet their older brothers and sisters are leaving compulsory education with top marks. The Government expects these school leavers to go on to university to study for another three years - any university, any type of study, because, as we all know, higher education is a sign of success and the more graduates of higher education the more successful Labour's educational policy.
Hmm. Despite my criticisms, as a product of the comprehensive system and a university education all this talk about dumbed down schooling makes me feel a little uneasy - if A/A* grade students are not as smart as they seem, what does that say about average Joe's like me? I have always been a "B grade" student - enthusiastic and happy to learn and put in academic effort but too often seduced by other activities throughout my education (boys, sport or beer) to slog away for the top grade. But I don't consider myself or my contemporaries stupid or unworthy of their qualifications.
Enough self justification - I took a history degree, worked hard and enjoyed it. If I was leaving school now, however, maybe my choice would be different. I quite fancy the look of Science: Fiction and Culture or Martial Arts and Adventure Tourism. These are two of the "mickey mouse" degrees currently taught in our universities that have come under fire from the TaxPayers' Alliance. (Both of which would probably have about as much chance of landing me a job as my history degree). Token subjects they may be but they suit both the universities' and the Government's needs. The rub being that, according the Alliance, these courses are subsidised by £40 million pa of tax payers money.
I'm all for vocational training instead of further education. University is not for everyone (even if the Government says it it) and experience really is the best way to learn a trade. But it is ingrained in Britain's school culture that a degree is a must-have badge of superiority and this needs to be revised. In the meantime us lowly arts students look forward to battling it out with the Equestrian Psychology and Golf Management grads out there in the real world.