Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 22 Jan 2009

Isnít it daft it is to push people into university then have to set up special employment schemes for them?

Hillary's Advice

As a parent with a child coming onto the job market this summer it certainly feels that way. Why spend three years piling up debts to get a degree only to hit the dole at the end of it?

In my daughterís case she has at least studied a subject she loves, at a university where the teaching is rigorous. She has honed her thinking skills and her studies will, she hopes, at least enhance her life, if not her career.

But too many universities are under-funded and over-loaded, which means that thousands of students now only get poor teaching in overcrowded lecture halls. They study subjects that donít really engage them and worry about their debts mounting up. Many spend much of their time either drunk or hungover, while others secretly admit the unstructured student life leaves them feeling bored and aimless. Almost a quarter of all students drop out.

Of course, there are thousands of gifted young people from disadvantaged backgrounds who should be at university and arenít, and everything possible needs be done to encourage them to aim higher.

But there are also far too many young people who are at university and shouldnít be, and who are the direct victims of a society that believes a degree of any sort is always superior to training for a skilled, vocational job.

Organisations like the charity Edge are now trying to shift that position, but it is an uphill task. Meanwhile, as you so rightly point out, we are left trying to figure out what to do with all the unwanted graduates who flood the labour market.