- Sport : Tradition meets modernism in German Wembley showdown
- Anti-money laundering : Troika distorted ‘dirty money’ findings
- our view : Our View: Anastasiades giving more ammunition to opponents of a...
- attempted murder : Woman stabbed in the back in Ledra Street shop
- Cyprus : Efforts to keep provident fund haircuts as low as possible
- bank of cyprus : Cyprus Today
- Barrosso : Barroso: all available resources mobilised to help Cyprus
- Cyprus : ‘Cyprus now on the energy map’
- Cyprus : DISY deputy tables simple health-care solution
- Ayios Dometios : Packs of stray dogs roaming Green Line
It was encouraging to students protesting in London the other day. I was starting to think that university education really was becoming a pointless waste of three years. In the good old days students used to protest regularly. And that was when degrees were supposed to be harder. How did they have the time?
Now half the population goes to uni and degrees are no longer worth very much, apparently, but they cost a lot more! Quite a few people seem upset about this. Why are they upset? It was always thus: students on holiday half the year and not doing very much when they were there. It is just that now that this experience is open to all, it is no longer free. The government wants to give more people the opportunity to go but isn’t prepared to foot the bill for everyone. University education used to be an elite activity, the preserve of the wealthy, and a few bright working-class kids. It really does seem to upset the middle classes that those days have gone and along with it, the snob appeal.
Well naturally, some of the people on the protest were just there for the fun of it. I recognised chants like, ‘build a bonfire, build a bonfire, put the Tories on the top…….etc’, from back in the day, (1980s that is), when I was in the Socialist Workers Student Society and marching was a popular form of entertainment. It was as regular a fixture on the student calendar as partying, drug taking and turning up to the occasional lecture. Government loans means that more people than ever get the chance to participate in this experience and unless they get a really well paid job after, they will pay back very little of the actual cost.
Progress and widening participation mean that you can do a degree in anything you like these days, from Sanskrit to Port and Maritime Management. And without a degree, you can do not very much at all. So everyone has to go to university and benefit from three years out of the job market, finding themselves. What is wrong with that? Well, someone has to pay for it. And the middle classes hate nothing more than paying for something that they think they should get for nothing, especially when it is not even exclusive any more.
Rich students don’t care. The fees are nothing to them. The poor kids get state help. So it is just the middle classes left paying back the outrageous sum of £3225 a year currently. But they only pay it back if and when they get a job. And as they are all planning to be lawyers or accountants, I am sure they won’t have to worry too much about paying back even £30,000. For the students doing the ‘Mickey mouse’ courses, that are beneath the aspirational middle classes, like media studies and knitwear design, they probably won’t get a job at all and so won’t pay a penny.
But what really annoyed a friend of mine, working in Whitehall on the day of the protest, was that the local prêt-a-manger had sold out of sushi. “Bloody Students” we agreed. They obviously have far too much money. At least when they are paying £9000 a year, they won’t be able to afford to eat at all and the natural order will be restored!