Too Many Students

There are too many students going to university in the UK. Most are wasting their time and money and would be better off getting a job straight after school.


Too many people go to university. Most are wasting their time and money and would be better off getting a job straight after school.

Hi. I’m Leon Hawthorne. We’re talking about the massive increase in the number of students in higher education.

Today, one third of 18 year olds go to university.

Most will graduate with £50,000 of debt… the cost of their tuition and maintenance.

The Labour Party manifesto promises to scrap tuition fees altogether.

That means if you’re… say, a construction worker, you would pay more taxes, instead of the architect on your building site, paying for his own education.

But the bigger picture is – this generation of students has been sold a lie. Many from poor, working class homes, the first in their family to go to university. They have been led to believe a degree is a passport to a better life.

But a degree today is not worth the same as a degree 30 years ago.

Any 1st Year Economics student can tell you: if 10% of people have something, that scarcity makes it valuable. If 30% or 40% of people have it, its value is diminished.

Value in this equation is life-time earnings for graduates, relative to non-graduates.

Only the top tier of students, mostly attending the Russell Group of Premier League universities really benefit.

And that football analogy is apposite. Politicians have played a cruel deceit on students, leading them to believe they can play for Chelsea, when their true potential is closer to Accrington Stanley.

University expansion was sold as building a meritocracy, but many attending lower league universities will get jobs, where their degrees are worthless.

I say: only the top 20% – at most – of each academic year should go to university, full-time.

Politicians won’t tell you this. It makes them sound elitist.

Universities won’t tell you either, because they make money from students.

School teachers should know better. But the whole school system is created by upper middle class professionals, in their own image. It defines success as getting good ‘A Levels’ and going to university.

Instead, the focus should be on the vast majority of kids who don’t go, and shouldn’t go, to university.

Helping them start apprenticeships and vocational training.

There should be an expansion of life-long learning and distance learning degrees, directly related to their jobs, which people can do while working full-time.

But the 3-year degree bonanza is wasteful, unsustainable and should be abandoned.

I’m Leon Hawthorne. Thank for watching.

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Journalist, broadcaster, media executive, academic, author.