Monday, April 15, 2024
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Will May dare slay the sacred cow of ‘university for all’?


After eight years in government, Theresa May has at last said something which sounds like common sense. As a broken clock is correct twice a day, so a social democrat in charge of the ‘Conservative In Name Only’ Party occasionally says something useful. As a former teacher, I have been saying for years that we need to put technical and vocational education training on an equal footing with academic education. The academic route is not suitable for everyone, indeed for only a minority. It would appear that our Prime Minister now agrees.

Tony Blair’s arbitrary target of forcing 50 per cent of school leavers into university to do academic courses has been a disaster. Instead of producing an advance guard of high-flying STEM graduates that the country needed to be self-sufficient, it has left us with an army of millennials coming out of university more stupid at the age of 21 than when they went in at 18.

These days, you can do degrees in all kinds of things which 50 years ago would be considered pastimes for children: comedy, for example, or painting, would you believe. Valuable, maybe, in their own right, they are hardly on a par with medicine or quantum physics.

Only now are students being disabused of the lie that all degrees are useful and will lead to a charmed life with a six-figure salary.

Fifty years ago, when fewer than 10 per cent of school leavers went to university, that was true. Then, universities taught students how to think and how to be open-minded. Today, as well as offering a plethora of useless courses, universities have been taken over by the ideologues and social justice warriors.

Students today are required to believe in post-modern neo-Marxist claptrap in which all the world’s problems are the result of oppressor-victim clashes. The theory of intersectionality rules in the so-called social sciences.

You can do women’s studies to find out about the evil patriarchy and how to smash it.

You can do race studies to find out that European countries and the USA are all evil and that white-skinned people are all oppressors and unconscious racists. Empire and colonialism have one meaning only – racism and brutality. Now ‘Why is my curriculum white?’-style campaigns (this one from UCL) aim to end the ‘domination’ of ‘Eurocentric’ writers in the curriculum. I am not sure whether this is Marxism any longer, or more of a Stalinist or Maoist purge of the intellectual class.

All the while EU funding of its several hundred Monnet professors allows the glories of the multicultural EU utopia of free movement of people and immigration, equality, diversity and inclusion to be propagated.

It is not just history and social sciences that are being reshaped to fit the new ideology. In science subjects, questionable climate change ideology is everywhere. There are no fewer than 34 Masters courses available in climate science in the UK. Do any of them offer a meaningful scepticism module? Answers below the line please.

Al Gore’s 2008 false prediction that there would be no summer ice left in the Arctic by 2015 has not deterred the climate alarmists from continuing their shilling for ‘green technology’. In Cartesian scientific method, if your predictions prove false there is something wrong with your hypothesis. In today’s universities, objective empirical observation has been thrown out of the window. The conclusions must fit the political agenda, rather than politics being informed by scientific observations. Hence the ever more desperate and aggressive censoring of anyone who opposes their ‘two wheels good, four wheels bad’ agenda.

This is soaking up resources and stopping young people from acquiring real skills in construction, engineering and technology, sectors in the UK that are crying out for level 4 and 5 apprentices – a skill level beyond A-level but not quite as high as degree level.

This misplaced investment in the ivory towers of ideology also keeps the UK on its immoral trawl of the world for skilled workers to work here, leaving other countries bereft of their best talent and skill – an exercise arguably more exploitative than colonialism ever was.

Ghost villages are the mark of Eastern Europe, their young people long gone to live and work in the UK. The exodus of skilled young people from some African countries is even more staggering: there are more Malawian nurses working in the UK than in Malawi.

This is what failure to be self-sufficient in skills as a nation leads to: non-stop greedy demand for rapid, mass immigration, and its constant advocacy, as a solution.

So at last Theresa May has got something right. Yes, we desperately need more technical, and proper skills, education and less drunken ‘uni’. And let’s allow kids who’d benefit to start work at 16, rather than insisting they stay in school and denying them two or three years of valuable and maturing work experience and the possibility of finding an apprenticeship for themselves.

Whether our vacillating PM has the political will to drive through changes which kill the sacred cow of a so-called academic education for all is another matter.

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