THE nerdy, would-be world statesman Ed Miliband announced to great acclaim last week, that when the Labour Party forms the next government, it will reduce university tuition fees from nine to six thousand pounds.
Now that’s what I call radical thinking; I almost fainted with uncontrolled admiration.
But before Labour supporters start to reach for their telephones, let me say this is not a diatribe directed at Labour politicians – I am equally repelled by the lot of them, of whatever political persuasion.
No, it’s this mind-set that our politicians seem to have and their ridiculous dream and target of sending every school leaver in the land to university that I don’t get.
University was once the mark of excellence. A place where those above average abilities could hone their natural talent and academic abilities to the highest level. Because the truth is, we are not all equal.
That’s not to say that the less academic amongst us are inferior. Quite the opposite. Many of my ex-school pals trained under the apprenticeship scheme and went on to become skilled mechanics or technicians. Others had careers as diverse as nursing, sales and construction – occupations that were suited to their own particular fields of interest and aptitude, and did not require the university experience to achieve.
One pupil from my secondary modern school, who plodded through the lowest academic stream for four years, used his talent of gardening to good effect and now owns two large garden centres in Hampshire.
The point is we all have a niche in society and it’s just a question of finding it. An all round education and an awareness of our place in the world is what is required in order to become an equally rounded individual.
I recently watched a repeat of a TV quiz first aired in 2013. One of the contestants was a university student who was asked to name the explorer who mapped New Zealand. His answer, Robinson Crusoe. And it got worse when asked by Julia Bradbury the show’s host, to name the book by H.G.Wells about a man who could travel to the future. Answer, Great Expectations.
They weren’t even intelligent guesses.
Anything less than a university education we are led to believe, will condemn your kid to a life sitting outside a tube station with a lurcher and holding out an empty cocoa tin for loose change.
If you believe that Robinson Crusoe mapped New Zealand, then yes, this is a possibility.
But what does it tell us about those who study economics or political science at university and then without proper jobs or real experience of the world, go directly into the business of politics?
I rest my case.