I was rather amused this morning to hear that the Association of Graduate Recruiters (AGR) has said that the target of getting 50% of all those under 30 to University should be scrapped because it devalues degrees as a result of lots of silly courses being offered.
I wasn't amused by the AGR's statement you understand, scrapping such a target appears like common sense to me - I will come back to that in a minute - but rather I was amused by the rejection of their recommendation by students and producer interests in the form of lecturer etc.
According to the Today programme the instant response was too call the AGR "out of touch". Errr hello? If anyone is in touch with the way industry are now perceiving the value of degrees it will be those that recruit graduates. I am presuming that when they say they're "out of touch" what they actually mean is that they're being elitist or some other such enemy of egalitarian utopia.
Returning to the point about common sense and scrapping the target. It seems to me that instead of having a drive to monitor and increase admissions to University, we should perhaps instead focus our concerns on completion of course instead. After all, as the admission rate has increased so has the drop out rate.
It doesn't take a genius to realise that people who shouldn't be going on to higher education are doing so as a result and often wasting time and money when they could be doing education and training elsewhere. A degree is not the be-all and end-all, especially if it's in something like "waste management" (posh name for bin men or a cover for Mafia business in New Jersey).
There is a wider point here as well which I have alluded too on the blog before, and elsewhere. The increase drive for admissions into University is interlinked with the increase of legal, but much increased immigration. It's not rocket science really, but if you insist on over-inflating the egos of young peoples by giving them "degrees" you also deflate their willingness to do certain jobs which they inevitably think are beneath them.
It shouldn't be a surprise therefore that we see a massive influx in legal immigration that performs those jobs that the non-immigrant workforce refuse to do. It's the unintended consequence of the so-called "high skill economy" that the Labour Party bang on about.
It might sound fluffy and desirable to talk about skilling everyone up for a dynamic economy driven by the white heat of technology, but someone still needs to clean the bloody toilets, serve coffee, stack shelves in supermarket etc*. It's all very good to talk about "British jobs for British workers" but if your British workers won't do the jobs because "they've got a degree don't you know" then you're in a mess of your own making.
It might sound perverse to some, but if you want to tackle immigration then you need to remove the incentive that brings people to the country i.e. jobs. The only way you can do it is to stop artificially promoting educational paths through social engineering and let society separate the wheat from the chaff in a natural way.
Of course, there are some that will say this is elitist. I would reject that and say that it's just a fact of life that some people are really bloody clever and others are not.
* I have done all three of those things for money before anyone asks. I've even worked on a production line in a factory smears tomato-based products on to pizza bases.