The government’s latest addition to the desperate reshuffle in higher education is to ‘name and shame’ degrees that are least desired by employers. After it has been revealed that two-thirds of universities intend to charge the upmost tuition fees, they must now make sure that graduates are getting a job and are able to pay their loan back. The idea then, is to stigmatise supposed ‘dead-end’ courses to reduce higher education to little more than an arm of the government in grooming new taxpayers.
The consequences towards the equal access of education will be drastic. As the least preferable degrees are publicly disregarded by graduate employers, non-vocational degrees will become more exclusive for the few who can afford to spend the now extortionate fees; whilst others will not have the same access to those disciplines due to their concern in paying back the unbelievable loans. Who is going to take a degree course that has been is stigmatised as unemployable?
This means a recreation of high society. The rich will be able to afford to do arts and the classics while the poor will be shoehorned into vocation only degrees. Consequently, there will be a re-emergence of segregation and hierarchy in culture and education as well as the unequal access to the arts for students from poor backgrounds. This is bad for educational equality, but worse for academic scope and an artistic approach to society.
Surely this will breed a generation of students that all do Economics, or Business, or Law. Where is the opportunity for creativity? More importantly, where is the critique of the status quo?
All that is holy in education will become profaned. Whatever happened to education for the value of education? It seems that on the long conveyor belt from GCSEs to A-Levels to Degree to Job, we no longer want to make more out of our life course than just being a contributor to the economy and instead we feed the vicious circle for the next generation to make nothing more of themselves too.
There is more to a degree than its employability: it is a widening of consciousness, an opportunity for creative expression and a challenge to the mainstream. It is a way to apply your skills and interests whatever your background. Therefore, allowing executives to influence which degree programmes perspective students take will corrupt what is left of Britain’s educational integrity. It is important to remember, that there is more to life than becoming another taxpayer and that, in the words of Herbert Spencer, “education has for its object the formation of character.”