Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
10 views
10 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
35 views
35 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
32 views
32 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
62 views
62 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018
119 Views
1 Comments

Graduate with no future: a new sociological type?

Paul Mason, BBC Newsnight’s economics editor has suggested of the unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Greece, France, London and elsewhere that “at the heart of it all is a new sociological type: the graduate with no future”. All manner of lefties have been standing in Library Square, entreating us to ‘defend education’ with petitions, placards and processions. Few of us have taken up the request.

What is there to defend? The current education cuts will no doubt make things worse, but it’s not education we need to defend but our conditions of life, both at university and more importantly for the rest of our lives.
We need to turn our critical faculties both on our education and on the society it is preparing us for. Do we have a future? Is it worth the sacrifices it demands?

“A university degree today is not a sign of becoming middle-class. It’s a way for the working class to make themselves suitable for the post-industrial workplace. This must be the basis of any class analysis of the current argument.”

The skills, habits, discipline and modes of thought imparted via a university education are those appropriate to the modern flexible labour market: self-directed labour with minimal supervision, strong communication skills, the ability to digest and present complex information and the ability to produce work on-demand to more or less arbitrary criteria (marking is essentially a tick-box exercise against a scheme with which we are provided). In the 1970s Sussex students boycotted assessments, rejecting such production-line education.

Within the year, we’ll all be scrambling over one another to compete for scarce, or non-existent, jobs. Since the specific content of a masters degree is only relevant to a narrow range of specialist employers, it is the aforementioned qualities implied by ‘having a degree’ which are most pertinent – ‘transferable skills’. In fact, even if you want to work in a related area, the degree itself is not enough. The careers advice in our course handbook points out that “while a good postgraduate degree in a relevant subject from a good university (like Sussex) is vital, all your competitors will have one too”.

Instead we’re expected to scour and beg for internships, usually unpaid or at best, poorly paid. If you are willing to provide months of labour for free, “if you can get a foot in the door this way, work as hard as you can, make yourself indispensible and you might – might – get paid work later on”.

In other words, if you’re really, really lucky you get to write on your CV ‘I’m willing to bend over backwards and work for nothing’. Employers like that skill-set.The kind of jobs related to our degree subjects are the dangling carrot for many of the more idealistic amongst us, who dream of being able to make a living ‘making a difference’, perhaps in international development or NGO work. Even for the successful, this is mainly a mirage. Overwhelmingly those institutions with the resources to employ graduates have a stake in the status quo and are part of the problem they notionally oppose.

There’s no space to flesh that thesis-length claim out much here, but do you think NGOs and not-for-profits somehow operate outside the amoral world of geopolitics that we’ve studied so much? A former development worker offered this cautionary advice to students on a similar programme at Cornell University (his full speech is well-worth a read): “As you prepare for and look forward to careers in international development, I am compelled to issue a warning.

With the hindsight of someone who spent five years in the development business, I’m going to tell you that the development industry hurts people in the developing world. Its greatest success has been to provide good jobs for Westerners with graduate degrees from institutions like this one”.

And that’s for the tiny minority of us who manage to jump through enough hoops and work enough unpaid internships to get such ‘rewarding’ work. In terms of actually using the content of our MAs, that leaves academia. That means finding the cash to finance a PhD, which normally means self-financing and/or working. Typically, PhD students work as Associate Tutors (ATs) to help cover the costs of their education. The university is happy with this, it helps casualise and fragment the workforce with highly skilled but low paid casual workers.

There is a well-worn path from critical student to comfortable academic, with some honourable exceptions. But every critical academic should well know that “not criticism but revolution is the driving force of history” (that one’s from our core reading)!  Academia is no place to make a difference; for a handful it may be a place to make a living.

Even the space for critical academics is being further eroded by massive cuts to humanities funding in the cause of making education yet more functional to capital. But in truth, the vast majority of us will not become NGO staff or academics. We will be thrust back into the stagnant labour market to look for jobs with no direct relation to our degrees. Take a glance at any jobs website for an image of the future: telesales… temp finance assistant… customer service agent.

This is what we’ve paid thousands of pounds for: ‘transferable skills’ to better market ourselves for interchangeable drudgery (assuming of course we find work, with record numbers out of work and big lay-offs still to come). Student debt will help keep us locked on the treadmill, moving from one low-paid cul-de-sac to another. Current estimates are that 420,000 Britons are challenged with work-related stress at a level that is making them ill with conditions such as depression and anxiety. Surveys have suggested that approximately 1 in 6 working adults believe their job is highly stressful. Austerity isn’t going to improve the situation. How long will you last? 40 years of this shit?

The current education cuts are not an attack on some ideal education for educations sake which we can ‘defend’, they are simply an acceleration of the neoliberal reforms already in motion under Labour. If the university is a factory; we are its product.But we are a unique commodity in that we possess the capacity to think: let’s do so.

The critique of education demands a critique of society and our place in it. To be disillusioned is not a malady. Ridding ourselves of illusions in an uncertain future, it is a necessary step in disputing the precarious fate of the vagaries of market forces and neoliberal reforms have assigned to us. If events in Tunisia and Egypt teach us anything it’s that a different future is always impossible – until it happens.

Get the best viral stories straight into your inbox!

Don't worry, we don't spam
Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
10 views
10 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018
France in Fine Fettle
Sports
35 views
35 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
32 views
32 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018
Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
62 views
62 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

One Comment

Leave a Reply

Join the Badger Team

Apply today!

Latest Posts

Books Every Fresher Should Read
Arts
10 views
Arts
10 views

Books Every Fresher Should Read

Anonymous - September 19, 2018

Starting university comes with both exciting but potentially daunting changes, with both moving away from home and studying at degree level posing to be two new challenges.…

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist
Film & Theatre
23 views
Film & Theatre
23 views

INCREDIBLES 2: The Sequel with a Feminist Twist

Anonymous - September 18, 2018

One key film in the development of anyone who grew up in the early 2000s was The Incredibles (2004). It’s comedy, vibrancy, and general sense of fun…

France in Fine Fettle
Sports
35 views
Sports
35 views

France in Fine Fettle

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Prior to the start of the quadrennial tournament this summer, football fans across the world grew sceptical over Russia’s credentials and ability to host the most prestigious…

Dive into Brightonian Culture
Arts
32 views
Arts
32 views

Dive into Brightonian Culture

Anonymous - September 17, 2018

Boredom is impossible when you throw yourself into everything this weird and wonderful city has to offer. The specific and unique cultural wonders of Brighton are indeed…

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?
Arts
62 views
Arts
62 views

Oh, baby, baby, did you see Britney at Pride?

Anastasia Konstantinidou - September 15, 2018

During this year’s Pride Festival, Brighton had the honour of welcoming international pop star and voice of the early 2000s, Britney Spears, to the main stage. Undoubtedly,…

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate
Campus News
1131 views1
Campus News
1131 views1

Union obliterates the debate – unwritten requirement used to shut down free speech debate

Jordan Wright - April 27, 2018

Student society Liberate the Debate’s most recent event was cancelled over a lack of compliance with the Students' Union's (USSU) requirement for a neutral chair - a…

Sussex Lecturer Accused of Making Transphobic Comments Ahead of Brighton Trans Pride 2018
News
62 views1
News
62 views1

Sussex Lecturer Accused of Making Transphobic Comments Ahead of Brighton Trans Pride 2018

Jessica Hubbard - September 15, 2018

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy Lecturer at Sussex, was accused of making transphobic comments in July 2018. This followed various interviews and blog posts by Stock. Stock told…

Welcome 2018 Freshers!
Campus News
68 views
Campus News
68 views

Welcome 2018 Freshers!

Billie-Jean Johnson - September 15, 2018

Ah, Freshers. You’ve no idea the amazing year you have ahead of you! As you read this now, you’ve probably met your flatmates and maybe even met…

A conversation with Kathleen Stock on Transgender Identity
Opinion
60 views
Opinion
60 views

A conversation with Kathleen Stock on Transgender Identity

Jessica Hubbard - September 15, 2018

Kathleen Stock, a philosophy lecturer at Sussex University, met with controversy after criticising the government’s reform of the Gender Recognition Act (2004). The amendment would ‘de-medicalise’ the…

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series
Arts
386 views
Arts
386 views

Verve Couture – Musicality, kitsch & ignition: the beginning of a series

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - June 17, 2018

Pictured: Zac Black At Proud Cabaret audiences were spellbound as if at night at the circus, yet this was not like Angela Carter’s magical realist novel; Verve…

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review
Arts
390 views
Arts
390 views

Fleabag on stage at The Old Market – review

Florence Dutton - June 11, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Last Monday at 8pm at Brighton’s The Old Market, I sat myself down in my theatre seat eagerly awaiting…

Fleabag preview
Arts
364 views
Arts
364 views

Fleabag preview

Florence Dutton - June 2, 2018

[caption id="attachment_35513" align="alignnone" width="2400"] Fleabag at Soho Theatre[/caption] Following the mass success of the Bafta award-winning BBC Series, DryWrite and Soho Theatre are about to hit the…

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome
Arts
429 views
Arts
429 views

Brighton Festival: Ezra Furman at the Dome

Georgia Grace - June 1, 2018

Having completed my final semester of university with modules on punk history and queer arts, it was fitting that I rounded off my end-of-assessment celebrations by attending…

Arts
445 views

The Tempest review

Georgia Grace - May 30, 2018

As the sun begins to set over Hove Green, tinnies of Red Stripe are cracked open, tartan blankets are strewn, and families tuck into their picnic hampers.…

A Glass Half Empty review
Arts
384 views
Arts
384 views

A Glass Half Empty review

Georgia Grace - May 27, 2018

For those of us coming to the end of another year of university study, the prospect of careers, marriages and babies may seem a long way off.…

DollyWould at The Old Market review
Arts
361 views
Arts
361 views

DollyWould at The Old Market review

Alex Hutson - May 27, 2018

Sh!t Theatre’s DollyWould is a hilarious, thoughtful and experimental performance piece. The award winning show has the Sh!t Theatre duo integrating comedy, storytelling, personal experience and music.…

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex
Campus News
547 views
Campus News
547 views

UCU Launch Petition to End the ‘Hostile Environment’ at Sussex

Billie-Jean Johnson - May 26, 2018

The Sussex branch of the University and College Union (UCU) has launched a petition calling for Vice-Chancellor Adam Tickell to end the 'hostile environment' at Sussex. The…

Arts
312 views

Shakespeare in the sun – The Tempest preview

Georgia Grace - May 24, 2018

In a world of dystopian King Lears and female Hamlets, Shakespeare’s classics are constantly being reimagined for the modern day. There’s something oddly refreshing then about the…

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)
Arts
910 views
Arts
910 views

Review: Nick Cave Double Bill at The Old Market (TOM’s Film Club)

Sophie Coppenhall - May 23, 2018

What a phenomenal contrast these two films present when watched side-by-side. In essence, together they are capable of tracing inner and outer metamorphoses of their subjects. The…

Dollywould at The Old Market preview
Arts
370 views
Arts
370 views

Dollywould at The Old Market preview

Alex Hutson - May 22, 2018

From the 22nd May - 25th May 2018 DollyWould will be showing at The Old Market. An exciting new show, presented by Sh!t Theatre, who won the…

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu
Artist Focus
452 views
Artist Focus
452 views

Exhibition: Io-sono Fedilouu

Ricardo Reverón Blanco - May 16, 2018

Last week artist Fedilou made her debut exhibition in the downstairs space of Morelli Zorelli, a quaint vegan Italian restaurant in Hove, featuring a collection of intimate…