I’m watching Michael Gove at the Conservative conference. He’s saying that every child should have the chance to succeed. I’m struggling to understand how cutting higher education funding is helping this vision in any way. Aside from essential services, it must be one of the strangest decisions the government has made.
Firstly it impacts the current students, greatly reducing their standard of education and potentially devaluing their degree – I dread to think, should my department get completely shut down after I leave university, what it would look like to employers looking into the degree I had taken. I also worry what impact having fewer lecturers will have on my standard of teaching. My lecturers can’t be specialised in everything I’m taught, as well as everything my fellow students are taught, it’s just not physically possible.
Secondly, as has been demonstrated this academic year, with less funding the university cannot accommodate as many students, with about 150,000 nationwide who achieved the required grades but were rejected or withdrew because they didn’t get a place.
This can only mean there will be 150,000 more people signing up to the already overstretched benefits system, or looking for fewer jobs. At a time when those with years of specialised experience can only find the most basic of employment, and unemployment is so high, I don’t see how this can benefit anyone, if you’ll pardon the pun.
However I appreciate the importance of the funding cuts across the economy, although part of me suspects that having grown the economy using borrowed money for such a long time, that it will always be necessary to sustain the current populous, and borrowing won’t be entirely eliminated. This, I suppose, will pave the way through the next boom-bust cycle.