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Is it open season on higher education?

December 19, 2010

Those of you fretting about whether the rising cost of higher education might prevent you going to university will find some consolation in Petronella Wyatt’s Saturday column in the Daily Mail, in which she casts aspersions upon the quality and usefulness of a university education.

What's the point of Petronella Wyatt?

Petronella graduated from University College London, after transferring from Worcester College, Oxford, where she spent only three weeks, withdrawing from her History course, she says, because the dons taught her ‘nothing of any use’.

Petronella has a generally low opinion of higher education, referring to it as ‘an indulgence’. And she goes on: ‘In most cases, it imparts only useless knowledge instead of anything applicable to the economic life of the community: analysing what caused the French Revolution, for instance, but not the causes of global recession.’

‘In my albeit brief experience, university life is about drink, drugs and sex, which can be found in abundance outside any college.’ All of which sheds some light upon why the young Petronella learnt nothing at Oxford.

Apparently no employer has ever asked Petronella whether she has a degree or not, which is a pity. Because if someone had bother to look at her performance at university we might all have been spared her pointless, inane opinions.

The university-bashing carries on today in the Daily Express under a headline that asks: ‘WHY ARE 36% OF OUR UNIVERSITIES TRAINING MUSLIM TERRORISTS?’

The answer, of course, is they’re not. But I suspect we may be entering open season on higher education. Just as public opinion needed to be softened up for the coalition’s assault on state benefits, with endless stories about dole cheats and scroungers, we are now being sent the message that we shouldn’t care too much about the fate of higher education, since it is simultaneously worthless and breeding ground for extremism.

With thanks to Martin at The University Blog who tweeted links to these two stories earlier.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. December 19, 2010 2:16 pm

    Of course, if she had done some studying, she might know that Zhou Enlai, premier of China in the seventies, and architect of the thaw in relations with the US, when asked about the impact of the French Revolution, said “it’s too early to say”.
    And all those graduates in business studies have made such a good job of managing the economy, haven’t they?
    Oh, and you want “they’re” not “their” in your final paragraph. Sorry, knee-jerk English teacher reaction.

  2. Rabelais permalink*
    December 19, 2010 2:26 pm

    Welcome Rob,
    And many thanks for the correction. It will spare my blushes later.

    I was thinking myself that all those economists and business studies students might have been benefited from a little more history.

  3. December 20, 2010 9:40 am


    A. Because 64% aren’t sufficiently well aligned to market demand in today’s fast moving world.

    I’ll get my coat.


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