Of all the arguments made back when lifting the cap on tuition fees was still masquerading as a debate rather than a foregone conclusion, the one the irked me most was about young people 'wasting their time doing sub-standard degrees'.
The implication is that a degree is only worth doing (i.e. subsidizing) if it's a 'quality subject' (i.e. traditional) from a 'good' university (i.e. red brick). Well, I got me one of those, and three years later I can honestly say that in terms of my career, it has proven the least valuable aspect of my university experience by far.
As a journalist, I have little tangible to show for my first class degree in English Literature from the University of Newcastle upon Tyne. By contrast, volunteering for my student newspaper led directly to my first graduate job (as the editor, funnily enough). My time starting up a poetry and arts magazine gave me a crash course in funding, advertising and team leadership. Helping run my course society showed I can be a 'people person', and my part-time job - working in libraries in impoverished areas of Newcastle - challenged me in ways the lecture theatre never could.
Compared to all this, I might as well have taken media studies, or golf course management, or any of the other subjects traditionalists look down on, for all my future employers would care.
My point is that for people who aren't training to be a doctor, an engineer or a social worker, university isn't really about your degree. And nor should it be. At uni, as in life, the more you put into it the more you get out.
If I was hiring someone, even if their degree was a good fit for the role like English was for mine, I'd be asking: 'Yeah, but what else did you do? When I was at university my friends spent their spare time putting on club nights, running their own art projects, training and competing in sports or working their backsides off in relevant part-time jobs. What else have you got?'
The fact you spend less hours in the lecture theatre when doing a non-vocational degree isn't a flaw in the system, it's a brilliant opportunity for young people to show their initiative, pursue their ambitions and build their skills.
At the centre of many of these opportunities is the student union. Like students themselves, SUs suffer from negative stereotyping. Few students, academics or non-students see beyond the subsidized bars or hordes of fancy dressed youngsters outside letting off steam.
But every day - hell, even during Freshers' Week - student unions are working hard to present students with opportunities to better themselves and supplement their degree with the things that really matter, both to employers and in life in general.
Media, sport, community volunteering, societies and jobs all sit alongside welfare advice in rooms along corridors that a sad majority of students go through their three years never visiting. These institutions are badly funded and can barely afford to run their services, let alone effectively market them.
Rather than dissuade students who aren't as bright as their peers from going to university because their qualification will be 'worth less' than other people's, politicians, universities and employers should challenge prospective students to make less prestigious degrees stand out by doing more.
People refer to the 'university of life' and being a student like they're mutually exclusive experiences. But 'life' is about more than just working 9-5. There are a lot of valuable non-academic lessons to learn at university with the right motivation.
This change in perspective would serve both young people and the society they go on to enter far better than just telling them they are too stupid or too poor for higher education.
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