Congratulations to all the kids who did well in their A Levels today.
Now do yourselves a favour: don’t waste your time going to university.
Especially don’t waste your time trying to get into Oxford or Cambridge. They’re over: you only have to watch an episode of University Challenge to see that. There’s barely a normal, rounded person among them, these days. They’re freaks – socially maladept, tragically introverted or even more painfully extroverted, some with Adam’s apples but female names, every one of them definitely a Jeremy Corbyn supporter – especially that horrible team from Balliol who won a couple of years ago.
I’ve seen it happen. A lad just down the road from us, lovely boy, nice school, posh parents, got a place at Oxford. Two years on, he thinks Jeremy Corbyn is the answer and heartily supports the “decolonisation” of the curriculum whereby in future dead white males like Shakespeare will be downplayed in order to give proper place to global historical talents like Maya Angelou and Afua Hirsch.
This is a feature, not a bug of our greatest universities. (Same, of course, applies to the Ivy League). The authorities have capitulated to the Social Justice Warriors. So have the majority of undergraduates who aren’t themselves SJWs but find it easier to get along by paying lipservice to their kill-joy, anti-free-speech, ultra-PC values.
Apart from the badge – “I went to Oxbridge” – I’d say there is literally no point in applying there. Oxbridge doesn’t produce people like me and Toby Young, any more. Just grim Marxist ideologues like bushbaby-faced leftist agitator Owen Jones.
Or I could just "do a Toby Young": fail to get the grades but have my dad ring Oxford to let me in anyway https://t.co/utDrtAYOWm
— Owen Jones🌹 (@OwenJones84) August 16, 2018
Yes, maybe. But which would you say was the more valuable product of Oxford University:
a) the guy who – despite having supposedly spent three years studying “history” – emerges an unrepentant Communist (even to the point of flying out to Venezuela to support the Chavez government); who propagandises on behalf of the most viciously hard-left, terrorist-supporting leader the Labour party has ever had; who trades not in factually supported arguments but in slogans, ad homs and phrases calculated to demonise dissenters as vile heretics ripe for destruction?
b) the guy who – apart from producing lots of entertaining journalism, a bestselling autobiography and a play – has been a leading figure in the ‘free schools’ movement bringing high-quality education to kids who might hitherto been denied it because their parents couldn’t afford to buy their way out of the bog-standard state system created by left-wing educationalists?
I wrote in the Spectator, recently, of the golden year at Balliol which produced Boris Johnson. One’s a brilliant theatre critic; one’s a Kenyan farmer cum roaming Africa correspondent; one’s the QC who recently represented Cliff Richard; one is currently writing a revisionist biography of Saladin; one is the man most likely to replace Theresa May as Prime Minister and lead Britain into full, glorious, uncompromising, unapologetic Brexit…
If you spoke to them today they’d all probably say – as my generation does – “We’d never have got into Oxford nowadays.” And it’s true, they probably wouldn’t. Oxbridge is hopelessly biased these days against white, middle-class males – especially those cursed with a private education. But are the nervy, chippy, leftist, po-faced, workaholic, identikit drones it now produces really an improvement on the characters it used to turn out?
So, don’t bother with Oxbridge, I wouldn’t. But even more so, don’t bother with the third-tier universities. You’ll end up with debts around £60,000, with a degree which is essentially worthless.
This applies not just to fancy-pants degrees like Forensic Science – whose main purpose, very successful too, is to attract idiots who’ve watched too many episodes of CSI but don’t realise that for every available job in forensic science there are 1,000 applicants – but also to apparently respectable degrees like law.
There is a massive oversupply of law graduates. In 2012, UK universities produced around 17,000 law graduates a year. (This figure has since increased). The number of training contracts available for trainee solicitors, however, was 5,441. With a law degree you are more likely to end up working as a barista than a barrister.
Like so much that is wrong with modern Britain, it is mainly the fault of Tony Blair. Thirty years ago, the number of people studying at UK universities was 770,000 – or one in six school leavers. Now, the figure is 2.3 million – or one in two school leavers. Apparently – or so Blair claimed when he began the mass expansion of university education – it would lead to more people in graduate-level jobs paying higher taxes and boosting the economy.
No it hasn’t. There has been no corresponding boost in GDP growth – nor has it resulted in a rise in national intelligence. Instead, the inevitable has happened: more universities – especially at the lower level – competing frantically to attract students with eye-catching but worthless degree courses; dumbed down curricula; grade inflation; thousands of people quite unsuited to further education dropping out with debts which will never be repaid and for which the taxpayer will ultimately have to pick up the tab.
Further education is largely a scam, as I shall be discussing further at some stage on my podcast when I speak to David Craig, co-author of the fascinating, depressing and damning The Great University Con.
Of course, there are exceptions. I shall be encouraging my own kids to go somewhere like Durham or St Andrews, where they’re still likely to get a rigorous further education and where they might just escape being transformed into leftist snowflakes.
But I fear that the great days of the universities – where you enjoyed the privilege of spending three years reading widely and expanding your mind among clever people, while doing lots of sport and of course getting drunk and trying to get laid – are largely gone.
Even if we withdraw subsidies for all those brain-dead kids on worthless courses, even if we reduce the numbers in further education to what they were thirty years ago, that still won’t solve the problem that our universities have become madrassas for leftist indoctrination.
A toxic combination of post-modernism and identity politics means that few students leave university capable of critical thinking. They see everything through a filter of class resentment, guilt, cultural relativism and victimhood narratives which makes it impossible for them to distinguish enduring truths from canting falsehoods. They are prisoners of groupthink.