So the CBI says "charge students more", eh? What twaddle is that? FFS, get real. These days most grads start their working life with the hassle of having to pay back a student loan and whatever else they had to borrow to make ends meet. Where are they expected to find the extra dosh? Down the back of the sofa?
There was a time when we had a system where the A-Level, the basic yardstick for measuring the academic ability of a student applying for a place at uni, was something that had to be worked at. It wasn't given away in a box of cornflakes, it was something to be proud of. The peeps at Uni knew that, and set their entrance requirements high so that they could choose from the best of the best. In that way, they could regulate the influx so that their finances were more-or-less balanced, and they weren't taking in more folk than they could afford to educate. Also, the financial strain on the LEAs was less, as the amount of grants/fees that they were paying out was lower, there being less students to fund. Back then, at the end of full-time education the HE achievers got the best jobs, the FE and mid-eds got the good jobs and the less-able got jobs with dirty spanners, mucky wellies or hair-dressing scissors.
For a while now we've had a system where the A-Level format has changed so that it's easy to get good grades, the Unis have dropped their entry requirements to accept the semi-skimmed along with the cream, and grants have been replaced by loans. Then there's the cross-border disparity regarding HE/FE fees. It's an open-door policy by any other name, provided you have the money or can get it somewhere along the line. Gone are days when HE suitability was based on what was in your head, now it depends on what's in your wallet. That's financial discrimination, blowing out of the water the notion that everybody has an equal right to HE, regardless of their background, and based on their true academic ability. Let's remember that it is the Government that wants the country to have more better-educated folk (they want 50% of young people to go to university), so shouldn't the Government be footing the bill, like it used to via the LEA grant/fee system?
Anyway, with the annual HE mass-influx at such a high level, is it any wonder that the educational establishments haven't got enough money to go around? No.
Nowadays at the end of full-time education the job-route is much the same, except that the balance has shifted - because of the higher numbers of folk with "good" A-Levels and HE/FE certs, there are more contenders for the best and good jobs, and hardly any folk to do the mucky spanner work, hence the alleged need to import cheap labour from Eastern Europe while paying for our own versions to draw the dole. Now it's just a thought, but maybe if we sent the migrant workers back home and gave their jobs to our jobless, the savings in dole-money could go into the HE/FE pot. And the jobless total would be lowered, which would look good for the stats-spinners of the Government of the Day.
A conversation during a recent visit to the Uni where I was an undergrad says it all for me. I was looking at the staff-list in the department where I studied, checking to see how many remained of the staff that taught me, when I was engaged in conversation by the current Head of Department. Keen to find out more about the errant alumnus standing before him, he asked when I'd graduated. "1984", I answered. "Ah, back when a degree was worth something, not like today" he replied. I looked in his eyes and I knew that he wasn't joking.
In short, back in the days when I was an undergrad, we had to fight for the right to party. Nowadays, there's an open invitation to every man and his dog, and there's not enough beer to go around. Somebody needs to say "sorry, no more revellers, we're full" and lock the door before we all die of thirst.