David Thompson


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December 10, 2010



Don't these tossers get it? The more 'protesting' they do the less I want to hand over money I had to work for.


Jeepers, what you want and what you worked for doesn't count. It's socialism, remember?


They are worried, the darling students, that they will have to pay money back one day. They are worried that, in the great socialist plan for the universe, the day may come when they are given/awarded/receive handouts that amount to more than 21k a year and finally have to give some money back.

They like the taking bit but they get very violent over the handing over part.


Of course they are not our slaves; the whole point of their rioting is to preserve the current state of affairs, where we are their slaves.


I have had a truly astounding idea.

The Arts Council alone receives £450m a year. Abolish it.
There must be another few hundred millions in other state arts subsidy. Abolish that.
Use the cash to give free courses and grants for science and medicine courses.
Humanities can fund themselves.


Students are divided
Luvvies are made redundant in droves
As humanities departments close so the Left's grip on education weakens.
We get to be amused by the sight of luvvies trying to riot and getting smashed by the police.


And the cost of repairs, policing and clean-up should be taken from next year's higher education budget.


But David, it's their 'right' to smash other people's property and terrorise Londoners. Just like it's their 'right' to throw snooker balls and concrete at the police and to pull a policewoman off her horse.
They're the victims and they're entitled – why can't you see that?



Can we expect everyone sympathetic to this post who received a subsidised, or even free, tertiary education to write a cheque to HM Treasury for going on for £50k or more? It would be a principled gesture.


The 'Guardian' is, rather unwisely in my opinion, selecting quotes from commenters to their article in an effort to show how beastly the police and Tories are, and how these innocent students have been brutalised by them, and quoting them on the front page.

From raindance77: "...? I am a 21-year-old literature student and I am a protester. I danced to music on Parliament Square as people spray painted NO on the grass, I shouted 'tory **** tory ****' with pride,"

Yeah, let's all pay higher taxes to give the likes of her an education free of charge, shall we?


It’s strange how the protestors are missing a larger issue and an obvious target. The higher education bubble appears unsustainable. This has quite a lot of bearing on assumptions of inter-generational subsidy. (See Gaw’s comment, above.) The current bubble was inflated largely under New Labour and largely by people sympathetic to the left, with widespread grade inflation, insubstantial or disreputable courses and an arbitrary target of 50% of young people in higher education, supposedly in the name of fairness. Taken together, these factors have had a huge impact on whether higher education is economically sustainable in its current form. The bizarre belief in “degrees for (almost) everyone” comes at a high and unprecedented price. Loans and higher fees follow from that egalitarian belief. Subsidies and maintenance grants for 2% or 5% is one thing; for 20% or 50% it’s something else entirely.

Some view “free” higher education as an entitlement warranting violence. But who’s going to pay for this “free” service when its value is increasingly called into question, not least by employers, many of whom point to dramatically lowered standards and ill-prepared graduates? One complaint we hear is that many students will be left with large debt (or theoretical debt) and limited prospects of a suitable job. But if so, doesn’t that call into question the value of what’s being demanded? If the investment of time, effort and (other people’s) money doesn’t pay off with a lucrative and fascinating career, and a return via taxation, then how is the process justified in its present form? What is a degree in X worth if it proves little about a candidate and has negligible value outside of academia?

You’d think of spot of protest would be aimed at the egalitarians who devalued the investment and made it all but unworkable.

Karen M


"You'd think of spot of protest would be aimed at the egalitarians who devalued the investment and made it all but unworkable."

You're forgetting the first rule of the left: Never Admit You Were Wrong.

"How difficult is it to make the case that Britain is broke, that there is no such thing as "government money" only taxpayers' money, and that what the ailing global economy really doesn't need right now is more 2.2 graduates in Windsurfing, Dubstep and Poi studies from the University of Greater England (formerly Neasden Poly)?"


Phil A

I guess this is all part Tony Blair's educational ponzi scheme starting to come unstuck.

Sadly When everyone has a debased UK degree in something pointless... a degree won't be so much use in getting a well paid job unless possibly it's in a real subject from a more prestigious Uni.


The stude leader Claire Solomon was on Sky calling the protest 'a success'.


“Claire Solomon was on Sky calling the protest ‘a success’.”

Ms Solomon refers to premeditated mob violence as “resistance,” which tells us much of what we need to know about her. After the rioting at Milbank, NUS president Aaron Porter appeared on TV denouncing the vandalism and thuggery that, several hours earlier, he’d been hinting at excitedly. (Calling for a “demo-lition” on a route past Conservative HQ, promising “we will use every weapon in our armoury” and telling students they needed to be “inside the rooms where the deals will be made.”) Meanwhile, Ms Solomon told BBC News that the protestors had been “forced into violence” by the police, who, she claimed, were its instigators. (Actual footage of the event suggests a rather different story.) Ms Solomon then cast doubt on her own claims by adding triumphantly, “This is only the start.” At the time, Solomon all but promised “riots” if police dared to persist in their “provocation” (i.e. attempting to prevent property destruction and defending local residents). On this point at least, it seems she was true to her word.


I think that's absolutely right, David. More and more debt for something that has less and less economic - and educational - worth.

The really brave decision by the coalition would have been to cut back three-year residential university courses and replace them with shorter, flexible, live-at-home, vocational courses. My main objection to all this debt is that students are often being sold a pup. Apparently, a humanities degree increases your lifetime earnings by £35k - do the math (and don't forget maintenance-related debt and the earnings opportunity cost too).

It sticks in the craw that this has all been done by a generation of politicians who, more often than not, got an education that was worth something and mostly for nothing. And don't get me started on the way the housing market is screwing the young too. But that's another story, of baby boomer, NIMBY-driven, planning selfishness.

There are a lot of unpleasant eff-wits on these demos. But that doesn't mean the young 'uns don't have a reason to be upset (though perhaps not for the reasons they think). I have a hunch we're creating a real social problem: a superfluous, embittered generation of impoverished grads-in-name-only (I blogged on this last year here: http://gawragbag.blogspot.com/2009/11/consolations-of-education.html).


I managed to incorporate a bracket on the end of that url. This is the correct address: http://gawragbag.blogspot.com/2009/11/consolations-of-education.html


'a superfluous embittered generation of impoverished grads-in-name-only'

Yes, indeed. Someone sold this lady a pup when they charged her for her education:


Comments, as always,are illuminating and amusing in equal measure...

David Gillies

The rot started under Major but was greatly exacerbated after Labour came to office. There was a noticeable decline in the mathematical skills of first year undergraduates at the university where I worked, to the point that the department had to screen them in order to segregate the problematic into a foundation year. There was quite a sense of crisis the first year this happened, when we realised that we were faced with students who, while nominally qualified by dint of their A-level results, were in no wise so. One particular example sticks in my mind: presented with the question, "simplify sin x/cos x" one future captain of industry wrote, instead of the expected tan x, i n/c o (he cancelled the s and the x). This was nigh-on 15 years ago.

The 'all must have prizes' mentality of quasi-universal access to tertiary education had this dumbing down as a necessary corollary (perhaps even an intentional one, as some have darkly theorised - the public is no better educated than before, but worthless diploma in hand, the newly entitled are fodder for the Big Statists). It's unsustainable. As I never tire of saying, at most 7% of young adults have the necessary cognitive apparatus to make worthwhile the pursuit of an honours level degree in an academically demanding subject. As David says, subsidy at that level is (and was) financially viable, not least because the externalities to society from having that elite cadre educated are much more likely to to be net positive than when everyone's at university. Even if we impute good faith to those behind the explosion in tertiary education (something of a leap) it was obvious right at the start that it wasn't going to work.

If I had my druthers, I'd punish the student Sparts and spoilt whiny brats by dropping the fees cap altogether to expose them to the full market cost of their education. The salutary effects of this are easy to envisage.


"You'd think of spot of protest would be aimed at the egalitarians who devalued the investment and made it all but unworkable."

Left spends 13 years wrecking higher education. So -naturally- lefty students blame evil Tories.

Ian F4

"Can we expect everyone sympathetic to this post who received a subsidised, or even free, tertiary education to write a cheque to HM Treasury for going on for £50k or more? It would be a principled gesture."

Most people who took degrees 10+ years ago have probably paid back for them, even many times over, through the punitive taxation of recent years, mainly because they did decent courses that actually benefited their employment.

I doubt few here are against subsidising education in some way, but there comes a point when there's no-one left to tax and it's uneconomical to do so anyway, because the returns fail to fulfil the investment.

In fact, I've been subsidising tertiary education too for nigh on 30 years and I didn't even go to uni. Does that mean I'll get some money back under your scheme ?


> I doubt few here are against subsidising education in some way

I mMost certainly am!

R. Sherman

The Education Bubble, to use a phrase coined by Glenn Reynolds, is ubiquitous. The causes are legion, including the misbegotten view, that success is solely attributable to the number of letters after your name. The problem in the states is that the subsidies come in the form of guaranteed student loans, which liberal arts majors upon being unable to find a job with their "pole dancing studies" M.A., discover will never be forgiven. See also, http://musingsfromthehinterland.blogspot.com/2010/06/another-bubble.html
(Sorry for being self-referential.)


"Ms Solomon refers to premeditated mob violence as "resistance," which tells us much of what we need to know about her."

She's not alone...

"What we see from the protesters is not violence, it is resistance"


And these f*ckers want more of my money.


What, no comments on Charlie Gilmoure, Cambridge University History student's using the Union Jack at the Cenotaph for a Tarzan-The-Ape-Man swing? Daddy's still a Commander of the Order of the British Empire, I take it? Can that thing be revoked? Seriously, what could this kid have been learning at home that he would behave like such a complete jack ass?

Thinking back, much of the lyrics on that PF stuff was lefty bs like most rock music, but given that, why in God's name would DG have been awarded such an honor? Isn't that more damning in that doing so created an atmosphere that gave the current idiocy its momentum to a significant degree?


Delingpole's a good writer and a strong voice for the political right Karen, but that column is self-defeating - he claims that the riots are David Cameron's fault for not combatng the myth of reliance on government - something of a contradiction! Delingpole obviously doesn't like Cameron and that's fair enough, but I think he's settled for a cheap headline in order to attack Cameron/the Cameroons, and that's sad.



The more the protestors’ mouthpieces speak, the less credible they become (and the bar wasn’t set high to begin with). That’s before we get to the self-styled “anarchists” who want to extort hand-outs from taxpayers via an even bigger state. Which, when you think about it, is a strange kind of “anarchism.”


Re Delngpole, I suppose the point is that the left has been allowed to annex the language of good intentions, to claim it as its own, as if collectivism and statism were synonymous with virtue and morally unassailable. One result of this linguistic land grab is a generation of students who imagine they have an unchallengeable “right” to study X at someone else’s expense, regardless of whether a degree in X will lead to employment and fairness for those actually footing the bill. In turn, this isn’t entirely unrelated to the dismal spectacle at one local protest, where communist paraphernalia was everywhere and being waved at the police. Symbols of Mao, Stalin and the destruction of the individual are, to some, the new cool. The new “social justice.” Self-absorbed idiots brandishing symbols whose history and meaning they don’t quite comprehend.



I think Delingpole's point in that column is that Cameron is failing to make the intellectual argument. The onus for paying the fees is being shifted to students but the case for doing so is curiously mute. The contrast with how Thatcher argued "unpopular" positions before taking action is stark.

The result of this diffidence is that the dominant voice in the debate is that in support of the students.


TDK, Blogs are making the case better than politicians.


No doubt but the blogs will have succeeded when the BBC cannot discuss "social justice" without acknowledging that the concept is neither well defined nor universally accepted.

Karen M

Good point from Tim Worstall on Chinese graduates.

"You might even think that with the same thing happening in two wildly different economies, on different sides of the world, that there might be some sort of universal rules about this. You know, the laws of supply and demand perhaps?"




Just thought this looked relevant:-)

Ian F4

Jason, funny, reminds me of an ex-girlfriend whose previous partner had a degree in Marxism (Karl not Groucho) or something like that, the only job you can get is teaching other people how to get a degree in Marxism.

Oli 2010

"You'd think of spot of protest would be aimed at the egalitarians who devalued the investment and made it all but unworkable."

Good post. The left never picks up its own trash. Anna Raccoon gets it too:

"Labour created a massive expansion of the State that was built on nothing more than a bubble, to have 50% of the young 'doing a degree' was only going to devalue standards and to damage the marketability of having a degree. There is nothing left that the hard pressed taxpayer can contribute to a 'bust' state. What we saw on the streets was nothing more that demanding money with menaces, and Labour were at the front of this egging it on, as usual bearing no responsibility for their actions."



Jason, It was very relevant. Basically we are not arguing with adults here, we are arguing with emotional neotes who are still hankering for pocket-money and having a tantrum when they don't get it.


"In the short term, the Government’s own projection as to how much it will save is that the funding of university tuition will be cut by £2.9 billion by 2014. As it happens, £2.9 billion is the sum ring-fenced, by the same public spending review, to be given to developing countries to help them fight global warming with windmills and solar panels."



“Labour were at the front of this egging it on, as usual bearing no responsibility for their actions.”

Given the left’s long-established choke-hold on education, you’d think unhappy students would be a little more critical of the wider situation. We’ve seen the Long March through our academic institutions and its fruits are rather bitter. Setting aside grade inflation and bizarro-economics (above), we have an academic culture where, in many quarters, an air of fiefdom prevails. Some educators feel entitled to play social engineer and cheerily announce that they “want to stop the minority of bright pupils dominating the class.”


Clever students “dominate” their classmates, see? Knowing the answer when others don’t is, it seems, unfair. And we can’t have that. But we can have a director of research at the Council for Industry and Higher Education who denies that universities bear any responsibility for lowered standards and says, “It should not be up to businesses to tell universities that basic skills should be possessed by graduates seeking employment.”



Business will start setting their own tests soon, and totally bypass the extortion funded crèche.

Then students will have 27K of debt for no assets... Sounds like PFI.



"we have an academic culture where, in many quarters, an air of fiefdom prevails. Some educators feel entitled to play social engineer and cheerily announce that they "want to stop the minority of bright pupils dominating the class.""

Moonbat faculty can see the end of the gravy train. That's why they're so pissed.



“Moonbat faculty can see the end of the gravy train.”

Well, the shift in funding will have consequences for what has long been a favoured nest for the unhinged arm of the left. Students will be obliged to think seriously about the value of their courses and will be less inclined to indulge in posturing and flummery. Frivolous and all-but-useless degrees will start to disappear as students look elsewhere and past graduates generate little or no income via private sector employment. This may explain why the most vehement critics have often been far-left ideologues who teach disreputable courses - Priyamvada Gopal and David Graeber, for instance. It’s possible that postcolonial studies, “anthropology and anarchism” and “magic as a tool of politics” won’t look quite so attractive in the harsh light of day.


Gopal denounced the reforms as “the greatest assault on the arts and humanities in the history of modern Britain.” She also claimed that the humanities, including her own postcolonial studies, “have the virtue of generating creativity, empathy and tolerance.” She and her peers are apparently the gatekeepers of all that is noble, subtle and good. Those familiar with Gopal’s cartoonish anti-Western polemic may find this amusing, especially as the same article equates bankers with “dictators and war criminals.” Gopal is nothing if not a walking mockery of her own arguments.

sackcloth and ashes

'She also claimed that the humanities, including her own postcolonial studies, “have the virtue of generating creativity, empathy and tolerance.”'

Except - in her case - to Afghan women who dare to try and escape the entrenched misogyny in Pashtun society, tearing up the script written for them by so-called 'anti-imperialists':


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