Student debt in the UK has reached a terrifying level.
Indeed, the Student Loans Company has said that it now stands at £100bn, a new high – or low – with the figure expected to double over the next six years.
This not only spells trouble for the country’s young people, but the rest of the population too. Something radical must be done to remedy the issue, or else economic chaos will ensue – and hit us all.
For many people, the answer to the debt is to chuck money at it. Jeremy Corbyn has won legions of supporters for his dramatic proposal to eradicate student fees.
Should the Labour leader get his way, it will make life temporarily much easier for young people, but create an unsustainable model for education. Demand for courses will grow, and taxes will get higher to accommodate the cost.
This means turmoil in the long-term, as hardworking citizens come to resent paying for other people’s tuition fees.
They will especially hate this as the reality dawns that a lot of degrees are useless in the job market – which is part of the reason why the country is in such a mess already.
Foolishly, the nation’s youth have been indoctrinated into thinking of university as a necessity and a route to work; a fallacy for which Tony Blair can be held responsible.
During his tenure as Prime Minister, he set arbitrary targets for 50% of 18-30-year-olds to go to university, believing that this would boost the economy.
The reality couldn’t be more different – thousands rolled out of university jobless and in masses of debt. To this day, 47% of millennials currently work in non-graduate jobs.
The time has never been more right for politicians to focus on bringing the number undergraduates down – the fastest way to start tackling the debt.
The Conservatives have been given too little credit, in this regard, for moving the focus away from universities towards workplace training, and will have invested £2.5bn into apprenticeships by 2020.
This sort of practical education is not only what the employment market demands, but is good for young people themselves; who, in such circumstances, need entrepreneurial knowledge much more than a working knowledge of Plato.
The current university system is not working, though; it is overpriced and oversubscribed. We are slowly reaching the levels of expense seen in the US – where total student debt is now $1.4 trillion – but without the quality.
Americans get far more time with their tutors and classmates, as well as the opportunity to explore a breadth of subjects.
UK undergraduates are being conned out of vast amounts of money for courses with tiny amounts of input from lecturers and little real-world relevance.
Too often they end up as lost sheep in the employment market, with no idea of how to apply their topic or tackle the £44,000 or so of debt they amassed, stuck on a salary that data suggests is rarely more than those of their non-graduate counterparts.
Most would have been better off had someone told them: “don’t go to university”.
I wish I’d been given such advice myself, as I have found no real use for my psychology degree and mostly went to university because it was the expected of me, rather than for the love of learning.
The thought of going straight into the job market was unheard of, especially as I went to a private school. But why is this the status quo – that young people should have to follow this one path?
As plenty of data shows, university education simply doesn’t translate to getting a job these days – and represents a cost to the public purse we are increasingly unable to bear.