Saturday, December 4, 2010

Baby boomers and "free" education.

I do get fed up with commentators referring to the free education had by my generation and comparing it to the high cost of further education for students now.  Actually, taken as a whole, students now are better off than my generation for two reasons.

Firstly, far more young people have the opportunity to go to college.  That was something only enjoyed by a minority of my generation.  The lack of opportunity started long before you got to further education. In the London suburb where I lived there weren't enough grammar school places for all the girls who passed the 11+, so you only got a place at a grammar school on an interview and a reference from your head-teacher. That enabled the head at the grammar school I attended to weed out any children from council-estates, or who were black, or belonged to any other minority she despised.

Despite having la creme de la creme  at the school, the number of girls who went on to further education was pitifully small. Each year consisted of 90 girls, and less than half went on to any form of further education, but only 15 or so to university, the rest to 2 year teacher training or nursing college.

Secondly, you could only get a grant for college if your parents were prepared to be means tested and sign a grant form.  Mine refused.  So, I left home and got married, which was not a good move, because when I applied for a grant a couple of years later, I was awarded a "married woman's grant" which was far less than I could live on.

If I'd been able to take out a student loan, that made me independent of my parents, and that I would not have to start repaying until I was in work and my income had reached a certain level, I'd have jumped at the chance. It would have seemed like heaven to me.


Anonymous said...

Presumably you will not have had to choose between a degree and the prospect of having a mortgage in the future. You also seem to hold the opinion that because you didn't have it so great neither should the future generations. Throw their education to the free market and see who will sink or swim. Remove 80% of funding from Universities and ignore the contributions of students to taxes (mind you this seems a little narrow minded) in the future.

While not all baby boomers will have had free education they have and will continue to sap the resources of the country in their increasing longevity, have profited to a point of vulgarity from the boom years and now seem hell bent on pulling the ladder up behind them. Perhaps if the Lib Dems had campaigned on such a platform we would not feel at all betrayed...

Jane said...

"Presumably you will not have had to choose between a degree and the prospect of having a mortgage in the future. "

I'm not sure I follow you, but I think you mean that your choice is between getting a degree and being able to buy a house. I don't think you are right about that. Assuming you don't have any financial help from your family, if you don't get a degree, you are unlikely to ever earn enough to buy a house.

However, I wasn't saying that I think the proposed hike in fees is a good idea, only pointing out that the now regular refrain that my generation got further education for free, only applies to a tiny minority of boomers.

I find the rest of your comment rather offensive. Are you suggesting compulsory euthanasia for the over 65's? How long are you intending to live for? What age will you choose to kill yourself to avoid being a burden on the younger generation?

I can practically guarantee that your life so far has been sybaritic luxury compared with that of a child and young person in the fifties and sixties. I expect you take central heating and constant hot water for granted for example. How about being grateful for everything my generation has provided for you instead of selfish whining?

Anonymous said...

Hi Jane

Good for you! Just be grateful you are not a Lib Dem living in the UK right now. We have dug a hole for ourselves by signing that NUS pledge when were in no position to deliver on it! The present Coalition proposals while vastly better than students would have got under a majority Tory, or dare I say it Labour administration, are bringing us no credit whatsoever as few of the students understand the disciplines of coalition Government. We must steel ourselves and hope that time shows that during a time of financial crisis we did our best for them!
Regards, Roy Gregg