An immodest proposal to plug student drains
An Immodest Proposal by Lord Browne for Preventing Working Class Children in England from becoming a Burden on their Country.
"It is a melancholy object to those who work in Government when we see our Universities, Colleges, and former Polytechnics crowded with working-class students, dressed in hoodies, and importuning student finance companies for loans. These young people, instead of gaining an honest livelihood sweeping streets, scanning groceries, or skipping the light fandango across the minefields of Helmand Province, have been encouraged to squander their time in Nettopolitan Universities, pursuing degrees in applied science, applying mascara, and music tech.
"I think it must be agreed by the Coalition that this prodigious number of second-class students - who get the full maintenance grant thanks to their unemployed, bingo-playing parents - is a great drain on government resources, and therefore we need a cheap and easy method of taking these young people out of Higher Education and making them into sound and useful members of our Big Society.
"Thus my modest student finance review targets not only those young people who come from up north, but also all the teenagers who have grown up without a nanny, sporting estate, or working knowledge of derivatives.
"In the past, a student entering university paid a minimum of #163;3,250 in fees with government contributing the remainder. But the result of this economic profligacy has led to a preponderance of young people graduating with a Foundation degree in Forensics, and a #163;25,000 debt. Given the unlikelihood of anyone with less than three GCSEs ever making it on to Horatio's Miami crew, it seems unlikely that this will be repaid. In view of this, I propose to overhaul university funding in such a manner that, instead of being a damnable charge upon our government, it shall be paid for by the students themselves. As long as their parents can afford a trust fund.
"If we calculate the number of students in Higher Education as being around 2.3 million, it would appear that, under my reforms, some 200,000 young people could be priced out of future university places. The question therefore is: how shall this number be occupied? Owing to the recession, we can no longer employ them in our building trades.
"Therefore, I now humbly propose my own thoughts on this matter. I have been assured by an American acquaintance that working-class English teenagers would make a delicious new reality TV series. Imagine a remote Hebridean island, full of youngsters, drinking whisky, having sex and swearing at each other in flat northern accents. Halfway between Castaway and Skins, Bored of the Flies could be the BBC's global network sensation. While their middle-class counterparts head off to Russell Group Universities, the disaffected young will cavort in front of the camera, like X Factor contestants, fixed Californian grins masking their desperate faces and dead-end futures.
"But be assured, I will not personally profit from this immodest proposal, being myself a fully paid-up member of the filthy rich."
Beverley Briggs is an English teacher at a secondary school in Gateshead.