David Willetts Interview In The Guardian Highlights Education Bet

David Willetts seems to have emerged from the tuition fee fiasco unscathed, which is rather remarkable considering he is the minister for universities.

Perhaps being possibly the only Tory MP happy to speak to The Guardian has helped him in that respect.  Decca Altkenhead commented on his likeability and popularity on the left in her interview with him published last Saturday.

What becomes apparent just a few paragraphs into the interview is that Mr Willetts has based all his estimates on the amount the Government will have to cough up for student loans on baseless assumptions.

Prospective students will work for a year before starting university to save up £2000?  Students won’t rely on their parents for funding?

He offers “a modest bet” that when the figures are finally in, his estimates “won’t be too far off what happens”.  But he admits: “No one can know, I can’t know.”

Thinking reflective of most education policies to come out of recent years I’d say.  And unfortunately the exact thinking all prospective higher education students and young graduates must adopt.

From as early as 16 people have to make the education bet.  Do they invest their time in A Levels? Invest their money (or future money) in higher education? What about work experience – is it worth self-funding a placement all summer and loosing out on potential income because it might get you a job eventually?

With the fee hike, these questions are becoming even more important and their consequences harder to reverse if deemed undesirable in the long run.

Higher education needs to be a worthwhile investment now financially more than educationally and socially.

But how do you know if it’s worthwhile until afterwards?  Maybe even many years afterwards?

Has the worth higher education become merely a hypothetical?

What do you think? Given the current conditions would you make the education bet?

I am planning a more in-depth post on whether or not higher education is still worthwhile – or if popularly thought worthwhile.  Hopefully I will be able to speak to Leighton Andrews Welsh Assembly Member and Minister for Education and Skills, does anyone have any questions for him?

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About Beth Cherryman

NQJ-qualified Journalist based in Berlin. Worked as a news reporter for numerous local papers in and around London, UK, and Dundee, Scotland, for the past four years. Published features also on BBC News Magazine. Previously studied at Cardiff School of Journalism and London School of Economics. View all posts by Beth Cherryman

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