When Charles Adams posted “unless we stop thinking of education as a commodity, we will fall behind.” it set me thinking whether we should be offering a tertiary education as of right.
Historically and indeed up until quite recently we have been gradually raising the school leaving age and now it is in effect 18 though under the title of education or training. In Europe, Germany shares a roughly similar sort of scheme, but with an apprenticeship technical education enjoying much higher reputation than in the UK, where improving the prestige of technical training is difficult because it has so little industry to combine with. When Tesco runs apprenticeships you know that things are not quite as they seem. Roll on an industrial policy that actually actually nurtures industry.
Clearly many apprentices from Tesco or elsewhere will not want to continue their education for longer. But some might. Perhaps it is a pity that the Polytechnics are no more (although as a friend of mine who went to Polytechnic was always told: In France, Polytechnics are one of the highest forms of education – in Britain they are one of the lowest…) so I think we are stuck with the University epithet and indeed I think Britain combines having fewer doctors but more Universities per head than almost any other European country. So given that British Universities are plentiful should we not confer the right on all citizens to receive University higher education for free if they want it? And if instead that means attending later as an adult, that too, should be a right.
Isn’t this what investment in the country really means? Doesn’t this serve to open opportunities and minds for every citizen?
Or can you have too much education?