31 March 2008

Engineering students

According to the Daily Mail (28 March), over the last 8 years 10 billion pounds of taxpayers’ money has been spent on a campaign of working towards the Government’s target of having 50% of the population between the ages of 18 and 30 in universities, which includes of course ex-polytechnics.

The recruitment campaign is regarded as having failed because the population of university entrants is only 0.6 of a percentage point higher than in 1999.

Ministers had set a 2010 target of 50 per cent of young people entering higher education by the time they are 30. Official figures yesterday revealed that the proportion in 2006/7 was 39.8 per cent – down from 42 per cent in the previous year and only 0.6 percentage points higher than in 1999. …

Conservative universities spokesman David Willetts said: ‘At this pathetic rate of progress it will take a further 118 years to hit the Government’s target. We need to do far better to spread the opportunities for young people. Under this Government we are completely flat-lining.’

Of course, at the same time as encouraging the sections of the population with the lowest IQs and least academic aptitude to go to university, those with above average IQs (referred to as the ‘middle class’) have been increasingly discouraged, and are becoming disillusioned with the prospect of burdening themselves with debt for the sake of worthless ‘degrees’ which employers, including me, do not regard as any guarantee of competence in anything.

So, while the overall number of university entrants has scarcely risen, the proportion of lower IQs to higher IQs almost certainly has, and further attempts to promote ideas such as those expressed by David Willetts may well result in a complete exclusion of those with IQs above 140, or even 130, from university life.

Meanwhile, people with exceptionally high IQs, such as Charles McCreery, Fabian Tassano or I, cannot get even minimal salaries to enable us to contribute to the philosophical ‘discussions’ which go on, let alone pay for the institutional environment that we need to work in.

Even if we had a one-person salary apiece for working in our (socially unrecognised) independent university, it would not pay for the institutional environment that we need to work in, as well as the extra people (the equivalent of research students) to write papers on issues related to our own which we could also make very good use of.

An academic gets a lot out of his residential college with dining hall facilities etc which we have to pay for and work on maintaining for ourselves, so even with salaries we would not be as free to be productive as if we had a socially recognised residential college to live in.