This blog is a response to the editor for Nottingham on tab.co.uk – I am specifically replying to his article that is dated 7th March 2015: ‘If you don’t go to a Russell Group, then why are you at uni?’ A link for anyone who wants a quick read: http://nottingham.tab.co.uk/2015/03/07/if-you-dont-go-to-a-russell-group-then-why-are-you-at-uni/
Certainly provocative journalism with a bit of Poe’s law going on, but whether this article was written with a bucket load of sarcasm or if it’s aim was to incite a reaction, I feel it is important to outline exactly why we ‘polys’ attend university, for the good old golden record.
Let’s jump straight in – A quote from the article in question: “Of the top 20 unis targeted by the best grad recruiters, 19 were in the Russell Group. If you’re outside this select group, you may as well not have bothered.” Well, any recruiter that judges a candidate on the university they attended over their grades and content of character doesn’t sound very equitable – they certainly wouldn’t be among the ‘best grad recruiters’ to me. But hey, running in prejudiced circles is worth it right? You’re so employable!
Next, my favourite quote of all: “Poly degrees are the educational equivalent of building a mansion on a council estate: it’ll take time and money and although you might get a nice warm feeling of satisfaction, everyone around you is going to think you’re a complete mug.” Yeah, we should just give up, we’re all flogging dead horses and there’s no point in trying to compete. Underdogs have been spun tales similar to this since the dawn of humanity. But there’s absolutely no reason at all that they would be unworthy competitors, unless they start to believe ridiculous analogies like this.
There is plenty more to this article, but I feel this final quote sums up perfectly what the editor is trying to say about poly university graduates: “You’ll leave with nothing but bang average grades and a piece of paper that is as useful in the real world as a Frosties swimming certificate.” Brilliant. I think we can all agree that there is absolutely nothing wrong with trying to better yourself and you’re definitely not doing that by belittling everybody else’s endeavours. Russell Group attendees sure as hell aren’t the only ones who can work hard and feel the benefits of it.
I realise a lot of readers may interpret my response as no more than sour grapes or a naïve whine, but I feel that this article raises a lot of issues that need bringing to the forefront. It is no secret that young people push themselves to dangerous and unhealthy lengths throughout their studies, under the impression that they simply aren’t good enough and won’t amount to anything if they don’t meet the criteria for our elite universities. I think it is necessary to reiterate that choosing your path in life based on your own criteria, instead of what a bureaucratic system says it should be, is something to be proud of and it’s very easy to forget that when there is so much unnecessary pressure to be part of elite circles. In my mind, there is no room for arrogant, unhelpful standards such as these in the 21st century.