After “A” level results has come the scramble for University places, followed, with the inevitability of night following day, by the punditerati telling the world how little they know about the country’s education system. Exemplifying this lamentable lack of knowledge has been pro-am motormouth Katie Hopkins, who has already made her mind up that too many of those going on to University should not be there.
Viewers may want to look away now
“If all these thickos got into uni, what are the rest like?” thunders the routinely intolerant headline, as Ms Hopkins goes on to ask, with predictable absence of subtlety, “ON a scale of Holly Willoughby to Stephen Hawking, how clever are you?” She’s not about to be invited back on ITV This Morning any time soon, is she? And it gets worse: Katie’s research, as with so many Sun pundits, is sadly lacking.
“Of our species, 16 per cent have an IQ lower than 85. That’s the sort of IQ where you have to be taught to breathe through your nose … And yet, astonishingly, a record number of these dullards are heading off to university … More than 400,000 will be packing their duvets thanks to an A-level pass rate of 98.1 per cent”, she tells. So let’s do some of those horribly inconvenient sums with Katie’s figures.
There are - I’m using 2013 figures here, but this year’s won’t be significantly different - close to 800,000 18-year-olds in the UK. The number of full-time first year students - when you add in those studying in Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland - comes out at around 500,000. This leaves 37.5% not going to University. Hello Katie! That is a rather larger number than your 16% who have an IQ lower than 85.
And, as for “A” levels being “dumbed down”, the figures suggest Ms Hopkins is wide of the mark there, too: for instance, in 2004-5, 39% of 17-year-olds obtained one or more pass at “A” level. That, too, is a rather larger number than Katie’s 16%. What she has totally ignored is that the percentage of 17-year-olds taking those “A” levels is actually something like 40% of the total - and certainly not all of them.
The rest of her column is similarly laden with conjecture: “Psychology. That’s the degree of choice isn’t is?” YOU DIDN’T BOTHER CHECKING. “Competing boards want to be seen to be grading kindly in order to win more custom from schools who now spend twice as much on exams as they do on books or materials”. NO CITATION. “The kids too stupid to get the grades needed … can always go through clearing … Here the courses no one has managed to fill are open to all crazy offers”. NO CITATION.
And the final splash of sheer idiocy in her column? Saying things like “you may be too thick to understand a word when you get there. But it gets you out of working and the taxpayer foots the bill”. Er, Katie, those are Sun readers you’re talking to about less bright 18-year-olds - many of whose parents will have bought the paper.
She can’t do her sums, but she can call her readers thick. Way to go, Katie Hopkins!
I'd love to see her take part in clearing sometime. Such a cheerful experience, taking calls from increasingly desperate as the day goes on teenagers, as with every minute that passes their opportunities get more and more limited.
And as for degrees of choice, well, the uni I work for does favour creative and vocational subjects over 'straight' academic ones (that is, if you count Law as a vocational subject), and so it seems do students. Because when you're shelling out thousands of your own money on an education, you want one with good job prospects at the end.
Full misunderstanding - or misrepresentation, of course - as to what clearing is all about. Quel surprise.
Questions of finance, loans etc, are awkward, but in theory, I'm all for as many as possible taking higher education courses. Puts off the fateful day, etc, etc.
What we need to do is get back to the notion of education for its own sake, an end in itself.
A fully rounded liberal education, for all who want to follow it, should be taken as read.
Mind you, this week's reports of legions of over-educated folk in 'ordinary' work is odd. How things have changed.
A generation ago this would have been unthinkable, when employers were scared witless that these folk were too clever - and would be plotting revolution instead of making widgets.
I sort of appear to be responding to Andy. Not the case, but remiss of me not to have referred to KH.
You're bullying her with facts. Tsk tsk.
Keep up the good work.
Let's hope her children are intelligent enough to go to university if they want to.
It would get them away from home which must be a good thing.
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