LETTER: University produces managers who simply can’t manage

Mr DAN Heap – who wrote lambasting the Liberals and G. Birtwistle (December 17th) – must be a bright lad if he got through university, so he is either deliberately ignoring looking into the true state of things, or is so close to the trees he can’t see the wood any more.

Putting aside for a moment the duplicity of all politicians and lamentable as the situation with regards to university education is, the reasons for it (and the effects contained therein) are far more serious than he appears to appreciate. The simple truth is that even if we magic into existence the ability to send 450,000 people through university for free ... there are nowhere near enough jobs for them when they graduate!

Much as it is a laudable ambition to bring the best in education to our offspring, it is also madness to produce a society of chiefs with no indians! Not that there is much need for either with the current state of affairs. The young people of today have been sold the lie that they – with degree in hand – are fit to start at the top, and are able to run anything; I don’t agree, and before you argue please note the people who told them this have never left school, so how can they know?

The quality of these new-style chiefs is - apart from a few extremely bright sparks - mainly poor, if my personal experience and the current state of the country count for anything. The mid-1990s saw a new breed of manager arrive among us, ex-university and completely unwilling (or unable) to involve himself in anything to do with the actual mechanics of getting X from A to B efficiently. A complete creature of delegation. I thought at the time we had just got a one-off; but one only as to deal with any firm or – in particular – a public body, to find a staggeringly inefficient ivory-towers culture in operation there also, with endless hours of discussions bringing no real decision other than to discuss it some more, at a point in time to be revealed in due course. Also, of course, the ability to claim a fantastic salary while – in quite a few cases – not putting in a full set of working hours is a prime requisite.

Even in the field of pure academia there appears to be a poor husbanding of bright minds, there are precious few students who are aiming to beaver away at anything useful, like perhaps creating a cure for cancer, or more efficient means of energy production etc. Way too many – Mr Dan Heap apparently included – have gone for instantly forgettable titles in unfathomable careers in sociology or the like.

These positions must be way, way oversubscribed in comparison to their usefulness to society. Then there are mixed in with these, joke degrees. It would not surprise me at all to hear there was a degree to be had with the title: “The Life and Times of George Best and his effect on Accrington night life” (no disrespect to George). It would be funny, apart from the fact that we, who pay for it all, have in many cases made a great success of our lives without a fraction of the financial aid given to today’s generation, but are not quite the flavour of the month when our well-being is discussed and state-aid cuts decided.

What is required is meaningful jobs and some serious support for apprenticeships.

C.G. EASTWOOD

BURNLEY