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The Rife Team

Going For Gold: On The Rating System For Universities


As Olivia starts to look at university, she’s perturbed by government proposals to further make them more elite.

Know who the biggest scourge on British society is at the moment?

Know who the biggest scourge on British society is at the moment? Clue: it’s not the pensionless elderly, or the unemployed. Nor is it the elite few or the lowliest poor either. It’s students. That’s who. God forbid they might actually want to live sufficiently, not squandering what pitiful change they can dig from empty pockets on pot noodles, make a living for themselves whilst studying a degree and being the bright young adults of the future. No. According to the governments Teaching Excellence Framework, that would be inherently unjust.

All students must therefore be reprimanded for all the upheavals they haven’t caused by coughing up even more than nine grand per year. The Department for Education have reported recently that from the middle of next year, universities are to begin charging more than the (already harrowing) £9000, based on whether it has acquired a ‘Gold’, ‘Silver’, or ‘Bronze’ medal status. I can’t disparage the idea completely, mostly because alone, I can bring about as much change as a doleful wooden spoon, but because we are told that this stratification scheme is to drive up the standards of our economy by allowing the academics with the most potential to strive for gold. We shouldn’t condemn this because there’s no doubt we need our doctors and dentists. But at the same time, marginalising those who don’t want to pursue an academic degree to a less admirable silver or bronze is patronising at the least. I suppose it encourages sporting enrichment though. For those who aren’t studious enough for Natural Sciences, of course.

…marginalising those who don’t want to pursue an academic degree to a less admirable silver or bronze is patronising at the least.

There is a fitting name for this: the self-fulfilling prophecy. If a prospective student, like you or I, is capricious about their educational future, then seeing a ‘BRONZE’ label in brazening, flashing lights above our institution of choice will likely discourage us. And in which case, we won’t apply. And then we’ll feel unworthy. And then we’ll feel ostracised from our own education system. And then, worst of all, we might decide not to pursue an area of study that genuinely intrigued us because we wouldn’t have wanted to study something in a place that would be branded or belittled for not being research intensive. Not good enough. We need more of us in higher education if we are to give social mobility a wholesome try. We need more of us in higher education because when we find something worth studying, which makes us say, ‘This is actually FUN’, we can re-energise our education, personalise it, and be rid of its disenchantment.

…they’re putting The Elite First.

But first, we need to reassure each other that these labels are just that. Labels. We can peel them off easy, right? We can deal with the increasing fees another time. For now, we can focus on changing our attitudes because as embittering as it is to witness the privatisation of our universities directly affect our bank accounts, it can’t beat three or so years in which we can make a platform for ourselves, a career we’d like to pursue and probably just an awesome time too. Hopefully more #EducationNotSegregation protest is to follow soon.

In the meantime though, if the DfE are rebranding our universities, I’m going to rebrand their Teaching Excellence Framework. So far I have: Tories Enjoy Finances, Theresa’s England Fails, Taking Everyone’s Funds, and perhaps the most candid, they’re putting The Elite First.

Are you going to university? How did you decide what course to study? Are you thinking about putting together a UCAS application? Do you even want to go to university? Let us know on Facebook or Twitter

The Prince’s Trust offers some great education alternatives that you can check out for free.