News today that a major company, GlaxoSmithKlein are prepared to pay the University fees of somewhere between 50 and 100 students at top universities will undoubtedly be greeted with different reactions according to ones political outlook. The company have made it clear that they want the very best students they can find who could be of value to the company in the future.
Clearly the company won't be impressed by the government's social policies intended to force our universities to take inadequately educated pupils from poor comprehensive schools; they simply want the very best. However there are already murmurings from the left and from trendy liberals and no doubt these were get louder if, as seems likely, other major companies decide to follow suit. It'll be interesting to see what action the government takes to placate the LibDems.
But of course this is what used to happen in the "good old days" with apprenticeships, "sandwich courses" and day release. However, for some reason, governments became obsessed with the belief that everyone should go to university, and all the Technical Colleges became Colleges of Technology and then "Universities". I followed this route, found an employer who allowed me a paid day off each week for study as well as paying some study costs. Similarly, a close friend of mine, had his full time studies as a marine engineer supported by Esso prior to his going to sea, an arrangement that was clearly beneficial to both. More recently, my eldest daughter, who originally decided against university and went out to work, had her part time studies for a first degree supported by her employer to the extent that they allowed her time off on full pay and paid part of her fees.
I hope it catches on. The universities will get students who have a real incentive to study knowing that they have a job with good prospects awaiting them.
But I fear that it is going to face opposition - the interests of those seeking their kind of social reform and of the employers are clearly incompatible and there were be screams of rage from those to whom any idea of selection is an anathema.
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