Call me a gold-plated hypocrite, for that is what I am. It is one of the pleasures of getting older. Back in the days when only some ten percent of the young went on to university, the government paid and the institutions could impose quality control. Yup, I got to play with the casino money. I did precious little work. We were spoiled. We had tuition fees covered and maintenance grants provided. We could fart about, fornicate, and wile away three years. It was only later—first as a postgraduate and then at Bar School—that I actually bothered to study. By then, I was paying my own way and had been forced to take out a student loan. It made me focus and encouraged me to take responsibility. The moral: If you are the one paying, you seriously commit.
We had it easy and tomorrow’s debt-laden graduates will have it tough. Life can be like that. But the world and its universities are altered, and the students—given the absurd expansion in ludicrous courses—will for once be obliged to contribute. Few are more selfish and self-regarding than they are, thinking that the nation-state depends on them and should provide a feather-bedded living. Reality can be cruel. So I’ll put it in digestible textspeak for them: IT’S OVER (downturned smiley face).
Police and the public have so far been patient with them as they conduct their gesture politics. Perhaps they should be allowed to vent their energy and burn off their junk-food diets. Yet as time passes and the hysteria grows, as their publicity stunts morph to resemble RAG Week on steroids, society may tire of their antics. In order to engage in special pleading, you really need to be special. Today’s students are not.
Maybe if they performed like dancing bears, the rest of us might warm to them. Maybe it’d help if the police turned water cannons on them to create novelty ice-sculpture parks for our amusement. Maybe they could fight the Taliban, pick up litter, or sell their kidneys. Students could prove their intrinsic worth via any of these methods.
When it comes to employment matters, it’s strange how sectors such as British banking so often turn to motivated and trained applicants from overseas. Yet I am expected to continue doling out my hard-earned cash on behalf of our “skilled and flexible” students. Please, just go away.
Be charitable during Yuletide. Spare a thought for those student protesters and high-school politicos shivering on our streets. I want to give them food and drink and bring them to the warmth. Then I remember, as should they—there is no such thing as a free lunch.
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