X Close

Why I gave up on education Who'd be stuck in a classroom when they could be doing drugs with pop stars?

Just off to the JCR (Photo by Erica Echenberg/Redferns)

Just off to the JCR (Photo by Erica Echenberg/Redferns)


June 1, 2021   5 mins

The first memory I have is of reading; I’m a toddler, sitting on my mother’s lap, reading the letters C-A-T and feeling that the world, not just the word, has suddenly been illuminated. Years later, when I became a total bitch and my father would come home from work to find my mother in tears because of my taunting, he’d shout: “Your mother taught you to read!” He knew how much it meant to me; it was like saying: “Your mother gave you life.”

Knowing that my mother wanted me to be popular, I would shun my classmates when they came to call, instead going to the local library first thing on a Saturday morning and returning home with an armful of books which I would sit and read like a machine. Even as a teenager, I used books as deadly weapons long before I learnt how to use words as them; lying in the park reading Lolita in my school uniform the summer I turned 14, I regarded the dirty old men who tried to chat me up with a newly informed contempt. It was me and books against the world.

I mention this because an early love of reading is supposed to lead to a desire for education. But I never once wanted to go to university, and I wonder if this came about because of my early relationship with reading, which was so intense that I resented my parents, my friends, the dog and, more than anything, school — which robbed me of so much precious reading time. Though I knew that, in theory, furthering my education would lead to more, not less, reading, I was offended by the idea that I would be told what to read; to my childish mind it seemed to sully the purity of my love, like an arranged marriage of minds.

I’m 61 now, with the time and resources to become a mature student (or an immature student in my case) if I should choose. But my enmity towards education has, if anything, grown to become almost visceral. There are quite a few words which make me seethe — gusset, feisty, ‘Enjoy!’ — but none are worse than “uni”. Every time I hear it I think of entitled nobodies wasting three years of their lives, believing that they’ll swan out and nab a dream job, with no feeling of urgency that they need to get out there and get started right now.

According to a recent YouGov poll, 60% of Britons would choose to be writers — the highest approval rating of all. For a working-class girl in 1970s England, becoming a writer was only marginally more likely than becoming Queen. Why would I want to sit in a classroom until my mid-twenties when I could be out earning a living and following my dream? On the other hand, I wasn’t keen to follow my parents on to the factory floor, even though I quite enjoyed the poetry of Aleksei Gastev, who wrote thrillingly of industrialisation in post-revolutionary Russia. (Yes, I was insufferable.)

Playing for time, I told mater and pater that I was planning to go to teacher-training college — the only respectable way for a working-class girl to get a further education without being waylaid by long-haired layabouts in search of Free Love — returning to school in petulant mode to do my A Levels. That was the theory. Within six weeks I was in London, snorting speed through twenty-pound notes with pop stars after being rewarded with the role of punk correspondent by the New Musical Express. I hated the music (“It’s just a racket!” as my mother used to say about my adored Glam Rock) but it was my big chance to be a writer and I wasn’t expecting another to come along any time soon.

Punks hated students, even though many of them had been in some sort of further education; John Lydon met Sid Vicious when they were teenagers at Hackney Technical College. A reader sent in a badge saying “I HATE STUDENTS, YEAH!”. I wore it everywhere. I still believe teenage pop stars should be the norm — not a bunch of privately educated namby-pambies getting together in a punt and thinking it might be fun to be in a band.

There’s something exciting about the fact that the teenage Beatles (George still too young to legally drink) learnt their trade playing all-nighters in the dives of Hamburg, impatient to get out there and own the world rather than sitting around watching daytime TV for three years. Yet the Beatles were succeeded by the rise of public-school prog rock, made by and beloved of students, and we punky ankle-biters felt a particular satisfaction in giving this cultural blip a good kicking. Or rather, we assumed it was a blip; such a high proportion of chart acts are now so privately and lengthily educated that Cerys Matthews no longer plays records by “over-privileged” artists such as Coldplay and Florence Welch on her radio show.

Do bright working-class kids really want the “privilege” of being stuck in a classroom for an extra three years, though? Obviously we don’t want our doctors to go straight from school to scalpel, but if you’re not training for something practical, university looks like an increasingly pointless rite of passage. After all, the vast majority of Gen Z malcontents moaning about not being able to get on the property ladder are degree-holders who will forever rue the day they first heard of Media Studies — unlike the kid who leaves school to become a plumber’s apprentice and may well be on the property ladder in both Britain and Spain by the time he’s 30. (A few years ago, the Mail on Sunday featured a 34-year-old plumber who earns £210,000 a year, owns a flat in Kensington and takes holidays in the Maldives, having been brought up on a council estate by a shelf-stacker mum.)

The relationship between the working class and education will always be bittersweet. There was a lovely scene in TOWIE recently where Chloe Sims, the glamour-puss Mother Courage of the crew who has spent her life living by her looks, welcomes her younger sister, who has just graduated, to the show: “College girl
” she says, with both pride and bemusement. Reality TV and the social influencer racket has very much become a kind of further education for bright, attractive, non-academic youngsters, the toffs of Made In Chelsea as much as the Essex spivs.

Yet there was something of a scandal when there were 85,000 applicants for the 2019 season of Love Island — more than twice the number of applicants to Oxford and Cambridge. That I was learning my trade when I was too young to vote — and am still practising it more than forty years on when most of my over-educated contemporaries who saw me as a performing monkey left the pitch long ago — makes me very happy indeed.

“Libraries gave us power,” sang the Manics — but too much institutionalised book-learning can eradicate original thinking, making us indistinguishable from the bourgeoise, which is a far worse fate than growing up to be like our poor but honest parents. I was offended the first time someone called me an autodidact, but having looked it up in one of them there dictionaries, I can’t think of a better thing to be.

I wouldn’t have fancied further education at any time, not even when it was free, in both senses of the word. But now student debt means starting adult life with a deficit — even though you may well be paying for the pleasure of attending an institution where students are suspended for stating that women have vaginas and dons are warned that raising an eyebrow may be a “micro-aggression”. Because, of course, the whole wretched Woke lark started in our hallowed groves of academe, where students are taught to believe that, contrary to the Latin root of the word, “education” is not “to lead out” but rather to shut in, the approved manner of learning being no longer listening and debating but putting one’s fingers in one’s ears and shrieking about safe spaces.

As graduation season begins and a new tranche of starry-eyed students discover that their dream job is not waiting to greet them at the other end, once more I thank my lucky stars that I escaped the constraints of my background — and of too much education.


Julie Burchill is a journalist, playwright and author of Welcome to the Woke Trials, available now. Her latest play, Awful People, co-written with Daniel Raven, comes to Brighton Pier in September 2023.

BoozeAndFagz

Join the discussion


Join like minded readers that support our journalism by becoming a paid subscriber


To join the discussion in the comments, become a paid subscriber.

Join like minded readers that support our journalism, read unlimited articles and enjoy other subscriber-only benefits.

Subscribe
Subscribe
Notify of
guest

118 Comments
Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
J Bryant
J Bryant
3 years ago

I’m conflicted when I read this article. On the one hand, I agree with the author’s assessment that modern universities have been coopted by the woke and provide very little value for money. There’s a strong argument to be made for skipping college and learning a trade.
On the other hand, I’m mindful that Julie Burchill is not really representative of people who skipped college. She is one of those people with enough talent to skip university, jump straight into the trenches, succeed and eventually write articles about how uni is pointless. For every story like hers I bet there’s an army of young people who skipped college, went into ‘the music scene’ (or the theatre, or writing) and sank.
Universities were once a fairly reliable path to increased life choices and a more stable financial future. But they’re now hopelessly compromised by wokedom. I guess I’m forced to agree with the author that unless you’re studying for a professional degree, maybe it’s best to go straight to the world of work, even if it’s not glamorous work at first. Unless, of course, my neighbor’s daughter (who works at Starbucks) is correct when she tells me that you now pretty much need a degree to be hired as a barista at Starbucks.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

“Universities were once a fairly reliable path to increased life choices and a more stable financial future.”
When you send half the population to University, that can no longer work. I see the popularity of Woke as the rage of despair. Unintended consequence of not doing the maths.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Great point – I think that, too.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

I wonder if a young version of you, applying today, would get that job at NME without a degree in Journalism. And I mean an MA, not a BA. It’s an arms race, and everyone has a BA. Something I know (because it was my job to know): One University department churned out more journalism graduates annually than there were journalism vacancies in the UK. This was a few year ago, but the situation won’t have improved.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Pretty sure you’re right – or even better have parent/s who were journalists. See Flora *My Struggle* Gill at the Sunday Times. And India Shite at the same paper – ex stepdad high up in organisation. AND THEY SACKED LYNN BARBER, FFS!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

I am sorry to say, as it may be offensive, but young women snorting speed with successful members of the entertainment industry possibly did give you an in to the writing side of it which may not have been open to others.

Alan Osband
Alan Osband
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Ten years previously Mick Jagger would have scorned her for not being posh enough. Being lively and adventurous were necessary but not sufficient attributes. She had to have the writing talent .

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

I ache for the 70s and the 80s, I really honestly do. There is something anachronistically modern about punks in 45-year-old photographs. They look completely up to date somehow. You look at them and they look back and you know they’re dead and gone for the most part.
I feel a wrenching sense of loss for the world that’s gone that I quite liked. Inexorably what’s new goes from being news to being history, in a slow, painful process that feels like getting old. We need a Cormac McCarthy of punk and of the 70s, to articulate the way something goes from the world and what it leaves behind of itself.
You are probably one of those people who would have bubbled to the top no matter what, but possibly that was then, this is now and maybe now it’s different. Is there anything to say about modern music? Is it in any way in any little backwater interesting? What would a latter day version of you do today? Surely to god you wouldn’t be some cretinous “influencer”.

Pete Kreff
Pete Kreff
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

India Shite – lol

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

There are also a lot of performing arts degrees and music technology courses which persuade students & their parents they will gain entry into an acting or pop career. Most get very disappointed.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

It started in the late 1960s with expansion of universities and especially Polys providing arts degree. In the early 1960s going to a Red Brick university to read history would probably have required Latin and French A Levels which were tough.
If one compares 1940s Ordinary Leaving Cert in Latin and French , they are almost equal to todays A levels.

N Millington
N Millington
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

Bullshit, Burchill.
There is no popularity of ‘woke’. People on serious degrees like physics and chemistry and biology and maths and law and computer science are far too bloody busy actually studying for their degree to spend time farting around with the type of people you champion so highly in their little bubble of left vs right wing politics.
You haven’t actually spent time in a university in probably 30 years, if ever, if your career summary is anything to go by. You know absolutely nothing about universities beyond hearsay from people you know, and those people sure as hell won’t be people who actually know what’s going on.
Especially professors. Professors know the sum of d**k about their students.

James Slade
James Slade
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

Especially when, outside STEM, there is no direct connection with subject and what the knowledge and skills that employers want. Someone joining the civil service at 22 with a degree in English lit are still going to have be taught how the procurement process works. You may as well have started the same person at 18, they wouldn’t have 20k in debt and still have to have the same knowledge learnt on the job. From the UK PLC point of view there is very little value added from the degree .

steve horsley
steve horsley
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

you would have thought that blair would have been bright enough to cotton on to this but he considered it to be the absolute best thing that kids could do and he threw all his weight behind it.i wonder what he thinks now.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  steve horsley

But they don’t show up on the unemployment figures for four years which delights politicians

Jeremy Goodchild
Jeremy Goodchild
3 years ago
Reply to  steve horsley

Nothing that man ever did seems to have had any benefit to anyone except for himself.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  steve horsley

He was the most repellent kind of snob. Pure fvcking evil.

Kathleen Stern
Kathleen Stern
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

One of Blair’s disasters,intended to keep the numbers of young unemployed down and also saddling them and the taxpayers with massive debt. There were never going to be enough ‘graduate level’ jobs available. I advised my students to think hard about wether 3 more years of study was what they wanted when they some of them didn’t even like 2 years of A levels. My own son realised it wasn’t for him and has his own successful business.

Jennifer Britton
Jennifer Britton
3 years ago
Reply to  Kathleen Stern

A few points:

1. There are simply not enough well paying jobs for everyone to have one. Until that problem is addressed, there will be a mad scramble via degrees, networking for the ones that exist.

2. education attainment requirements used to be a device to winnow the applicant pool. Now that everyone has the opportunity to get a college degree and many colleges are in dire need of students, a college degree is no longer useful in identifying the best skilled applicant.

3. Education is an essential component of being an informed and discerning citizen and of dealing wisely with one’s private life. Thus, we should make darn sure that our primary (K through 6) and secondary schools (7 through secondary graduation) prepare students to be effective adults. A secondary diploma should mean that the holder knows basic history and how government works, and can read, write, and compute well enough to conduct his/life. It may be that many of those who struggle with college do so because their primary and secondary diplomas stand for too little educational achievement.

4. College should be for those who want to pursue careers in fields (healthcare, science, mathematics, engineering, teaching, for example) that require specialized knowledge and skills and have certification exams/processes before practicing in the field. People studying for specific professions will not be bored as they know there is a test before they can practice in their fields.

5. That said, post secondary programs for mature people who just want to learn (great books programs, for example) under a good tutor should be part of every college or university mission. These mature learners will be there because they simply want to learn, not because they want a different job.

6. Bell Labs, in the mid 20th century, found that putting their engineers through a great books program (humanities) didn’t make them better or more enthusiastic engineers or corporate managers. It did make them much more likely to question their chosen careers and the entire corporate mindset. Study of the humanities was never meant to make one fit into a career mold. It was meant to free one from the kinds of caves Business, society, religion, local history, and neighborhoods create for us.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

The Elementary Education Act 1870, commonly known as Forster’s Education Act, made schooling compulsory of all children between the ages of 5 and 12 in England and Wales. Would there have been, in another universe, a Terry Needham Esq, born 1830, who complained that sending the whole population to school was not such a good idea?
There is no such thing as too many University educated people – what there is instead, is a broken contract between increasing education levels directly correlated to rising prosperity. And that contract worked great for over a century, until around 1990. And the reason for that broken contract thereafter? Technology. Coders, like me. Once it became possible to make algorithms replicate human decision-making at scale, that contract was toast. Is there a solution? Yes, at least for another two or three decades, but not one you are gonna like. The solution is *more* higher and further education, at a *more* complex level.
ï»żHumanity, racing the machine.

David Brown
David Brown
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

The jobs at the bottom will always need to be done. Arguably, they might as well be done by the illiterate and innumerate, but I would disagree. That the dustman, the shelf-stacker and pizza delivery boy need degrees, however, is a proposition that I would not support.
Universal education, good. Universal universities, damn fool idea.

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  David Brown

The problem is, ‘always’ is an awful long time. In reality, ‘always’ is synonymous with a decade. The pizza delivery boy is a non-starter – drones will deliver pizza (and a lot more besides) soon enough. Ditto the shelf-stacker – one look at those little squat yellow computerized machines buzzing around Amazon warehouses will tell you that. The principal is no different from saying there ain’t no work for drovers, or thatchers, or shiphands any more – that work is gone and people have to do something else. The work went to sweatshops in the east but that too was nothing more than a three decade pitstop – those jobs are disappearing from China now, much as they went from the rich western nations earlier.

It’s all very well saying ‘sending half the population to Uni doesn’t work’, but the question then needs answering: what should all those people do instead?
We cannot switch from being a nation of shopkeepers to a nation of plumbers. Notwithstanding the seeming shortage of plumbers, the space for skilled workman is shrinking very rapidly. Two decades ago, a jack of all trades mechanic in greasy overalls could get to and repair the innards of any vehicle. Now, most little garages are gone, because it is mostly the computers in vehicles and at the dealer that monitor for upcoming malfunction, and repair is a slot out/slot in of a black box assembly after entirely electronic diagnosis. It also kills off surrounding ecosystems like AA/RAC etc, dying because their services are simply needed far less.

The difference between universal education to 12 and universal education to 21 or 24 is just a dozen decades – there is no other difference in principle – an arbitrary cutoff at 16 or 18 needs a justification. The reason I can put forward for ubiquitous higher levels of education is that the advanced economies are principally services oriented, and *complicated*. What would the justification be for stopping education at 16 be then?

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

Many (not all) of these young people are being sold a pup. The education that they are paying for does not enhance their earning power one jot. Neither does it improve their social status. (We think it vulgar to mention social status, but it is one of the most important measure of our sense of our well-being) They are running faster and faster just to stand still. The TN esquire born in 1830, would have benefited from an apprenticeship in a craft. He would have benefited greatly from a course in engineering at a polytechnic. He would have gained nothing from the parody of a university education offered by much of the modern higher education sector.

Last edited 3 years ago by Terry Needham
N Millington
N Millington
3 years ago
Reply to  J Bryant

What the hell are you on about? Have you been to a university recently?
If you want to know what universities are really like, read the book Business Bullshit. They aren’t woke. They’re corporate. Andre Spicer, god love him, provides the single best demolition of the modern university of any author.
People like you talking about wokeism haven’t been near the guts of a university ever.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  N Millington

I have

N Millington
N Millington
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

No, you haven’t.

You describe a university as woke because they have one pointless class a year where half the students and all the lecturers rip the piss of it because of how pointless it is.

Every goddamn university has vision statements and corporate boards and talent reviews and HR guidance and all that corporate crap that infects everything in modern life.

All of this chicken little talk about universities being indoctrination centres is coming from people who clearly haven’t been near one in decades.

Last edited 3 years ago by N Millington
Edit Szegedi
Edit Szegedi
3 years ago

I graduated university in 1989 in communist and nationalist Romania. We had very hard entrance exams and harsh living and learning conditions. Girls had compulsory military training (once a week) and randomly checks at the gynecologist of the university (usually, when a dead newborn was found). My generation had every reason to be full of anger. Nevertheless, we loved it. Universities offered a space of freedom and debate, as limited as it was.

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago
Reply to  Edit Szegedi

Thank you for this comment. Very interesting.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

This takes me back, because it was partly due to the non-stop denigration of students by Julie and others in the NME that I chose not to go to university – and I had the grades to get into almost any university in the land. I agree with her that ‘uni’ is perhaps the most repulsive word of our time and have said so for many years. And, as I said yesterday, higher education now resembles the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages, a grotesque racket in which students are sold indulgences in the form of degrees.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

That’s the best thing anyone ever said to me!

Prashant Kotak
Prashant Kotak
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

Lady, you are in a seriously messed up place, if the best thing anyone ever said to you, has been said by Fraser Baily.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  Prashant Kotak

I don’t think Julie is really your kind of girl, Prashant!

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I always deeply regretted not doing university properly. I had essentially dropped out of school as I loathed it, and had no education really, and shortly after leaving school my Father lost all his money so could not help – and so I just dropped out of the normal world. Over the next 8 years did high school as an adult in a community college, and picked off a couple years of college/university wile living broke, just a term here and a term there, but I just could not handle the stress of the living rough and attending school on and on – so never finished – also my grades were top, as I am intelligent and applied myself – But I would have liked attending university care-free, and getting a serious degree, but just could not make myself keep at it like I was, living at home was also not an option – I had left UK, so was kind of just living hard as a drifter.
I guess I am the opposite of you two, would have liked university – but doing it was too much work because the making a living at the same time. I could have worked full time, but the problem was I was addicted to the road so never could bring myself to being in one place and having a job more than a few months. I really wish I had gotten a degree and did work with my head rather than my back as manual work is no fun, and so tedious. But I did what I did instead of what I should have. It amazes hearing you two, who seem such natural University types, happy you did not do it, I just do not get where you are coming from.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Sanford you obviously have the brains to have done a phd and gone on to wherever that led – BUT by now you would be exhausted and unemployed after fighting the idiotfest bureaucracy of wherever you would have ended up – BECAUSE you appear to be interested in truth wherever that might lead and as such you would have ended up banging heads with all the anxious drones who compromise their integrity to keep a job through the endless political allegiance shifts required to stay part of the herd. Working with your hands is hard on the body and somewhat boring but at least you are relatively free whereas I am unemployable now because i cant stomach the PC bullswool that now pervades most serious endeavour….in very many fields !

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Though she might have enjoyed it more in the ’70’s and at least it was free then

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

good metaphor ! and those indulgences unfortunately wont necessarily keep them out of hell. If you cant ask and work through openly ANY question that interests you there is zero point in going to a uni.The writer of Zen and the art of mcycle maintenance (Persig ..) did an excellent critique of higher ed at the time that Oxbridge was fighting for autonomy- his concept was that QUALITY was an almost objective reality that must be the standard to which all human endeavour must aspire – or be varying degrees (sic) of bogus getting further and further away from quality.
he must be writhing in his grave with shock and general despair for human integrity….

Seb Dakin
Seb Dakin
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Great analogy about how the higher education racket works.
Have to disagree with you about ‘uni’. ‘Varsity’ might be even more ghastly.

Charles Hedges
Charles Hedges
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

It is time for a pruing of universities. All we need to do is copy Switzerland, 20% to university. 5% arts and 15 % STEM. 95% of population trained to at least NVQ3 and 60% to HND.

mhornsby
mhornsby
3 years ago

I’ve followed you for years, Julie, and was a regular reader of your Guardian column back in the 90s (I wrote to you once there re. your piece about your Dad dying AND YOU WROTE BACK, a typed out letter on paper, as we did in those days). I always identified with your background. My own dad was a lorry driver and my mum a ledger clerk, and (roll out the clichĂ©s), I was the first person in my immediate family to go to university. Got a degree, a teaching cert. and left uni. with a ÂŁ50 overdraft. Spent decades in teaching. In the 2000s, I went back to university (part-time) and got a master’s and then a PhD. I had this drive to be the working class boy who done good. I’ve been in the university teaching and researching game for over 11 years now and in all honesty, I want out. The artificial world of churning out increasing numbers of graduates for jobs that simply don’t exist, and the pressure for academics to produce articles, book chapters, and secure grants is mind numbing. I am glad I went to uni when I did and didn’t emerge with huge debts, but I would hate to be a student now. Higher education has become a self-perpetuating hamster wheel and just serves to create false expectations amongst staff and students and is leading to a very cut-throat and toxic atmosphere. Intellectual curiosity is being stifled. It’s best found outside of academia these days.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  mhornsby

Thank you, M!

G Harris
G Harris
3 years ago
Reply to  mhornsby

Great piece.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  mhornsby

Sanford note !

Kevin Thomas
Kevin Thomas
3 years ago

I remember seeing a documentary about Steve Winwood which recounted that he was singing in Birmingham blues clubs on school nights while barely into his teens. His teachers found out, and he was hauled into the headmaster’s office, where his headmaster told him that with a voice like that, he was wasting his time at school. He was right and I think a lot of kids are wasting their time in schools. Our education system is good for one thing, funneling middle class girls towards humanities degrees, and it treats everyone like middle class girls. When you look at what the teaching profession is made up of, you can see why. It’s not an accident that working class boys perform so poorly.
You mention doctors in your article but we aren’t producing them. I had surgery recently, at a hospital in a white part of the country, where most of the nurses were white, and all the doctors I saw were Asian or East European. We’re told the NHS would collapse without immigration – is no one concerned that we aren’t able to supply our own vital medical staff? I don’t know if it’s that no one here wants to be a doctor anymore or that the education system doesn’t produce 18 year olds capable of doing a medical degree. Maybe someone should ask.

D Ward
D Ward
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Thomas

The BMA has a lot to answer for.

We have many talented kids who would love to train, and who would be suitable to train, as doctors. Yet we ration the numbers and then import from other countries. You couldn’t make a it up.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago
Reply to  D Ward

Cheaper I suppose as don’t have to train. A lot of women now go in for medicine but then want to work part time to fit in with family life. Might be better getting Dr Finley back.

Simon Davies
Simon Davies
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Thomas

Ask the BMA. Being a doctor is a racket.

Christopher Thompson
Christopher Thompson
3 years ago
Reply to  Kevin Thomas

Most of our newly-qualifed doctors seem to leave for Australia, the USA or Canada as soon as they have the chance.

Val Colic-Peisker
Val Colic-Peisker
3 years ago

I’ve got 5 university degrees, including a PhD, but I agree with most of your points. Having spent 24 years full time at (Australian) universities, I could say quite a lot about them… But I’ll just say that reading voraciously is much more useful for one’s education that attending today’s universities – where, BTW, no-one reads much, and most students think asking them to read ‘a whole book’ over a semester is outrageous (I tried this 10 years ago, and never again). Universities would be less ‘woke’ is students put some effort in their studies and thought with their own heads; they don’t because they don’t have too. They are customers, and therefore always right; never failing a course, however hard they tried not to learn anything! Paradoxically, universities can be stupid/woke/’far-left’ because they are primarily businesses, not educational institutions. They sell degrees, and education and edification may happen only by a happy accident.

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

‘…most students think asking them to read ‘a whole book’ over a semester is outrageous (I tried this 10 years ago, and never again).’
Some time ago I was talking to an Eng Lit undergraduate who had not even been able to finish Cloud Atlas, which is hardly a difficult read. A few times recently I have loaned books, some of them quite difficult, to intelligent people who have handed them back having read ‘some of it’. It is all profoundly depressing.

Jon Redman
Jon Redman
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I did an Oxbridge English degree. About 30 years ago I met someone who had also done an English degree: at Crewe & Alsager Poly. Her entire three-year course was about the American novel. She had read two books a year. For us that was one term’s work, and we covered more.
I was literally staggered that someone could describe themselves as a “graduate” having completed what I would have regarded as two to three weeks’ work. I suspect that modern day English Lit courses are a lot more like hers than mine.

Alan Tonkyn
Alan Tonkyn
2 years ago
Reply to  Jon Redman

I did an Oxford BA in English literature in the early 70’s. Reading two books (eg novels) was typically PART of a week’s work, not a term’s. Our education system has progressively lowered what we expect of students at all levels, with disastrous and depressing results.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

5 Degrees! Wow. Was it fun? Or a slog? What is wild here is the vast amount of posters who went to the very top universities, or excelled at University like you. Even us posters who did not do a degree seem to have made up for it in life experiences and reading and have something to say – I find the BTL here better than I have seen elsewhere.

chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago
Reply to  Galeti Tavas

Bang on Sanford. And as another aside my Phd teaching brother left a UNi job because they insisted that essays did not need to well constructed – he only needed to be able to underline the relevant info. IE churning out degrees to people WHO DID NOT KNOW HOW TO READ PROPERLY !!! and could not write a decent essay.

Michael Burnett
Michael Burnett
3 years ago

Working in a primary school in a historically deprived area of a Northern town, I know most of the kids will never go to university but they don’t read either. That scares me. University is a complete waste of time for most people but not being able to read and not caring about that? Where’s the next Julie Burchill going to come from?

Ray Hall
Ray Hall
3 years ago

How disgraceful. You are trying to privilege people who can read ……how oppressive and so on . ( End of pointless sarcasm. )
Ms JB -nice article.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  Ray Hall

Thank you, Ray!

James Slade
James Slade
3 years ago

Well isn’t that what you are paid to do? There’s a certain amount of chickens coming home by the education establishment. Perhaps if the establishment hadn’t treated millions of peoples lives as a giant sociology experiment it wouldn’t be such a problem. The implementation of balanced literacy teaching has a knock on effect that will last for generations

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago

Not from your school, obviously. But as James Slade points out, isn’t it your job to teach them to read? Or are you taking the easy option and teaching them to victims of this, that and the other?

Michael Burnett
Michael Burnett
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

Absolutely it is the job of a teacher to teach a child to read and that is what most teachers try to do no matter their political views, however to teach a child a love of reading? I learnt that from my parents, my grandparents, my older brother without even knowing it. For me personally, school put me off reading and I went to both a state and public school. It took me a long time to rediscover that passion for reading.

Ellie Gladiataurus
Ellie Gladiataurus
3 years ago
Reply to  Fraser Bailey

I saw his comment differently: they don’t read, rather than can’t read. In other words, they are not interested in books or reading. Not sure if I’ve got the wrong end of the proverbial.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ellie Gladiataurus
chris sullivan
chris sullivan
3 years ago

True that- my now 29 yo son puts it thus ‘hmm quite hard work reading – maybe a couple of hours video gaming first’ IE no reading cos when you are learning to read its actually quite HARD work and way less fun thn gaming. My son having gone thru all the gaming thing now sees it as truly addictive (dopamine levels etc) and manyand a real blight on the development of young men esp. The concern about whether gaming causes more violence is spurious – what it causes is the inability to think functionally -or to READ. Fortunately my son is now an intense reader-but that is because he was born with a ‘need to know’ personality. he can no longer tolerate most of his peers because they seem to have no innate ‘need to know ‘ anything….and many are still gaming……

Judy Johnson
Judy Johnson
3 years ago

You are right; many people who can readd do not want to. I have a dughter with a 1st from Nottingham but she doesn’t care for reading. It isn’t the result of having screens as she is in her 40s but I suspect fewer people will read for pleasure as time goes on.

kathleen carr
kathleen carr
3 years ago

I taught at secondary school & about 20% of the pupils-usually boys-were illiterate & it wasn’t their fault. The new ie from 1970’s onwards teachers often don’t care. They parrot all the usual cliches but in private let you know they dislike poor working class boys. They usually have their pet names for them like dumbo.As there will be no help from home-usually just the mother there- its no surprise some of them end up homeless & in trouble

Giles Chance
Giles Chance
3 years ago

There’s Education and there’s Education. The good sort involves someone interesting, friendly, and clever, talking with you, and dragging things out. That’s what my tutor did at university. I do think the tutorial system is essential, or at minimum, small seminars where things get personal. The bad sort (of education) involves huge classes, lecturer out front with a mike, and students wandering in and out. No human contact at all. My daughter tried the Sorbonne and it was like that. Awful, and no one gave a stuff. So Good Education is definitely a good idea. But plumbing is definitely better than Bad Education.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  Giles Chance

That was basically my experience with the University of Birmingham. Industrial education in an industrial town and it was a complete waste of time so I mentally dropped out and did the minimum amount of work to scrape a 2:1 whilst reading what I felt like. Mainly it became an excuse to avoid work and also to sleep unsociable hours, turning up to seminars and classes just enough to not get kicked out (about 25% as I remember).
When I later did evening classes at Birkbeck – in a useful STEM subject, Computer Science, which was a field in which I was actually employed during the day – where all of us were a) paying for it out of pocket b) in real jobs in during the day often connected to what we were studying the quality and focus and being with actual interesting people with real lives made it a lot more worthwhile in my experience.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
David St Quinton
David St Quinton
3 years ago

Fantastic article Julie – I read all of your stuff avidly. I love it all 🙂
I didn’t go to university, I joined the army instead. The North in the ’80s didn’t offer much so I made my own life and didn’t wait for it to be given to me on a plate.
It is a bit pointless to have 50% of the population go to university when there are nowhere near 50% of graduate jobs available (“Cherry Blossom Frappuccino to go please”), and get yourself about ÂŁ50K in the hole for it. And regurgitate the same old cobblers that their lecturers and their lecturers’ lecturers spouted off before them.
That seems like it was a big con to massage the unemployment figures (I imagine that students are by definition not counted as unemployed) in order to borrow more dosh at better credit rates to buy yourself some more votes.
Where I ended up (Switzerland) about 20% of kids get the grades to go to university. Only 10% end up in non-graduate jobs (almost 60% in the UK apparently). If you don’t go to university there are many other technical/vocational schools and you pretty much have to do an apprenticeship otherwise. A real one, with probably two days at tech school and three days at work.
To give you an example of what that means in real terms, the fellow who tiled my bathroom and kitchen bought himself a Ferrari…

Last edited 3 years ago by David St Quinton
Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago

Thank you, David!

James Chater
James Chater
3 years ago

Too right tutors would have loved someone like Julie Burchill on their courses. Original thinking with assiduously referenced work. It raises everyone in seminar situations.
I was lucky to get in, under the wire, just before it became commodified and course materials were so proscribed. (Even then tutors were complaining about the ‘sausage factory’.)
(I remember someone on my Access course – now a presenter on the BBC – getting consistently high grades, telling the class the Access course was it. No more academic study, they had to get on with their career.)
We need deep reform of training and education in the UK.

Last edited 3 years ago by James Chater
Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  James Chater

Wow, thank you!

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

Fair enough. I am a bit older than you, but I am not sure that the age difference is crucial. I went to University in order to avoid the horror of going to work. So I was a sort of mirror image of you. I was surprisingly successful for a surprisingly long time – I was 25 before being found out. You are wrong on one important point: You didn’t have to sit in a class at University. If you didn’t turn up nobody checked or cared. I read lots, but only what took my fancy. I had a thing for Jean Genet. I found him engagingly sordid at the time. Turned the obscene into a poetic vision of the universe, apparently. In reality, he was just another one of your dirty old men. Life lesson – be dirty when you are young.

Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  Terry Needham

He was a dirty young man too, as the Barrio Chino (now sadly heavily gentrified) of Barcelona once attested.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago

It sits better on the young though, don’t you think?

steveoverbury
steveoverbury
3 years ago

I didn’t get the qualifications for university but wasn’t bothered because I was already earning good money on a pig farm. I wanted to go to art school because I wanted to be in the music business – and smoke dope – but eventually got into it via law. When I failed at that I drove a limo, signed on and took Thatcher’s forty quid a week enterprise allowance and started a recording studio. That went broke and by accident I lurched into a thirty-year stint writing and designing magazines. Now that’s a chequered career that is and a lot of fun it was too. Several of my mates went on the hippie trail and although some never came back I’m more envious of them than those that went to ‘uni.’

Fraser Bailey
Fraser Bailey
3 years ago
Reply to  steveoverbury

Ah yes, the old Enterprise Allowance boondoggle. I was briefly in an attempt at a band with someone who also used it to fund a recording studio. Forty quid was quite a lot in those days.

Terry Needham
Terry Needham
3 years ago
Reply to  steveoverbury

…some never came back”
Sounds ominous.

George Bruce
George Bruce
3 years ago

A favourite student-hating memory of mine is as follows,
At the end of my first year of university, I and a university friend got a summer job in a factory. On our first day, at the morning tea break, we sat down at a table in the canteen, and a friendly male factory worker about ten years older came over and sat down with us.
Part of the way through the conversation, he jerked his thumb contemptuously in the direction of another table where several young bourgeois types were sitting.
See them? They are here for the summer. Bl**dy students! he rasped.
I suppose we looked too stupid and proletarian. I think he thought we were on some YTS scheme.
Maybe it is something about me. Certainly in my 20s, if I was wearing a suit and in a large London shop, I had to keep on the move, or someone would come up and ask where the kitchenware department was or something similar.

Simon Neale
Simon Neale
3 years ago

Some people are lucky enough to create a decent life for themselves without much of a formal education. A tiny group of people are phenomenally lucky, and manage to become rich and famous and envied by others without much of a formal education. (Julie Burchill might be considered to be in this group, depending on what you think of her writing, and whether you think she is a success in other areas of her life. As for that second point, she labours very hard to present herself as an interesting person who has tried everything and regrets little of it, but it’s up to you to make that judgement.) For the rest of us, however, things are organised so that education is pretty much a necessity.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Simon Neale

There is kind of a hedonistic Peter Pan quality reading about mis-spent lives, (successful ones especially) where you wish you had the wild experiences, but put all together was really a rather squalid life. Mine was, lots of weird things, the vast part just tedious, and so we kind of boast of our advntures to cover the fact we really were mostly just wan* ers who did not do what we should have done. I get a tinge of that in Julie’s writings.

Kremlington Swan
Kremlington Swan
3 years ago

It’s a good point about the plumber. They are harder to come by now than they have ever been, at least round here.
in a few years AI will be doing 90 percent of the work lawyers do now. Same with accountants, same with any information processing, desk bound occupation. A few years after that breakthrough AI will be doing the work of doctors and, in combination with advanced robotics, surgeons.
The middle classes will be devastated by advances in AI, but the humble plumber and plasterer will not (as long as there is enough of an economy left to support them).
Last to fall will be the skilled manual trades, because the advances in robotics and ai required to get a robot to sit in a cupboard in a new build and link up dozens of sets of cables are far greater than those needed to do a lawyer’s job.
Who will survive all mechanisation? The artist, the poet, the musician.

jetpac76
jetpac76
3 years ago

One only has to look at the extravagant manner in which university campuses are developing to see they are making money hand over fist, the hubris embedded in my home city’s latest faculty buildings is testament to that. First order of the day; higher education should be about critical thinking and a love of learning in tandem with a primary motive on the part of the institition to foster these qualities. Fancy architecture should come some way down the list, as should tempting rich Chinese families to send their kids here under the illusion that they will be receiving a ‘world-renowned English education’. It is a racket, and large amounts of money changing hands make it that way.

Last edited 3 years ago by jetpac76
Andy Paul
Andy Paul
3 years ago

I had the choice between university or going on the road in Spain and France with a rock and roll band…..chose the latter to both familial and school displeasure, never quite had to make a living with a cue yet but always seem a lot more content than my “uni” (ugh) graduate friends…

Christopher Barclay
Christopher Barclay
3 years ago

Sean Hoare was a tabloid entertainment journalist from a working class background.
From wiki: “He (Hoare) said in regard to his drug taking while employed by the News of the World, “I was paid to go out and take drugs with rock stars – get drunk with them, take pills with them, take cocaine with them. It was so competitive. You are going to go beyond the call of duty. You are going to do things that no sane man would do. You’re in a machine.” He claims to have often taken “three grammes of cocaine a day, spending about ÂŁ1,000 a week” and would drink Jack Daniel’s, and then would snort a line of cocaine as part of a “rock star’s breakfast”. His health deteriorated to the point that the doctor examining his liver remarked that he “must be dead”. A former colleague said, “if you could imagine the stereotypical image of News of the World hack, it would be he.” “
Hoare died at the age of 48 but his health was hopelessly compromised before the age of 40. That’s what taking drugs with rock stars does for you, if you don’t move on to other forms of jounalism. He was also a decent man who helped expose phone-hacking.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago

I took cocaine every day for thirty years and gave it up overnight six years ago. It wasn’t difficult at all, interestingly.

Susannah Baring Tait
Susannah Baring Tait
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

What is of interest to me is why you wanted/needed cocaine in the first place?

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago

The great mystery of life is why anyone would want to be strait when they could be high.

Lee Jones
Lee Jones
3 years ago

The point of life is surely the experience, not just to play a role until the end.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago

I didn’t NEED it – but I found it fun.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

I ended a couple addictions, and miss them like I would the love of my life, although I remain without them by the fact they would kill me (I once had a woman I lived with cut me badly, and another break my nose, but we were loaded at the time – and I do not miss them). I am a tourist in sobriety and lost my ticket home, and now am stuck in this dreary resort for life……

Colin Colquhoun
Colin Colquhoun
3 years ago

I don’t know Julie, about this, especially if you’re talking about university in the 70’s or 80’s. The idea of university is a community of scholars and that did work for me, and it still does. Very junior scholars need guidance but as you progress you need less and less of that. That is what a university is. It’s a place to throw ideas around, but in a discipined way so that actual progress occurs not just chat.
Recently there has been marketization and consequent wokisation which is making a mockery of universities. But you’re not talking about that, you’re talking about your youth, and universities were at that time still functioning. I do not really agree with what you are saying, it seems anti-intellectual.
I like truth, so I became a scientist and that has worked well. University was involved in that. It was a lot of effort.
When I get stressed or feel a bit low these days I start reading sites like this, and it just makes me lower and more stressed. I think modern comment journalism is often pretty vacuous, and is mostly designed to anger or frighten people. It works on me. I’m not pointing a finger at you especially (I am not a regular reader), but reading this stuff always makes me feel depressed. I think it’s designed to do that, and many of the authors have much less intellectual experience and knowledge than their platform would – in an ideal world – suggest.
So I’m going to stop reading it for a while. Instead I’m going to look at some youtube lectures about optogenetics. Optogenetics is a way of modulating the activity of specific neurones using light. You can also use it to record their activity. You inject a virus which makes the neurons start expressing ion channels that respond to light. So then they fire or stop firing when you shine a light.
It works really well in mice, but so far there have been problems getting it to work in monkeys. But it’s improving, and if we can get it to work well in monkeys we can use to understand the brain anatomy invovled in vision.
And that’s what I do, I work on brain anatomy and vision. So optogenics is a splendid new thing that’s been invented that I might try.
So I’m going to do that instead of reading depressing stuff on the internet. I’ve got to publish this other thing first, but then I think we’re going move into optogenetics. I reckon your ideas are sort of a load of old b****** actually. Optogentics is not on the set reading list.

Adam Kennedy
Adam Kennedy
3 years ago

I wouldn’t have fancied further education at any time, not even when it was free, in both senses of the word.

My thoughts entirely. I had zero intention of going to university and don’t regret not going for a minute (not that I’m a 34 year old property empire-building plumber I should add).

Mark H
Mark H
3 years ago

In defence of a university education, there are some things it can give:

  1. the ability to take on, internalize, and connect with large amounts of information
  2. A broad overview of multiple subject areas so that it’s easer to decide on a particular career direction
  3. Practical training (if you choose wisely).
  4. Job opportunities – as the possession of a degree indicates at least some competence (although in reality it is competence to study and pass exams).

That isn’t limited to STEM subjects – there are also career oriented arts degrees.
The item in that list that bothers me is no.4, because in my STEM world not having a degree is now a barrier to being accepted as a professional. Though ironically Intel has just appointed as CEO a man who joined the company at 18 – so maybe there is still hope?

Andrew Best
Andrew Best
3 years ago

So you fluke your way into a career and that will not work for 99.9% of the population.
And again for every plumber earning ÂŁ200,000 there will be 99.9% who dont.
Oh well keep looking down at the rest of us who aren’t you or your class

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  Andrew Best

On the contrary, the whole basis of this essay is that no one – certainly not the *educated* – should look down on others. That’s why Labour lost the Red Wall.

John Hilton
John Hilton
3 years ago

Heh. MA here and most a PhD, and I still agree with a lot of this. The thing you have to do is treat education as a pirate expedition: get in, get the knowledge that you want, and get out.
I took a student loan for my first (abortive) attempt at uni, enrolling in Engineering. I realized that I hated Engineering in particular, and didn’t much care for the pretence attitudes of a lot of other students. I might have done okay if I had transferred into History or Lit, but I realized most of my contemporaries in those subjects were defaulting on their student loans, and it became public debt – I couldn’t justify spending public monies on my whims.
When I *did* go back, I worked my way through – Social Work as a professional diploma, then grad school in Philosophy. Schools with tiny classes, too. I learned what I wanted, and didn’t let anybody “form” me. Would have gotten my PhD, too, but it would have come at the expense of my marriage – and that was my hard priority.
Julie, if you do go to college at this stage, you will doubtless find a school somewheres that will admit you to a Master’s program or better. Skip the undergrad – and maybe find an “executive” program that runs for a solid weekend a month while you all keep working. Either way, you should have seminars with maybe 15 people who can talk about what’s important and learn from each other, and save a lot of time. The regular program might also have you teaching to defray your expenses. You’ll thank yourself – and frankly, so will everybody else who gets to study with you.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  John Hilton

Thank you, sir!

John Hilton
John Hilton
3 years ago

Oh yeah – I remember asking one of the big local newspapers here in Western Canada what preparation a person needed to become a journalist. They told me you needed a BA in Journalism – but at the time, there was no such program in Western Canada. They were gatekeeping – and keeping a monopoly for outsiders like themselves.

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  John Hilton

To be a journalist? Sceptical intelligence, curiousity and an ability to write clearly and compactly. I was awestruck by the teenager on the Petersfield local paper who interviewed me a few years ago. He condensed my ramblings by at least 70% and did not distort a thought.

B G
B G
3 years ago

I didn’t go on to higher education and my ashamed bourgeois mother never let me forget. Until I was recently awarded an honorary Doctor of Letters by a swish Russell Group Uni. That learned her.

samuelbarrett1
samuelbarrett1
3 years ago

My one problem with Unherd, is that it really knows how to make a University student feel like a s**t, who made a bad decision….

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  samuelbarrett1

It’s never too late – you have nothing to lose but your set reading list!

samuelbarrett1
samuelbarrett1
3 years ago
Reply to  Julie Burchill

That made me smile; but the set reading list has taken its hold. The Y shaped road no longer exists.

Galeti Tavas
Galeti Tavas
3 years ago
Reply to  samuelbarrett1

Don’t listen to them/us, we are just a bunch of bitter old people who are disappointed with out lives so talk down everything.

juliandodds
juliandodds
3 years ago

I couldn’t agree more. We are the same age (61). I resisted going to “Uni” for two years but eventually caved in. It wasn’t a disaster but its wasn’t as good as travelling the world including working on a Kibbutz for 8 months. It cost me nothing though. If it had cost me thirty grand I’d have been well pissed off.

Benedict Waterson
Benedict Waterson
3 years ago

”Even as a teenager, I used books as deadly weapons long before I learnt how to use words as them”

Michael Walsh
Michael Walsh
3 years ago

I see that @BoozeAndFagz has been deplatformed by Twitter. Any other places we can find Julie?

repper
repper
3 years ago

I’m glad I went to University and qualified as a lawyer etc. blah, blah, blah otherwise I would never have realised what a load of bollox it all is.

Last edited 3 years ago by repper
Ferrusian Gambit
Ferrusian Gambit
3 years ago
Reply to  repper

I actually had ambitious of being a solictor at one point but then I realised without the right connections to grease you into a traning contract in one of the various Law firm rackets a Law degree is a waste of time. People who pay for GDLs and LPCs are even bigger mugs.
Someone I know from my first university is still working as a paralegal nearly 15 years later.
Unfortunately no one tells you in school that jobs involving reading and writing and other ‘arts’ based skills are still largely the preserve of upper middle class families. Much better to aim for accountant (at least until they get automated away), engineer, software developer… even doctor (given the need for them) where the demand means the old class boundary isn’t such an issue. Journalism used to be a semi-exception to this – although not so much at the great broadsheets – but it is a dead profession with no future.

Last edited 3 years ago by Ferrusian Gambit
David Williams
David Williams
3 years ago

Great article! You never cease to impress me, Ms Burchill.

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  David Williams

And thank YOU, David!

lidyale245
lidyale245
3 years ago

good article, if you need information related to similar articles, you can access it here http://news.unair.ac.id/2021/01/29/perhatikan-tips-menulis-artikel-ilmiah/

Deb Grant
Deb Grant
3 years ago

My granny worked for the NME when it was first launched. She was, of course, a non-graduate as were almost all women of her generation. Two generations later the proportion of British women attending university was still only at 5%, 10% of men. No wonder subsidy was affordable then.

Martin Butler
Martin Butler
3 years ago

I don’t think I’ve ever glanced at a Burchill article that was not written with sneering negativity and bigoted narrowness. Satire and criticism are vital for a healthy society, but moronic moaning is simply bad manners. This is a person who has achieved nothing in her life and is in a rage with those who have.

Last edited 3 years ago by Martin Butler
Lee Jones
Lee Jones
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

And you, of course, are not sneering and negative; and not displaying bad manners…

Julie Burchill
Julie Burchill
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

My ambition was to be a writer, and I’ve certainly achieved that, from the age of 17 to 61, and hopefully a few more years left in me. You have a. lovely day!

William Murphy
William Murphy
3 years ago
Reply to  Martin Butler

Julie has made me laugh every time I read her, which is a perfectly respectable achievement. Even when I deplore her morality and taste in music.

Alka Hughes-Hallett
Alka Hughes-Hallett
3 years ago

I completely agree with Julie. I have come from a family of graduates I am a graduate and my children have graduated.
Yet, I feel that we are all born with innate intelligence and some of us enhance it by going to uni ( sorry, I know you hate that term ) and others by travelling extensively, others by joining a trade. One is not better/ superior than the other. Both camps have very capable & not so capable people in them. It’s more to do with self application & hard work than having or not having a degree. But like many well meaning initial ideas, it has turned into a dogma, a religion of sorts and we are mindlessly paying homage to it even though it is out dated and has deviated from its original purpose. This lack of self awareness & self correction is what hinders our societies from making truly responsible progress.

Eden K.
Eden K.
3 years ago

Oh look, another baby boomer who moved to London in her teens and managed to support herself on a journalism job she got without any qualifications going on about how uni is pointless. You do realise that above scenario is about as realistic these days as going to the moon?

Ludo Roessen
Ludo Roessen
3 years ago

I have tried many many times to read Julie Burchill’s writings in many many publication but I get so bored so quickly…. what ever the subject is….it is about her…… It wasn’t that long ago that she was a “censorious writer” in the NME… Oh dear if you would be making the wrong music…. Same book different cover… same Burchill…. me me me….