Was it the snobs at Oxbridge who saw 'stains' of the Harold Wilson as devaluing the whole Unversity system or was it Thatcher and her Breezeblock universites?
The cynic in me writes- what use a university degree?
Well Wilson's children who went to the 'red brick' universities got to lick the cream of a rapidly growin economy in the majority of the seventies and the need for better qualified managers, administrators, technocrats and engineers. They got their choice of jobs, often without a vocational degree, and managed to hold onto their career paths while my generation fought against downsizing and delayering, and ended up what we are - lost and up to our eyes in debt.
I take my Mr Average five career changes now out of necessity to have a local job. Most of my friends have ended up in something they didnt study for, alhtough the entry often did require that bit of paper. Financial advisers, accountants, jobbing General Practictioners, personnel managers.
If you take all the arts degrees and life sciences, then really you can look at a degree being a bit of a waste of time, in light of the fact that very many have done a masters in a vocational subject or significatn training and extra studying on the job to pass professional exams like financial advisor or within insurance or other areas like IT. Management and economics degrees fair better, while those sought after IT graduates are actually the new assembly line grunts and only in demand so that there is over supply!
The 'professions' and real engineering fair much better out of it all, with the working class lad or lass made good a very true thing for my generation. Now that is evapourating a little at least.
Career wise for my school mates and fellow graduates, well it has been reaching middle age and not even in what used to be middle management, We are coal face 'managers' with the baby boomers our line bosses until death do us part.
I am just a little resentful, but I have no debts from my studies what so ever. Imagine being a decade younger and laden with all that, and exposed the the UK or US rentier economy, where you basically need to take out more loans just to rent your life and keep moving on the career ladder? It is that bad for some, those without rich parents.
That is the clue. None of my compatriots had parental networks. The old boy thing disappated for a while, to then reassert itself even more insidiously and politically too in many organisations. Little hand picked fascists. We never had power and influence, those who came after us realised that it had to be fought for tooth and nail, as did their 70s urban upwardly mobile parents too. The formula for success changed, not what you know , but who you can influence!