Letter: Indebted to education

July 13, 2001

Congratulations to Alistair Ross on producing a useful list of possible reasons why working-class students may still be deterred from university (Letters, THES , July 6).

There is, however, a need to unpack the line that some "lack information about... opportunities". Even the working classes can read a prospectus. The real impediment is their lack of proficiency in reading between the lines, leaving them too reliant on tables.

Students from backgrounds where university attendance is the norm are better able to filter information and then to select a university - and course - that will be profitable in the long run. As students graduate heavily indebted, into a world where the already-rich are leaving the poor yet further behind, such wisdom is itself priceless.

Furthermore, some students are comfortable with disciplines such as medicine and law, whereas true working-class students fear being out of place, especially later in the profession itself. So they may choose a course they feel comfortable with but one that does little for future employability.

Lord help those students who choose unwisely and carry a burden of debt into the teeth of the recession that even the chancellor is now talking up.

Alan Hallsworth
Staffordshire University

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