BEYOND THE GRAD:
STUDENTS OF NOTTINGHAM UNITE!

Unite in shame, and feel bad. You need to be culled. Since graduating last year I have rapidly developed an understanding of why it is that the majority of the adult population (Turning 18 does not make you an adult - students are children) resents and hates you. You cost them a lot and you do them very little good.

British students take a three-year holiday from reality, a self-indulgent break from any real work, the cost of which is largely underwritten by the taxpayer. Yet what does the country receive for their money? For every doctor or drainage engineer that graduates they must subsidise a thousand sociologists, art historians or ‘students of film’. It is a colossal waste of money to indulge the fantasy that everybody needs and deserves to go to university. I myself have none of the moral high-ground here; I studied History, I did no work, and I got a 2:1. I like History, but nobody (least of all myself) has benefited from my spending three years and accruing the (relatively modest) £15,000 of debt to indulge my hobby. I was told, “yes, do history if that’s what you’re interested in, you can do anything with a degree like that.” As it is, nine months and five hundred job applications later, I remain unemployed and continue to be a burden on the welfare system. If I had learned how to plaster a wall or drive a fork-lift truck I would not be. As it turns out, you can do nothing with a degree like mine.

So, Class of 2009, think on this. You may not get a job when you graduate. I know you entertain the illusion that your degree from the illustrious University of Nottingham will bring a horde of clamouring employers to your door, wrestling each other to the ground to be the first to offer you a starting salary of £27k. It will not happen. Most of you are not useful, and you will quickly realise it. The unemployment rates for recent graduates are running at 21%, compared to less than 5% (even six months into recession) for the population as a whole. I would suppose that, like me, you had not considered the possibility that you will not find employment soon after you graduate. Perhaps you should begin to plan for the worst.

Even those of you who do get jobs will have to work a lot harder, and for a lot less money, than you probably anticipated – probably doing something you hate, that benefits nobody (like probably 450 out of the 500 jobs that I‘ve applied for). Furthermore, it is getting worse. So don’t worry about your coursework, or your finals – worry about how much your degree in whatever-it-is will be worth after capitalism crumbles. It would also benefit you to realise that trying to scrape by on Jobseekers’ Allowance is not fun, and makes a student loan feel like winning the lottery. I fear that, like me, you will receive a harsh education when you begin to study for your Masters in Real Life

It’s not just the financial cost that makes human beings hate students. It is the pusillanimous vanity and childish over-indulgence that defines so much of student behaviour. How long did you spend on Facebook last week? How many joints have you smoked today? Have you done anything wholly unselfish and genuinely productive for as long as you can remember? I would guess the answer to be, “no.” I haven’t, and I’ve been trying.

Because of laziness, and the pointless shit that students now find to occupy their time (if they are not simply being lazy), universities have ceased to be the centres of radicalism and revolutionary thought that they once were. They are no longer the crucibles in which are forged the ideas and movements that can change things for the better. Students here no longer believe that they can change the world, and if they did believe it they’d rather get drunk anyway. In Greece students still care about politics and still know how to riot. In Britain they are too hung-over.

Most students here have too much time on their hands, so they find relief from boredom in vodka-sodden nights out, the consequences and detritus of which are left to be appreciated and dealt with by the people who actually live and work here (and Christ help the next one of you that I see lugging home a triangular road-sign). This is understandably abhorrent to the man who works a 40- hour week and cannot afford to spend most of his income on booze and drugs.

Sadder still is the fact that, like an unwilling whore dependent upon the income from her syphilitic punters, the city is dependent upon the money that the students bring. Observe Lenton without students, as I did in the summer of 2008, and you will agree that ‘ghost town’ does not nearly do it justice. The local businesses suffer greatly from this periodic exodus. Furthermore, the studentisation of certain areas of cities is very damaging to the existing local populations. The value of the houses as rentable student accommodation is much greater than if they were sold as family homes, the result being that those who wish to buy a house to live in are priced out of the market. Those who can afford it, or who already lived there, must suffer, too, from the anti-social behaviour of students — loud music or vomit puddles, for example, or the Lenton student ritual of throwing all of one’s possessions into the street come the end of June. And let’s not forget the increased levels of crime that a large student population attracts. Students are an infection that can make a community very ill indeed.

You may ask what right I have that gives me the moral high ground from which to judge. I have none. I hate myself as much, if not more, than I hate all of you (and I‘m not even a student any more). But do not let the fact that I’m a hypocrite blind you to the truth of what I say. Ask yourselves what your life as a student costs (and I don’t mean to you or your parents), and ask yourself honestly whether or not you are good value for money. I think you will find that you are not. So contemplate the improvement of the world and act on your conclusions. Work out how, because of or in spite of your education, and you will make yourself worthwhile. Above all, start trying to be useful, for we are entering into a new world that will have no place for those who are not.

[Jonathan Stevenson, TransNAG,  Midwinter 2009-2010, p. 28, first published in Impact magazine, June 2009]