Leaping students with cracking A-level exam results have been a staple of August news bulletins. And while no one wants to rain on their parade, the class of 2012 will be entering an university system facing its greatest crisis since the Robbins Report of the 1960s.
In opposition, universities minister David Willetts argued for inter-generational equity and highlighted the plight of today’s “generation crunch” forced to pay for the asset-hoarding antics of their parents.
But in government, Willetts has only accelerated the trend. Few have been harder hit by the coalition’s economic failures than the young. In the last 12 months, the number of young people out of work for 12 months or more is at the highest level since July 1997.
And for those seeking to educate themselves out of unemployment, Willetts has introduced one of the most expensive tuition systems in the western world. To pay for the massive cuts to university fees and research budgets, the government introduced a fee structure which peaked at £9,000 per annum built on the hope only a few universities would charge the full whack.