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Yesterday BBC Radio 4 talked about the value of degrees and the merits of those without and a recent “global” survey by the Organisation for Economic Co-operate and Development (OECD) revealed that in 2010, an average graduate in a developed country such as the UK can expect to earn 59% more than those that did not go to university. So, those who have degrees live in heaven?

Warwick Business School Dean Professor Mark Taylor says: “These figures from the OECD back up what we have always known that a good education is vital to starting and sustaining a good career. The worldwide recession has emphasised this even more.”

So it might be argued that there is much to be said for having a degree. There can be no question that some countries, such as India have benefited from the drive towards higher education, but equally how many graduates have been left without jobs commensurate with their new skills. Sure, the economy has benefited, sure the employers have benefited, but what about society as a whole?

Is the march for professionalisation, just like religion in the centuries before,  actually undervaluing our society? Who does this higher education serve?

Remember the call for members of parliament to become better qualified?  And this is from within a body that is led by an elite band of Oxbridge graduates. Who benefits; the trainers, the those in power; I teach you like me you will act like me?

Recently the UK Government has called upon the Police to open its ranks to allow direct appointments to senior ranks.  This despite calls from experts who clearly say the policing requires experience – a subject in which a degree is not currently available!

A recent report by the EU body the CEPEJ has commented that the professionalisation of the judiciary (which significantly eroding the role of the lay magistracy in the UK) this despite a recent Employment Appeals tribunal actually acknowledged the role of lay (unqualified) professionals.

Consider the situation when 70% of the working population have degrees – then what?

What happens to those without an education, are they any less effective?  Surveys show that many of our business leaders have no or little formal education when they start out and yet they become giants among industry.   

Does Education, like Religion, stymie growth?

Education is a tool for good, but is it not time to look and ask, do we want a society run by vertically educated individuals or should we be seeking a more rounded and inclusive society that recognises expertise and experience as much as education?

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