It is my contention that the UK and many other countries' education system has become only obtusely responsive to the employment market. Tertiary education, and indeed life-long-learning should be both exposed to more market forces and planning for the type of educations which add value to the individual and country's wealth and well being.
In saying that graduates are merely obtusely qualified for the job market, I mean that perhaps the majority of graduates in the UK are delivered to the work market as nothing more than young people with debts to pay off, eager to work, rather than actually having the right skills for the market and the future. The tax payer pays less per head per year for more places, but ends up subsidising the payment holidays and low long term interest on loans, when in fact it is employers who gain by having debt slaves to employ with little training.
Many go through years of semiskilled office jobs before either gaining enough experience and training in work to move on to provide more value in the market place, or they take further education. In the past acccess to valuable training for unemployed has actually meant that some graduates, jaded with their debut into drudgery infront of a PC, have sat unemployed long enough to access these courses.
Rather, young people should be presented with the possibility to become tax payers earlier, and employers should receive tax credits for national vocational support in basics of IT and other skills such as presentation, communication, conflict handeling which are far more use than medieval history or modern art appreciation. This is happening over time, but my contention is that full time University study should be for an elite top 20% maximum, with other school leavers being more mature in choosing to enter the work market.
An example of planning is the "value retention cycle" approach: this would mean that for instance in the current environment, we cut back new places on courses which have over supplied the market many fold, such as law studies and teacher training.
Education is an area where the means of wealth creation fail countries and Government must play the dominant role in providing value to society. Otherwise we end up increasingly in a situation like the USA with ghettos where only the tiniest minority become "socially mobile" which is a key value creating return of public investment in any society. As in major projects for infrastructure and strategic defence, government must plan strategically for more than one term of governance. However there needs to be within that a provision for more t