The UK's higher education minister, David Willetts (Nickname - Two Brains) is entreating the over-60s to go back to university and retrain because they will have to work longer. Willetts pointed out that age limit on student loans had been lifted, making it possible for older people to go back to studying. He said: "Education is such a good thing – it is not reserved for younger people. There will be people of all ages who will want to study. There is great value in lifelong learning." His comments were prompted by report found that the country’s future economic success depends on the skills and contributions of older workers. Some pension specialists think that few 60 year old's will think that a three-year university degree costing £27,000 is a good investment, but its not the money that's the problem..
It seems to me that Willetts is missing the point, which is that older people from the baby boomer generation are completely unsuited to life a University. Today's student is a industrious individual - I should know I have two daughters at university - they are hard working, sensible and devoid of any radical opinions. Speaking for myself and remembering the my first attempts at further education I am sure it would not work. I would be aiming at doing only 2-3 months work for my finals, this continuous assessment malarkey would not suit at all. Also the thought of being cooped up with thousands of young people who have no anger or fire in their bellies would be painful, who would I sit around with all night - debating inanely the meaning of life? Also you can't rewind the clock on alcohol - I simple could bear to sip Blossom Hill for three years!
It is clear that the government will be pushing water up hill and to have any chance of success they will need some role models to carry the touch for re-education and on this I do have some helpful suggestions. The Duke of Edinburgh should be enrolled on a Chinese and Asian studies course to include a residential year. This will give him the chance to establish whether his warning to British overseas students was prophetic or not. - on a trip to China in 1986 he told them ''If you stay here much longer, you'll all be slitty-eyed''. The 91 year old followed this up yesterday with further insightful remarks for our Filipino friends. When opening a hospital he said to one of the nurses: "The Philippines must be half empty - you're all here running the NHS."
Another candidate role model might be Gordon Brown, who is enjoying retirement having destroyed our economy when Chancellor of the Exchequer. Might I venture the idea that he complete degree in sociology so that he when he meets normal member of the public he does confuse them ''just a sort of bigoted woman''.