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Dr Girl @DrGirlPhD
, 21 tweets, 5 min read Read on Twitter
This is utterly fucking obscene, people. Go away and think about what you just did.

[and now a THREAD, because I haven’t done one for a while and I’ve had one brewing for ages on the value of education...]
I’m going to leave aside the excellent point made here – that the kids going to RG universities are BLOODY WELL ALREADY RICHER – and that they benefit from old boys' networks (blech), because I want to tell you a story.

When I was 12 I found my mum in the living room crying over the gas bill. Because she could pay it, OR she could feed me and my sibs.
We were poor because we’d left my father (I don’t like to call him my Dad), who had a good salary and knocked the crap out of us. Mum left knowing that poverty could be a consequence, and it was. I think she did right.
And when I was 12, I was doing well in school. Top of the class. It was the 90s. The ‘do well in school and it will be your ticket to a Better Future’ rhetoric was everywhere. But it wasn’t about the intrinsic value of education. It was about how you needed it to get a job.
I fell for it, hook line and sinker. My ambitions were simple: Avoid ever being poor again, and avoid ever being financially dependent on a man. I never asked why these things should be available only to those who did well at school. I just feared and worked.
I wish I had questioned the logic behind the ‘education for a brighter future’ stuff. I wish I had asked why it’s OK that society will only be kind to those who ‘do well’. I wish I had asked why my worth was conditional on attainment. I didn’t. I just feared and worked.
I didn’t know what I wanted to study at university, or even if I wanted to go. But I was lucky enough to be at a (state) school that sent one or two kids to Oxbridge each year, and they had plans for me. So I was going.
I chose my subject because I was told that employers liked it and that it would give me lots of career options. I was a good little child of neoliberalism.
I even went to a Russel Group University (not Oxbridge). Not that I had one single solitary fucking clue what that meant or why I should care. I went there because it was within an hour of my Mum’s house and the students I met there seemed happy and there were trees on campus.
And I feared. I feared getting into debts that I could never pay off, for this education. I feared not getting the 2:1 that would make me employable. I feared not being smart enough to get my bright future. And I worked and I feared.
I was in my third year when I fell in love with my subject. Up until then I’d just been going through the motions and worrying about getting the grades. Oh, and wondering why I was depressed.
And then I left and I came back to do a PhD and it felt like coming home. Even though bemused acquaintances would ask rude questions about why I was choosing to work for so little money.
My point is, education did open doors for me - even when I’d had no idea those doors existed. I will always be grateful. But the value of my education had nothing to do with money and everything to do with figuring out who I was and what I loved and what I could do.
If you think the value of my education is that I’m now earning £3k more than someone else then you are wrong (in more than one way, probably).
If you think the value of education is that you can compete to be one of the ones who gets to own a house and a car, you are wrong.
If you think the value of education is that you will be able to afford to eat without foodbanks, then think about what you’re saying about the people who don’t, or can’t, or didn’t do well in school (whatever that even means).

You were wrong, weren’t you? Yes.
If you think the value of education is that you can be the person operating the mincing machine and not the poor sap being fed into it, then, oh – how can I put this? You can fuck off.

That is not what education is to me. It never will be.

End of rant.
In other words, #YesUniCan pit us against each other in a desperate bid not to be left behind. It can make a few people very rich off your hope that you’ll one day be 'educated enough' not to have to worry about money (it's a false hope, by the way - ask any academic)...
And #YesUniCan apparently get away with charging more and more for tuition while paying staff less and less. It can be elitist, exploitative, and toxic. It can sell itself as a solution to society's inequalities while entrenching them still further - *by design*.
And #YesUniCan be something else entirely. It could be a place that instils a love of education. It could be a place that enriches lives in ways that have nothing to do with money. It could be a public good. But there’s a lot that we will have to change about it first.
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