University education. It’s not all its cracked up to be. Historians like me don’t have to do any work, so we indulge ourselves in more frivolous pursuits – running the country, say, or watching a Some Mothers Do ‘Ave ‘Em boxset. Surely this says something about how pointless university is. It must mean something.
My great-grandfather had to wake up at 4am, cycle ten miles to the pit, do ten hours’ hard manual labour, and cycle back again. I have to wake up at 4pm, cycle ten minutes to the Bod, do two hours’ reading about marginally interesting things and then brass off to the King’s Arms.
The Government, as you may know, is considering abolishing state humanities funding. In truth we don’t need it. Even at Oxford – the best undergraduate history course in the world – it would be possible to complete the work within a year of dedicated study, and moreover to complete it without the bother of attending university.
This idea’s a bit radical, but it certainly would work. If you live near to a good library and travelled to visit a tutor once weekly, then that’s your degree right there; motor board on, and real life to look forwards to. My point is that Humanities teaching should be abolished at universities. It’s organised reading. A list of books, the odd tutorial, and occasional public lecture is all that’s honestly required.
(This is ignoring the purposeless decreptitude of much of the reading itself. Academics are nonce writers. We ought to be sticking to the good stuff, not JStoring outdated bollocks from the 70s that no-one really cares about.)
Anyway. What should we do with the old colleges? Turn them over to masses – no. Turn them over to the scientists – hell no. Turn them over to the city of Oxford- you must be out of your mind. Nah, we should make them into hotels. Big, shiny hotels where the City dwellers can come and gloat over the city dwellers below. Move over Randolph, the Oxonian Ritz-Carltons are incoming. Effectively, it would be one big orgy where all the former humanities students can come and hold their lavish banquets and trendy ‘up in the clouds’ debates. That’s what they basically already are, anyway. Let’s make it official.